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WIIILBUR

Some time ago over on Quora, I answered a question "What effect does autism have on empathy?" with this:

Based on my personal experience, I as an autistic person have an excess of empathy. I can feel people's feelings whether I want to or not. Where I have issues is that I often don't know *why* someone feels the way they do. They either have to tell me or I have to work it out like a puzzle with 1000 pieces.

And earlier today, someone commented on it, asking for examples. This was my response:

I have a hard time thinking of one-on-one examples, IE one-offs, my memory isn’t wonderful. So I’ll use one that is pretty common: horse meat.

People got really, really upset when it came out that Burger King was putting horse meat into their burgers. Like, so upset that months (or is it years?) later, people are still talking about it. (I know because I saw a video on YouTube talking about it just the other day, that was relatively new.) But I just don’t get it. I know people are upset, but I don’t get why they’re this upset about it. Corporations lie all the time, about much worse things, so why are people still so upset about this really quite minor thing? I haven’t seen people get as upset about Nestle stealing water from drought-stricken California for the world’s most idiotic product ever (bottled water), or the fact Hershey’s is using child slave labor in Africa to make chocolate bars, as people got over horse meat in their burgers. When corporations are caught putting known dangerous chemicals in their food, it’s news for like a week and then everybody forgets about it. So why the kerfuffle over horse meat?

My own reaction to the news about the horse meat scandal was basically “Okay. And...?” Which honestly... horse meat used to be legal in the US for human consumption, and it used to be so cheap that I have at least one friend who regularly bought it instead of hamburger. I really don’t get why that ever changed.

I’ve tried getting people to explain why this issue upsets them so much, and their argument basically boils down to “They’re horses, man!” Which is the same sort of argument about why people get so upset about foreign countries/cultures where people eat dog meat regularly. People get so upset by this that you’d think the mere existence of dog meat consumption by humans was a threat to their pets. But me, I’m like “As long as they’re raising their own dogs for meat and not bothering strays that might be someone’s pet, or stealing pets out of yards, why should I care? Why should anyone care?”

These people tend to think that I think that way because I’m afraid of dogs. So when they find out I’m a cat person, they try to argue “what if they were killing cats?” Again, my answer is “As long as they’re keeping their own cats for that purpose and not bothering pets, why should I care?” I personally think anyone who tried eating cats is wasting their time, cats are mostly bone, fur, and gristle with very little meat, but again, if they’re not going after pets, why should I care if they waste their time?

“What about dolphins!” Well that’s another issue altogether. Dolphins are endangered, for one thing, along with lots of other cetaceans. But more importantly, they’ve got complex language and they use tools. Eating a dolphin is tantamount to cannibalism, because you’re eating a person. Regardless of what others say to the contrary, the same is not true of cats and dogs. Both species are pretty smart, but they don’t have a capacity for language or tool using the way dolphins, humans, chimps, gorillas, and orangutans do. Cats and dogs are *not* people, no matter how much humans anthropomorphize them. And horses aren’t even anywhere near as smart as dogs, but they get the same treatment for some reason.

Getting upset about dogs or horses being raised for meat is like getting upset about chickens, pigs, or cows being raised for meat. (And yes, vegans are another group of people I just don’t understand, but at least their beliefs are more logically internally consistent than meat eaters who get absurdly upset about horse and dog meat.)

But yeah, that’s a good example of something that people get upset about, and I know they’re upset, but I just can’t figure out why, no matter how they try to explain it. I thought they might be anthropomorphizing these animals, that that might explain it, but people anthropomorphize rabbits and rats and even frogs, so that doesn’t explain it. So yeah, in the end, I don’t know how they came to conclude that these animals and only these animals deserve this level of upset when threatened or killed. Dogs and cats kind of make sense, if these people believe for some reason that their own pets are under threat, but I don’t understand how they came to think that was a possibility.

And horses just don’t make any sense at all in this context. Seriously, why are people so upset about horse meat? Only really rich people even HAVE horses anymore, and most people have probably never even seen a real horse in the flesh, so why do they care? The only thing I can think of is people are confusing them for unicorns, but that’s absurd.

This was cross-posted from https://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1418705.html
You can comment either here or there.

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