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‘Reason’ nails it

There is a very funny article by Reason, titled The stupidest pseudo-story of the week, about a Daily Mail article about halal food. Reason likens the hysteria to criticising kosher food with a headline:

RABBIS ARE PUTTING SOME WEIRD JEW-SPELL ON YOUR MEALS!

I LOL’ed. But then again, it is often said I am famously easy to amuse :-P

111 comments to ‘Reason’ nails it

  • Classic line in there…

    No, the real fear here is the idea that meat certified as halal carries some sort of Islamic cooties.

  • JohnW

    Are the cattle killed quickly – shot in the head with a bolt – or are they killed by being bled to death slowly and distressingly?
    And is ritualised slaughter part of a wider political campaign to normalise practices and beliefs which otherwise might be considered a trifle outdated?

  • JohnW,

    You should know that being “shot in the head with a bolt” does not actually kill the poor animal; it only cracks the skull and destroys a chunk of its brain so that it does not react when its throat is later cut—rather more messily than Kosher slaughterers do it (and Halal as well, for all I know).

    I struggle to see how this is an improvement.

  • And since when does a lover of liberty worry about ideas being “outdated”?

  • Laird

    I don’t particularly care how my meat is slaughtered. But the bigger story here, as I see it, is why major restaurant and supermarket chains feel the need to sell halal food without telling anyone about it. If they simply offered it as an option for their Muslim customers, that would be fine. (Isn’t that how kosher food is sold?) And if they decided that it was too cumbersome to sell both halal and non-halal meats so they’re just offering the one, and they advertised that fact, it would be fine, too. Either way, someone worried about “Islamic cooties” could make an informed decision. It’s the secrecy that bothers me. Offering halal meat would seem to be a major selling point to Muslim customers, but the decision not to trumpet that obvious marketing advantage strongly suggests that they think is a disadvantage with respect to at least some of the rest of their clientele. It’s cynical and dishonest, which is why I think this is a legitimate news story.

    Besides, everyone knows that Muslims have cooties.

  • Rich Rostrom

    I think the story here is that Moslem activists are pressuring mass market sellers to conform to Moslem requirements in all products, even though Moslems are only a small fraction of customers.

    In other words, everyone must follow Moslem rules, to accomodate Moslems.

    Jews never do that. If they want to avoid non-kosher food, they seek out kosher food, they eat at kosher restaurants, they cook at home. This is often inconvenient for them, but they accept the inconvenience and leave the rest of us alone. They don’t bring their rules into other peoples’ spaces.

    Moslems do, frequently, aggressively, stealthily. And this is an example.

  • Nick (Blame The French) Gray

    Yes, even here in Australia, we have companies conforming to mohammedan dictates. If you look hard, and notice a crescent moon on the packet, you have purchased a halalised product. I found it on my then-favourite cheese items, bought from the supermarket.

  • RogerC

    I agree with Laird that it’s the secrecy surrounding the practice that is the real issue. I also take Rich Rostrom’s point – the two may be linked.

    There is a substantive objection to the non-labelling of halal meat. Observant Sikhs are not allowed to eat any meat that has been ritually slaughtered, including halal and kosher meat. By putting halal products on the shelf and not labelling them as such, supermarkets are effectively prioritising one faith’s beliefs over another’s.

    That is of course their prerogative and would be fine… if the meat was correctly labelled, allowing sikh shoppers to make an informed choice. As it is, they simply have no way of knowing.

  • Mary Contrary

    Muslims will get upset if made to eat food that hasn’t had their prayers over it. This is said to be reasonable, on account of their religion

    If Non-Muslims get upset when made to eat food that has had Muslim prayers said over it, this is said to be unreasonable, on account of being Islamophobic.

    As an atheist, I don’t place any weight on the prayer per se. But I do feel uncomfortable about condoning and adopting these sorts of double standards.

  • Paul Marks

    Kosher food is labelled – halal food often is not.

    Also there is a fee for a slaughter house to be certified as halal – and that fee goes to promote Islam.

    “Reason magazine nails it” – all that it nails is to prove (yet again) that Reason magazine is run by people who are not very good.

    By the way – humour is a the classic way that leftists (such as Saul Alinsky) taught that truth could be HIDDEN. Replaced by the politics of personal ridicule.

    If “Reason” magazine has nothing serious to say (if it just wants to suck up to the enemies of the West) then it should close down – not ridicule the “Babbitts” (as socialists in the 1920s called ordinary people) by LYING about us being concerned with “magic spells” and “cooties”.

    “Humour” is the word leftists use for LYING.

    If they want to be script writers for Jon Stewart and Mr Colbert – then just close down Reason magazine and go be script writers for John Stewart and S. Colbert.

    At a time when people are being punished for telling the truth about Islam how does Reason magazine help?

    It is does not help the people under attack at all – in fact it puts the boot in as well (with a lot of lies – presented as “humour”).

  • Nick (Blame The French) Gray

    I don’t want any of your atheist prayers said over my meat, thank you kindly!
    I think that we should encourage the growth of specialty shops, so that minorities can pay for their own beliefs. Indeed, this would be an ideal libertarian solution.

  • Paul Marks

    No doubt in the next issue “Reason” will pretend that Boko Harem is a Christian group.

    Or a “big business” group – funded by Koch brothers.

    And when it is pointed out that these statements are lies (like the lies about ordinary people being concerned with “magic spells” and “cooties”) they will simply say….

    “We were only joking – have you no sense of humour?”

    Why not some “humorous” cartoons ridiculing Mohammed?

    Who not Reason magazine?

    Put them in your next issue.

    Once you would have had the guts to do so.

    Why not now?

  • 2dogs

    The non-labelling is a problem for Sikhs, who are forbidden from eating any ritually slaughtered meat – they are banned from eating Kosher or Halal food.

    I think if out of respect for Muslims one prepares Halal food, it is fair to show the same respect for Sikhs and at least label it.

  • rosenquist

    Classic Daily Mail. This rather reminds me of the story they ran a few years back about Eastern Europeans eating ‘the Queens’ Swans.

  • PeterT

    Paul,

    Your standards are too high. The vast majority of what Reason puts out is solidly and even hard core libertarian. As the name of their magazine suggests their mission is to drive home the point that a rational world is also a libertarian world.

    Peter

  • James Strong

    Islam is an evil, oppressive belief system.
    Customers have been deceived into eating halal meats, and mohammedanism has been privileged over Sikhism, Judaism and Christianity without customer consent.
    I’m not at all convinced that mohammedanism should be treated as a joke.
    It is evil and should be opposed with rational arguments, and by a refusal to accommodate its demands.
    I will not knowingly consume any halal products.
    I suspect the supermarkets know that there are tens of thousands like me, which is why they haven’t labelled the products accurately. They have sought to appease mohammedans without having the courage to admit what they are doing.
    Informed consent would be fine. Deception is not fine. It’s certainly not force, but what about fraud? Even you ideologically pure libertarians will condemn that, won’t you?

  • Paul, Your standards are too high.

    That is not quite how I would have put it, but yes. Apparently Reason fails the purity test by virtue of a lack of frantic hysteria and daring to be widely read and actually winning over some hearts and minds.

    The non-labelling is a problem for Sikhs, who are forbidden from eating any ritually slaughtered meat

    But I do think 2Dogs makes an interesting point that can be use for all manner of awesome fun! I mean, why should the hapless and widely admired Sikh’s needs be ignored!?! :D Someone really needs to run with that!

  • Andrew Lale

    At the point where food sellers remove from me the choice of whether to eat Halal food or not, I would expect Libertarians to be protesting on my side, not trying to protect Halal food vendors from what apparently Reason sees as an unruly mob of bigots. The position Reason magazine has taken does not seem to be reasonable.

  • Sorry Peter, but nothing – absolutely nothing – that is even remotely human, is perfectly rational. So it seems to me that it is the staff of “Reason” whose standards may be too high for the rest of us mere humans, libertarian or otherwise.

  • And yes, to me too it is about disclosure. I am not a Sikh, I do not observe any religious norms when it comes to food, I eat whatever takes my fancy. But I do take James’ point, and next time I’m in Europe or the UK, I will make an effort to avoid halal food merely in protest to these Islamist impositions.

  • David Cameron refused to intervene on the issue. His spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister’s view is that it is an issue of consumer choice and consumer information.

    ‘So it is a matter for retailers and restaurants to work with customers and consumer groups and representatives of faith organisations.’

    Cameron is a libertarian – who’d have thunk it? :-O

  • Cameron is correct (OMG! Did I just write that?)

    If people get outraged about this, then let civil society works its magic and soon shareholders and marketing consultants will ‘solve’ this issue in a vastly more satisfactory manner than any government intervention.

  • Apparently Reason fails the purity test by virtue of a lack of frantic hysteria and daring to be widely read and actually winning over some hearts and minds.

    No, Reason fails the Do Not Lie test by the misvirtue of writing the following:

    For a while, the would-be tries to make this an issue of animal cruelty.

    That, while the exposé clearly focuses on the disclosure issue. Reason’s Jesse Walker is lying, and there is nothing funny about that.

    (Sorry for multiple comments in a row – I’ll go and have my non-kosher lunch now, and will be back in a much more relaxed form.)

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Regarding secrecy: I don’t think there has been any attempt at secrecy. I think Pizza Express et al are simply buying Halal meat because quite a lot of meat is Halal, and they figured why not. It also seems likely that buying non-Halal meat would require effort. I saw a TV interview with a representative of one of the companies under attack. He seemed bemused. All we do is get some bloke to say a prayer, he said. What’s the big deal?

    There’s no conspiracy or agenda here. A perfectly good explanation is: nobody thought anything of it.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Cameron is not correct, by sidestepping the issue, he is refusing to act on removing the exclusions on slaughter for religious reasons.

    As libertarians we should support equal laws for all, this is not the case, either everyone can butcher animals for food in any way they like, or we all agree on some common humane practise that everyone adheres to, with no exceptions.

    Without those exclusions, this issue simply would not exist.

  • PeterT

    Alisa, that may be the case but its a big jump from finding an error in one article to the conclusion that Reason magazine is suddenly no good. No doubt Paul had other instances in mind but I find the sweeping conclusion widely off the mark. Heaven knows we don’t need these ‘Popular Front of Judea’ moments.

    Perry, yes well that was better put and really what I meant.

  • Quite possibly so, Rob. It may well be that nobody thought anything of it, and thanks to the DM article we may just find out whether in fact they did or did not. And in any case, now they will, if enough people care.

  • Peter, like Paul, I also had other instances in mind, although to be fair, I don’t remember the details. I stopped reading Reason a long time ago for these, er, reasons. To me this is less of a Popular Front of Judea moment, and more of a Fifth Column one. YMMV.

  • Andrew Lale

    I’d be very interested to know how many of Libertarians would protest in high dudgeon if the religious rules being imposed on food were Evangelical Christians rules. Suddenly, this wouldn’t come into the ‘Bigotted Islamaphobes want to get one over on the Moslems’ bucket, but into the ‘how dare Christians impose their beliefs on the rest of us bucket’. Funny how ‘principles’ change like that…

  • I don’t think you will find many here, Andrew. “Reason” though is a different kettle of fish.

  • Andrew Duffin

    ” All we do is get some bloke to say a prayer, he said. What’s the big deal?”

    No, that is not all they do. What they also do – or more accurately do NOT do – is take any precautions to minimise the suffering of the animal being slaughtered, and this IS a big deal.

    After hundreds of years of casual cruelty, we have evolved some rules which endeavour to minimise that suffering (how effective they may be is not the point), and now it turns out that for the sake of some stupid religion we’re prepared to set those rules aside? And because we know most civilised people would be uncomfortable with this, we’ll do it sneakily and not tell anyone? Weak, cowardly, and disgusting.

    With a bit of luck, consumer pressure will deal with this. I’ll certainly buy only that meat which I know has been legally and humanely slaughtered; given the kinds of suppliers I use, it probably is anyway – but I will certainly be asking them, and if they don’t know they had better find out pdq, or my custom will be going elsewhere.

  • As libertarians we should support equal laws for all

    No, I do not support equal laws for all, I support less laws for all.

    I’d be very interested to know how many of Libertarians would protest in high dudgeon if the religious rules being imposed on food were Evangelical Christians rules.

    Imposed? Really? I was not aware halal was being imposed in the UK at all. Has some statutory instrument of which I am unaware been drawn up? So if you want to Pope, or Archbishop of Canterbury, or whoever, to bless Britain’s prion infested meat and wave some incense around in order to bring a smile to the face of some group of Christians as they tuck into their Sunday Roast, that is just fine by me! I am an atheist who enjoys Christmas, so I really promise not to get incensed (*bada bing*!!)

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    The top comment at the bottom of the similarly themed Spectator article did a pretty good job of summing up why this is, in fact, an issue.

    Your argument comes down to saying “since it isn’t many, it doesn’t matter” and “there are worse offences”. This is true of just about every crime imaginable. It was true of MPs expenses, for example. But it’s a pretty weak argument. You have just offered it up, I suspect, as click bait; in the hope of continuing your stance as the Speccie’s in-house loony lefty Islamopologist hypocrite (and, to be fair, there aren’t many other reasons to read your blogs).

    Some of us agree with Halal and Kosher, some of us do not. It isn’t much to ask that food is labelled accordingly. I wouldn’t have thought anyone on any side of the equation would disagree with that.

  • Gareth

    Andrew Duffin said:

    No, that is not all they do. What they also do – or more accurately do NOT do – is take any precautions to minimise the suffering of the animal being slaughtered, and this IS a big deal.

    That doesn’t appear to be the case as the media report it. There seems to be three general forms of slaughter:

    1. Conventional slaughter stunned with a bolt gun or electricity first.
    2. Stunned with electricity before slaughter and a prayer thrown in somewhere.
    3. No stunning before slaughter.

    The revealing thing here is that the majority of Halal meat is said to be produced via method 2. Animal welfare considerations have been taken on board but IIRC a person on the telly last night said method 3 still accounts for something like 12% of Halal meat.

    Those who want Halal are likely just as in the dark as those who don’t in that they surely expect Halal/Kosher to mean method 3 not method 2.

    The meat labeling issue could just include whether the animal was stunned before slaughter or not and leave it up to personal preference how a stunned, blessed cut of meat fits into religious concerns.

  • Chip

    Where have Jews, Sikhs and even modern Christians insisted that societal norms change for their minority beliefs?

    The halal issue simply reflects that a significant element in the Muslim community wants to impose its will on all of us, and – perhaps most importantly – a significant element of secular society is very happy to acquiesce.

  • RAB

    Believe me Mastiff, when the humane killer bolt goes through a cow’s head, it is dead, goes down like a sack of spuds. I know this because mu father was a master butcher with his own Abottoir back in the late 50′s. Aged five or so, I used to sit in the car with a Beano and a bottle of pop and watch it done, and thought nothing of it.

    For me (as it was for my father) it is fundamentally an issue of animal cruelty. My father used to have a Rabbi turn up occasionally to slaughter for Kosher, and the method is the same as for Halal, just a different prayer. But the Rabbi was a man of books not butchery, so mostly he’d make a piss poor job of it and my dad would hustle him into a back room while his men finished the poor beast off.It used to turn him up. He may have been a butcher but he couldn’t bear cruelty to animals. So I am with Andrew Duffin here.

    And yes of course it is a matter of disclosure. If I contemplate purchasing something, anything at all, I want to know as much about it as I can, and in the case of food where it is from, how it has been treated and most definately how it was killed.

  • The meat labeling issue could just include whether the animal was stunned before slaughter or not and leave it up to personal preference how a stunned, blessed cut of meat fits into religious concerns.

    Sensible remarks like that indicate you have no future in politics.

    I find the whole thing just too comical to take seriously.

  • Runcie Balspune

    @Perry

    Comical it may be, but the root issue is that certain religious groups are allowed to slaughter animals any way they please and the rest of us are not.

    What else? Allow religious groups to flaunt safety considerations that would be used to prosecute others? Like when riding a motorbike?

    How about child mutilation by non-medical practitioners? An act that should see anyone in jail were it not for acquiescence to the great sky fairies?

    Either these restrictions are removed for everyone, or applied to everyone, no exceptions.

  • Not being a great fan of licensing myself, I do not see that as the issue at all.

    And I would rather not see the misery spread more evenly, but rather see it removed for everyone.

    The mutilation issue is a different one really and certainly the ‘practitioner/non-practioner’ question is a spectacularly bad basis upon which to oppose any non-trival alterations of a person’s body without any meaningful consent.

  • Laird

    @ Perry deH: “If people get outraged about this, then let civil society works its magic and soon shareholders and marketing consultants will ‘solve’ this issue in a vastly more satisfactory manner than any government intervention.”

    Precisely, which is why the Daily Mail article is a legitimate news story. People won’t have the chance to become “outraged” (or not) unless they know the truth. And now they do. The Press has actually done its job for once; it hardly deserves derision for that.

    Personally, I think this is an example of the preemptive acquiescence to Islamic sensibilities which seems to have become endemic in England. I don’t know how much this use of halal meats is the result of Muslims demanding that all of British society adhere to their peculiar quirks, and how much is simply the assumption that they would do so. I suspect there is a significant element of the latter at work here, and the fact that it is kept secret is evidence of embarrassment over it.

  • Laird: “David Cameron refused to intervene on the issue”

    This is the Daily Mail, so they are as likely to want no government role in this as the Guardian.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Andrew Duffin: “What they also do – or more accurately do NOT do – is take any precautions to minimise the suffering of the animal being slaughtered, and this IS a big deal.”

    That’s precisely what is being denied. The animals *are* stunned in just the same way as regular meat. That’s what makes it a non-story.

  • Chip

    “That’s precisely what is being denied. The animals *are* stunned in just the same way as regular meat. That’s what makes it a non-story.”

    When it’s discovered that the Church demanded and was given the right bless the nation’s water supply I’m sure that would be no big deal too.

    We neutered religion for a reason.

  • As long as the Church does not bless it by peeing in it, who cares?

  • Gareth

    Rob Fisher said:

    That’s precisely what is being denied. The animals *are* stunned in just the same way as regular meat. That’s what makes it a non-story.

    That’s what makes it a story imo but one the media is reporting arse first. Halal as practiced by the UK meat industry doesn’t reflect what the popular perception of it is. People do get worked up about the animal welfare side of it but estimates by the government are that 88% of halal slaughter is pre-stunned.

    The authorities are on the way to squeezing out un-stunned slaughtering without being quite as confrontational as the Danish authorities appear to have been. Animal welfare concerns have been squared with some religious ones by defining halal in a particular way. Very sneaky. A partial success but one that no-one seems keen to take any credit for.

  • Sigivald

    The worst (maybe) part is I’ve heard various idiots claim “Kosher marking is a ‘Jew Tax’!”, because the fact of having to pay for Kosher certification costs money. The speakers are only sometimes Pretty Obviously Just Anti-Semites.

    (Plainly this must be a net cost increase, since after all it’s not like observant Jews buy anything and thus Koshering can’t possibly increase the size of the market, right?

    The thesis that companies would only ever bother to get a product certified Kosher if they expected this to increase profits by increasing sales more than the cost is simply untenable, I guess.)

  • All I can say to that Sigivald is… Oi vey!

  • John Mann

    Laird: “But the bigger story here, as I see it, is why major restaurant and supermarket chains feel the need to sell halal food without telling anyone about it. . . It’s the secrecy that bothers me..”

    If there is a story here, it is about food labeling and the provision of information.

    How much information about food (or other products) is relevant? Is it secrecy if you are not informed exactly what variety of cauliflower you are buying? Is it secrecy if you are not told which farm the carrots were grown on? Is it secrecy if you are not told the date on which the sheep was slaughtered? Is it secrecy if you are not told how old, to the month, the pig was when it was slaughtered? Is it secrecy if you are not told by the restaurant that the potatoes in your meal were organically grown?

    I actually do like to know where my fruit and veg were grown – and will make buying decisions based on the country or even county they were grown in. But I don’t really need this information, and in wanting it, I admit that I am being eccentric.

    When it comes to halal meat, I couldn’t care less.

    But shouldn’t society cater for eccentrics? Surely it has got to be a case of caveat emptor. If it matters, then ask if the meat is halal. If they say “yes”, or “we don’t know”, then don’t eat it. If they say “no” and you don’t trust them, then don’t eat it.

    So I’m pretty much with Reason on this one. Which might seem odd, because I’m a Christian whose religious views are probably very similar to those of Colin Hart of the Christian Institute. But I cannot, as a Christian, see what problem he would have with eating halal meat.

  • James Strong

    Shouldn’t Christians avoid meat that has been slaughtered under the name of another god?
    Commandment 1 would seem to cover this.

  • Paul Marks

    Peter – I may have got out of the wrong side of bed (I usually do), but I really do not want to find crap like that in my inbox in the morning.

    Perry – people are being persecuted all of the West (not just in Britain) for telling the truth about Islam.

    And what does “Reason” do?

    It joins in the persecution. True it can not run people out of their jobs or send them to prison – but it is (de facto) cheering on those who can.

    And all to seem “hip” and “with it” (like the oldest swinger in town – gold chain and all) to impress the Jon Stewart watching college student types.

    Not “amusing”.

    And not good.

    P.S. Naught to do with a “purity test” – and everything to do with backing the P.C. establishment.

    And it is not the first time.

    “Reason” declared that the main charges against Obamacare were “whoppers”.

    And on and on.

    Finally if other people have forgotten what “Reason” did in 2008 – I have not.

    As for forgiving – there is only an obligation to (try) to forgive those who truly repent.

    People who use leftist “humour” have not repented.

  • Laird

    Nice straw man there, John, but it’s not working. Nobody cares which particular farm a carrot comes from (unless he’s your neighbor and you want to “buy local” to support him), but people do care, very much, whether meat is halal. Obviously it’s highly significant to Muslims, and it matters to a lot of other people, too. Personally, I would never knowingly buy halal meat, not because I care how the animal is slaughtered (I don’t), but because I don’t want any of my money (however small in amount and regardless of how indirectly) going to support Islamic causes (which is what the halal fee does). I suspect there are others who feel the same way.

    People care whether their food is “organic” (whatever that means), or has been sprayed with pesticides, or is genetically modified, or is from “fair trade” farms. Some want only free-range eggs or chickens, or grass-fed beef, or ocean salmon. All of that is disclosed, and indeed is used as marketing tools. People also care about the “variety of cauliflower”; my grocery store offers numerous types of apples, potatoes and other produce, all of which is prominently marked, and people choose whichever variety they like best. That’s the way capitalism is supposed to work.

    “How much information about food (or other products) is relevant?” That’s for the consumer to decide. It is possible (albeit highly unlikely) that the food company executives truly believed that no one (other than Muslims) would care whether their meat was halal or not. And in truth, many probably don’t. But the halal designation (like kosher) is so significant to a substantial number of people that concealing it is a material omission (especially since, as I noted above, disclosing it would be a major selling point to their Muslim customers). I don’t believe that the omission was innocent, or accidental. And now that the truth is out there, we’ll see if the market forces them to begin disclosing this.

  • John Mann

    Laird,

    My point is not that nobody cares whether their meat is halal. Muslims, of course, do care. It is a matter of principle to them. Just as Jews care whether their meat is kosher, and vegetarians care whether their meal contains meat products.

    My point, rather, is that there are a huge number of things that people might choose to care about with regard to their food – and that the number of those who care about these things, and the seriousness with which they take these things, and the rationality of their concerns vary enormously.

    It is, by long established custom, standard practice for Muslims to insist that their meat is halal. There are millions of Muslims in the world. Hence producers of meat know that it makes sense to produce halal meat – and to make it known that it is halal meat.

    However, it is not long established custom for any group of people to insist that their meat is non-halal, which is why producers don’t tend to advertise the fact that their meat is non-halal. In the same way, while it is expected that some people will insist that their eggs are free range, or their tomatoes are organic, there are very few people who will insist that their eggs are battery eggs and their tomatoes non-organic. But there may be some.

    Some individuals may (for a variety of reasons) avoid buying or eating halal meat – but the number of people who would take the view that they will not eat halal meat because a tiny fraction of the cost would go to Islamic causes is pretty small. (And frankly, most people would take the view that refusing to buy halal meat because for every £100 you spend, a penny goes to an Islamic cause, is, to put it mildly, eccentric. None of us knows where all the money we spend goes.)

    I think that basically, we are in agreement. In the end, market forces will determine how much labeling takes place. But it is never going to be enough for some people.

  • John Mann

    James Strong

    The issue arose in New Testament times, and the apostle Paul dealt with it in the 8th chapter of I Corinthians, and his reasoning has been accepted by Christian tradition. Basically, his argument was that the fact that meat had been offered to an idol was neither here nor there, since other gods didn’t actually exist – but that Christians should be careful, lest in eating food that had been offered to an idol, they should lead others (with less understanding) astray.

  • Certainly I could not care less if meat is halal, given that I actually buy sausages from an Arab butcher on North End Road regularly. And as quite a lot of the other clientele I see there are English working class folk, clearly they don’t give a Monkey’s Uncle either. Mostly I buy my meat from Dickinson’s however, also on North End Road, who are about as English and non-halal as it gets.

    If enough non-Muslim people do care, I think the market will probably indeed sort it out. But I really doubt most people give it a second thought however. Jew-Spells and Arab-Spells don’t seem to make it taste any differently.

  • Laird

    John, you are certainly correct that Muslims care deeply whether their meat is halal. Which is what makes the non-disclosure of that significant feature most curious. indeed, you said as much yourself: “and to make it known that it is halal meat“. That they don’t is my central point. I stand by my assertion that it is probably because the food company executives don’t want non-Muslims to know it. Otherwise they’d be shouting it from the rooftops.

    We’re in agreement (with Perry) that the market will sort it out, as it should. But the only reason that can now occur is because the Daily Mail published the article which engendered this thread. Reason was wrong to chide them for it, and Perry was wrong to pile on. The Mail was doing its job, and deserves thanks, not ridicule.

  • Nah, still not caring.

    There are genuine threats posed by Islam in the UK, as it is a totalitarian political creed that just happens to also be a religion… and so the issues that matter are those regarding of freedom of speech for example. Such as my absolute right to keep calling the Prophet Mohammed a kiddie fiddler mass murderer who acted on visions sent from a non-existant sky-guy to justify slavery and misogyny… if it that pleases me thus to do… which it does.

    But getting oxidised about magics spells on the food is comical. Sorry, but it really is.

  • Chip

    I too could care less about magic spells on food.

    I do care that secular companies and by extention the rest of us are telling the magicians that, yes, their magic is real, and it applies to all.

    It’s idiotic and encourages more idiocy.

  • Laird

    You’re perfectly welcome not to care, Perry. But you’re not welcome to ridicule the press for conveying factual information to those who do care.

  • I do care that secular companies and by extention the rest of us are telling the magicians that, yes, their magic is real, and it applies to all.

    I do not recall ever having done that. If a company thinks they can make more money by doing the magic spells so the obscurantists will buy their stuff, well… whatever.

  • RAB

    Um… But isn’t it the point that they are NOT telling, and have no wish to tell, those of us who don’t want our meat blessed by magic spells and slaughtered by inhumane means, and just may boycott their products, in case it hurts their business?

  • I suspect they are not ‘telling us’ because they assume most do not care. I have no objection whatsoever to people knowing meat is halal, but I think that what I share with the Reason folks is I just cannot empathise with the sense of breathless outrage. I have never cared if food was kosher and I really don’t care if it is halal.

    Opposing Islam’s excesses is a worthy and needed endeavour, but this just comes across as petty. Why? Because unlike oh so many aspects of Islam, making meat halal does not in any way diminish the meaningful net sum of liberties of others, unlike a great many other aspects of the Dismal Creed.

  • Dom

    Perry, are you happy to have a “totalitarian political creed” dictate it’s wishes to private companies? I’m not. I detest Islam, and I want labels to tell me what to avoid, even its blessed food.

  • I am really not sensing the ‘dictates’ bit Dom. Kosher food is completely unremarkable to the non-lunatic fringe and frankly as an earlier comment said regarding halal:

    I saw a TV interview with a representative of one of the companies under attack. He seemed bemused. All we do is get some bloke to say a prayer, he said. What’s the big deal?

    These companies see this as a nice cheap way to increase their bottom line, end of story. They do the magic spell, and a few more people buy the gear.

    Of course if you want to start outraged marches on the subject, I actually think you might well get just what you want. Why? Because the same companies might well make the determination that now it ain’t worth it any more from a business perspective. But they can indeed do that because no one is actually ‘dictating’ this to them. They will just quietly drop the halal magic spell, much as they quietly added it in the first place because… why not?

    Whatever. I shall still be buying my halal sujuk sausages regardless. They taste even better wrapped in bacon.

  • Slartibartfarst

    Because unlike oh so many aspects of Islam, making meat halal does not in any way diminish the meaningful net sum of liberties of others, unlike a great many other aspects of the Dismal Creed.

    Well said @Perry de Havilland.
    By having halal meat, it simply makes the daily life and grind of the minorities of practicing Islamists and Jews that much less difficult by being more easily aligned to the ever-necessary observation of their religious laws. How can that be harmful if it affects no-one else adversely?

    It presumably could affect most/all of the animals butchered and eaten by people in a society.
    There may be a valid objection towards it (I don’t know) in that it is a religious requirement that could run contrary to some existing/prevailing humane killing practices in slaughterhouses, but I would presume that animal cruelty organisations – e.g., (say) the secular RSPCA in the UK – would be able to speak up on that issue, if it indeed was a humane killing issue.
    One good thing about it is that it demonstrates that there is still freedom to practice one’s religion in one’s daily life.

    There is another religious law enshrined in the secular laws of many societies, based on the first of the Ten Commandments – Though shalt not kill – and nobody seems to find that too restrictive.

  • Laird

    @ Perry: “I suspect they are not ‘telling us’ because they assume most do not care.”

    Then why go to the trouble of doing it in the first place? That’s the elephant in the room you persist in ignoring. (1) Halal meat costs more that non-halal meat. (2) Its presence is of great importance to a certain group of its customers. Yet (3) they do not tell those customers about it. Surely even you would consider that suspect? Why go to the extra trouble and expense if you’re not going to benefit from it? It’s not “a nice cheap way to increase their bottom line”; if they don’t use it as a marketing tool it’s a way to reduce the bottom line to no benefit.

  • Then why go to the trouble of doing it in the first place?

    Because that gives them the ability to sell it to people who do want halal meat in their pies or whatever without committing fraud? That would be my guess as the packagers of the end products will be a bit miffed if it turns out the magic spell was not added.

    That’s the elephant in the room you persist in ignoring.

    I assume that elephant is probably not halal, so can be ignored for this discussion :-P

  • Dom

    I saw a TV interview with a representative of one of the companies under attack. He seemed bemused. All we do is get some bloke to say a prayer, he said. What’s the big deal?

    The big deal is that, to Moslems, the dhimmis have accepted one more piece of sharia, just as they willingly refuse to criticize Islam (re Hirsi Ali). Stop it dead in the tracks.

  • Well I am all for criticising Islam and I have done a fair old bit of that myself, but I sure ain’t going to do it on the basis that some companies see profit in selling their gear with a cheap and easy magic spell added.

    That is a bit like criticising Nazism on the basis they wear armbands, rather than the issues about Nazism that actually do matter.

  • Dom

    Btw, the Reason article would have been funnier if, instead of “Jew-spell”, they said “Jew juju”.

  • Mr Ed

    That’s the elephant in the room you persist in ignoring.

    I assume that elephant is probably not halal, so can be ignored for this discussion :-P

    The response of one who has lost the argument and knows it, to my eyes.

  • Lost what argument? You are not even making one that I can see! If I am making a joke it is because this whole farcical thing is just that… a joke.

    Companies are doing cheap and easy stuff, without anyone threatening them… no campaign of intimidation of company directors by Islamists, no government regulations, not even any talk of maybe talking about maybe perhaps someday introducing any government regulations to require making halal mandatory… so yes, Reason nails it…people are getting the vapours because of magic spells.

    Ed, you are a great guy but this is hardly your finest hour.

  • Ed, you are a great guy but this is hardly your finest hour.

    Actually, I was going to say the same about you, Perry – but I am minding my manners :-P

    Seriously though, I think that you are missing a subtle point here which has been repeatedly explained, and you failed to address it, because…you just keep missing it. Oh well.

  • Mr Ed

    so yes, Reason nails it…people are getting the vapours because of magic spells.

    There’s a straw man there Perry, the issue is not whether meat is Halal, but whether people might unthinkingly be eating it when they object either to Islam or animal cruelty, or both, and they object to the sanctimonious and insulting tone in which their concerns are addressed, hopefully be economic boycott, or competition and nothing more. It might make more sense for Pizza Express to switch to non-halal meat and those customers who like their meat halal or kosher could simply opt for the many meat-free options, but I do not think it was a commercial decision alone, more part of fitting in with the PC agenda of the ‘equality’ movement. However, I await the halal Chianti in Pizza Express with interest.

    As for my tone, I am simply saying what I see, just as when a barrister says to a witness ‘Thank you for that answer‘, which is a code for ‘Whoops, that rather blows my case out of the water but I don’t want to dig here any further in case it becomes too obvious‘ there are times when I feel it is important to say what appears to be evident, so that we may know where we all stand, and I think we do, but I would only wish to be robust, not rude, Perry.

    And for me, this is a very fine hour, as I am in Barbados on holiday,

  • It might make more sense for Pizza Express to switch to non-halal meat and those customers who like their meat halal

    But what you seem oblivious to is Pizza Express did what they did because THAT was the low hassle option. Contrary to what you, and the Daily Mail, seem to think (actually the Daily Mail does not think anything, they just write what they think their target audience wants to hear, and that made a catchy headline), there is no great groundswell of outrage from the British public that they might have been unknowingly eating magic-spelled incanted halal/kosher/whatever food.

    Most don’t care, therefore, reasons Pizza Express, as catering to our customers who DO care (the minority of that minority called Muslims who actually observe halal) is so cheap and easy to achieve, and integration is seamless (no need to really do anything else down the production chain), why not do it? Until this article was run, there was really no downside. Have you never run a business before? That is how we think!

    So much as you might imagine the case for… um… whatever case you think it is you are making, I am still a bit fuzzy on that… is proven, no… not really. No laws, no campaign of intimidation, just pragmatic and bottom line based decisions as far as I can see. The fact so many shops in the UK now have a section with Polish products (assorted pickled things usually) is not evidence of some sinister cultural take over by Poles in the UK, even if their top notch crumpet is indeed doing marvels for the gene pool.

    But perhaps there is milage in the Daily Mail asking David Cameron “Are you aware it is growing increasingly hard to find Jaffa Cakes in tradition British corner shops (that are for the most part run by someone called Mr. Patel) as strange Polish products with unpronounceable names are pushing them off the shelves? What is the Conservative party’s position on that, Mr. Prime Minister? What do you intend to do?”

    Indeed I suspect you might be a bit more uncomfortable making the same case for why kosher food needs to be strictly labelled, ideally with fluorescent bio-haz symbols, to avoid giving grave offence to any who dislike the idea of eating jew-food. I do not mean to direct such a notion at you (really, I seriously do not!) but that *is* why I find this whole idea a bit bizarre and perhaps even a bit sinister because of where it can lead.

  • rosenquist

    I think it’s a mistake to dismiss any objections to halal as irrational or stupid, there is a legitimate reason consumers may want to know if meat is halal, for instance ethical objections to the method of slaughter.

    However if the concern over halal is simply borne of some archaic fear of Semitic people putting spells on food then it does deserve ridicule.

  • rosenquist, I am much less bemused by objections centred on methods of slaughter. But as many of the comments above show, I think there is rather a wider range of reasons than just that.

  • Mr Ed

    Well Perry, if halal meat were halal simply because someone uttered a prayer over it, you might find that the straw man argument that you and Reason advance had some merit, but the objection to halal is, I believe, in the main, if not overwhelmingly, due to objection to the slaughter method, a method justified by the superstition that meat has to be slaughtered in a particular way to be eaten. That is the weirdness, not the objection, and Pizza Express is, of course, catering for the weirdness on the quiet.

    They might, of course, if they did not provide halal meat be sued for indirect religious discrimination in the provision of services, by not providing food that a substantial body of their potential customers would be able to eat, but they are not saying that is their motive.

    After all, in any religious discrimination case in, say, a working environment, a proposition from an employee might be: “Because of my religion I cannot work on Friday/the Sabbath (between Fri/Sat sundown)/Sunday [delete as appropriate], and if you make me do so without objective justification (e.g. we are running a hospital ward and we need you in our team to keep the artificial lung working 24/7), then you are imposing a requirement of working on my required time off, a period in which I am prohibited from working because I believe in my God and these principles of my religion, which excludes me from taking the job in line with the employer’s current, discriminatory and unjustified requirements, and therefore unlawfully discriminating against me and I claim compensation.“.

    Unfortunately, the law of England (and the UK) does not then go on to say to the employee: ‘What, pray tell, will happen to you if you work during that prohibited period?

    The only honest answer is: “Nothing that I can show, but I believe I will go to Hell etc., and I get upset when people don’t take my religion seriously and want to run a business regardless.”

    To which the only proper response is: “This Tribunal is not, and cannot be, concerned with events in any afterlife, as that is a loss that is unproven, unrealised, and if not, impermissibly remote. Your claim must fail.“*

    Whereas at present, the ultimate response may well be ‘Kerching!‘.

    * The upset caused can be compensated during life by compensation for injury to feelings.

    A person who has concerns for animal welfare may feel revolted at paying for meat that is slaughtered in a cruel fashion, or may object to mumbo-jumbo weirdness being performed over a bleeding body of the meat source, either objection seems stronger to me than saying ‘I cannot eat this meet because it comes from an animal slaughtered for consumption in a manner that is against my religion‘.

  • but the objection to halal is, I believe, in the main, if not overwhelmingly, due to objection to the slaughter method

    In that case, as the un-stunned slaughter method is, as had been pointed out in several comments above, in steep decline and being replaced with pre-stunned halal slaughter, presumably there really ain’t much to worry about.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Perry depending on who you ask, 12-20% of halal meat in the UK is unstunned. 100% of kosher. 0% of non-halal/kosher.

    It is not a non-issue. There are genunine issues both of animal welfare and false advertising here. Even Libertarians believe that product descriptions should be accurate.

    I don’t want the meat I eat to have suffered unduly. I also don’t want Islamic “magic words” said over it if I can at all avoid it. That is apparently funny to you, but it isn’t to a whole lot of people.

    My 2 cents worth is that certain meat suppliers produce halal for niche markets, but for reasons of efficiency they only want one process. So halal goes out both labelled and unlabelled, because they figure since people can’t tell the difference they can get away with this.

    Horse meat is more or less undistinguishable from lamb as the past few months have shown. It is still wrong to sell it as lamb. It is wrong to sell a product without making its provenance clear – especially if it pertains to issues their customers are concerned about. This applies to halal as much as anything.

    And in any case, if people are concerned about Jew-cooties or Muslim-cooties – how’s that any of your concern? People make their decisions for all sorts of reasons, good and bad. What shouldn’t be in question is that it is their decision to make.

  • And in any case, if people are concerned about Jew-cooties or Muslim-cooties – how’s that any of your concern?

    Because when people do funny things, I tend to laugh. I did say I was easily amused.

  • Laird

    Perry, we’re glad you’re amused by our antics.

    But you still haven’t adequately addressed the (non-halal) elephant I pointed out before: the companies are hiding the fact that the meat is halal. Since offering halal meat to Muslims would be an obvious marketing advantage to that subset of customers, the fact that these companies aren’t telling anyone about it is significant. Clearly they fear that some of their other customers would object if they knew. Do you know of any company which goes to the trouble and expense of offering a kosher product which doesn’t prominently label it as such? I don’t. So why offer a halal product but hide the fact? There’s a reason here, and it’s not “most people won’t care”.

  • Mr Ed

    Laird has crucified it.

  • Laird

    Mr Ed, I’m not quite sure how to take that, so I’ll just consider it agreement.

  • Mr Ed

    Laird, it is, nailing it Roman style, which usually ends any argument from the other side.

  • He has indeed crucified it. Let me explain. It really ain’t hard. Seriously it ain’t.

    Companies want money. Meat Packers are companies. Meat packers want money. With me so far?

    People eat meat. Some like their meat with magic spells. Some don’t. A few actually object to meat with magic spells because… well who cares why, they just do.

    All these geezers are the Market for Meat.

    So… companies can sell meat as having magic spells without being done for fraud, only if they really do add the magic spells. So the easiest way is to just do all the meat with magic spells, because, they know and you know, magic spells are bollocks, and that way… when they sell the meat, if the end user want to say “BUY OUR PIZZA WITH SPECIAL MAGICS SPELLS” they actually can do that, and no one gets done for fraud. Because the real fictitious magic spells were done.

    And as the magic spells are in fact bollocks, the meat also gets sold to people who could not care less about the magic spells. But because some people don’t like the magic spells, there is really no upside to shouting that “HAHA YOU ARE EATING MEAT WITH MAGIC SPELLS” unless they have to.

    So the reason they are ‘hiding it’ is so that some people don’t jump up and down and protest that they are eating food with magic spells. But unlike putting dioxin in the food, as magic spells are actually nonsense, these businessmen really don’t care that they are not telling you. Because the magic spells are bollocks.

    But now that the secret is out, they may have to stop doing magic spells on all of the gear, which is a pain in the arse, but if that now make more commercial sense, that is what they will do. And that is because the only pressure that made them do any of this in the first place was commercial pressure.

    So the thing that will change things is if some bright spark actually start marketing “MAGIC SPELL FREE WITH NO JEW or MUSLIM BAD VIBES”… or if they don’t want to be so negative, they will say SIKH FRIENDLY (i.e. no magic spells). And everyone will wink wink because SIKH FRIENDLY will be the new code word for JEW AND MUSLIM FREE FOOD. Whatever.

    But most people do not give a damn either way. But as they know a few people like to be outraged about everything, and they too have lovely money to spend, they ain’t going to label it and scare them (you) off… unless that now *does* makes commercial sense, because some competitor will eat their lunch if they don’t react.

    And that’s it.

  • Mr Ed

    A few actually object to meat with magic spells because… well who cares why, they just do.

    But because some people don’t like the magic spells,

    Is not that straw man haram in a chain of reasoning? It is the cruelty that they were being secretive about.

    And if this issue is so unimportant, why did a newspaper publish it? To get readers, because they thought the readers would be interested? Seems fair enough to me.

    Why is it not stated on the menus that meat is halal? They say eggs are free-range when they are, because they know many people care about that.

    And that is because the only pressure that made them do any of this in the first place was commercial pressure.

    Again, if it made commercial sense, they would be open about it, after all, Pizza Express advertise. You discount the power of ideology in the decision, PC ‘fashion’, let’s be inclusive and ignore those who might object, we won’t tell them, you do so without ever even now addressing that point, you simply refer to your preferred theory.

    For PE to fail to mention the use of halal meat is inconsistent with PE wishing to attract the customers who would insist on eating it. That is the hole in your argument. It makes no sense to use halal meat on the quiet, as it would not attract those who would insist on it.

    Have you ever known a vegan restaurant that fails to point out that it does not serve animal products?

  • Laird

    Mr Ed is precisely correct. There is a hole in your argument one could ride an elephant through.

    But I do like the term “Sikh Friendly”. I am also easily amused.

  • Is not that straw man haram in a chain of reasoning? It is the cruelty that they were being secretive about.

    No, it is they do not wish to make their meat unsellable to islamophobes. No mystery there.

    And if this issue is so unimportant, why did a newspaper publish it? To get readers, because they thought the readers would be interested? Seems fair enough to me.

    It is unimportant to, say, people like me. And if North End Road market is anything to go by, it is utterly unimportant to most people in that l see. I make this assessment because lots and lots and lots of white working class people can be seen buying food from an openly halal butcher run by people who are very obviously Arabs. However newspapers are in the business of not just ‘reporting news’ but also ‘whipping up a good story’. No newspaper ever lost money pandering to the prejudices of their readers. This should hardly come as a surprise. And knowing this, why on earth would a businessman go out of their way to tell people about the magic spells unless they were asked?

    So when you say “they are hiding this from us! How can you not see that?”… I say “no shit Sherlock”.

    Have you ever known a vegan restaurant that fails to point out that it does not serve animal products?

    Indeed I have not. I have never known a middle eastern one to not mention they serve halal food as well. But I have also never seen a Chinese or English or Polish restaurant to point out their food is NOT halal or NOT kosher. And yet they might well be buying halal meat on sometimes if that is where they can get the best deals from the wholesalers. What possible reason would they have to mention that fact? So you point is what exactly?

  • Andrew Lale

    This is why I’ve lost interest in both Libertarianism and Samizdata. The above comment by Perry de Havilland is so utterly ludicrous as to beggar belief. A libertarian arguing that non-disclosure of important customer information is excellent as long as it is done to piss off bigots is almost beyond my ability to comprehend. Principle be damned! Poke those bastards in the eye!

  • What I am saying is because magic spells, unlike sodium content or fat content, actually are completely irrelevant in reality, because magic, like gods, are imaginary… most businessmen DO NOT GIVE A FUCK about keeping you in the dark, because there is simply no upside for them in acting the way you want them to. That is all I am saying.

    And the fact it pisses you off is why they are not advertising it. It is also why I am laughing at you.

  • Mr Ed

    There’s enough material here for an entire conference, as the psychiatrist said in Fawlty Towers.

  • Chip

    I’ve noticed this before. Perry gets very emotionally invested in a line of argument. Point out logical inconsistencies, and he gets increasingly bombastic and sneering – in other words, he gets increasingly emotional.

    There are several logical points here: 1) cruelty, 2) secrecy and, for me, the most important, 3) quietly acquiescing secular space to superstition, thus encouraging more superstition.

    All perfectly valid points.

  • quietly acquiescing secular space to superstition, thus encouraging more superstition

    That’s the nail I was looking for – thanks, Chip.

    I don’t think that Perry gets emotional at all – he simply has a very different perspective on some things (like all of us, depending on the ‘thing’ in question), and because of that he misses points that are more visible to others looking from a different perspective. I am actually beginning to see his point. I still disagree, because I like to keep my personal perspective, but I am now less perplexed by his missing “our” point.

    BTW Andrew, libertarianism or whatever aside, that is why I like Samizdata more than any other website out there: it makes possible a rational and civil discussion between people who may be in great disagreement on any number of things.

  • Sorry Chip but what are the inconsistencies in my logic?

    1. Yes they are hiding it. I have explained why.

    2. I don’t care about other people’s magical beliefs, so I find it comical when you do, as do Reason obviously. I prefer to actually worry about the political threats.

    3. All you have to do is look at the comments and see clearly this is not (mostly) about ‘cruelty’ but rather indigence at being kept in the dark about eating magic-spell food. And what I find doubly funny about that is you need to believe it is a dark plot and an indication of the PC culture’s inexorable advance, rather than something the accountant and directors thought up to squeeze a few more shekels out of their dead cows.

    Hate to break it to you, but the reasons you don’t rate being told it was halal were probably that banal (and reasonable in my view too… it ain’t like they are poisoning you, even if it makes you have a hissy fit).

  • Mr Ed

    Sorry Chip but what are the inconsistencies in my logic?

    Perry I have offered you many shots at an open goal and you persist in not addressing the point and pretending that there is no point to answer, the only plausible reason to me is that you know that you are wrong but cannot bear to admit it:

    For PE to fail to mention the use of halal meat is inconsistent with PE wishing to attract the customers who would insist on eating it. That is the hole in your argument. It makes no sense to use halal meat on the quiet, as it would not attract those who would insist on it.

    PE do not say “We are pleased to be able to offer halal chicken in all our pizzas, and only free-range eggs are used on our pizzas.” or like words, yet that would be consistent with them wishing to portray themselves as interested in providing what their customers want, if that is their motive for their policy.

    They might appear to be honest if they said something like: “Ok folks, we know some of you like free-range eggs, so we provide them. No one seems to insist on battery eggs out of conscience, so free-range eggs it is, everyone is happy. Some people insist on halal meat, so we offer halal chicken without an option. No one cares if the chicken they eat is not halal, so that’s fine by you all isn’t it?“.

    Yes they are hiding it. I have explained why.

    I would venture that you are explaining why you think that they are hiding it, but you are not explaining something within your knowledge.We are both speculating on PE’s motives.

    it ain’t like they are poisoning you, even if it makes you have a hissy fit

    Which is exactly the same point one might make to a person who insists on eating meat slaughtered according to religious tenets rather than humane practices. It is of course, Reason’s initial straw man, out of which you have made a Donkey’s Breakfast.

  • PE do not say “We are pleased to be able to offer halal chicken in all our pizzas, and only free-range eggs are used on our pizzas.” or like words, yet that would be consistent with them wishing to portray themselves as interested in providing what their customers want, if that is their motive for their policy.

    No, as I have pointed out several timers, PE and others buy their meat from people who magic spell it because they means more people will buy it. If someone who used halal meat does not advertise it, odds are they either don’t know it and probably don’t care (as magic spell meats tastes the same) or if they do know, it is so that is asked by some beardy guys “is this halal”, they can say “yes”, or (even more likely) they don’t actually care either way and so rather that mention it and risk you getting the vapours, they just serve it. Still not seeing any dark conspiracy.

    Which is exactly the same point one might make to a person who insists on eating meat slaughtered according to religious tenets rather than humane practices

    Someone says “this is pizza with halal/humanly slaughtered/blessed by space monkey meat, of course you can buy it on that basis”… if it transpires not to be the case, that is fraud.

    Or…

    …just don’t mention anything and say “this is pizza”. Not telling you about the magic spells or the fact the cows were slowly tortured to death with Rap music or whatever. This is not fraud. And as magic spells or tortured cows do no actual harm to you, there is also no duty to not sell you magic spell’ed torture food without telling you (there may be laws against torturing cows, but that is not a purchasers information issue). So unless they have actually said “this meat has not been subjected to magic spells or unkindly killed cows”, the smart businessman stays silent on the topic, unless it actually proves to be a selling point, at which point he advertises it as “Magic Spelled Torture Food” and add a few pennies onto the price.

    Can you not see the difference? It seems rather obvious.

  • Mr Ed

    Zzzzzzz……..

  • Ed, my theory is based on businesses acting like businesses. Yours are based on dark plots. In the absence of evidence of dark plots, the defence rests.

  • Mr Ed

    Perry, not at all, we both make suppositions, but yours appear to be what lawyers call ‘BRA’ Beyond Reasonable Argument in my book.

    No one has suggested a dark plot, simply that PE were being secretive with their food sourcing policies, (unlike when Tesco did not shout their inadvertent equine sourcing strategy, as that appears to have been negligence on their part), and PE are in the apparently bizarre position of adopting a unpublicised policy of sourcing halal meat, presumably for business advantage and, if not a USP, an SP, yet they made virtually no mention of it. Contrasting their position on free-range eggs, it makes no sense whatsoever. I am simply saying that their food sourcing makes no sense unless they have adopted a policy of thinking “It would put more customers off to advertise that our chicken is halal than not to, so we shall say nothing and hope no one who objects to halal meat notices“.

  • I am simply saying that their food sourcing makes no sense unless they have adopted a policy of thinking “It would put more customers off to advertise that our chicken is halal than not to, so we shall say nothing and hope no one who objects to halal meat notices“.

    Awesome, because that is exactly what I have been saying, because having run a few businesses myself, I can say with some confidence that is how businesses tend to think. Buy the cheap meat from Jim McMaggot, which is halal because many mass meat packers do the magic spell for the sake of one-size-fits-all convenience, and just don’t mention it unless someone asks.

    And my contention is that this is easily and plausibly explained in terms of simple commercial convenience. And thus to entertain darker or more complex conjectures, as many have in this thread, in the complete absence of any evidence of pressures beyond the commercial, is… misguided.

  • Gareth

    Mr Ed said:

    They might, of course, if they did not provide halal meat be sued for indirect religious discrimination in the provision of services, by not providing food that a substantial body of their potential customers would be able to eat, but they are not saying that is their motive.

    I think that is highly unlikely. A shop not selling halal or kosher products is simply not stocking them and they are not obliged to stock them.

    What I would think more likely is that there are areas of the UK where high street food chains and supermarkets were being squeezed for sales versus smaller but halal compliant businesses, and the regular retailers have responded.

    As examples it would seem Tesco have gone as far as partnering with the National Halal Centre to produce Tesco branded meat that does not involve stunning before slaughter while Morrisons plainly commit to stunning before slaughter and no prayer for their own branded products.

    I do think something else *is* going on though. Quite what I don’t know. I’m intrigued by the way in which the government estimate high levels of stunning before slaughter but some groups who sell their certification services say stunning of any kind means it isn’t halal. Also that there is variety across the EU (pdf) with regards to how halal slaughter is performed. I’m sure this question mark over the true halal-ness of meat plays a part in the retailers not wanting to make too much noise about it. In the UK they’ve found a compromise that fools enough of the people enough of the time.

  • Mr Ed

    I think that is highly unlikely. A shop not selling halal or kosher products is simply not stocking them and they are not obliged to stock them.

    I did not say that they were obliged to stock them, I said that in the provision of services, which includes goods, there must not be unlawful discrimination. There is a distinction between the provision of kosher meat and not selling kosher meat to a Christian (because you want to keep it for a Jewish customer) which is direct discrimination and would is unlawful, and indirect discrimination, where you impose a criterion that gets in the way of a particular persons in connection with a protected characteristic, e.g. refusing to serve a woman a pint of beer in a pub, providing free drinks only for women at a nightclub, direct discrimination, and my hypothetical example. Or, for example, serving alcohol in a restaurant might be considered an obstacle to Muslims or Mormons eating there, if a proportion find the presence of alcohol objectionable on religious grounds, the defence is objective justification in indirect discrimination cases.

  • Laird

    “Buy the cheap meat from Jim McMaggot, which is halal because many mass meat packers do the magic spell for the sake of one-size-fits-all convenience, and just don’t mention it unless someone asks.”

    Perry, I would accept your argument if it were not for one small problem: as I understand it, halal meat is not cheaper than non-halal, but rather is more expensive. If you can demonstrate that I am wrong about this I will shut up. But if I am correct that that it is more expensive (as is kosher meat), then your argument falls apart; the company is spending more than necessary for zero benefit (because they don’t advertise the halal feature).

  • Perry, I would accept your argument if it were not for one small problem: as I understand it, halal meat is not cheaper than non-halal, but rather is more expensive

    Yes, this is the “Jew Tax” argument used by some people about kosher food (and I am not suggesting anything untoward about you and your argument, I hasten to add. Seriously. Just pointing out this is the same argument).

    This is the calculation… non halal meat can be sold to about 2.8 million more people in the UK than non-halal meat. This assumes an insignificant number do not actively avoid meat they know is halal (say 0.3 million Jews) or only buy certified non-magic meat like the 0.3 million Sikhs in the UK. And of course this number of avoiders is minimised by not telling people the meat is halal unless they actually ask.

    So if the cost of making the meat magic is not offset by the fact it can be more easily sold to 2.8 million more people in the UK (i.e. nearly 5% of the population and growing)… then yes, I may be mistaken.

    If it is, and I strongly suspect that to be the case, then…

  • Mr Ed

    And of course this number of avoiders is minimised by not telling people the meat is halal unless they actually ask.

    i.e. knowingly to serve your customers food they object to if you were frank about it. And acting all surprised when the issue comes up, mens rea.

  • Well yeah, typically most companies tend to try and skate over the negatives regarding their products. This is hardly a peculiarity of the meat industry. I have yet to see a travel company label their Costa Del Sol holidays as ‘High Cancer Holidays’… which is a bit more serious than the risks posed by magic spell food :-D

  • Paul Marks

    The objection to halal is that if people want to make a donation of money to the cause of Islam they should KNOW THEY ARE DOING IT – not just find that some of their money gets paid to Islamic scholars for the certification of slaughter houses, when they (the supermarket customers) did not even know they were buying halal meat.

    Jews have lived in the West for thousands of years – without insisting that non Jews buy kosher meat (kosher meat is sold as such).

    The denial of the Islamic challenge to the West is wrong headed and the association of resistance to Islamification of the West with anti-Semitism (as the Reason magazine article does) is wrong headed – especially as many of the leading critics who warn about Islamification are Jewish.

    The truth is that Reason magazine does not believe any of this (not the “magic spells”, not the “cooties” – none of it).

    What they are doing is saying to the “hip” young ………

    “We are hip too – we can sneer at your stupid square parents and their paranoid concerns, just like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do”.

    The idea is that by using “hip” “humour” they will over the young to the libertarian cause (I fully ACCEPT that the intent is sincere).

    The approach is wrong for two reasons.

    It is wrong because it is dishonest (see above).

    And it is wrong because it DOES NOT WORK.

    The hip young read the article and smile – and then GO OFF AND VOTE DEMOCRAT.

    After all the Republicans are “paranoid” – they (in North Carolina) have just banned the courts considering Sharia Law, yet there is no such thing (the Economist, as well as Reason magazine, implies that anyone who believes there is such a thing is paranoid).

    People who believe there is such as thing as Sharia Law also believe in “magic spells” and “cooties”.

    Perhaps it is useless to try and explain the idea of a cultural challenge to people who insist there is no such thing as a fundamental culture (nothing different in TYPE to soap operas and the like – that ordinary human beings are not interested, at some point in their lives, in the fundamental questions of human existence)- but I have done what I can.

    I will the rest to people such as David Horowitz who are better able to explain cultural matters than I am. But also do not make the mistake of trying to explain a cultural challenge to people who believe that, on a fundamental level, there is no such thing as culture (that, as Jeremy Bentham had it, that games are just as important as poetry if they give equal pleasure).

    I can remember when Political Correctness was considered “amusing” (Political Correctness “gone mad”, which concedes the struggle by, de facto, accepting that there is a reasonable form of P.C.) – now it dominates the world (the slightest word, in a private conversation, can be used to utterly destroy someone’s life).

    Cultural challenges (whether from “Critical Theory” Marxism, as with P.C., or from Islam) are real, but I have learned that I am the wrong person to explain why they are real – why they are important. And why complicit “humour” is a terribly mistaken response to them.

    I wish other people better luck in explaining these matters – at least to people who do not believe that economics is all that humans are about.

    But I will point out the obvious….

    If the West truly is “banal” if it has no fundamental core of belief – then it will die.

    Lots of consumer goods will not save the West – not at all.

    And, besides, the time of endless consumer goods (paid for by credit) will eventually come to an end.

    Hard times (very hard times) will return – if the West has no fundamental core of principle (if it is truly just “banal”, with “soap operas” being considered no less important than the fundamental questions of human existence), then it will be swept away.

  • Swept away by people unable to even design a mobile phone or a descent gun themselves? I don’t think so.

    No, Islam is an inconvenience, nothing more. The west can bring ruin upon itself with policies of economic madness, as it is currently doing, but Islam really ain’t the problem there. Indeed it is utterly irrelevant.

    And yes, laughing at your enemies actually is a wonderful way to undermine them.

    But the people who Reason are talking to are less and less likely to then go out and vote Democrat, and Reason are part of that process. Increasingly they will go vote for Cruz or Rand Paul, who might actually be worth voting for. Before the advent of such folk, what possible ‘reason’ was there to vote for most Republicans?

  • Nick (Blame The French) Gray

    Actually, this is all part of a Veggie plot to generate such controversy and uncertainty that we all decide to just not eat meat! Lettuce rise up and meat the challenge!

  • Mr Ed

    Bah!, they’ll be queuing up, there’s no time to baste.

  • gongcult

    Ron/Rand are one the few honorable Republicans left on the planet. If the idea of eating healthily raised pigs , fowl or fish freaks you then pork off an @ eat some veggies…Just remember those sprouts died to make you full.