When Joaquin Phoenix won the Oscar for best actor on Sunday for his performance in The Joker, he delivered a prepared speech that many that was profound and moving. But not everyone loved what he had to say. Dairy farmers are now speaking out against the actor for comments he made about stealing cow’s milk.
“I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world and many of us, what we’re guilty of is an egocentric world view — the belief that we’re the center of the universe,” the actor said as part of his speech. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”
Wisconsin dairy farmer Tina Hinchley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel why newborn calfs are taken from their mothers.
“If that mom had manure on her, we would risk that calf, our best genetics on the farm, getting contaminated with salmonella, E. coli or listeria, along with tetanus and all the other stuff that hangs out on the farm as well,” Hinchley explained.
“Milk replacer is the best baby formula you can get,” Hinchley explained. “It’s powdered milk with all the vitamins and nutrients that a calf needs.”
Carrie Mess of Lake Mills, Wisconsin wrote a letter to Phoenix on her blog Dairy Carrie.
“Joaquin, you don’t need to drink milk,” Mess wrote. “You don’t need to use or consume animal products. I respect your beliefs. But understand that there is no one more connected to the natural world than the farmers who are out here in the places you’ve never heard of, caring for the land and the animals. We’ve been sustainable and green since long before it was cool.”
“I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up,” Phoenix said later in his speech. “But human beings, at our best, are so inventive and creative and ingenious, and I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.
“I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of community,” he continued. “When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. It said, ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.'”