Norcross’s argues that individuals participating in the consumption of factory-raised meat are comparable to the actions of Fred the puppy torturer. He then concludes that any individual who could partake is such wrong actions must be immoral. While the actions of consumers of factory-raised meat are wrong, the example of Fred shows moral indecency. Such an analogy fails since it does not take note to the cultural norms that inhibits individuals to view the consumption of factory-raised meat as immoral, changing whether the act is indecent.
Before digging into Norcross’s argument, I would like to establish a clear awareness of the difference between wrong and indecent and how those each relate specifically to moral acts. To do something “wrong” is to commit an unjust action or conduct. As to be “indecent’ means to be grossly improper or offensive. To be “moral” involves conforming to a standard of right behavior by one’s ethical judgment. If one is “morally wrong,” then such a person is committing an unfair act to the standard of right behavior. On the contrary, if one is “morally indecent” then the actions of such a person is offensive to a standard of right behavior. The idea of “right behavior,” regarding factory-raised meat, is what is appropriate based on a society’s judgement.
Norcross conveys his argument through the story of Fred, the infamous puppy torturer. Fred, an avid chocolate lover, had been involved in a serious car accident resulting in the loss of taste for the delicious delicacy. Of course, the only way to rediscover the sensational taste was through extended periods of suffering and neglect to puppies stimulating cocoamone, the hormone responsible for the experience of chocolate. As Fred allowed human pleasure to take hold of his instincts, he derived his own cocoamone lab in his basement. As noted, Fred had twenty-six cages filled with puppies that had been mutilated, covered in their own species, and crammed with barely enough room for movement. After six months of torture, the puppies were then brutally killed for a week’s worth of cocoamone. Naturally when discovered the public was outraged and called for Fred to be severely punished. At trail, Fred explains how he receives no pleasure in the act of torturing puppies and understands those who are horrified over such actions, but life would simply not be worth living without the taste of chocolate (Norcross, 2004).
Norcross then goes on to claim that the actions of Fred and those who consume factory-raised meat are one in the same. I do agree that there is no relevant argument that Fred individually torturing the puppies is worse than someone else doing it for him, since he still receives enjoyment off another being’s agony. Like many American consumers, he values human satisfaction above the wellbeing of animals. Now, while these actions are wrong, that does not make the consumer indecent. Norcross argues that “meat-eating readers are deprived of the excuse of ignorance” after not only reading his article, but also to the multitude of animal rights activist groups exposing the treatment of these animals. Just because consumers now have the access to knowledge of wrongful acts of what happens to these animals does not mean that they have full comprehension of its immorality.
As Norcross does compare Fred directly to American consumers of factory-raised meat, the we must also think back to what Fred says in his trail. He explained how he is not an animal abuser and if there were a way to collect cocoamone without torturing puppies he would gladly do so. He realizes the pain that is caused to these animals, but “they must realize human pleasure is at stake.” We can also take into consideration Norcross’s analogy of the “Chocolate Mousse a la Bama.” The specialty dessert at the best restaurant in town. Here your friend recommends a delicious dessert that is served with a cup of coffee containing that wonderful hormone cocoamone. Before you order a second one, your friend reveals that the torturing of innocent puppies is what enables the dessert to be as delicious as it is. How shocked you are to discover that your seemingly “morally decent” friend could ever recommend, let alone eat a product derived from torment. Your friend realizes that the suffering of puppies is outrageous for human pleasure, but it will happen anyways so why not take part since you cannot stop it (Norcross, 2004).
The only difference between this analogy at the story of Fred is that your “morally indecent” friend realizes that human pleasure is not necessarily above an animal’s life. Both Fred, your friend, and factory-raised meat consumers are aware that the mistreatment of animals for human pleasure does take place. There is no denying that. Fred and your friend’s behavior are offensive to the standard right of behavior, because there is no widespread social acceptance of factory-raised puppy meat. While on the other hand of the acceptance of factory-raised meat. Norcross argues that consumers cannot claim to have ignorance on their side, but as I stated before, ignorance also contains the ability to comprehend. We could take for example the idea of cannibalism. We are humans and most of us do consider the act of murdering another human as morally wrong. Not only is this morally wrong, but it also illegal to do so. Therefore, we have developed the mindset, unlike factory-raised animals, that it would be utterly against the standard of right behavior to consume products of humans. If factory-raised meat consumers do not understand that their behavior is morally wrong, because it is a widespread social acceptance, how is it interpreted that they are indecent?
Specifically, in American society, while information is being released of the mistreatment of animals, human satisfaction still holds higher ground to most individuals. Hence Fred’s determination for the pleasure of the taste of chocolate, your friend’s ability to eat the delicious Chocolate Mousse a la Bama, and individual’s continuation to consume factory-raised meat, knowing how each desire is fulfilled. Since, the view that human satisfaction is more significant than the mistreatment of animals to a large majority of society, the actions of factory-raised consumers cannot be offensive because they are socially appropriate.