Easily the smartest thing connected with The New York Times Magazine’s tedious essay contest on the ethics of eating meat came not within the confines of the contest itself, but in Public Editor Art Brisbane’s column about the contest. Brisbane asked Calvin Trillin—an omnivore of great gusto and renown—to send an essay about why it’s okay to eat animals.

Trillin needed only nine of the 600 words Bisbane offered: “If they had a chance, they would eat us.”

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Brent Cunningham is CJR’s managing editor.