Ethics Dilemma: What Can Be Done About People Like This? [Poll Included]

Hold on to your skulls…

Social media can spread stupidity like a viral plague. Is there anything  ethical and constitutional  that can be done to protect the imperiled children addled  mothers like this may raise?

[Related Ethics Alarms posts here (feeding kittens a vegan diet) and here (dogs).]

39 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Social Media

39 responses to “Ethics Dilemma: What Can Be Done About People Like This? [Poll Included]

  1. Chris Marschner_

    Do they realize that choosing to go vegan means what the individual consumes and not they feed others? With mothers thinking like this the babies are in fact doomed to a life of retarded development.

    • Andrew V

      Its not simply a personal choice for them since the ethical issue doesn’t vanish if they only tend to themselves; its a global imperative to spread the philosophy. Vegan is to vegetarian as Scientologist is to Anglican.

  2. I have no idea whether breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs if the mother is a vegan. However, I suspect that all the “drama llamas” she referred to merely thought she was a troll, because only an idiot would fail to realize that the reason animal milk isn’t vegan is because the animals are presumed not to give consent. Whether that makes any sense is another issue, but the fact that she didn’t realize that her milk would be ethically sourced means that if she isn’t a troll, she’s a hazardous combination of stupid and idealistic which will endanger her child.

    I want to respond to this line: “As a mammal it just seems weird to feed my child my milk when I wouldn’t drink milk from another species.” Well, “mammal” comes from same root word as “mammary”, so it seems weird that you think it’s weird to feed your child your milk. I’m not criticizing you for thinking it’s weird; I’m criticizing you for thinking it’s weird “as a mammal.” It may be I don’t understand what that was supposed to convey. However, since you’re the same species as your child, presumably, whether you drink other species’ milk is 100% irrelevant.

    Also, should I be worried that she’s having a baby and her screen name refers to her as a “Granny”?

    I will give her this, though: her spelling and grammar do not make me cringe.

  3. Arthur in Maine

    I suppose someone could point out to the lass that cows, horses and cute li’l bunnies are vegans, too, after a certain point in time.

    But it ain’t gonna be me. I vote with the majority: the poor bairn is doomed and, cold as it sounds, it’s probably best that ze (or whatever non-gender-specific pronoun you prefer) shrivels up and blows away prior to having the chance to pass this particular genetic aberration on to subsequent generations.

  4. PennAgain

    None of the above. Reply online with this post, followed by a VFS (Vegan Fact Sheet). If they come back with another stupid question, get their address, go to their home, and remove their computer . . . . Seriously, I am guessing that we overlook the ones who ask such questions without having ever considered the subject before in their lives: they just want the usual online anonymous exposure. They may be a much greater percentage than we guess.

    My best friend, erstwhile employer, and a co-worker have been Vegan for 22, 16 and 25 years, respectively. Of the last two, one has an adopted child and fosters regularly, and the other is a granddad of 72 who just finished his last (he swears) 7-day LifeCycle ride, 270.2 miles (shortest route) SF to LA, last week.
    — I’ve already had a discussion-cum-argument on this subject with Texagg04 who is convinced that even a vegetarian is a weak, undernourished, skinny, unhealthy fool. Since Tex isn’t here to argue his steak-and-potatoes diet or the assumed weirdness of most non-Texans, and thinks I am lying or hypnotized when I tell him the vegetarians and particularly the vegans I know (particularly the aforementioned adult males) are all as healthy as any average man of their size and age, if not more so, with good body definition (wiry, not skinny) – gaining energy, strength, muscle tone and flexibility, resistance to common colds, flu, etc., and recovering and healing faster, while also having lost previous allergies, chronic illnesses, and unnecessary fat, as well as a general negative outlook.

    Am I Vegan? Never happen. Not even vegetarian. But definitely in better shape (all after hitting 70 eight years ago) by the gradual encroachment of a very large variety of grains, farm fresh veggies and just-picked fruit on my own decades of steak-and-potatoes and mittel-European diet handed down. Granted, I have the advantage of living where that variety and freshness happens to be available at low cost at home, and to an ever-increasing rate at a great number of restaurants.

    And, again contrary to popular assumption, not one of my friends has ever “preached” at me nor objected to my ordering or serving meat, poultry, or seafood, much less eggs or cheese. They all have different palates and food preferences. What they did, however, (sneaky people) is wait until the suspense was high enough that I broke down and asked them for recommendations to change my own diet. (My doctor didn’t help – many of them don’t: they just eat the way their patients do) A waitress where I have been stopping by during film festivals since the 90s has been adding bits and pieces of foods and spices all along – usually on a side plate (“have a taste of this with ___) — to salads, pastas, and wherever else they might go. All but a few, like beets and dragonfruit (couldn’t get through the durian stink to taste it at all), were finally incorporated with my enthusiasm into regular dishes and sandwiches. The M (blood rare) and P (+butter & sour cream) servings have gradually – very gradually – shrunk and lost their toppings.

    Veganism does not change one’s politics, I see, — it tends to tilt leftward from the start because that is where it is accepted – but it does help open minds (they understand how self-change works).

    • Keith Walker

      I love all of this, Penn, but I think your last line is the crux of the “problem” people have with vegans. My wife and I went plant-based a few years ago but have since let some animal products back into our diets (and we are less healthy for it, but that is another story). We learned over the years that there is a political difference – Vegans are more activists, out for the environment, animal rights, etc. A “plant-based diet,” while the same as vegan in that it doesn’t include animal products, just means you want to get healthy and eat that kind of diet. We never ran into anyone who preached or whatever. We met a few people who decided to take animal products out of their lives and became healthier. We decided we wanted to do that, too. (We learned some really cool things. Like the fact that Oreos, Girl Scout Thin Mints, and Lay’s potato chips are vegan!)

      • The suspicions about vegans emerge from the suspicion that veganism is a cult. What anyone else chooses to eat is none of my business, just as what I eat is none of their business: the climate-change connection is just another leftward excuse for totalitarianism: eat what we say to save the earth, have fewer children, travel as we require: screw that. The issue becomes ethical when vegans abuse their power to force those under their control to be vegaans, when, is is the case with pets and babies, it will make them miserable or kill them. The problem is fanatacism.

        • That doesn’t address the ethical issue that veganism is based on, though, as I understand it. I was under the impression that it’s not about your freedom to choose what to eat so much as it’s about whether it’s ethical to eat animals. In that respect it’s analogous to the dilemma of abortion. I wasn’t aware that climate change had anything to do with it, but that may have been added later. I may ask my vegan acquaintances about that.

        • “The suspicions about vegans emerge from the suspicion that veganism is a cult.”

          It walks like one, looks like one, and quacks like one…

          If you meet a vegan who does cross-fit which do they tell you about in the first 15 seconds of your introduction?

    • Chris Marschner_

      I apologize for my indignant comment. It was aimed at the mother for such a stupid question and not to suggest veganism is wrong. However, I have had a different experience with vegans. Some of the ones I have known tout their lifestyle with moral smugness and called in sick more often than others. I don’t know if a totally plant based diet is better or not for all people. What I do know is that freedom to choose is best for all.

    • Isaac

      “The vegetarians and particularly the vegans I know (particularly the aforementioned adult males) are all as healthy as any average man of their size and age, if not more so, with good body definition (wiry, not skinny) – gaining energy, strength, muscle tone and flexibility, resistance to common colds, flu, etc., and recovering and healing faster, while also having lost previous allergies, chronic illnesses, and unnecessary fat, as well as a general negative outlook.”

      So, a vegan diet : vegans ::
      weed : stoners ::
      Jesus : Christians ::
      Islam : Muslims ::
      The Secret : Herbalife representatives.
      Got it.

  5. PennAgain

    “reply with this post” refers to Jack’s, not mine

  6. luckyesteeyoreman

    Sorry, Jack – none of the choices for the poll were agreeable with me.

    I believe that the best we can hope for, for the sake of the children of ignorant and/or harmfully deluded parents, is to use what media that exist to enable opportunities for self-re-education. I do not wholeheartedly support “interventions” more aggressive than “enabling opportunities.”

  7. Still Spartan

    “Food” (deliberately in quotes) which I have seen on numerous occasions put into baby bottles: 1) Coke; 2) juices; and 3) soy milk. Which of these is least objectionable? Here’s a hint — one of these choices also is healthy.

    Both of my daughters had to be on a very expensive soy-based formula ($200/month) because of a dairy allergy. (Thank goodness they have now outgrown this allergy.) A baby can be raised perfectly well on an animal-free diet. Breast milk IS best — unless your baby is allergic to it. Also, breast feeding is damn near impossible for many working moms — even for those who have awesome employers who accommodate it.

    During my hiatus from EA (which I will return to shortly, this is just a drive-by), I’ve been reading the comments from allegedly “normal” people everywhere. Stupid is everywhere sadly. This woman doesn’t even make the top 100 I’ve read this week.

  8. Alexander Cheezem

    I’m going to have to chime in with “none of the above.” This is, by my standards, neither stupid/ignorant enough nor harmful enough to even register on my metaphorical radar. In fact, I even understand and sympathize with the parents in question — although I also facepalm at their ignorance.

    The general thrust of those comments is that Grissle doesn’t want to feed her kid breast milk because it’s, well, icky to her. She won’t drink milk, so she won’t feed it to her kid. This is, admittedly, completely contrary to the assorted reasons vegans use to justify excluding milk from their diets (which mostly have to do with the agricultural treatment of cows or the environmental impacts of dairy farming)… but I can understand and somewhat sympathize with the ick factor there even if I find it silly.

    So… assuming she does decide not to feed her kid breast milk, What is she going to do instead? How likely is that course of action to harm said kid? How severely is it going to if it does?

    Well, the most likely answer is that she’s simply going to feed him infant formula — and there are a lot of nutritionally-complete vegan baby formulas on the market. There are risks associated with the practice, but it’s hardly uncommon these days (e.g. cf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812877/ for review and discussion) and I’d hardly refer to a formula-fed baby as “doomed.”

    (As a side-note, the statistics quoted in that article look very different to someone with statistical training than they do to someone without it. Framing effects are a thing.)

    If anything, the vegan formulas may be safer than the non-vegan ones, as the use of cow’s milk-based formula is associated with an increased risk of Type 1 diabetes.

    Your proposed alternatives, however, all boil down — in some manner or another — to taking her kid away from her or threatening her with that outcome. To be blunt, this would be fucking terrible. The American foster care system is… well, let me quote the National Foster Youth Institute’s list of statistics:

    *After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.
    *Only 1 out of every 2 foster kids who age out of the system will have some form of gainful employment by the age of 24.
    *There is less than a 3% chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a college degree at any point in their life.
    *7 out of 10 girls who age out of the foster care system will become pregnant before the age of 21.
    *The percentage of children who age out of the foster care system and still suffer from the direct effects of PTSD: 25%.

    If you think that the risks of being formula-fed as a baby are better than that, I seriously wonder about your sense of proportion and scale — even if the odds of a foster-care infant getting breast-fed were at all appreciable.

    This isn’t to say that I haven’t contemplated calling child services or taking kids away from their parents before. I saw some incredibly messed up crap during my career in disability advocacy, and I’ve even shared one of the associated stories here on this blog (in my 2013 Comment of the Day on Heidi Scheer — which I’d link if it wasn’t likely to trip your SPAM filter).

    But for wanting to bottle-feed their kid? No, that’s well below my threshold there.

    And for registering on my “stupid” radar? I had to spend time last year advising women not to put wasp’s nests into their genitals. I once investigated a network of parents who were having pig whipworm eggs illegally smuggled in from Thailand so they could deliberately infest their kids with porcine intestinal parasites. I remember getting a member of the Broward Autism Society board to admit to having given local parents an industrial chelating agent that had never been safety tested on humans as an “antioxidant dietary supplement” to feed to their autistic kids… and he’s still on the board. I remember getting into the field of tracking them when a clinic dedicated to “recovering” kids “from” autism through chemical castration opened up down the street from the preschool I was doing a clinical practicum at.

    This? This is nothing.

    • Alexander Cheezem

      Correction: “worse than that.”

    • I don’t like most state solutions towards ‘bad’ parents, BUT:

      “*After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.
      *Only 1 out of every 2 foster kids who age out of the system will have some form of gainful employment by the age of 24.
      *There is less than a 3% chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a college degree at any point in their life.
      *7 out of 10 girls who age out of the foster care system will become pregnant before the age of 21.
      *The percentage of children who age out of the foster care system and still suffer from the direct effects of PTSD: 25%.”

      Doesn’t help me out if I don’t know the outcome rates of the children who remain with the types of families who they could have been ripped from and tossed into foster care.

      Because if there are stats for it, and they come out worse than foster family outcomes…technically, foster families would be an improvement.

      I tend to agree with your analysis and I generally shy away from statistics based arguments (I like values and principles based arguments), but is there any data to compare to?

      • Alexander Cheezem

        The problem there is that the statistics for the kids staying behind are inherently unavailable as they’re basically contrafactual. I cited those numbers to give readers some idea of the state and risks of American foster care, not to (directly) put forth an argument about any specific case. I mean, I suppose I could try to find statistics for kids left in abusive homes… but that gets into things like sampling and selection bias; the numbers really aren’t directly comparable.

        What I can do, and tried to, is cite statistics on foster care in order to establish that it’s not — at all — a good situation to grow up in, and that it’s not something you should subject a child to lightly.

        To answer your question more thoroughly, however… I’m not aware offhand of any good studies on the matter. Someone with more extensive (and current) experience in the area might, however.

        • I know lots of kids who have PTSD from their normal birth families… just sayin’

          • Alexander Cheezem

            Yes… which is part of why I consider taking kids away from their parents to be a valid option in some cases, as I noted in my initial comment:

            “This isn’t to say that I haven’t contemplated calling child services or taking kids away from their parents before. I saw some incredibly messed up crap during my career in disability advocacy, and I’ve even shared one of the associated stories here on this blog (in my 2013 Comment of the Day on Heidi Scheer — which I’d link if it wasn’t likely to trip your SPAM filter).

            “But for wanting to bottle-feed their kid? No, that’s well below my threshold there.”

            In short, the foster care system can still be better than the situation you’re taking the kids out of… but that doesn’t mean that it should be used lightly.

  9. There are some levels of “stupid” that are not fixable, this mother-to-be sure seems to fit in that category but in this case I really think the mother-to-be is just ignorant, almost a childlike ignorance. She needs to to seek knowledge and not from chatting on the internet or from her vegan echo chamber, she needs to get real help from doctors and nurses that educate new mothers for a living.

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