When we last left Mormon mantrepreneur Brett McKay, his Art of Manliness empire was going strong with its podcast, blog, “merch,” and the like. On an episode last December, Tod Moore of Atomic Athlete, some kind of gym in Austin, appeared as a guest.

McKay helpfully transcribes his podcasts now, so let’s quote Moore directly. Well, actually, I’ll start with McKay: “During a single weekend I shot pistols, did land navigation, butchered a rabbit and a chicken, and was taught how to fight by Tim Kennedy. It was awesome.” (Elsewhere he describes those as “man skills.”)

At any rate, Moore:

  • “Last year was kind of like a very intense, hectic pace. It was like a 36-hour event. And we did everything from rappelling on the 100-foot tower to a full-sized military obstacle course, we did slaughtering and butchering small game, we did self-defense, we did medical stuff, we did firearms training.”

  • “We can’t become a world-class butcher in a three-hour class… but what it does is give everyone exposure.”

I wrote in with a question:

I can easily understand why it would be formative for men, especially young men, to work out, build strength, and participate in sports and outdoor events.

I fail to see what butchering animals or animal sacrifice has to do with any of the foregoing, or how the owners of a gym link same to physical exercise and body development, or how it represents anything but unreconstructed barbarism. Isn’t it enough that your students and members get bigger, stronger, more capable in and of themselves? Why must any other creature suffer?

Jake Saenz and I wrote back and forth a little (Saenz first in the excerpt here):

Each animal was humanely processed by hand with the utmost respect for their life and sacrifice.

By any standard that is a much worse lie to tell yourself than, say, the lies people tell themselves at the meat counter of a grocery store.

The Vanguard was not about fitness. It was about learning skills that are slowly but surely fading away.

So you think that a youth’s journey to manhood will be benefited in some way by learning to inflict misery and death on innocent creatures? I didn’t know that was part of the deal.

In regards to the butchering class[,] Americans have lost touch with this process, and give no thought to where their meat comes from or the sacrifice that animal has provided.

No animal provides a sacrifice. These are not soldiers in a war making a self-aware moral choice. You chose to kill the animal. Please be honest with yourself, if not with me.

They just continue to push money into a system that supports inhumane living conditions, mass slaughter [sic], and no value on life.

Or they can adapt to the late 20th century and accept that courage, strength, honour, mastery, and brute physical strength, all quintessential manly traits, have nothing to do with inflicting suffering on others.

Wait for it, Jake: Compassion is a manly virtue. “Humane sacrifice” is an oxymoron.

I would suggest a period of deep reflection. The results ain’t gonna be pretty, Jake, but the day one changes can be any day, including today. You don’t have to teach your young charges to be vegans, but you can start by removing this barbaric practice – which remains that no matter how you choose to rationalize it to yourself – from your training regimen. Because it has nothing to do with becoming a man.

Saenz wrote that he “feel[s] this is a losing battle.” He didn’t mean it’s a losing battle because he’s on the wrong side of history, but it is and he is.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2016.02.18 13:16. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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