Many of us recall, with a deep sense of dread, when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced years back with some fanfare that he would only eat the animals he would kill himself. I called attention to this in my 2016 book, Farm to Fable: The Fictions of Our Animal Consuming Culture, as an example of a growing sustainable foodie narrative, suggesting that those who participate in gratuitous violence and killing of animals are somehow more “aware” and “mindful” than those who would otherwise pay someone else to do the dirty deed.
In fact it was non vegan Kate Murphy, in her 2015 New York Times op ed, “Blessed Be My Freshly Slaughtered Dinner” who turned our attention to a trend she saw begin about five years prior. In her work, Murphy mentions that an important milestone was reached with Zuckerberg’s announcement about eating only the meat from animals he killed himself.
Murphy’s op ed describes a movement that praises taking responsibility for your food choices and becoming more self-reliant as a form of conscientious objection to the corporate food system. Attracted to this movement are hunters, foragers, paleos, and anyone else seeking to emulate a life “off of the grid” and “back to the land.”
The grotesque notion that needlessly killing someone yourself — rather paying someone else to do it for you — makes you morally superior surfaced in mainstream media once again when The Hill made a headline out if it, referencing a new Rolling Stone interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Dorsey was asked about his most memorable encounter with Zuckerberg. Quite surprisingly, it was a memory from years back when Zuckerberg had Dorsey over for dinner and announced that the goat meat he was serving came from an animal he shot with a bolt gun himself. Even more telling, the “most memorable encounter” question was part of a line of questioning about what Dorsey thinks is the purpose of Twitter versus Facebook. Apparently, Dorsey’s memory of Zuckerberg’s killing is what he associated with not understanding Facebook’s philosophy or purpose. Could it mean that he unconsciously regarded the killing of the goat as senseless as Facebook’s mission?
In the end, Dorsey admits that he didn’t eat the goat meat Zuckerberg had served him because it was “cold.” But behind his glib explanation lies an astounding paradox. For all our advances in technology, one hero of our tech-driven age, who incidentally advocates for many progressive causes, regresses to the ancient act of ritual slaughter to get his “bravery” and “mindfulness” fix. Clearly, another tech giant finds this act of ritual killing a defining moment for the character of this man. Like the ancients, Zuckerberg believes that the act of ritual killing gives him greater moral character and perhaps greater respect from his millions of fans. But the real test of character is the mercy and restraint we show someone who stands before us, defenseless and trusting. The archaic idea that someone must suffer to elevate ourselves is the root of all oppression. The recognition that the immense power we possess over others must not be abused is the real progression we’re after.
What can you do? This a great opportunity to tweet Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg to let them know you read the Rolling Stones interview and tell them what you thought of the killing of the innocent baby goat as a defining moment for them. You can also comment on The Hill article at the bottom of the page.