Though he himself is a liberal, author, world traveler, and chef Bourdain has never held back from calling out Nanny Staters when it comes to culinary affairs. The ongoing foie gras debate is no exception.
Bourdain cited this op-ed by Mark Pastore, the owner of San Francisco’s Incanto restaurant:
I am one of the chefs and restaurateurs whom [John Burton, California Dem Party Chairman] threatened last month. We respect his right to disagree with us over whether or not California should become the only place in the world to ban the sale of fattened duck liver, or foie gras. We condemn, however, Burton’s ongoing use of violent rhetoric. Here’s why:
Many of us first became involved with this issue in 2003, when animal-rights activists vandalized the home and business of chef Laurent Manrique, his wife and 2-year-old child, and then issued a threat against him. The FBI categorizes these as acts of domestic terrorism. Such acts should be met with unequivocal opposition, not by imitation.
About a year later, then-state Sen. Burton put forward a law to ban the sale of all products from foie gras ducks, including not only foie gras itself but also meat, bones for pet food and feathers for down jackets. The law passed, with limited public review, in part because the state’s only foie gras farmer was subjected to physical threats, vandalism and costly litigation from animal rights advocates.
Since then, emboldened extremists continue to use threats and violent acts as a means of achieving political ends.
Researchers at California universities have been vandalized, stalked and threatened by animal rights activists. Arsonists recently caused more than $2 million in damage at Harris Ranch. Many chefs who have stood up respectfully to defend our customers’ right to choose what they eat have been subject to vandalism and repeated threats of physical violence.
Use of threatening language to inspire fear violates California’s “criminal threats” law. When the threats are issued from a leadership position, such as chairman of the California Democratic Party, it sends a signal far and wide that inciting violence and causing fear are acceptable tactics in public discourse.
For Bourdain, it’s bad enough that the government wants its grubby hands in our kitchens. But the harassment and intimidation of his friends and colleagues really amps up his outrage:
Good for him. California has enough problems (crappy economy, anyone?). Maybe the state Democratic Party should focus on those instead of occupying Californians’ dinner plates.