I don't mean to diminish the absurdity that is the failure to reject Proposition 8 in California, and the general national impulse to prevent gay people from entering into legal marriages. And there is a critical difference between the two bans: banning gay marriage is so obviously a flawed idea, while banning foie gras is a more nuanced issue (yes, tastes good, but generally agreed that the animals-except in rare exceptions-suffer). But I can't help but feel that the effort to ban foie gras in the United States and abroad is misguided in the same way that the efforts to ban gay marriage are. What I mean is that in a world where the environment is in rapid and dangerous decline, 800 million people in developing countries are illiterate, treatable diseases kill millions annually, war is a continuous reality-hell, even the fact that Venice is sinking-how can anyone be wasting any amount of time or resources on these relatively niche issues?This idea occurred to me while reading Carrie Meathrell's well-reasoned post
about the flaws in the recent West Hollywood foie gras ban (West Hollywood being, ironically, one of the gayest cities in the country). She argues that restaurants shouldn't be penalized for the tastes of their consumers, and that the ban will be hard to enforce (as it was in Chicago). But more importantly, she puts it in the larger context of the problems in the food industry:Foie gras foes who decry the cruelty of the production method ... are overlooking-or purposely ignoring-the every day horrors of the food industry. Why can't the City Councils of the world focus on eliminating salmonella in vegetables? Cramped and painful conditions for pigs, cows, and chickens all over California? ... Why can't they ordain that all restaurants must buy locally and organic, from cruelty-free producers?
Issues don't exist in a vacuum, they exist in the context of a world with lots and lots of problems. If there were a way to harness the collective energy and passion of the scattered protestors, activists, scientists, philanthropists, and everyone else who cares about anything, and channel it toward an issue that is universally supported-Eliminate poverty? Cure cancer? Fix education?-I don't image there's much they couldn't get done. This is, of course, impractical; What inspires people and compels them to action is a very personal thing. But it begs the question: Does the world need a ranked list of what issues are most important?Photo by Flickr user PeterForret