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Is pubic lice the newest vegan straw man?

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We’ve all heard the excuses; the desert island scenarios, the special blood types, and the bacon tho. But Metro has a new straw man fallacy to throw at veganism…pubic lice.

Yup. Forget attempting to sit-out on the exploitation, use and death of animals, because if you’re unlucky enough to get some unwanted visitors to your downstairs apartment, you’re going to have to break vegan-edge. Give us a break!

The article tests the boundaries of vegans, and seems to try to discredit our efforts because lice are “treated” with a chemical solution that kills them. Like many of the standard pharmaceuticals on the market for treating parasites, we aren’t offered many alternative solutions outside of living with blood suckers on your junk (or whichever hairy region they’ve made their home). Still, I can’t help but wonder if the author imagined vegans living in peace with their crabs, or delicately removing them from their skin holes to relocate them to a lice sanctuary. Come on. 

Luckily, the appropriate sentiment was echoed by the handful of vegans who submitted comment for the article – much to the surprise of the author who called this “leniency” the opposite of the typical vegan extremist narrative. Since vegans do their best as far as it what’s possible and practicable, lice should fall under the same category as a parasite or other any bug-related illness that requires intervention for our health or safety. It really feels like this took a wrong turn from the “you can’t be vegan because insects die for fruit and veggies” nonsense argument. 

Let’s go back to asking the hard questions, like why do non-vegans care so much about what vegans do with their privates?

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  • Mark Caponigro

    All killing, i.e. the ending of the life of a living creature, of any taxon, is evil, i.e. an existential woe or suffering for that particular creature. Some killing is natural, or excusable, or justifiable, but that does not change the fact that it is evil.

    It in no way discredits vegans, or vitiates their intentions, or accuses them of hypocrisy, or argues that for the sake of honesty and integrity they should stop being strict vegetarians and start eating animal-sourced foods, to point out that nonhuman animals are inadvertently (more or less routinely) killed in the planting, cultivation, processing and distribution of plant-sourced foods. Vegans should most certainly carry on with refraining from animal-sourced foods, and carry on with their excellent intention not to be complicit in the exploitation of nonhuman animals in any way, as best they can. But they would be stronger and better moral agents, and stewards of life, were they to acknowledge that they too, like all human beings, are nevertheless inevitably complicit in the killing of nonhuman animals, and other living creatures.

    When it comes to insects, the degree of whose sentience is still a matter of study, we need to think through how we relate to them. In the case of lice, and other arthropods who attack our bodies, e.g. mosquitoes, an argument can be made that it is at least excusable to kill them. Such acts of killing, even if we consider them excusable, are regrettable, and deserve to be meditated on. A further issue is, if we decide to try to kill them, how we go about it. Hopefully a method is chosen that causes them minimal pain. A very quick swat might work for a mosquito. That’s not possible for a louse, however. I don’t know enough about delousing medicines or treatments to comment further, save to say that if they work by poisoning the lice, then they sound quite inhumane. Poisoning is always an especially cruel and cowardly way to kill anyone, and makes the already evil act of killing far worse.

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