Delinda Jensen owns a vegan food truck in Pennsylvania, and is apparently motivated by animal rights concerns to eat a vegan diet. After a man opened fire on an outdoor crowd in Las Vegas, killing 59, Jensen took to Facebook to share her feelings about the horrific killings.
Yes I am jaded. Fifty nine meat eaters dead. How many animals will live because of this?
In a follow-up comment to her post, Jensen added,
I don’t give a (expletive) about carnists anymore.
Jensen has received exactly the sort of response you can imagine–everything from harassment to death threats.
In a Times Leader story about the subsequent harassment and death threats she’s received, Carnist attempts to walk back her comments.
“I (expletive) up,” Jensen said while sitting at her kitchen table with son and business partner, Kyle, 28. “Was it poorly written? Absolutely. Do I regret it? Yes. I am so sorry I wrote that.”
Many Facebook users shared Jensen’s post, which generated hundreds of hate-filled comments and threats and little defense of her stance.
Jensen emphatically insisted she was not happy about the death of 59 people.
“Meat eaters or not, no one deserves to die like that,” Jensen said. “I wasn’t celebrating the death of those people. That’s not how vegans think — we are non-violent.”
In trying to explain her motivation for writing the post, Jensen wanted to make the point that too many animals are tortured and killed every year — she estimated 2o billion-plus — and consumed by humans. Jensen, who became a vegan two years ago, said people can eat good food without the inhumanity of abusing and killing innocent animals. She said one vegan translates to saving 155 animals per year.
First, it is bizarre that she went from meat eater in 2014 to callously describing a mass shooting as “Fifty-nine meat eaters dead” in 2017.
Second, her attempts to explain away the comments rings hollow to me. She seems to have discovered that voicing these sorts of opinions is socially unacceptable rather than rethinking her dehumanization of the victims of the Las Vegas shootings as “meat eaters.”
In some ways, this is similar to claims that extremists on the far right make about natural disasters or other phenomenon being a punishment for US acceptance of premarital sex or homosexuality.
Finally, what is the appropriate reaction to someone like Jensen? On the one hand, she is not a public figure and not someone who–barring these comments–any of us would likely have heard. And, obviously, death threats and abusive comments are not acceptable regardless of the original comment.
On the other hand, I’m not sure we want to live in a world where people casually dehumanize others with no pushback at all (or, maybe, the world we live in now is a good example of precisely what happens if that is the case).
As some of the commenters to the Times Leader point out, the newspaper itself refers to her comments as “insenstive” while describing the comments of the people angry at her as “hate-filled.” Jensen herself is willing to chalk up her own comments to “a moment of stupidity”, but explains the comments directed at her by saying “there’s just so much visceral hate out there.”
Part of the problem is that her comments will live on through the Internet, sparking successive rounds of rage and harassment. A few years from now there will inevitably be a TIL reddit post about this, for example, which will spark new rounds of outrage.