On Anthony Bourdain and other psychopaths

activist, author, former political prisoner

In 2017, a petition with over 100,000 signatures demanded that CNN stop promoting Bourdain’s brand of animal sadism in his Parts Unknown series:

“Bourdain’s show depicts barbaric and sadistic acts such as cutting open a live snake to remove its beating heart; wrestling a goat to the ground before slicing his throat and drinking the blood; and laughing callously about a chef ripping the intestines from a live duck.”

by Lindy Greene

Psychopaths are my nemesis. Whether born or created by abuse or culture, their evil deeds towards others (humans and/or nonhumans) break my heart and cause me to wish them to – and rejoice if they do – come to violent and untimely ends.

They visit the most grievous harm upon fellow humans or animals while being unable, themselves, to (as I like to put it) tolerate a hangnail.

The conflict for me lies in the understanding that their brains were modified, either by genetics or environment, in some way to produce a monster who can not control his impulses to bring suffering and death to other sentient beings but also knowing that they have the cognitive ability to distinguish between right and wrong and comprehend – at least on an operational, if not an emotive – level that you don’t do to others what you could not tolerate done to yourself.

If I were a practicing psychologist or psychiatrist, I would have to approach the situation from the former perspective. As a prosecutor or judge, I would be looking at it from the latter. As a lay person, I see both.

My response to people like Anthony Bourdain and other such horrific sociopaths is to be glad of their departure from society – whether through a life sentence in prison or death.

But when animals are the victims of their brutality, there is never adequate – if any – justice. And even animal rights activists can and do harbor unrecognized and unacknowledged speciesism. If Bourdain’s victims had been human, I doubt there’d have been this outpouring of and demand for compassion over his suicide.

I choose to be on the side of the victim. That’s where my sympathies lie. I want to see justice for the animal (or human) who was tortured and/or killed and accountability for the perpetrator.

When the perp is removed from society and can no longer harm anyone else, my heart sings. I am focusing on the victims – past and future.

The suffering of the past ones has been avenged and the suffering of future ones, prevented. And it is those past victims – not their abuser – whose suffering and deaths deserve to be mourned.

Anthony Bourdain’s decision spared any more animals from his barbarity and brutality. The “official” justice system never would have punished or stopped him. So, would you really rather he still be alive to inflict more abuse on innocent creatures?

I cannot dredge up compassion for torturers and murderers until or unless they express remorse and change their behavior. And I think that’s eminently fair and reasonable.

It’s also difficult for me to reconcile animal rights activists and vegans expressing sympathy for and touting “redeeming qualities in” one of the most vicious and callous abusers I’ve ever encountered.

He extracted the beating heart from a live snake (only one of his multiple and diverse atrocities) and stated that vegans should be hunted down and destroyed.

My God! This is for whom your hearts are filled with compassion? I feel like I’m living in some alternate universe. Well, you’re much more saintly than I. I reserve my compassion for people who do good – or at least refrain from doing evil – in the world.

There’s something about animal rights activists defending and feeling compassion for the abuser that just doesn’t compute.

Lindy Greene is an Animal Liberation activist, former political prisoner, and author living in Los Angeles, California. After being accused and briefly jailed for multiple counts of stalking, she was prohibited from participating in animal rights discussions or demonstrations for three years. She may be reached at lindygreene@roadrunner.com.


9 Responses

  1. Deb Thompson says:

    Bourdain’s gleeful torture of nonhuman animals is at an end. Suicide, for a variety of different reasons, is the choice made by people to end their lives. His reason(s) will never be known. But at least he had a choice, unlike the animals he murdered for taste buds and egocentric celebrity.

    • admin says:

      when i was in jail and they’d put his show on the dayroom tv, i preferred to go lock myself in my cell than have to endure his arrogance. exactly, he killed them, he killed himself — he’s the only individual who had any choice in the matter.

  2. Ellie Israel says:

    I think the producer, and everyone else who played a part in giving Bourdain a platform to carry out his murderous deeds, share in the injustice visited upon the animals he gleefully killed. Those who think that because we are vegan we should show unconditional love for every human who tortures and causes misery for another being are delusional. Should we also find reasons to praise a pedophile? How about Ariel Castro? He had good friends and all his neighbors liked him. Until it was discovered he was hiding 3 women and a child in his house against his will. He hung himself in jail. I don’t recall “ethical” vegans mourning his passage. Why is Bourdain different? I am vegan and I didn’t like him when he was alive. I sure as hell don’t like him now. In fact, I think he is one less person the animals have to fear.

    • admin says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Ellie. And you raise a good point — very often abusers, especially the celebrated one, are enabled and their sadism is facilitated by others. I think Ariel Castro is a very apt analogy. I am guessing that a lot of people, vegans included, expressed a “good riddance” sentiment at his demise. I have difficulty believing there were a whole lot of posts warning about suicidal depression that afflicts troubled people. It smacks of a latent form of speciesism — not compassion! A good abuser is a dead abuser. Period.

  3. BETSY Graber says:

    I thought I was one of the few who did not get the adulation of this man and his show. Just read your post, Camille. Thank you for not letting this go unnoticed.

    • admin says:

      yeah, betsy, those of us who “get it” are definitely in the minority (so what’s new?!). but even within our community, there was a lot of backlash that we shouldn’t celebrate his death. it seems to me that there’s an element of speciesism that rears its ugly head at times like this. if it was a serial killer of humans that committed suicide, no one would expect us to be respectful. but because he only killed and advocated killing of nonhumans, some draw a distinction. i don’t celebrate death in and of itself, but i definitely celebrate when there’s one less abuser in the world.

  4. Catorina says:

    Thankyou for this. I shared my thoughts on Anthony Bourdain, and one of my most cherished friendships is now history, as said friend was horrified that I felt no sympathy for that man. It’s a comfort to know I am not alone in not only feeling the world is a lighter place without Bourdain, but also the confusion over people’s reaction to the death of someone who, it seems obvious to me, was nothing short of a monster.

    • admin says:

      Hi Catorina, I’m sorry for your experience. But the simple fact is that most of our friends and family ate speciesist; they have no issue with Bourdain killing and eating animals because they likely would do the same. I would suggest, however, that the animals who won’t die for his entertainment are not mourning his death either.

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