“Be Good to Ira Glass”: And Other Thoughts Regarding Friday’s Times Op-Ed

Many readers forget this point, but the purpose of an op-ed is not to hand down The Truth from on-high, it’s to provoke.  What else can one do in a thousand words on a topic requiring volumes to fully explicate?  An op-ed that does not provoke is an op-ed that’s failed. By this standard, I’m pleased with the dialogue sparked by my New York Times piece, published last Friday

This one says I simplify, to which I say, of course I do (it’s 1000 words!): http://fromanimaltomeat.com/2012/04/16/mcwilliams-enfant-terrible-and-radical-oversimplifier/ 

I almost choked on my tabouli when I read that Grist’s Tom Laskaway sort of agreed with me: http://grist.org/food-safety/where-the-whole-animal-meets-pink-slime/

This one from vegan.com predicts that Joel Salatin’s going to freak: http://vegan.com/blog/2012/04/12/james-mcwilliams-the-myth-of-sustainable-meat/

And Joel Salatin freaks: http://on.fb.me/HF6I2C.

Oh, but whenever I’m feeling beaten down there will always be this clip of Ira Glass on Letterman to cheer me up, sent by a reader of the blog: http://youtu.be/gP02yahsoCw. WATCH UNTIL THE END. The punch line will blow you away.

Be good to Ira Glass (and Karen Davis).


About James McWilliams
I'm a historian and writer based in Austin, Texas. This blog is dedicated to exploring the ethics of eating animals and animal-based products.

10 Responses to “Be Good to Ira Glass”: And Other Thoughts Regarding Friday’s Times Op-Ed

  1. Leo says:

    Joel Salatin really didn’t “freak.” What he did was give the exact point-by-point rebuttal to your inaccurate-at-best rant that vegan.com challenged the “locavore meat trade” to offer up. With the truth and hard fact, backed up by years of in-the-field knowledge, he effortlessly tore you to shreds. You won’t see the truth, that’s clear, but hopefully it reaches people who might have been tainted by your piece.
    An academic can cower behind his pen and lob any pontification he chooses to gas on about, regardless of facts. A real man in the arena, like Joel, with the truth behind him, completely decimates your dribble with the turn of a few truth-filled words. No freaking necessary.

    • C says:

      I think it’s interesting that the response (both Salatin’s and those similar to the above comment) display this histrionic tone and rudeness. The fundamentalism comes through whenever Salatin and the ilk engage in these “debates.” How dare anyone attack the religion! You “taint” them with the “untruth”!

      What I’d like to see is some discussion of Fairlie’s book. He does put into question a variety of “canards” from AL/AR/V*g* movement (degree of inefficiency in converting plant protein to animal protein etc). I don’t think it’s ultimately strong enough argument for his claim that eating meat is morally defensible, but he’s at least a somewhat diligent scholar–unlike Salatin’s intellectually flaccid work.

      Nonetheless, kudos on raising the question in the NYT. We need more push back on food-conservativism and its assumptions.

  2. Peter says:

    Yes that Ira Glass piece is very important.

  3. “Wetlands emit some 95 percent of all methane in the world”

    What the hell is Salatin smoking over at Polyface? And he has the gall to accuse James here of being less than honest?

    It’s a safe bet that Salatin already knows who James McWilliams is, and what his vegan/animal rights agenda is, but that doesn’t stop Salatin from lying about it by implying that McWilliams is a shill for the factory farm lobby: “I wonder where his paycheck comes from”??

    Seriously, if this is what passes for rational rebuttal among locavores, I’ve been significantly over-estimating their good will, honesty and intelligence.

      • Nope. That link actually debunks Salatin’s claim that wetlands emit 95 percent of all methane in the world.

        From your link: “about 60% of global methane emissions come from man-made sources, and the atmospheric concentration of methane has increased by around 150% since 1750, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

        And again: “Using satellite data, investigators determined that wetlands contribute from 53% to 58% of global methane emissions and that rice paddies are responsible for more than a quarter of that output.”

        No one denies that wetlands emit methane; the claim that they’re responsible for 95 percent of all methane in the world is simply not true.

  4. Malcom says:

    Industrial agriculture is the single biggest emitter of green house gases.

  5. Provoked says:

    Love Karen Davis! And in a shameless plug for all the beloved chickens she and all good folks advocate on behalf of: May 4th is International Respect for Chickens Day

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