Most of us recognize the existence of cultural relativism, right? Like, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, someone’s religious devotion can be construed as adherence to superstition and voodooism, etc etc. There are cultural gaps and differences that we simply just cannot imagine buying into. Like, ever.
Or, can we?
Consider this situation Roger Cohen was recently confronted with. The practice of dog-eating, in China.
As it happened, our meal came shortly before the eruption of a furious online debate in China over a proposed “anti-animal maltreatment” law that would outlaw the eating and selling of dog and cat meat, making it punishable by fines of more than $700 and 15 days of detention.
The legislation, now under review, immediately came under heavy fire. One restaurant owner in the Chaozhou region declared: “This is ridiculous! You make dog and cat meat illegal, but aren’t chickens, duck, goose, pig, cow, lamb also animals?” Another noted a local saying: “When the dog meat is being simmered, even the gods become dizzy with hunger.”
I’m with these indignant protesters. I’m not happy that I ate dog. But I’m happy China eats dog. It so proclaims both a particularity to be prized in a homogenizing world and its rationality. Anyone who doesn’t want China to eat dog must logically embrace pigs as pets.