If the headline “VEGAN ACTIVIST FACE-STOMPS RAVER FOR EATING HAMBURGER” doesn’t provide a case contrary to the above headline a solid foundation, you must not have enough protein in your diet. But that’s what we first thought when we saw that exact headline plastered over a piece going around the Internet today, even though it was posted in January.
In the story, published by RaveNews.CA, the author claims that a 19 year-old McGill University student named Jonathan Jerome was attacked by a group led by one Tylor Camden, whose already suspiciously Fight Club-lite sounding name is done no charitable good by the supposed presence of multiple face tattoos and sexual predator-chic eyewear (see above).
The story claims that Jerome was hanging around Montreal’s Mile End neighborhood with his girlfriend, eating a hamburger, when Mr. Camden and his friends ran up on him, started harassing him, and wouldn’t leave.
Police say that Tyler Camden, with the help of his accomplices who are still at large, placed Jonathan’s head on the sidewalk before stomping down on him, crushing parts of his jaw. […] “[Camden] kept screaming that meat was murder over and over again.”
The story claims the victim is still in critical condition.
You’ve probably noticed that the culture wars of nutrition, meat-eating, and veganism are getting particularly nasty (see also: the chef who recently received death threats for a foie gras giveaway). A hot-button story like this can prompt questions like, “When was the last time a group of meat-eaters did this to a vegan?” or “Why shouldn’t this guy get the shit kicked out of him for—per witness quote—being a fat vegan, or fat human?”
But those questions can’t exist if the story doesn’t exist. Which leads us to another question:
What if the story didn’t actually exist?
As this thing flies around the Internet and gets shared on Facebook, we can’t find:
– Any evidence of this happening in the Canadian press, or in the local Montreal press.
– Any evidence of a Tylor Camden or a Jonathan Jerome in Montreal.
– Or an actual photo of Tylor Camden, because the photo RaveNews.ca used (see above, again) is of animal rights activist/cause celebre Walter Bond—who, while he is an animal rights activist currently sitting in jail, is in trouble for an entirely different crime (arson) that didn’t violently affect any other humans.
We took our questions to one Noah Gitelman for quote. Gitelman is listed as the site admin for RaveNews.Ca on a reverse WhoIs lookup—he hasn’t immediately responded. We also reached to Animal Liberities, a vegan/animal-rights interest group out of McGill, to see if they’d heard of the story, and they have yet to respond as well.
The point of all this: The stereotype of vegans as extremists continues to be perpetrated—even as veganism is, if anything, gaining mainstream ground. And while we here at First We Feast are mostly unapologetic meat-eaters, that doesn’t mean we won’t listen to an argument made correctly, especially if it’s one worth listening to.
This, dear Internet, does not appear to be one of those arguments. Don’t fall for it.