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November 1 2009

Shut Up, Natalie Portman

portmanNatalie Portman, like Bono, needs to learn to shut up.

Every single person in this world is entitled to their opinion, and to their freedom of speech.  I obviously consider this one of the main tenants of the world as I shoot my mouth off here on my blog on a constant basis.  I feel everyone should have opinions, and they should also feel free to express them, but you know how that old saying goes about “opinions are like …”, you know the one I mean.  Well, Ms. Portman has apparently discovered that orifice on her body.

This story is a couple of days old now, and I have been debating since it broke if I even wanted to talk about it.  I am about to tell someone (believe me, I know I am writing this for myself and no one else) to keep a certain “I’m better than you” attitude to herself when I run a blog where I rant about Scientologists on a regular basis.  However, some things are just so monumentally stupid that you can’t stop yourself from commenting.

You see, Ms. Portman wrote an article for the Huffington Post about how she has converted from being a vegetarian to an out spoken vegan.  I have no problems with vegetarians or vegans in any way, my belief is that is their choice, good for them.  However, just like I won’t wave meat in their face, I prefer the not wave their choices in mine.  I’m willing to have open discussions on the subject so long as they remain civil, but this is one of those subjects like politics that rarely does.  I have known many of both types of people over the years, and we have never once had a problem … course, none of them before have likened me to a rapist.

Yes, you read that right … a rapist.

In her defense of Jonathan Safran Foer’s book,  Eating Animals, which she says is what brought about the change in her views, she postulates a scenario that would be the most awkward dinner conversation ever.

I say that Foer’s ethical charge against animal eating is brave because not only is it unpopular, it has also been characterized as unmanly, inconsiderate, and juvenile. But he reminds us that being a man, and a human, takes more thought than just “This is tasty, and that’s why I do it.” He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don’t believe in rape, but if it’s what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it).

I think there is a small difference between eating, something all humans have to do to live, and an act of violence taken upon another human.

As I said earlier, I have known many vegetarians and vegans over the years, and to see me, you would have no doubt I eat meat.  I have always been able to get along because they know they aren’t going to change me, and I have no desire to change them.  I applaud their convictions to be honest, but when you begin preaching to me, that is when I have a problem with you, no matter what the subject might be.  If I respect your decisions, surely you can do the same for me?  The quickest way to turn me off to your beliefs or causes is to lecture me, which is exactly what it sounds like Ms. Portman plans to begin doing.

This has always struck me as one of the biggest problems with this sort of “debate”: the other party automatically assumes I have made my choice out of some form of lack of education on the matter, and it is now their duty to correct that.  You have no clue how or why I have made the decisions I have made, and you instead of trying to “educate” me, or confronting me at a dinner party about it (Anyone else think Ms. Portman’s dinner part invites just dropped like a rock?), how about you stick to your choices and I’ll stick to mine?

It is a beautiful thing to have convictions and to stand up for them, but if your plan to get your voice heard is to liken people such as myself to being a rapist, well … good luck with how far you’re going to get.



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  • Frederick Townes

    The largest problem I have is that when someone has something to share that they’ve researched, they tend to preach it. And even though the listener considers the “preacher” to be a friend they stop listening to the message just because they don’t like the format. People need to get over themselves and listen to diverse messages and update their own dogma as information becomes available. People are happy to do that with their mobile phones, but not their philosophies – maybe apple should package up a dogma product so people can get their heads out of the sand and progress.