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20 May 2001 Issue
Vegan Rights

by Park StRanger@aol.com 

The National Park where I work is on the border of Mexico, therefore I am exposed to a constant barrage of images I find offensive. In addition to the typical ads for rodeos, circuses and the usual distasteful fast death restaurant promos we all have to face, I see a continuous stream of "artwork" of
cockfights and bullfights. Some of this smut is even displayed in our park's art gallery. I have always complained whenever this has occurred but today a new image made my blood pressure climb.

A coworker ranger had taped paper cutouts of matadors to his office door. Once again, not expecting any satisfaction, I complained to my boss. You should understand that my boss ridicules vegetarianism and AR, has had angioplasty and is on medication because of his lifelong weekly habit of veal parmesan which he lovingly refers to as "baby cow covered with it's own mother's milk."

Nevertheless, I told my boss that I was offended by images which promote violence to animals and that I wanted him to tell this other person under his supervision to take them down, that such images also glorify acts which are illegal in this country. "I can't tell someone of Mexican descent to take down
pictures of his cultural heritage," he told me. "If you are offended by mere symbols, then the problem is yours not his."

I replied, "So if I put a confederate flag over my desk, a symbol of my southern heritage, I wouldn't have a problem, and you wouldn't have a problem. My black coworkers would have the problem, right?"

Somehow my logic failed to convince him. I was forced to tell him that I would pursue this to the next level of complaining. He smilingly said to go ahead and take it to his boss, Maria, lets call her. I think Maria will understand my complaint if I calmly present my case, in spite of her cultural heritage, but my boss advised me that I would be making a fool of myself if I made a big deal about this.

I've been told I should find some other park to work at where there is less animal abuse for entertainment as a part of "cultural heritage." I have even been told I could leave the Park Service if I didn't want to wear the leather uniform belt. Sounds a lot like Love it or Leave it.

Vegans need some basic rights. We should be afforded some of the same rights which have been extended to other minority groups. But here in Texas, vegans are fanatics not a legitimate minority group. I have often considered saying that I practice Jainism to be able to say that animal abuse offends my religious beliefs, and therefore I have some legal protections. It is so close to the truth.

We all deserve the right to a positive workplace. In the same way that women shouldn't be subjected to sexism, in the same way that no one should be subjected to racism or religious persecution, vegans shouldn't have to put up with jokes about their personal beliefs. They should not have to submit to any action nor be forced to participate in any action which violates their ethics. Thus we come again full circle, animal rights equals human rights.

Go on to In Memory of My Best Friend, Dos: 1986-2001
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