I identify as “selfie morality” the phenomenon of characterizing substantive disagreement or criticism as “oppression,” “aggression,” “bashing,” “hating,” “shaming,” or “bullying” without providing any substantive response to the criticism. Selfie morality is nothing but narcissism. And it is inherently speciesist.
So, for example, when abolitionist vegans make a reasoned argument that the moral status of nonhuman animals requires recognition of veganism as a moral imperative, they are hit with the predictable chorus of welfarist whinging that such a position “shames” or “hates on” nonvegans. Think about this for a second. Those who are engaging in, or support violent, exploitative, or otherwise morally objectionable conduct involving nonhuman animals accuse those who oppose victimizing animals as “aggressive,” “hateful,” or “violent.” They seem to think that any reasoned criticism of their unreasoned position per se runs afoul of the principle of nonviolence.
That is just unabashed narcissism. It says, in essence: “To hell with the animals; to hell with sound moral theory. The only thing that matters is my feelings and I don’t like being criticized.” Indeed, that is the sort of position that gives narcissism a bad name.
Selfie moralists will often accuse people who have a reasoned moral position in favor of veganism as a moral baseline of being “cultists.” Think about that. The defining characteristic of a cult is forbidding rational thought. So who is being a “cultist”–the person who has a rationally defensible position, or the person whose only argument is, in effect: “You disagree with me. You are being violent. You are shaming me. I am on a ‘journey'”?
Another manifestation of “selfie” morality: “Anyone who disagrees with me or does not acknowledge that I am awesome and important is a bigot (of some sort).” Once again, we don’t look at the position being advanced. It’s all about the speaker and anything that is not liked by the speaker must be wrong. People are classified as morally good or morally bad based on the whims of the speaker. That is completely narcissistic.
Selfie morality is the moral rot of the “animal movement.”
If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.
If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.
Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.
Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University
©2015 Gary L. Francione