The Celebration of Exploitation: Green Mountain College and Bill and Lou
Above and below are photos from the working farm at Green Mountain College, the institution of higher education in Vermont that has, in the name of “sustainable agriculture,” chosen to kill its two working oxen—Bill and Lou—rather than allow them to retire in peace at Vine Sanctuary. These photos are, as I see them, clear examples of the celebration of exploitation, a celebration that belies the farm’s claim to treat animals with dignity. (Note: this post continues after the photos.)
My sense is that this is place that uses sixteenth-century logic to promote an eighteenth century education. To get a sense of the ditzy thoughtlessness required to justify such behavior, consider this defense of GMC’s decision, published in the comments section of Eating Plants several days ago (no edits):
|I am a vegan for ethical, environmental, and personal health reasons. I am also a recent graduate of Green Mountain College, after spending four years there. I have got to say I am very upset with some of the things I have read on this website. As vegans, many of your are urging Green Mountain College show compassion towards these animals and to change the decision they have made to slaughter them. I am also a personal believer in this universal compassion. However, I think that many of you have forgotten about one creature in particular that must be shown respect. Humans. You are condemning people, what, because they have a different opinion than you? Well, what if a dog does something you do not want her to do? Will you condemn her the same way? No. And you may justify that she doesn’t know any better. Well then you have just made a distinction between dogs (animals) and humans; just like the distinctions that you have been trying to discredit (I’ve been reading a lot of posts comparing Bill and Lou to someone’s grandparents, for example).
I am offended by the vast generalizations that you are making towards this school. After spending four wonderful years there, there are a lot of people that I love, care for, and respect. Are there no people that you love and/or care for that eat meat or dairy? Or do you reserve your compassion for only those who share your intense opinions and those who cannot express opinions (animals)?
Realizing that there are varying opinions in the world is part of being an empathetic person. Can you still speak out against something you believe is wrong? Of course! It is very important to do so. But should you personally attack someone who thinks differently? No. You mentioned a need for transcendent sense of compassion, well the way you and many of the comments have addressed these students and the college as a whole does not look like that at all. These are people who are working hard towards their interests and dreams, just like you are working hard towards yours, and discrediting someone’s degree is an awful display of disrespect for a fellow human being. (If you are by chance thinking to yourself “…they deserve it because of the school they attend…” shame on you! Part of being able to feel that you are on moral high ground is to continue to show respect to those you are debating with). Veganism should be about equal compassion, not bullying one species.
One more thing; I am rather positive that if many of you had found out about Green Mountain College for another reason (i.e. how it produces most of its own heat and electricity, activism on many social issues, the pride it takes in small class sizes and personal relationship growth, how the students are actively involved in the running of their own school or, a number of nationally recognized programs), then I am rather positive that you would think it was a pretty neat place. Green Mountain College likely does more for the vegan movement than any other college or university I have personally visited or heard of.
This news comes to Eating Plants from Roxxy in Minnesota:
“There is a protest scheduled this Friday from Noon to 3 at Green Mountain College – would you please help us thousands of citizens from around the world advertise the photos and the protest. We are on Facebook in the “Save Bill & Lou Group.”
And, finally, petitions to sign:
Let the drumbeat of opposition continue.