I don’t believe it’s right to talk about how the idea of being pro-life conflicts with exploiting and killing animals (especially for food). I understand the argument which claims that you cannot at one point argue that “every life is precious” and every living being has a right to life while simultaneously taking the lives of animals for mere pleasure or taste. If you believe that no one has the right to “take a life”, then certainly you shouldn’t be eating the flesh of animals. Yet there’s still something disingenuous about the argument.
For instance, it may make some people believe that veganism and pro-life go hand in hand. Yet I can easily say why veganism is a philosophy that does not support pro-life, because veganism concerns itself with the freedom from coercion of sentient beings. It is more than just not ending a life, it’s also about not spending all of that life in service to you or for your own benefit. This chiefly explains why veganism is against dairy, or wool, or many forms of animal testing. Veganism as a whole doesn’t hinge on the life/death dichotomy like pro-life does. Pro-life might be suited to vegetarianism in this case, as vegetarians seem to care whether or not they are directly taking a life, but less so about whether or not a life is spent in exploitation or pain.
Suggesting that it’s hypocritical for someone to be a pro-lifer and a meat eater seems to lead to the conclusion that it would not be hypocritical if they were a vegan and a pro-lifer. But I’ve got to believe that, of course it would be hypocritical. There’s no ethically conscious lifestyle which perfectly coheres with the reasoning behind pro-life beliefs. In this case I can never truly bring myself to call them hypocritical, because there’s no alternative lifestyle they could choose in order to be an honest pro-lifer, other than simply choosing not to be pro-life in the first place.
At the gift shop of the museum I will be volunteering at they were selling soft toy Glyptodons. Cuddly, fluffy glyptodons. Cuddly tank-mammals. I kinda wanted one.
“Ace?" I say, reaching for my jacket.
I hear a pleasant electronic chime sound off near the front door.
"Yes, Mitchell?" a cooperative voice responds.
"Do you know where I put my keys?" I feel embarrassed to ask for what must be the thirteenth time this month, but I remind myself that there really is no one else in the apartment to share that feeling. There’s no reason to be embarrassed when I’m the only one here to know about how forgetful I am with my things. While doing another preliminary scan of my jacket pockets before giving up the search entirely, I hear a familiar faint whirring sound, denoting the rotating gears of one certain one-foot tall white desk robot scanning the room for the item in question.
A bell sounds off.
"You will find your keys under the empty pizza box sitting on the coffee table," Ace informs me in the non-judgemental tone of one who has never had to pick up after someone else’s dinner leftovers, and never will. "Though may I inform you that there appear to be two slices of pizza left in the box that can be preserved for later."
"Ah, thank you," I bellow from down the front hall. Another bell sounds off as Ace goes into standby mode.
I had almost forgotten about the remnants of last night’s late dinner that didn’t get devoured along with the rest of its soy-cheesed kin. I’d been trying not to make eating a whole pizza by myself in the middle of the night a habit. And much like that plan to start jogging in the morning’s again, my hopes, dreams, and aspirations go exactly where I’m putting this now-empty pizza box: in the trash. I slide the last two slices on a plate and hurriedly accost them with plastic wrap before I get any crazy “let’s just eat them now” ideas in my head.
Absentmindedly reading the LED screen on my refrigerator, I shuffle some plates and jugs around to make room enough for the leftovers. Good job keeping my food at such a specific temperature, fridge. Having a simple appliance such as a refrigerator which a LED touch screen that tells me its temperature to an extra decimal point, as well as the time, as well as letting me set reminders for what food goes bad when… it makes me feel pretentious, to a degree. I remember when we were growing up with my grandfather. He had this unbelievably rinky-dink prehistoric food box - I don’t dare call a refrigerator - shorter than my younger brother and less reliable than if I had held all the groceries in my bare hands and tried to blow cool air on it. Yet, he still managed to keep an entire boar-sized load worth of unfortunate-smelling meats and cheeses in it, not that it mattered what condition they were in after being processed through a mountain of salt and something unidentifiable but sort of cabbagy in nature, all thrown into the same pot and stirred until the house smelled of death and pee soup. This strange dish comes complete with an equally strange name for it in Dutch, just as unpronounceable as the last name I was lucky enough not to be cursed with at birth. My brother didn’t make it out of the womb so well, whose mail and health card now proudly display a hyphenated mass of vowels and harsh consonants unknown to the human tongue. We may have had a sickeningly smelly time growing up in that house, but it certainly makes me all the more appreciate how I live down the street from a fantastic vegan pizza joint. I think I have my grandfather to thank for never wanting to see another chopped up animal body or fermented block of cow secretions again. Well, among other factors.
"Ace, set a reminder for Thursday, June 6th," I wait for the chime of recognition. "Visit Highmount Oak cemetery. Bring bird feed." The man could kill a field of baby deer without so much as flinching, but hurt a bird and you were going to the special hell in his eyes. The human capacity for cognitive dissonance is almost funny like that.
"Reminder set. Anything else, Mitchell?" Ace turns his flat, black monitor-face towards my direction after picking me up with his motion sensor. The lamp-light gleams off his rounded, smooth white exterior.
"No, thank you. I’ll be heading out now," I call, keys in pocket, already opening the door. "Man the fort, little buddy."
"Aye-aye, cap’n" he calls back in an overly jolly, yet synthetic tone.
You’d think me strange for telling a robot with no legs and even less combat training to keep an eye on the place, until you knew that this and other key phrases would set this interactive device into home security mode. He’d send an alert to my phone in the rare case that any intruder did show up, as well as phoning the police. With facial recognition software, this was a much more reliable method of catching anyone who wasn’t supposed to be there and not sending a false break-in alarm if my mother decided to “pop in for a visit” unexpectedly. Now that robots like Ace were coming onto the market, humanity could begin fulfilling its real needs, like having someone to remind you to throw out the pizza box or pick up your dirty socks without nagging you about it. Helping you pick out the right flowers for your date with Melissa. Or warning you when your parents were in town. You know, those clearly essential factors in achieving peace on Earth.
ACE. Autonomous Communication Engine. An idea sparked by social psychologists and engineers who believed that in order for humanity to effectively and comfortably interact with and ultimately rely upon technology, it had to be just the right level of anthropomorphic, with a dash of childlike kindness and just a hint of butler formality. At least the masterminds behind Ace’s creation got one vital thing right in his design: do not under any circumstances give social robots eyes and a nose. I’ve never seen anything rival evil clowns on the scale of things to most likely cause nightmares better than social robots with eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Especially the blinking ones.
Death and pee soup or death and pea soup? Either way incredibly unappetizing.