A few days ago, ex-vegan Lierre Keith (pictured right; see her website here) was giving a talk at an "anarchist" book fair in San Francisco when - suddenly - a group of masked thugs swarmed out from backstage and pelted her with cayenne-pepper laced pies.
What did she do to deserve it? Well, Keith wrote a book titled The Vegetarian Myth, in which the ex-vegan criticizes the vegan lifestyle as unhealthy and insists that mass agriculture is actually destroying the planet.
(For the record, Keith also opposes factory farming, which she believes is destroying the planet, too...)
Her arguments are provocative. I haven't read the book - I've only read about it online. I can't say whether it's good or bad. I am very happy she wrote it because I think these issues need to be debated.
About halfway through Keith's talk, a group of masked vegans swarmed out and tossed pies at her. "Go vegan!" they shouted during their assault.
I am reminded of the overzealous animal rights activist who tossed a pie at Canada's federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea. Shea's crime? Supporting the seal hunt.
Vegans and animal rights activists have to knock off this ineffectual crap. These are nothing more than heavy-handed attempts to quash free speech.
Without doubt, the worst outcome of these actions is their chilling effect. The message is clear: If you dare oppose the animal rights movement or if you advocate a position that in any way results in harming animals, you'd better look over your shoulder.
Throwing a pie at someone is a violent act. And a stupid act. And, worst of all, it is a marginalizing act. And guess who gets marginalized? Not the person who gets slammed with the pie. No, it is the pie thrower who ends up getting dismissed as the lunatic.
Luckily, the overwhelming majority of vegans reject this sort of crazy behavior. Most of us embrace a nonviolent position that respects the dignity of all human beings and animals.
It is important for us, therefore, to condemn these sorts of occurrences. Lierre Keith was absolutely right when she told the San Francisco Chronicle: "The whole thing was designed for social humiliation. We're supposed to be against sadism and cruelty and domination, and these people are willing to do this to me."
As a vegan and a libertarian, I am not willing to curb anyone's right to free speech under any circumstances. Ever.
Finally, what kind of an anarchist throws pies at his or her political foes? Answer: Someone who really isn't an anarchist, someone who could probably use decent psychiatric care to address a host of emotional problems. For these people, anarchism is nothing more than window dressing to make thuggery seem more grandiose.