Human Exceptionalism

“Getting an Earful From Your Veggies”

Al Martinez, an LA Times columnist (the newspaper that declared “nature rights” in Ecuador to be “intriguing), has caught up with the plants rights movement. In “Getting an Earful From Your Veggies,” he writes:

It is not enough to worry about the economy, the political impact of Sarah Palin’s wink on the voting population of Nebraska, and the planet melting away under our feet. Now I am told that vegetable plants love life, feel pain and scream when they are torn from the ground to be eaten. Oy vey!

I get this from one Roy Mankovitz, who has more academic initials after his name than I have letters in mine. He wrote to me, I suppose, to prepare me for his soon-to-be-published book, “A Rocket Scientist’s Blueprint for Health.”…

Composed in the vernacular of an outraged purist, he writes that…there is the pain they [plants]endure before even making it to the produce stands. “Vegetables,” Mankovitz declares, “have emotions.” This is something I would rather not think about, but the man persists: “It is well documented that plants produce electrical signals (perhaps analogous to screams) when they are cut, and if they survive they can even identify the human that did the cutting!”…

While researching Mankovitz’s claim, I came across a paper written by one Dr. Frank Dainello, a “vegetable specialist” at Texas A&M University. He agrees with Mankovitz in many ways and adds in passing that “plants such as the tomato also have been known to abort their young.”

Plants are not moral agents capable of cognitive choices! Good grief.

I wonder if Martinez knows that Switzerland has declared the intrinsic dignity of plants? Probably not, since he tries to get off the hook of this issue’s import:

So before the armies of pro-life veggie marchers hit the streets, I will simply thank Dr. Mankovitz and professor Dainello for their input and ask them politely to hereafter remain completely out of my life. I have too much to worry about already. I’m not going to add screaming beans and aborting tomatoes to that list. I’ll leave that to God and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Were it that easy. Human exceptionalism is under committed attack. Pretending it is all surreal will , alas, not make it go away.