If you know anything at all about Morrissey, you know that he is never one to shy away from controversy, especially when it comes to speaking up for animals (or speaking out against the Royals, but that’s another blog). So you won’t be surprised that some of the most memorable passages in his bestselling memoir, simply titled Autobiography, are about animals and animal rights. This is, after all, a man who befriends stray cats, calls meat-eaters “cannibals,” walks out of restaurants when his dining companions order flesh, fusses over fledgling birds, and will stop traffic in order to rescue an injured starling (all of which he recounts in Autobiography). So while we await Morrissey’s new album, World Peace Is None of Your Business (featuring what is sure to become an animal rights anthem, “The Bullfighter Dies“), let’s take a look at some quotes from Autobiography that constitute “greatest hits” (grouped under titles of five of his musical greatest hits).
“Meat Is Murder”
“I have long-since passed the stage of attending any table where dead animals are served up as food. I therefore automatically stand up and walk out of the restaurant. … Suddenly, you come to a certain situation and you are unable to live with it, and the only protest you can make on behalf of the butchered animal is to depart the scene. Whether this be considered irritating or rude by the gluttonous carnivore is of no interest to me. Nobody can possibly be so hungry that they need to take a life in order to feel satisfied—they don’t after all, take a human life, so why take the life of an animal? … It is habit, and laziness and nothing else.”
“You either approve of violence or you don’t, and nothing on earth is more violent or extreme than the meat industry.”
“[T]he meat industry offers the human race a menu of colon cancer, heart disease, swine flu, E. coli, salmonella, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, mad cow disease, listeriosis, shellfish poisoning, bird flu, tongue cancer, and so on. Either slowly or quickly, all of the above kill carnivores, none of which matters much as long as money rolls in for the farming fatcats.”
“I’m OK by Myself”
“Days pass and I speak to no one unless to explain my vegetarianism (whereas blood-spurting cannibalism demands no questions).”
“America Is Not the World”
“We are finally released from the American highway with its unending stream of identikit fast-diarrhea diners with their deathly menus offering only murder or sugar—not food at all, and it isn’t half-baked to accuse such ‘fast food’ outlets as being responsible for the deaths of millions of Americans. Now, here in Sweden, food resembles food—and even looks edible, although I would never give in to herring. Fish are not food.”
“How many billions donated to cancer research? How many billions of animals tortured in the name of research—and, to what progress? And what if progress were ever truly made? How many giant industries would fall—fully dependent, as they are, on cancer victims? Has a cure been found but blocked? Now is the time to dig down for questions.”
“Do Your Best and Don’t Worry”
“A very small, flightless bird is now living in the back yard. I feed it constantly, and at night I place it on a blanket and fence it in using large boxes so that it has freedom to move about but can’t be pounced on by predators. … For days and days both parents call down to the bird [from the roof]—encouraging it to fly up and join them. But it can’t. Twice they swoop down to feed their baby, causing it to skip and flutter in drunken excitement at their contact. … This scenario continues for two weeks, and I won’t go to bed unless I’ve made sure that the fledgling is secure. One morning it is gone, and I am distraught, pulling apart every bush and outdoor plant in search, when suddenly I look up to the roof and there is the bird finally positioned between both parents. Not everything ends horrifically.”
What is your favorite passage from Autobiography? Let us know in the comments section.