Friday, August 9, 2013

Vegetarianism - A Choice?

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a status stating (paraphrase): You should avoid saying to vegetarians that "Well it's not that you can't eat meat. You choose to be a vegetarian." I humbly disagree. It could be phrased better, certainly. The thought behind it, though, that being a vegetarian is a choice, is true.

Being a vegetarian IS a choice for most vegetarians. Granted, there are always those few people who are allergic to meat [Ref.]. However, the vast majority of vegetarians choose it for moral reasons. They choose what they perceive to be the higher moral path, which is to avoid being responsible for the killing of animals. Granted, the question of the morality of eating animals is still being debated frequently and vehemently. However, if you are the type of person who reads this blog, you've probably read arguments on both sides before so I won't waste your time rehashing. For the purposes of this direct topic, it's enough to say that vegetarians believe they are making the moral choice.

The disconnect, I think, is that my friend believes that saying something is a choice makes it seem less sound ... less respectful. More flighty, maybe. This is probably of their experience in the marriage equality struggle. One of the main arguments of traditional marriage proponents is that being gay is a choice. By saying that, they are diminishing it. In this case though, saying that choice is the primary reason doesn't diminish.

I hold that not only does the fact that choice is the primary reason not diminish being a vegetarian, it does the opposite. Saying that it isn't a choice is what diminishes. That idea robs vegetarians of their free will. It robs them of their choice to take the moral high road. Lets use an analogy:

Person X is driving along out in the middle of no where, and they see hitchhiker. For the sake of argument, this hitchhiker is homeless with no family, and somehow Person X knows this. They are far from any witnesses or cameras. Person X could stop, kill, and rob the hitchhiker without getting caught. They don't, and pass on by.

Person Y is driving along in the middle of New York City, and sees a hitchhiker. This hitchhiker has lots of family connections that would notice a disappearance, and there are witnesses and cameras all around. Person Y could stop, kill, and rob the hitchhiker, but would absolutely by caught. They don't, and pass on by.

I hold that Person X's action of passing by without doing anything to the hitchhiker is morally good, because it's not under duress. It's a totally free choice. Person Y is under duress. They are under threat of reprisal, be is jail-time, loss of income, maybe even the death penalty. Person Y's action of passing by isn't immoral, but it's not moral either. Any time an action is forced, it's not a free choice and therefore neither moral or immoral. That person doesn't have the opportunity to made the moral decision.

This applies because if we hold that vegetarianism is the higher moral path, then if a person has a free choice and they choose to follow it, they are taking that higher moral path. If it's not a choice though, we are robbing them of that opportunity to make the moral choice, just as the duress does for Person Y. Therefore acknowledgement of the fact that it is a choice does not diminish the vegetarian, it in fact is an acknowledgement of their taking a higher moral path. Not because it's forced upon them, but because they of their own free will are choosing to take the hard road, the moral road. I think that that is a good thing to acknowledge.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

WordPress Plugin

I recently finished work on (Old Site), and am in my reflective period that follows every project. One issue that I ran into with this site is the organization of images on the site.

Several sections of the website are basically image galleries; food, media, etc. It would be nice if I could upload images into folders and organize them by the page in which they are embedded. Unfortunately, with WordPress, this isn't possible.

WordPress started as a simple blog software, and while it's doing an admirable job slowly transforming itself into a full CMS, it's not there yet. The way it handles images is a prime example of this. Currently, there is a single media folder, in which all uploaded images go. WordPress each month, a new folders is made by wordpress inside the media folder. All images uploaded that month go in there. Additionally, when viewing the images, there is a single list of images. One can't view folders.

It would be nice to fix this. I have sketched out several user interfaces which would incorporate folders. A real fix would require updating the core, though, which I'm not really prepared to do. A plugin, however, I think is within my current capabilities. A plugin will not be able to full accomplish my goals, but it will let me start. So tonight, I am going to write a simple Hello World plugin to teach myself the basics. Having created several themes in the past, it shouldn't be too difficult.

From there, I can start figuring out how to go about adding folders to WordPress.