Don’t have a cow: How Joaquin Phoenix made farmers sad

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As you will no doubt have read if you are an operating sentient being, everyone is offended these days. You can’t even say racist things without somebody calling you racist. It’s a solid hustle, right enough. Offence is a powerful currency. So much so in fact, that many of the chief offenders have decided it is they who are truly offended. In this reverse bizarro world, poshboy edgelord Laurence Fox is a victim of racism, hounded off his social media platform The oppressor becomes the oppressed, the wolf and the lamb feed together and dust shall be the serpent's meat.

NFU president
Don't take a fence, Minnette

So it should really come as no surprise that the president of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Minette Batters has dug deep into her deck, yanked out the victim card and slammed it on the table, all “WHAT?” It seems that Joaquin Phoenix’s recent acceptance speech for the Academy Award he received for playing a disenfranchised mentally ill loner was actually a senseless act of verbal violence against the real disenfranchised mentally ill loners: farmers.

Batters speaks out against the continuing demonisation of farmers, particularly by A-listers every time a red carpet is rolled out. “Celebrities have to be careful … Joaquin Phoenix… has to remember there are people at the end of this, there are small family farms and they get hurt too.” It’s only been a little while but I remember a quite different speech from Phoenix. Something about humans being disconnected from the natural world, something along the lines of “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”

Maybe I’m becoming calloused in my old age but that tone doesn’t seem irresponsible or insensitive to me. It’s significantly more sensitive than, say, banging a litre of spunk up a cow’s fanny, forcibly impregnating her, permanently traumatising her by abducting her child, then keeping her alive as a titty milk slave until her massacred udders eventually run dry when she gets her throat cut and her body is turned into Farm Foods hamburgers. You know, while we're considering everyone’s feelings.

Don’t be mistaken. No one’s shitting on anyone’s mental health. There is a real problem with mental health in rural communities in general and in farmers in particular. Isolation, the stigma associated with mental illness, easy access to firearms and the unusually precarious nature of the profession have delivered one of the highest suicide rates of any occupational group. So nobody here is trivialising that. In any event, if we wanted to laugh at the mentally ill we would just watch more episodes of Veganville.

It’s just a little bit rich to hear this about excruciatingly mild statements like Phoenix’s from an organisation that represents people who indisputably make animals suffer. Even without hyperbole, even tiptoeing around your feelings, you don’t look good. The reality of slaughter does not go away. The videos of squealing beasts are not doctored. The optics are bad because the reality is bad.

So next time you’re crying into your therapist’s lap or beating a rage cushion of Lewis Hamilton’s face, maybe think about the deeper issue. As your shrink may very well tell you, “you are what you repeatedly do.”

So make like a whole foods manufacturer and can it.

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