There were mixed reactions when this photo and headline, which first appeared in an anti-Vegan Facebook group as a hoax, was re-posted on a personal Facebook page. For me, I laughed my head off! After all, if statues of human abusers are deemed offensive, then statues honouring animal abuse are equally offensive.
This pretend-threat by an “offended vegan” has come hot on the heels of the removal the statue of a colonial white man, that local Maori found offensive, by the Hamilton City Council. But there is indeed a statue of a trout standing at the entrance to Gore. It’s a beautiful statue – but it isn’t there for us to admire it’s beauty. This is a statue that celebrates the pleasure of putting a hook through the mouths of trout for the enjoyment it gives to do that. Yeah – humans are a swell bunch, eh? We’re pretty good at both the best and worst of behaviours.
Gore is a small farming town in the lower part of the South Island of New Zealand. Farming, fishing, hunting, and all manner of outdoor activities are its current lifeblood, and entrenched in the psyche of the general population. Vegans are few in number and looked upon strangely, but tolerated as long as they stay in their lane. Even though the supermarkets in Gore do provide some vegan foodstuffs, it’s not the permanent Gore residents who tend to buy them up. The mental shift required for a widespread vegan lifestyle will be a much longer time coming in this place. That’s not ridicule, just the plain truth.
So, why not pull down and destroy a statue dedicated to gratuitous violence towards an innocent sentient being? If the Gore Town Council won’t remove it voluntarily because it’s offensive to Vegans, do Vegans have the right to take matters into their own hands? There’s a big part of me that would cheer this on. Then there’s the sensible part of me that wouldn’t, because it’s counteractive to progress. I understand that a physical protest action can sometimes seem like the only way to be noticed. And it can work. Escalating that into destruction or violence gives dubious rewards, though.
However angry we feel at people’s (often willful) ignorance towards animal rights, however urgent it is for animals to be included in justice for all, good strategy tends to win the long game. Impulsiveness feels good in the moment – especially after a few bevvies (who hasn’t been there?) – but can have a shite long term outcome.
Having said that, I can’t deny that it’s more exciting to be angry than having a measured approach to an issue. Anger makes us feel like we care, and strong feelings can make us feel like we’re doing something. It can drive us to take positive action, too. It’s good to have good anger. Like the proverb, though: “fire is a good servant, but a bad master”, the same goes for anger. Using it strategically to serve us is good – letting it rule us is wasted time and energy. I confess that I have been as guilty of the latter as anyone.
So, with the wisdom of hindsight, I say to any Vegans getting ready to head to Gore on a mission, don’t pull down and destroy the trout statue proudly displayed at the entrance to Gore, offensive as the reason behind it being there is. It deserves more respect than an ignominious end. Whether or not this particular fake news item is just a jolly good jape by anti-Vegans – and I for one am still getting a laugh out of it regardless – in this instance, I suggest playing the long game.
The time for re-defining said esteemed trout statue with a much better story, or giving or a much better home, will come.
Not that I’m planting ideas, or anything 🙂