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 email@example.com.