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Arthur Polettiís Polemic Against Al Gore

Dear Vegetarians:

Recently, Arthur Poletti has launched a major polemic against Al Gore.  Poletti correctly lambasts Gore for saying nothing about eating meat while campaigning against global warming, but he does it in such an outrageous way that one has to wince in embarrassment.

A number of vegetarian groups have uncritically reprinted or circulated his letter, including the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) online newsletter, the European Vegetarian Union (EVU), and the All-Creatures.org web site.  

Poletti says that Gore didnít mention vegetarianism "because you lack real character," and "because you are a meat eater you and your family think it is perfectly okay to torture and murder millions of vulnerable animals every day so that people like you can use your stomachs as graveyards for the dead flesh." He also adds a number of demands completely irrelevant to global warming, such as "to shut down the entire fur industry." You can read the whole thing at the European Vegetarian Union web site, or at the All-Creatures web site, or as posted at the Congress.Org "soap box."

This is so obviously off the wall that I normally wouldnít even comment on it. However, because JVNA, the EVU, and All-Creatures have all picked it up and passed it on, apparently without comment, I feel obligated to point out the obvious.

This is really, really unhelpful. In the first place, I donít believe itís true that Gore and his family believe in torturing and murdering animals for pleasure, and secondly, character attacks are not going to win friends and influence people. Many people have a stereotype of vegans: that they are angry, indignant, and self-righteous. This letter plays into and reinforces this stereotype. It also sets a poor example for others in the movement, by playing into the attitude that "anything goes" so far as attacking those outside of the movement.  It makes me wonder if I really want to have anything to do with this movement.

I would suggest two actions that might be helpful in this case: (1) for Mr. Poletti to rewrite this letter to remove the character attacks, to remove other obviously inflammatory and false comments, and to remove irrelevant demands; and (2) for groups such as JVNA, EVU, and All-Creatures to decline to reprint or pass on such letters or articles without a fairly strong disclaimer, such as that they do not agree with the views expressed in the letter.

I am actually not sure if these groups were simply passing on a news item, or if they seriously shared, or at least held as plausible, Mr. Poletti's attacks.  Figuring out that this sort of attack cannot be supported -- and in fact must be opposed -- should not be that difficult.  A movement that cannot figure this out is not a movement worth supporting.

Sincerely,

Keith Akers
July 21, 2007