When i was leaving Pace Wildenstein on 57th yesterday, i saw a handful of women picketing on the corner of 57th and Park Ave in front of the Korean Consulate General. They were trying to get people to sign up for a petition to stop dog and cat meat consumption in Korea. A little research has shown me that demonstrators from the IDA (In Defense of Animals) congregate in front of Korean consulates and embassies across the country every year on the first of the Korean bok days (literally the “hot, dog days of summer”). Apparently, some Koreans consume more boshintang (dog stew) this time of year to help their bodies fight the summer heat.
I walked closer to the demonstrators to read what their posters said, but i was in a rush to find a bathroom, so all i caught were some images of dogs. Curiously, though, the lady whose poster i tried to read didn’t approach me or try to get me to sign the petition even though she had been pestering all other passersby. To tell you the truth, she avoided eye contact with me. On the way back from the bathroom, i saw a different protestor harassing two Korean (and non-English speaking, it seemed) tourists. These women didn’t have the guts to confront me (because they would’ve confronted, not asked) about the issue so instead harassed Korean tourists who couldn’t even argue back. How mature.
I have a couple issues with this protest:
1) If it’s true that these dogs and cats are tortured before being slaughtered for consumption, i really hope that these demonstrators are also against foie gras consumption, or better yet, that they’re vegan;
2) If they’re protesting on the premise that dogs and cats are pets and therefore shouldn’t be consumed, then i ask, what prompted humans to domesticate dogs and cats in the first place? What makes them different from other animals? And while we’re on the subject, here’s a question for those informed about animal ethics: do humans even have a right to domesticate animals? Might we not be interfering with the natural order of things?
For the sake of full disclosure, yes, i eat meat (though not dog/cat meat). While i do not approve of animal abuse of any kind, i personally do not feel guilty eating meat as long as the animal from which it came was slaughtered in the least painful way possible, because it’s what nature intended: animals kill and consume each other. I find no fault in doing anything that nature permits (or perhaps even encourages) us to do, as long as the action does not infringe on anyone’s inalienable rights. But it’s the protests that aren’t backed up by a logical argument of ethics that get to me.