Gary Francione is an Industry Agent, But Some of his Critics Are Too

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gary Francione is an industry agent. He either gets paid by exploitation industries to serve as a fifth column vegan to distract-demoralize-divide animal advocates, or he does it as a personal hobby. Either way he is a despicable character–who can read about rabbits having their eyes gouged out or chickens having their heads ripped off–and he will pretend to be on their side–when his real goal is to keep pressure off those that are doing the torture. But just because someone criticizes Gary Francione doesn’t mean the critic is on the side of animals either.

I attack Francione because I can see that his aim is to create divisions where they do not exist. If I ignore him, then I am allowing his purpose to be communicated–that is, to distract-divide-demoralize. I expose him as an industry agent–not a misguided person who means well, because it is the truth–he is a fraud–but also, by calling him out as one, it calls into question the philosophy he has spread for 25 years.

I have noticed some people attacking Francione also, and yet agreeing with his approach. One way they reveal this is by saying that Tom Regan is the philosopher one should follow. Tom Regan came along after Peter Singer published Animal Liberation. Singer’s book reached a large audience, Regan’s books did not. His primary audience are those who may get interested in reading more about animal rights after being introduced to it by Singer’s mass market book. Regan is notable for co-writing a 1992 article critical of welfare reforms/ gradualism. His co-writer? Gary Francione. If you check what Regan is up to these days, it isn’t disagreeing with Gary Francione. The basic philosophy is the same, activists should do three things: veganism (a personal purity kind of veganism), non-violence (economic sabotage and victim rescues are considered violence by Regan and Francione, though the former has said he supported open rescues, which exposes the activist to legal punishment and the possibility that the animal rescued will be returned to the owner.) and intersectionality (a murky kind of position where activists cannot do anything for nonhuman animals that might offend race or gender considerations..i.e. cannot criticize whaling because it might encourage racial slurs against Japanese).

Trading Francione for Regan isn’t much of a change. But another problem is that saying Francione is divisive, or that his philosophy is wrong-headed–is actually supporting his aims! His aim is to divide activists–if people are spending the time talking about how mean or rude Francione is, they are not helping animals. It is better to call a spade a spade, he is an industry agent–his agenda is to undermine animal advocacy that targets industry and profits. If you do this then it undermines his purpose (one might say it is still being divisive or demoralizing but the difference is you are attacking everything he says–instead of granting it some legitimacy by saying he means well. He doesn’t mean well. If one exposes the fraud it may help sweep it away. Better than an endless string of articles about how bad Francione is without highlighting that his aims agree with industry.

Some are reluctant to call him an industry agent because they don’t have all the facts or prefer to be optimistic. After all, he does say things like “the world is vegan if you want it to be,” and he has all sorts of recipes on his Facebook page in between his attacks on animal advocacy.

But others continue to promote the view that he certainly does mean well, and is just rude, or crazy (as is often said about animal advocates-by Francione included). Those that play up the idea that he is a well-meaning person, are just doing what he is doing–seeking to distract-divide-demoralize.

Also beware of those who criticize Francione bitterly, but then turn around and say evil corporate PETA kills healthy animals–which is one of Francione’s theories too. The frauds don’t far fall from the same rotten tree. Francione, Nathan Winograd, James McWilliams, DxE (has the same core philosophy as Francione even when they claim to fight each other–remember the goal of the fifth column vegans is to promote infighting–if they cannot create it for real then they stage it-as Francione and DxE’s Wayne Hsiung did recently).

Note: This article was prompted by Roland Vincent’s Francione-style tirade against PETA, after he had posted a few articles which seemed to be critical of Francione. I shared them on my blog (with some hesitation)–but now realize that unless the article explicitly states that Francione is an industry agent and his theories are therefore meant to serve industry goals, it runs the risk of being just one industry agent using Francione to promote a mutual goal of suggesting that animal advocates are hopelessly divided. They aren’t. The real advocates are out there attacking industry profits and educating the public.

A Brief History of the Cowardly Hunter

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

News about an African lion shot and mutilated by an American dentist brings to mind how the hunter is portrayed in popular media. Trophy hunting has carried a negative public image for decades.In the 1997 film The Lost World: Jurassic Park, weary hunting guide Roland (portrayed by Pete Postlethwaite) remarks that he has been on one too many “safaris with rich dentists to listen to any more crazy ideas.”

The 1932 film The Most Dangerous Game depicts an arrogant big game hunter who is trapped on an island where he becomes the prey of another hunter, Count Zaroff, who has a trophy room with human heads on walls and in jars (censored and now lost footage included humans subjected to taxidermy).

The makers of The Most Dangerous Game were most famous for the 1933 film King Kong, about a prehistoric ape taken out of his environment by human greed. The sequel, Son of Kong, is noteworthy for a few timeless/progressive ideas—the theme of kindness to animals is presented, including a sequence where a character releases monkeys and seals from cages during a fire (and significantly, before she attends to her own injured father, thus we have an example of the “who would you save? human or nonhumans?” in a 1930s Hollywood movie).

Tarzan movies usually depicted the great white hunter as a villain, although there were safari films, such as those centering on the zoo animal collector Frank Buck, where taking animals out of their natural environment to spend their lives in a cage was not portrayed negatively at all. Legend has it that the earliest screen Tarzan, Elmo Lincoln, killed a tame, toothless elderly lion who had been the studio mascot with a knife after the lion became too aggressive. In 1920 such a story was used to excite audiences, not repulse them.

Animated media involving nonhuman animals made the topic of hunting almost inevitable. Even the North American deer hunter came under criticism in films like Bambi, but these were exceptions. Recreational hunting was not considered in the same way as African safari hunting–perhaps because that involved wealth and class or more exotic animals.

In the 1950s and 60s, anti-hunting stories could be found in comic books, including the Count Zaroff-inspired Spider-man villain Kraven the Hunter. Craven means coward.

A forgotten 1957 film The Roots of Heaven concerns an ex-soldier who campaigns to save the African elephant from extinction.

Similarly, in 1981 a docu-drama Roar concerns the plight of African big cats. The end credits inform the viewer about the decimation of the animals from hunting and calls for protests against, fur, ivory, and animal trafficking.

In the mid 1990s, despite increasing focus on animal concerns in Hollywood film, there were anomalies. The 1990 comedy The Freshman, presents an anti-hunting animal rights activist as an annoying fool, and the film ends with a banquet of endangered species.

The 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness recounts the exploits of two lions who were claimed to have killed over a hundred railroad workers. Recent evidence suggests the number was exaggerated by the hunter (surprise!) who took credit for killing them. It is devoid of sympathy for the lions, or any animals, and in one scene mocks vegetarianism. When an American visitor is told by his African guide that the Muslim and Hindu railroad workers argue about the killing of cattle (the Muslims eat them and the Hindus don’t), the guide is asked if he eats the cattle and his response is “of course.” The Hindu workers remain anonymous throughout, and yet near the end it is the Muslim foreman who is shown making a friendly gesture towards the departing American. It must be noted that a fictional big game hunter is introduced into the story who is later killed by the lions.

A 2001 tv movie based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World features a  heroic big game hunter named Lord Roxton. To add insult to injury he is also anti-slavery.

But such a depiction is a rarity, and it is most likely that we won’t be seeing any positive portrayals of trophy hunters unless  financed by the the NRA or Safari Club.

In the final analysis, as wild animal numbers decrease due to hunting and deforestation (for animal agriculture), “canned hunting ranches” have sprung up to provide opportunity for sadistic humans to kill animals who could easily kill them in a fair fight. But should the African lion or any other animals go extinct in the wild, the pressure to shut down these slaughter sport enterprises will be massive. Already there is evidence that with this latest celebrity lion death, the recreational hunter is entering the realm of the pedophile. Better late than never.

 

 

Dr. Mengele’s Friends: The Forgotten History of Human Vivisection in America and Europe

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

 

Dr. Mengele’s Friends: The Forgotten History of Human Vivisection in America and Europe

 

 

““I find some very impressive paragraphs in a paper which was read before the National Individualist Club (1898) by a medical man. I have read and re-read these paragraphs, with always augmenting astonishment, and have tried to understand why it should be considered a kind of credit and a handsome thing to belong to a human race that has vivisectors in it.”

Mark Twain

 

 

“Their next step in this crazy logic is that no research is scientific unless it involves such cruelties. With all the infinite possibilities of legitimate and kindly research open to anyone with enough industry and ingenuity to discover innocent methods of exploration, they set up a boycott of brains and a ritual of sacrifice of dogs and guinea pigs which impresses the superstitious public as all such rituals do. Thereby they learn many things that no decent person ought to know;…”

George Bernard Shaw

 

Anti-vivisection campaigners must contend with the most obscene and foolish defenses of medical sadism, including the claim that vivisectors only seek the good of humanity (by torturing the innocent). In truth, your average career vivisector reveals psychopathic personality traits in word and deed. As notorious 19th century animal torturer Claude Bernard proudly noted, the vivisector is of a special breed of human that is unmoved by the suffering of their victims, for the pursuit of knowledge trumps all other concerns. Such a view is what gave rise to the idea of the mad scientist, and as vivisection spread like a plague among the medical establishment, so did the desire to expand it beyond the confines of social values.

 

The exploits of Dr. Josef Mengele, medical researcher in Germany who tortured war prisoners in the camp at Auschwitz in the name of science, are well known.

 

The usual assumption is to suggest that Mengele was a freakish anomaly, and that the Germans (and their allies the Japanese) were the only ones to engage in such wicked exploitation of vulnerable humans. Now it is known that Mengele, who built a kindergarten for concentration camp children and played them the violin (when he wasn’t experimenting on them) had the support of elite doctors at the prestigious, Nobel Prize-winning, Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute.

 

The relationship between respected medical men and torture was not isolated to Germany. Dr. James Marion Sims, a president of the American Medical Association in the 19th century, conducted groundbreaking experiments into women’s health upon slaves, and one of his studies included removing a man’s jaw (without anesthetic). Despite this history, his statue remains in New York’s Central Park.

 

Contrast that with the statue at the center of the Brown Dog Affair of 1907, when a thousand medical students stormed the streets of London attacking police and women in an effort to destroy a statue(!) erected in memory of a dog who had been tortured for two months by vivisectors. Such a furor was raised by these priests of what George Bernard Shaw called “medical voodoo,” that it was removed and not re-instated (in a less conspicuous location) until the 1980s.

 

Vivisection has its origins in augury and soothsaying—where temple priests would torture living animals with the claim that society would be better off. Vivisectors repeat the same promise when criticized for atrocities. But the nature of the vivisector, a type of “emotional retardation,” is such that they will exploit anyone they can (while claiming they are the real victims of violence and terrorists).

 

Despite the exceptional status given to Mengele and Sims, medical experimentation upon humans without their approval (but with the support of power) has been carried out to the present day. In the 1940s, the Salk brothers infected mental patients with influenza, and Pfizer did harmful experiments on villagers in Africa in the 1990s. But there are other vivisectors who are not so well known (despite their claims about “furthering human knowledge”) which reveal that as nonhuman experimentation was allowed, it opened the door for experimentation upon unwilling humans- especially the most vulnerable.

 

A footnote in an article on the history of animal advocacy in the early part of the 20th century referred to a rejected 1923 bill in the New York legislature that would have banned medical experimentation on dogs and orphans.

 

Further details in a pamphlet titled “Human Vivisection” from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection by A.E. Parker documents sadistic experiments that would likely be lost to history, if not for the efforts of those who campaigned on the behalf of nonhuman animal (and human) victims of vivisectors. The pamphlet credits Dr. Herbert Snow (surgeon for 29 years), Dr. Walter Hadwen, Dr. Geo. Searle and others for their investigations into the atrocities of vivisectors. It begins with endorsements of human vivisection by several doctors: such as this:

 

“A human life is nothing compared with a new fact in science. The aim of science is the advancement of human knowledge at any sacrifice of human life. We do not know of any higher use we can put a man to.”

Professor Slosson in the New York Independent, December l2th, 1895.

 

Dr. Snow follows with these remarks:

“It need hardly be pointed out that once admit the principle expressed, with significance above–that men should ‘put everything second to the advancement of knowledge’-at once the door is set open for the perpetration of almost any conceivable wickedness and atrocity. It is only medical practitioners who have it in their power to carry out this maxim at the cost of fellow human beings. That unrestricted freedom to experimentalize is at once seen to constitute a terribly insidious danger to modern society. Merely an infinitesimal percentage of doctors are directly concerned in Vivisection, yet the majority lay down the law in its favour. We now see on all sides an overwhelming popular craze for ‘Research,’ alias the Vivisection of the (sub-human) animals; for ‘Experiment,’ in place of clinical and pathological observation. Hence, there is grave reason to fear ever-increasing experimentation on the (lower) animal creation and on the weaker and more helpless sections of the human species. An object lesson always impresses more than a lecture; a few concrete facts will necessarily carry, to the man in the street who has no time to study scientific principles, infinitely more weight than a lengthy argument. I here quote only a small percentage of the cases on record. It is impossible to credit the Laboratory or the Schools with an increased spirit of humanity since these things were done. Only of necessity there is more secrecy.”

THE STORY OF NEISSER. “The Medical Press, March 29th, 1899, records the inoculation with syphilis of 8 healthy children without the consent of their parents, by Professor Neisser. Symptoms of the disease were developed in 3. A fourth was seen 3 years after the inoculation with a cerebral tumour, its direct result. The Times, January 15th, 1901, reports that the Disciplinary Court of Breslau had fined Neisser 300 marks for publishing his account of the experiments, not for the experiments themselves. In March, 1906, Neisser attempted to lecture at Stettin, but was hooted off the stage. On June 27th, 1911, the West London Medico-Surgical Society held its annual Conversazione at Kensington Town Hall. Before them Professor Neisser delivered the Cavendish lecture and was presented with the Cavendish Gold Medal for his researches and experiments. Not a syllable of protest against these proceedings appears to have been uttered by any association, or by the current medical journals.

(2) Mr. LANDIUS, speaking in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, April 29th, 1913, refers to 146 children recently inoculated with syphilitic virus, (*by Dr. Hideyo Noguchi)“through the courtesy of the various hospitals in that city.” He also mentions 8 children experimented on by spinal puncture – all died – and 15 children in St. Vincent’s House, Philadelphia, whose eyes were tested with Tuberculin, and states that some had been totally blinded.

(3) Dr. EMMET HOLT, Professor of Children’s Diseases Columbia University, New York, read a paper at the Twentieth Annual meeting of the American Pediatric Society’ (May 26th, 1908) giving details of 1,000 Tuberculin tests he had made on young children in hospital; 615 tests were on the eyes of babies, whose hands were tied during the first 12 hours, to prevent any rubbing of the eye. Dying children, were similarly tested.

(4) Dr. RODERMUND OF MILWAUKEE, in the Medical Brief, April, 1906, reports experiments on 17 youthful persons. ” I sprayed the poison of diphtheria, smallpox, etc., into the nose and throat.” ” Of course I could not let the patients know what I was doing. I was supposed to be treating them for cataracts of the nose and throat,”

Experiments upon Children and Lunatics.
Dr. Walter HADWEN, J.P., of Gloucester, in the Abolitionist for January. 1914, draws attention to the ” fact that experimentation upon” the lower animals must of necessity lead to experiments upon the human species,” and gives examples upon children ; and in the same journal for March, 1916, writes of the (‘atrocious work carried on in the United States,” quoting from the Journal of Experimental Medicine, February, 1916. which is published by the notorious Rockefeller Institute. It contains a gruesome article by Dr. Udo J. Wile, from the University of Michigan, Dr. Hadwen describes that he “bored holes in the skulls of no less than 6 helpless lunatics, who were confined in the Pontiac State Hospital, using apparently only a local anaesthetic for the incisions into the scalp ” (many of us know how useless local anaesthetics are for deadening pain in most cases.)” Then a long nozzled syringe was inserted through the trephine hole into the brain of each, and a syringe full of brain contents was severally extracted.” This was used for injecting into “the two most sensitive organs” of several rabbits, and “the poor tortured ” creatures died in the course of several weeks. Dr. Hadwen adds : “‘The author of these outrages publicly ‘expresses his appreciation’ of ‘many laboratory courtesies extended- to him’ by fellow ‘vivisectors, and specially thanks Dr. Edmund Christian, under whose hospital care the poor lunatics were placed,’for the facilities he placed at his disposal ! ‘ ”

 

In connection with this it is well for us to remember that the
American Vivisectors are welcomed over here by our own medical men,
and that the Rockefeller Foundation, in 1920, gave the ” enormous sum
of (US) $1,205,000 to University College Medical School and the College ”
-and Vivisection is carried on there ! Abolitionist, July,1920.
H. SELTER, of Leipzig, also injected ” small amounts of tubercle
bacilli ” into healthy children (Deut. Med. Woch., July I7th,1925.) “Nine children developed larger or smaller nodules………one child died of influenza pneumonia .”Starry Cross Oct. . 1925,

 

The Lancet, June 27th,1925, refers to an “experiment in prophylaxis
against tuberculosis in infants “–in 1921 and 1924 by Dr. Calmette, of
the Pasteur Institute, who experimented on over 1,000 young children,
and it throws serious doubts upon the supposed proof and results. Coming from the headquarters of orthodox medicine this is very welcome to anti -vivisectionists.
The Obserzter November 2nd, 1924, relates that the Arbeiter-Zeitung
states that ” an experiment with a new kind of serum was attempted on
36 children at a babies’ home near Vienna, with this fatal result: Six of them died of diphtheria toxin poisoning-and demands a strict examination into the case.”
” A Vienna cable to the Christian Science Monitor, June 30th, 1925,
contains the announcement that the Minister of Social Welfare has issued a decree forbidding the use of toxin antitoxin as an inoculation against diphtheria. ‘The decree is an inner departmental one, based on a report of Professor Pirquet, and was sent to the Serotherapeutic Institute of Vienna. It is a strange anomaly that while one Government forbids a treatment of this kind on account of its danger, other Governments do all they can to encourage its use. (See also British Medical Journal September 26th, 1925).

Our own Ministry of Health is much to be feared in this direction, but we are glad to note that the L.C.C. has decided against the use of the test for London School children. Abolitionist, August, 1925. Work house Schools are not exempt, unfortunately; 329 pauper children under the charge of the Holborn Guardians and several hundreds at Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol, were thus exploited. (Abolitionist, April, 1922)

Dr. Hadwen describes the Schick test as “a blood poisoning process” and as “human vivisectional experiments ” on pauper children.

(2) ‘Dr. A. T. BRAND, in a review of his recent book on Cancer (1922) is quoted as follows :

“It is most important that much should be done in experimental inoculation, and it is even more necessary that such experiments should be made on the ‘genus homo.’ No doubt there would be- a great outcry from the shrieking sisterhood of both sexes; but they should, of course, be simply ignored, for science must be permitted to pursue the calm and even tenor of her way, undisturbed and undeterred by the vapourings of irresponsible cranks.” One wonders if he would be the first to submit to inoculation with this terrible disease?’

 

One must take note of his reference to “shrieking sisterhood of both sexes,” which reveals a patriarchal contempt for emotion, and typical psychopathic belligerence to critics.

 

Francis Payton Rous, based at the Rockefeller Institute and editor of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, speaking in defense of Salk’s experiments, wrote to co-vivisector Thomas Francis:

“It may save you much trouble if you publish your paper… elsewhere than in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The Journal is under constant scrutiny by the anti-vivisectionists who would not hesitate to play up the fact that you used for your tests human beings of a state institution. That the tests were wholly justified goes without saying.”

 

After this review of human vivisection before WW2, we can see that even into the present, such abuses persist: Israeli doctors experimented on children Chris McGreal, May 11, 2005 The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1481159,00.html

An investigation by the government watchdog, the state comptroller, has revealed that researchers in 10 public hospitals administered drugs, carried out unauthorised genetic testing or undertook painful surgery on patients unable to give informed consent or without obtaining health ministry approval.At one hospital, staff pierced children’s eardrums to apply an experimental medication yet to be approved in any country. At another, patients with senile dementia had their thumbprints applied to consent forms for experimental drugs…They should be stripped of their licences to practise and they should be prosecuted. If you don’t show by example that the medical profession does not accept this kind of conduct the phenomenon will go on and on.”It’s not an isolated phenomenon. It spread through different institutions.”The state comptroller, Eliezer Goldberg, found that patients were often not properly informed about the experiments they were agreeing to and, in some cases, not told at all….

 

A compassionate person may wonder at how such things could be-that a doctor would be in fact, a sadist. In fact, the medical profession is among those attractive to people with anti-social behavior, since it offers authority and for those without a moral compass, much opportunity to cause suffering and be paid handsomely for it.

 

One may consider these people (the psychopath next door) as “emotionally impaired,” and due to the long history of denouncing compassion as an illness or a weaker trait, merciless behavior is not only tolerated but celebrated if it is on the side of power. No doubt that if Nazi Germany had triumphed, Dr. Mengele would be seen as Dr Sims was, a benefactor of humanity.

 

Thanks to John Edmundson of the Humanitarian League’s – Ernest Bell Library – in Hong Kong for providing the historical anti-vivisection pamphlet used in this article.

 

 

NOTES

 

Hideyo Noguchi was the bacteriologist at the center of the 1911-1912 human experimentation scandal involving the Rockefeller Institute and a syphilis skin test administered to orphans and other vulnerable patients. The New York Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Children failed in efforts to get the New York district attorney to press charges against him. Ironically, one argument presented in his defense was that he had tested on himself. In 1913 he was diagnosed with syphilis but refused treatment. He died in Lagos, Nigeria in 1928, of yellow fever, while conducting experiments (using monkeys) with Dr. William Alexander Young. Young also died from yellow fever, attributed to careless regard by Noguchi for the safety of his fellow scientists and assumed to be caused by neurosyphilis (or was it his vivisector nature?)

For more on this, see Susan E. Lederer’s book

Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America Before the Second World War.

 

Gary Francione is a Fraud. He Eats Like He Cares But When It Comes to Helping Animals, He Might Be the Meat Industry’s Best Friend

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

 

Gary Francione is a Fraud. He Eats Like He Cares But When It Comes to Helping Animals, He Might Be the Meat Industry’s Best Friend

Distract/Divide/Demoralize: Fifth Column Veganism

 

 

Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson recently wrote about “vegan purists” who criticize his organization for anti-whaling activities while doing nothing about cows, pigs, and other animals exploited by the billions. He asked such persons to take note of the aquatic focus of his organization’s name and remarked that the criticism made as much sense as if he went to an anti-bullfighting protest and asked; “what about dolphins?”

 

He did not refer to anyone by name, but more recently, an article on the “Great Debate” between animal rights and animal welfare by a cattle industry writer, who smugly declared his indifference to all animal concerns, indicated his satisfaction with Gary Francione, founder of the Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights, for promoting infighting among animal advocates.

 

Francione has made a career out of attacking the individuals and organizations that the cattle industry and other exploitation interests regard as enemies (PETA, HSUS etc.). Francione does this while claiming he is a radical proponent for animal rights–seeking the abolition of all animal exploitation and striving to create a world of nonviolence and justice. The gist of his view is that animal welfare and animal rights are diametrically opposed to each other, and the former harms rather than helps the latter’s aim of abolition. He accuses prominent advocacy groups (who express abolitionist goals but with gradualist strategies) of being “new welfarists,” committed to preserving animal use, but making it cosmetically “humane” which serves the interests of exploiters by encouraging consumers to feel good about exploiting animals. He declares his desire to end all animal exploitation (in the future) in order to attack efforts to help animals (now), which puts his views in disturbing alignment with those most opposed to all animal concerns: exploitation industries. For sincere animal advocates, the following essay will detail the serious faults with Gary Francione’s claims to be a champion for nonhuman animals and why, for the interests of the victims, one must shake off his toxic influence.

 

The turn of the 20th century saw Leo Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain and others speaking eloquently and in a common sense manner on the interests of nonhuman animals. And yet, when “animal concerns” gained wider public attention in the 1970s it was through Peter Singer and his promotion of a utilitarian philosopher two centuries removed, Jeremy Bentham, who did not stand in firm opposition to either vivisection or meat eating. They may be characterized as emphasizing animal welfare over animal rights although anyone who seeks to reduce the suffering of another could be characterized as a welfarist or believing in a concept of rights, i.e. the right not to suffer needlessly. Regardless of the semantics debate, any boost to “animal concerns” whether defined as welfare or rights was welcomed in the name of compassion, justice, and decency, and just as aggressively opposed by those who profit from exploiting and abusing nonhuman animals.

 

“Distract/divide/demoralize” is what opponents of animal concerns seek to do to animal advocates, and what they have always done. If you protest fur, you are called sexist, you hate women. If you oppose whaling, you are racist, you hate the Japanese. If you oppose vivisection or the meat industry, you are called violent and crazy and hate humans. The message is the same: Exploitation is not the problem, the activists are the problem. But, over the years, there are some claiming to be vegan and pro-animal rights who say the same thing—that activists are the problem. They repeat the philosophy of the worst exploiters of animals, those that not only oppose “animal rights” but “animal welfare”—all animal concerns. And yet they claim to be committed to the abolition of all nonhuman animal exploitation.

 

Gary Francione positions himself as the most “radical” advocate for nonhuman animals. He champions the definition of veganism that rejects all animal use. Veganism is the “moral baseline.” Sentience is the only criteria that matters for moral worth. He has said the moral arguments used to justify systemic exploitation of nonhuman animals are based upon subjective, arbitrary distinctions. On this point we agree. Efforts to prove the moral supremacy of humans to other animals are only as iron clad as those used to justify the moral supremacy of a race or a gender or a religion or a culture, etc. In fact, they are impossible to verify since neither Nature nor any other alleged higher power can be shown to favor humans based upon race or gender or religion or species—regardless of such criteria all are equally mortal. If you oppose racial supremacy, moral consistency and fairness demands you oppose human supremacy, or leave an ethical loophole for those who do not care about human rights any more than they care about nonhuman rights to exploit humans as they see fit. Crime and war are evidence of the falsehood of a belief in human moral superiority. Everyone who locks their doors or uses other security measures meant to keep humans from harming them also agree that human supremacy is a myth.

 

We concur with Francione’s repeated statements that the vast array of animal exploitation is wrong, and that we should seek to end it. However, when you closely examine what he specifically advocates, a disturbing pattern emerges where one is forced to conclude that he is not a friend of animal advocates and not a champion for nonhuman animals. On the contrary, his message is one that supports the interests of animal exploitation industries. This unfortunate reality is easy to demonstrate using his own words.

 

Francione is right to say that abolition is preferable to welfare. Francione says incremental reforms and single issue campaigns, while they may be initiated with noble intentions, only serve to reinforce the status quo, making people feel comfortable about animal exploitation. We agree in part. Yes, abolition is preferable, and yes, incremental reforms can have undesired effects. Such a phenomenon was true of the anti-slavery movement. It is true that if one seeks to end recreational hunting of deer, it is much easier to make a case for it if most people are not eating other four legged animals, especially due to moral reasons. He also maintains that most people already care about nonhuman animals, thus the issue is their use of animal products, nothing more. His definition of veganism includes a rejection of all forms of violence. Given that animal advocacy is perhaps the least violent of all social advocacy movements, his emphasis on this point is intriguing.

 

Gary Francione routinely singles out “animal people” in his criticisms, not the worst exploiters of animals. Since he makes repeated declarations that “veganism is the moral baseline,” he quickly expresses his view that a particular act of abuse is wrong then goes into his focus: the activist. Criticize a dog abuser or a sadistic hunter and he will come back with “do you eat meat?” You, a vegan observer, may nod your head in agreement because you want to see all animal exploitation abolished. But if you went back to the 1980s and criticized a vivisector or fur trapper, one of the most common responses they would return with was “do you eat meat?” We should pause when we find someone on the side of animals mouthing an argument that the worst exploiters of animals use to deflect from their wrong doing. Some have said he just has a big ego, or is crazy, or is a career opportunist, but this would not explain why he consistently chooses to attack animal advocates (any and all advocates) while not just ignoring exploiters, but subtly agreeing with them. He could easily attack exploiters in the name of ego or career but he does not. If he is against animal exploitation as much as he claims, why go so easy on the perpetrators?

 

He reserves his favorite term “moral schizophrenia” for animal people. If you oppose dog fighting but eat meat it reveals a kind of moral schizophrenia. In other words, animal activists are morally crazy if they are not subscribing to the kind of veganism he advocates—which for animal activists is a sweeping personal purity and moral perfection demand beyond diet. Hunters and vivisectors apparently do not suffer from moral schizophrenia. He could easily make the case that one cannot be for human rights or against racism if they hunt, fish, vivisect, or oppose nonhuman rights, but he does not. He will, however, say that one cannot advocate for nonhuman issues if one is oppressive towards humans, and for him this includes anti-fur advertising that uses suggestions of nudity. The only theory that his behavior fits is one where his goal is to discourage animal advocacy and steer new advocates away from campaigns that seek to harm exploitation industries. Exploitation is not the problem, the activists are the problem. So we shall now run through the various ways Francione seeks to distract/divide/demoralize advocates for (nonhuman) animals.

 

Gary Francione advocates an “abolitionist” approach to veganism. The goal is to abolish exploitation not regulate it. The word vegan, by definition, implies abolition, but the advantage Francione has in calling it “abolitionist” is to create a divide between animal advocates. By using the term abolitionist, he seeks to paint animal advocates who support gradualism—“new welfarists”—incremental steps, single issue campaigns to build public awareness and help animals now—as the obstacle to justice and liberation. 100 years ago, there were others who preferred abolition to gradualism, but with an important distinction when compared to Francione—they did not oppose reforms that came along. If you want to help animals now, you would welcome anything that helps them. Not Francione. He opposes all single issue campaigns. All reforms. He has said:“The institutional exploiters are not “the enemy.” We are the ones who demand animal products. If we stopped consuming animal products, institutional users would shift their capital elsewhere.”

Francione’s use of abolitionist is also meant to draw a connection to the anti-slavery abolitionists. What he does not tell people is that the abolitionists of anti-slavery were on the fringes, either using violence or sabotage, or advocating a product boycott strategy. They were not the mainstream of the anti-slavery movement. The mainstream was “welfarist.” I.e. the Republican Party that sought to contain slavery, not abolish it. Or the campaigners that were strongly against slavery but opposed equal rights for women. The word “abolitionist” like “animal rights extremist,” was used by those who supported slavery to slander anyone who criticized slavery. Just as we see when vivisectors or the meat industry call animal advocates “extremists” for wanting laws that make it illegal for vivisectors to refuse giving their victims food and water. Thus the camp that called for regulation, or gradual elimination of slavery, was also called abolitionists by their opponents. Francione’s philosophy is a personal purity form of veganism, combined with a commitment to universal human rights and nonviolence as defined by him. The closet match to his ideology in the days of slavery was the Free Produce Movement. The Quaker FPM promoted product boycotts as a means of fighting slavery. The one thing that both abolitionist and welfarist anti-slavery activists agreed on was that the FPM had little impact on slavery. The true abolitionists of the modern animal rights movement would be ALF, not Gary Francione-style activists. Francione opposes ALF. He not only calls their efforts violence, but he agrees with the claims of vivisection supporters that it is the activists who are responsible for vivisection! The evidence: 

Penman: “Why are there so many animal experiments when there are alternatives? One reason, ironically, is that violence and intimidation by a handful of animal rights fanatics has clouded the debate. For if you question the work of scientists today, you risk being lumped together with the extremists. Thus the scientists have been able to expand their research on animals without anyone in authority examining whether their tests are truly necessary. This seems to me both unjust and against the spirit of academic inquiry.”  
 
Francione: “Penman is absolutely right. As a result of a relatively small group of people who advocate violence against vivisectors, to question or debate vivisection even in academic contexts invites having one’s views dismissed as part of an extremist or violent agenda. This observation applies not just to vivisection but to animal issues generally. The actions of a small number of people have allowed a reactionary press, together with institutional exploiters who would rather not have any discussion about these matters, to create the impression that those who oppose animal exploitation generally are violent misanthropes who value animal life but do not care about human life. Violence against institutional exploiters is not only immoral but it is incoherent—it makes no sense.” http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/on-vivisection-and-violence/#.U6niErGYzMB

 

Think about what Gary Francione is saying above. Ignoring the issue of why he, the alleged vegan, would be quick to agree with the side of those who torture innocent lives from birth to death for pleasure and money, how many vivisectors, to this date, have been killed or seriously injured by animal advocates? Do we have a tally? None. Not one. We have the claims of those like proud vivisector Colin Blakemore that he is under constant attack with mail bombs from animal rights extremists, and yet he feels safe enough to go for a daily health run. If an animal activist had seriously harmed a vivisector, we would hear their name repeated as often as the soldier/deer hunter/bomber Timothy McVeigh, or anti-abortionists who killed doctors. The claim that vivisectors are being attacked goes with the psychological profile of the vivisector. As George Bernard Shaw observed:

 

Consequently the vivisector is not only crueler than the prizefighter, but, through the pressure of public opinion, a much more resolute and uncompromising liar…It is the vivisector’s interest to refine upon the cruelties of the laboratory, whilst persuading the public that his victims pass into a delicious euthanasia and leave behind them a row of bottles containing infallible cures for all the disease. Just so, too, does the trainer of performing animals assure us that his dogs and cats and elephants and lions are taught their senseless feats by pure kindness.”

 

And yet Gary Francione is taking the side of vivisectors. He, the vegan and “animal rights expert” is agreeing with the worst enemy of animals. Animal activists are the problem. In 1992, Francione co-wrote an article with Tom Regan on welfare vs. abolition:

 

‘“We should add that ARAs who support animal welfare means are playing into the hands of the biomedical establishment’s current strategy of portraying this “temporary” acceptance of animal welfare as proof of the “dishonesty” of the animal rights movement. In a recently published article, Patrick Concannon of Cornell Veterinary School argues that animal rights advocates often support welfare reforms, but “are not bound by any moral requirement to be truthful about their ultimate goals and intentions.” The animal rights movement must be careful to ensure that these untruths do not succeed in creating an impression of a movement that is dishonest in any sense.’ Tom Regan/Gary Francione The Animals Agenda 1992 January/February http://arzonetranscripts.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/point_counterpoint-regan_francione_newkirk.pdf

 

While George Bernard Shaw or Mark Twain had no illusions about the motives and integrity of the average vivisector, Francione and Regan appear to be suggesting that the opinion of an exploitation supporter which amounts to a cheap delirious slander (that animal activists are liars) should be heeded. Think about it. Concannon is attacking activists for proposing common sense, moral, and decent legal reforms (i.e. making it a legal requirement that animals in labs be given adequate food and water). To oppose this is to reveal that the vivisectors don’t care about animals. It makes them look cruel to the general public which would easily support such a measure. Attacking the activist as dishonest about their ultimate motives makes no sense—unless it comes from the vivisectors who are against these decent reforms and want to change the discussion to an attack on the activists. Why do Regan and Francione seem to agree with the vivisection apologist that animal activists are guilty of dishonesty about their ultimate goals and intentions? And what would the goals be? Seeing an end to the needless torture of innocent beings? Any decent human being will seek to end all unnecessary suffering and death to the best of their ability. This is an unspoken common sense sort of truth, whether that means giving lab victims water or shutting down painful lethal useless experiments. It is disturbing that Regan and Francione would want activists to focus on an abolition message only (even though it would be impossible to achieve such a goal at present) in order to prevent an accusation of dishonesty thrown at them by a vivisector on the defensive. Presenting an abolition message instead of totally reasonable and immediate reforms would actually be playing into the hands of the biomedical establishment’s eternal strategy. The exploiter always tries to portray the activist as an extremist to the public—Francione and Regan are essentially implying—we should present ourselves exactly as they would like to depict us. This is bad advice.

 

Gary Francione proposes an animal advocacy strategy based on narrow definitions determined by him:

 

1) Veganism—a personal commitment to boycotting all products connected to nonhuman animal exploitation as much as possible, as well as personal devotion to spreading this message to others. Nothing short of veganism is permitted, thus single issue campaigns or legislation banning practices are not allowed. It is all or nothing. The only exception is adopting cats and dogs and other animals from shelters—ironically, this is one type of advocacy that institutional exploiters and abusers of animals do not oppose.

 

2) Intersectionality—a commitment to universal human rights, which includes the avoidance of language that he may consider offensive or oppressive. It is all too common for exploiters to accuse animal activists of being racist if they oppose seal killing or whaling or any activity where the perpetrators are not Caucasian. Indeed, even a Caucasian hunter/lobbyist for the NRA who gleefully shot an elephant in the face referred to animal rights protestors as “animal racists.” If the issue were women’s rights or children’s rights of LGBT issues, then the “race card” is not applicable, it only comes into play when it is nonhuman issues. This is also known as a double standard. The idea that a campaign targeting a dog meat industry in China is “encouraging racism” may have some merit, but it is a risk worth taking when the far greater concern is a victim being born to be skinned alive and no viable alternative is presented by critics to raise awareness about this. Francione’s criticism is subtle, but it suggests he doesn’t believe nonhuman victims deserve equal concern or individual focus. He may say he opposes speciesism, but it reveals he adheres to a belief in human supremacy or human exceptionalism.

 

3) Non-violence. As we noted, Francione characterizes a portion of animal advocates as promoting violence, and he also accuses them of promoting or encouraging racism/sexism (he refers to PETA ads against the fur industry). It does not make sense for someone who claims to be an animal advocate, seeking to stop massive industrial systemic torture and death of innocent victims, to be as worried about offending someone with an ad displaying partial nudity (which we find in all sorts of advertising without protest from anyone). It is one thing to say you feel a particular campaign isn’t effective enough, but it is another matter entirely to say the campaign encourages racism or sexism—this latter concern implies you care more about hurt feelings than trying to address systemic, economic-driven torture and death. Not a position a true supporter of nonhuman animals would take. But this is what Gary Francione says over and over again. In essence it repeats two ideas that exploiters and abusers of animals have said whenever they are criticized by animal advocates:

 

“Animal rights activists are racist—they hate people.”

 

“Human problems come first.”

 

It should also be pointed out that another common response that industrial exploiters of nonhuman animals say is:

 

“These animal rights activists are crazy/they want to abolish everything/They want to take your freedoms and rights!”

 

When dealing with the public in media, there is not much time to engage and educate. As soon as the news story or commercial is ended, there is bound to be an ad or message that is anti-vegan. Exploitation industries, the ones Francione says are not the problem, are constantly seeking to not just maintain but expand profits. Not only are they aggressive in this, but they are at least as aggressive in attacking any effort to help animals (which means harming their profits). When a representative for the meat and dairy industry, or hunters, or vivisectors, or the fur industry, or zoos, or circuses, appear in the media they have a strong inclination to divert from the issue at hand by saying that animal advocates do not really seek reform, they seek an end to all animal exploitation. Veganism. In fact, the very kind of veganism that Gary Francione advocates as the only kind of activism that animal activists should pursue.

 

One might assume that if veganism is used as a scare tactic—then the best response is to repeat the word and philosophy enough times to make it un-scary and promote public acceptance. That sounds reasonable. The problem is that when you seek to attack an industry, focusing on an issue that makes them the most vulnerable is usually the logical strategy, especially when you are vastly outnumbered. How often can you repeat “go vegan” in a news story segment when the next commercial is an anti-vegan message? How receptive can the audience be to that, as opposed to a message to ban or regulate an exploitation practice to eliminate unnecessary cruelty (even though the exploitation practice itself is unnecessary)? Consider this Paul Watson’s interview.

 

Interviewer: My editor wanted me to ask you: Why is killing a whale worse than killing a pig, for example, when a pig is intelligent, too?

 

PW: “I get this question from the Japanese a lot, and I find it offensive. How can anybody compare the killing of a pig to the killing of a whale? First of all, our ships are vegan. Forty percent of the fish caught from the oceans is fed to livestock – pigs and chickens are becoming major aquatic predators. The livestock industry is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions ever. The eating of meat is an ecological disaster…You cannot compare the killing of animals in a domestic slaughterhouse to the killing of a whale. What goes on with those whales – or dolphins, say, in Taiji – would never be tolerated in a slaughterhouse. Those slaughterhouses would be shut down. It takes from 10 to 45 minutes to kill a whale and they die in horrific agony. That would be completely intolerable and illegal in any slaughterhouse in the world..Also they’re an endangered and protected species – pigs and cows are not. They’re part of an ecosystem, which pigs and cows are not. It always bothers me that that comparison is brought up. And especially when it’s brought up by the Japanese, who eat more pigs, cows, and chickens than all people of Australia and New Zealand combined. Only one percent of the Japanese people eat whales; for the most part they eat cows and pigs and chickens. It’s a ridiculous analogy.” http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/sea_shepherds_paul_watson

 

What Watson does in this reply is to reject the idea (repeated ad nauseam by Francione) that a more widespread and wrong activity can be used to negate focus on another smaller and equally wrong activity. Watson supports the concept of veganism, and cleverly depicts how absurd and destructive meat and dairy is to the planet by highlighting that ocean life are fed to land animals on farms in such massive quantities that pigs and chickens consume as much or more than sharks. Although a devoted vegan may take his claim on slaughterhouse cruelty to be inadvertently defending it as less cruel than whaling, the general public—usually his target audience in an interview– would not. He is using the reference to prevent someone from dismissing the whales issue as no different from the vast numbers of slaughterhouses around the world. Meat eating is still considered normal by most people, and for those who bring it up in response to whaling or the fur industry or vivisection, the goal is not to bring light to these injustices, the goal is to destroy animal advocacy. And this is what Francione advises to animal advocates: destroy animal advocacy (except cat and dog adoptions in shelters).

 

And yet, Francione’s own message in the mass media is quite different from the one he gives to a smaller audience of vegans or would-be vegans. For the smaller audience he advocates his 3 point abolitionist approach. But for the major media he has a different theme. He is not advocating veganism to the public; instead he attacks animal advocates or “animal people” for being morally schizophrenic. They condemn fur or hunting or vivisection but eat meat. What does a fur industry supporter say about animal activists? These animal rights activists are crazy. He has also responded to the Michael Vick dog fighting issue by saying “we are all Michael Vick.” And he has declared, when it comes to exploiting/abusing animals, “we are all Jeffrey Dahmer.” To say such a statement without providing context for the ignorant observer is to invite being dismissed as an extremist, just as the meat industry would want.

 

Gary Francione wrote on the subject of banning horse carriages. Consider the title to his piece: Carriage Foes Are Right But Reveal Our Hypocrisy. What did we say about the common attack made by animal abusers? The activists are hypocrites. Now take a close look at what he says and how he says it. “Various animal advocates, who have been opposing the use of carriage horses for decades, are applauding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to ban horse-drawn carriages, claiming that it is inhumane to have horses on the streets of New York City. The carriage horse trade is predictably opposed and is threatening to take legal action should the Mayor succeed. A Quinnipiac University poll found that about 61 percent of residents surveyed opposed the ban. The pleasure of a ride in the park doesn’t justify the distress of the horses, but can you oppose the carriages and still eat meat? The carriage-horse race is on. This seems like a no-brainer. Conventional wisdom about animal ethics tells us that we should not impose suffering or distress on animals unless it is necessary to do so. There can be no doubt that these horses have very sad lives on the congested streets of New York. Surely, the pleasure or amusement of a ride around Central Park cannot constitute any sort of necessity that would serve to justify this use of horses.” http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/01/17/horse-carriages-are-not-just-a-ride-in-the-park/carriage-foes-are-right-but-reveal-our-hypocrisy

Consider how “passionate” animal rights activist Francione presents his view. He dangles a poll that shows a majority of people oppose the ban—in other words, the activists are in the minority. They cannot win–just as a horse carriage supporter would say. The law professor also carefully chooses his words, “seems like a no-brainer,” and “surely.” He does not come out and emphatically say “horse carriages are wrong.” Then he says: “But this issue demonstrates that when it comes to animals, we suffer from a sort of moral schizophrenia. Why are some of the people who are upset about several hundred carriage horses not concerned about the many billions of animals killed annually for food? So it’s apparent that our thinking about animals is very confused. Given the grand scheme of animal use, it is somewhat arbitrary to target the carriage-horse industry. Indeed, opposition to that industry by those who criticize it while chomping down on their burgers is based on nothing more principled than that we fetishize horses but not cows. It is like sitting around the dinner table eating animals while we discuss what a bad person Michael Vick was for fighting them.”In other words, Francione just defended horse carriages by attacking their critics. The activists are the problem. This he does in the major media. In a recent CNN appearance on a cat abuse case, Gary Francione completely wastes the opportunity to discuss animal concerns in order to reinforce it and educate the public:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyiSsEzyWWQHe agrees with the host that a cat is not a person (on his facebook page he has corrected people for saying “it” instead of he or she when referring to nonhuman animals), he mentions “racism” and we need no crystal ball to know who he was going to accuse of that—the activists. He lends support to the host’s foolish idea that a stray cat gets more attention from the law than humans would—as anyone but an idiot knows, unless the human was a baby, the force of the kick by the assailant would be negligible in harm. This is the type of idea you would expect from a backwoods cockfighter or bear baiter, not a university law professor who claims to be an expert supporter of nonhuman animals. He does mention meat and dairy—but only in passing, and only to reinforce the idea that “animal people” upset about the cat have bigger problems. He could have talked about the pet industry or breeders but why do that when it would promote animal concerns not attack advocates? He has criticized Mercy for Animals: “The word “vegan” appears nowhere in the press release.” And yet in the CNN interview he does not mention it either.

Same here where he doesnt express his agreement that the FBI said it would start tracking animal abuse cases: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/gary-francione-stop-scapegoating-cat-kicker-article-1.1969363

Take a look at this kernel of wisdom by Francione in a blog post where he essentially argues that a vivisector is more ethical than an anti-vivisectionist:Many “animal people” are not even vegan and are willing to tolerate and support the torture of nonhuman animals simply because they like the taste of animal products and just cannot give up the cheese, ice cream, or whatever animal products it is that they eat. How are these people any different in a moral sense from vivisectors? At least some vivisectors think that they are performing some social good. As I have indicated in my writing, I do not agree that the use of animals is necessary as an empirical matter and, like Penman and others, I maintain that vivisection is often clearly counterproductive.”It may seem like he is making a point about how all animal exploitation is wrong, but it is actually a stealthy defense of vivisection. He attacks the anti-vivisection position just as a vivisector would—the activist is the problem. Let us explain for law professor Gary Francione what the differences are. An “animal person” who is against vivisection is probably someone who objects to cruelty when they see it. Chances are, given the proliferation of meat and dairy advertising and cultural reinforcement; a person may oppose animal torture but not have thought about their diet. This does not make them a bad person. A vivisector by contrast is someone who directly and consciously engages in the torture and death of one or more innocent beings. To imply that there is a moral equivalency between the two makes as much sense as saying a taxpayer who supports the idea of a defensive army, is as morally guilty as a soldier who tortures villagers as part of a foreign military campaign funded by the same taxpayer. No one in their right mind would say the taxpayer has the same moral responsibility as the soldier. This reveals a double standard in the Francione position. By his logic, we should not have Geneva Conventions because it makes people comfortable about war. But he would not entertain such an idea, since he puts human rights concerns in a different camp even when he repeatedly claims he does not.Francione is fond of remarking that in the law, hiring a hit man is no different than committing a murder yourself. He uses this analogy to argue that a person buying meat or dairy is the same in moral culpability as the meat producer. But he knows that in our society, meat consumption is an industrial systemic morally accepted and institutionally reinforced practice. It is considered normal, unlike murder. Every city street corner has McDonalds, or KFC, or Burger King. Why does he ignore this important fact? If he is sincere in wanting to bring about a vegan world, wouldn’t it make sense to survey the environment and register this reality? He knows but doesn’t care. Or rather, he cares enough to know that his message would be more likely to alienate potential supporters of animal concerns, not unite them.

 

Consider Gary Francione’s anecdote about encountering a man who sought to confront a fur wearer. Francione said that instead of supporting the idea, he challenged the “animal person” about a beverage they had which contained dairy, and asked how that was any better than the individual wearing fur, and the would-be fur protestor responded, to Francione’s amusement, that he could see why the professor was considered divisive. Thus, the fur wearer was left alone, and all Francione accomplished was to demoralize the “animal person.” If Francione wanted to do something for animals, he could have said: “Thank you for caring about animals and wanting to speak to this stranger about their wearing of fur-a cruel industry. This one reason I am vegan-I am against all unnecessary animal exploitation-thus I do not eat them or wear products from them.”

More Francione discouragement:

“I was talking with someone recently who was involved with a campaign against hunting in a particular park. He withdrew from the campaign and explained to me that he decided that what the hunters were doing was really no different from what he was doing in buying and eating meat from his local supermarket and since he certainly was not about to give that up, he couldn’t see the logic in opposing hunting. And, of course, he was right….I was talking with another person who had, for years, been involved in the campaign to stop the clubbing of seals. She withdrew from that campaign because she decided that there really was no difference between seal fur and the fur, wool, or skin of any other animal and since she wasn’t going to give up all animal clothing, the seal campaign was really just based on the fact that animal groups could cash in on the fact that seals were adorably cute and that really was not a good basis for a moral position. And, of course, she was right.” http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/why-veganism-must-be-the-baseline/#.U7XLzihOJ8E

Then did he convert them to veganism? Francione does not tell us. His anecdotes seek to demoralize not encourage animal advocacy.

 

Rep. Andy Holt, a Tennessee industrial pig farmer and politician who tabled ag-gag legislation, sent an email to HSUS Public Policy Coordinator Kayci McLeod saying that “propagandist groups of radical animal activists, like your fraudulent and reprehensibly disgusting organization of maligned animal abuse profiteering corporatists … are intent on using animals the same way human-traffickers use 17 year old women,” and referred to HSUS methods as “tape and rape.”

 

And what has Gary “vegan” Francione said about large animal groups? He has also referred to them as “animal welfare corporations” motivated by making money.

 

All of the large animal charities, such as PETA and HSUS, are businesses. They want to maximize their donor base so they try and let everyone stay in their comfort zone. They don’t take the position that veganism is the only rationally and morally acceptable response to the recognition that animals have moral significance. They promote reform and not abolition.”

 

     “Single-issue campaigns are, on many levels, a very bad idea. They serve one primary purpose: fund-raising devices for animal charities. This is not to say that animal charities intentionally embrace campaigns that they know to be counterproductive in order to make money. It is, however, to explain the practical motivation that helps to account for why such welfare reform campaigns and single-issue campaigns are chosen and the failure to see how counterproductive they are.” http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/the-kapparos-campaign-a-good-example-whats-wrong-single-issue-campaigns/#.U6nis7GYzMA

 

Industry needs welfarists like Newkirk to provide a positive moral characterization of their efficiency efforts. Industry needs to have its efforts to achieve efficiency, resulting in largely minor changes to the institutions of animal exploitation, declared “humane” by those identified as animal advocates. But PETA needs industry as PETA uses these efficiency measures to proclaim “progress” and to fundraise. For the most part, the campaigns of animal welfare organizations target economically vulnerable industry practices for precisely that reason. These practices are “low hanging fruit,” so there is an easy “victory” for fundraising purposes.” http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/debating-eating-animals-museum-modern-art/#.U6njXrGYzMA

 

Notice how strenuously Francione attacks organized animal advocacy. He does not want animal activists to be united and focused on any exploitation target. So frustrated has he become by not having his advice heeded that he dangled the racism card which is often used by animal exploiters. Gary Francione on his facebook page:

 

     Imagine the Ku Klux Klan Having a “Civil Rights” Conference

     “I *just* got an email telling me that I “am among the first invited to register for the Animal Rights 2015 National Conference.” A conference run by and for the large animal groups who have sold out the animals and who have, in effect, become partners with animal exploiters. I think I’ll pass. Those who support such events support animal exploitation. This event has *****nothing***** to do with animal rights. Indeed, to call that event an “animal rights” event is like calling a Ku Klux Klan Convention a “civil rights” event.”

 

For Francione, animals being tortured to death in businesses are not as important as avoiding any sense of appearing racist or hateful: ‘This is a perfect example of what is wrong with single-issue campaigns: they encourage the idea that what some group does is worse than what the rest of us do. A single-issue campaign focused on fur lets everyone who wears wool or leather off the hook and gives them an excuse to hate or attack those (mostly women) who wear fur. A single issue campaign about the dolphins at Taiji allows people, many of whom are not even vegan, to engage in vile ethnocentric and xenophobic hate speech against the Japanese. A single-issue campaign against a squirrel-shooting in a rural community encourages people to call those involved “rednecks” and “backward” when they are doing nothing different from what any non-vegan does or supports. And a campaign focused on Kapparos gives people an excuse to segregate the Jews as “bad people.”’ http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/the-kapparos-campaign-a-good-example-whats-wrong-single-issue-campaigns/#.U6nis7GYzMA         

Francione following the news that Ringling Bros. was phasing out elephant acts: “the animal welfare corporations have spent *35 years* focused on (and fundraising off of) elephants in the circus. And what is the result? Elephants are moved from one exploitative context to another one and other animals keep getting exploited. Great. Some “victory.”

 

Francione advocates the Free Produce Movement strategy—the one thing considered the least effective in fighting slavery: “…and what about all of the animals who are being tortured and killed so that people who go to the circus can stuff their faces with meat, cheese, ice cream, milk, etc.? Bottom line: if we focused on unequivocal vegan education for those 35 years, and put all of the millions and millions of dollars and other resources into abolitionist vegan education that have been wasted on the elephant campaign, we’d have far more vegans than we presently have now and these vegans would be vegans for the right reason: that it’s wrong to exploit sentient beings however “humanely” we may treat them.”

Gary Francione uses idealism and vague truths to distort reality and attack efforts to help animals. He will post the occasional letter where he defends veganism from some anonymous critic. This may sound like a noble aim but it has no bearing at all on systemic exploitation. It is tokenism. But he is not alone. HumaneMyth.org appeared on the scene not long after Whole Foods agreed to advertise animal treatment issues to the public through its stores. The filmmakers of the obscure documentary Peaceable Kingdom attacked Whole Foods as a Machiavellian enemy of animals—seeking to trick the public and activists. Most recently Direct Action Everywhere have made similar accusations against Whole Foods and the restaurant chain Chipotles, characterizing them as the greatest enemy of animals. And yet, Whole Foods has 400 stores compared with Walmart’s 3000. Chipotles has 1600 stores compared with McDonald’s 30 000 plus, KFC’s 18000, and Burger King’s 12000. Whole Foods and Chipotle represent humane certified, which is under 1% of the meat and dairy production sector. The other 99% is factory farms. What has Gary Francione said about factory farms? “Do I think factory farming is bad? Well, yes, but so what? Family farms are bad as well… I am not interested in discussions about the cruelty of factory farming. It does not matter.”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/all_forms_of_life_are_sacred_20150104

 

Is it true that there is no such thing as humane meat and dairy? In one sense—yes. We do not need to eat meat and dairy and it causes catastrophic misery and death to the victims, human health, and the environment. It is also true that that a large group like HSUS has partners who seek to regulate not eliminate animal exploitation, just as the large groups opposed to slavery had similar contradictions. We can agree that cruelty is wrong while not agreeing that “humane” use is right. However, until those 30 000 McDonalds are whittled down to a few dozen and on their way to extinction, or they replace their menus with plant-based foods, these giant corporations need to be attacked from every direction—since no amount of vegan education can compete with so many anti-vegan messages being promoted on every street corner with a restaurant. Vegans simply do not have the numbers, and human nature argues against the likelihood that a mass number of people can be persuaded to become vegan purists. It did not happen with slavery—why would one think it is possible with nonhuman animal exploitation?

 

Is it true that small farms seek to use the humane issue to profit from the lives of nonhuman animals? Yes, but this is also true of factory farms x 1000. The fact is that the world will not be fed on small farm agriculture. It is impossible. The water and land doesn’t exist. At some point most people will have to move to a plant-based diet—resource scarcity is likely to force it on people. Or it will come through the development of plant-based product alternatives–something Gary Francione has also criticized as “not good enough” for vegans. He has described it as being like sex offenders using blowup dolls instead of real living persons to abuse—so much for his support of consumer purchasing power. It is in the interest of the majority meat/dairy corporations to attack small farm agriculture in order to attack efforts to promote any public awareness or legislation that would force them to change their practices (which do cost them money). Although writers like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser came along in the media with a message of small farms and pushed vegan advocates John Robbins and Howard Lyman out of the major media spotlight, and even mocked animal concerns to some extent, they nevertheless did attack factory farming—and this helps create animal advocates and vegans (even if unintentionally). The attacks on animal agriculture must come from all directions given the size of the enemy. Right now, the choice is not between “humane certified” and veganism, but between “humane certified” and factory farms. As a vegan/animal advocate, attacking the “Humane myth” by criticizing Chipotles or Whole Foods as enemies of animals makes no sense. At present, the most one can accomplish in the public sphere is to discredit the idea of humane reforms—which benefits the worst exploiters of animals, not animals. There is always the potential for some regression, i.e. people using a message of reform as an excuse for eating animal products, but this was also true of slavery and is impossible to avoid.

 

Industry public relations guru Richard Berman has said: “We’re talking about people who represent a vegan culture, who are basically equating animals with people and advocating an end to eating meat. It’s animal rights and an extreme agenda masquerading as animal welfare….If HSUS disclosed its true agenda, it would be out of business. But by portraying itself as a welfare organization and manipulating the public consciousness, it has become a gargantuan money machine collecting over $130 million annually to support its true anti-meat agenda…Groups like this are constantly looking for ways to make their points seem legitimate and mainstream, to get the support they need to advance their own self-interest and true agenda.”Gary Francione wants animal activists to help Richard Berman. Come across as radical and extreme to scare the ignorant public away from supporting reforms that harm animal exploitation businesses.Francione’s claim, supported by animal abusers for decades, that animal advocacy will only make exploitation more profitable, goes back much further. In the 1790s, pro slavery writer James Boswell said this:

 

It must be admitted, that in the course of the present imprudent and dangerous attempt to bring about a total abolition, one essential advantage has been obtained, namely, a better mode of carrying the slaves from Africa to the West-Indies.”

 

Exploiters and their supporters seek to distract, divide, and demoralize their critics, but when someone claiming to be on the same side of the advocates does the same? Then it is time to pause and reflect.

 

Contrary to Gary Francione’s views that 200 years of animal welfare has been a complete failure and that there is more fur visible on the streets of London, England today than when he visited in the 1970s, it is undeniable that animal advocacy has seen advances in the last few decades. In the 1980s the concept of animal concerns was considered peculiar, even for the welfare of cats and dogs, but over time we have seen it grow, expanding public awareness about the issues facing animals used in various exploitation businesses. Vegan has become a mainstream word, and the merits of a plant-based diet is now being taken seriously by governments, and people of influence, thus an ancient truth known to Plutarch and Leonardo Da Vinci and the author of Frankenstein is finally coming around to public attention. But exploiters do not go quietly into the sunset, and will fight common sense any way they can when their profits or desires are threatened. Honesty is not among their virtues. Not only do they seek to hold onto what they have, but to expand it with a maniac’s passion. Thus Huntingdon Life Sciences and Smithfield go to China to bring the wonders of vivisection and factory farming to even more people.

 

Whatever Gary Francione’s motives are in attacking animal advocacy, the fact is that he routinely attacks animal activists—seeking to distract/divide/demoralize them, and at the same time, will be polite and agreeable to the worst exploiters of animals. He uses basic truths as his shield, and exploits the idealism of his audience. Imagine how someone like Richard Berman, posing as a vegan, might try to use animal advocates for the benefit of vivisectors and the meat industry. One way could be to isolate the realists like PETA and HSUS and MFA who target his client industries. Cultivate the idealists (new vegans and animal activists eager to help animals), and educate them to be radicals (not ALF-style activists who engage in economic sabotage and rescues, but rather those that say ALF is violent, welfare reforms are the greatest enemy to animals, and PETA and HSUS are racist/sexist/hate humans and/or collaborators with industry). Get these radicals to agree with industry (“welfare reforms are bad for animals”).

 

It is anyone’s guess what sort of presence exploitation industries have in animal advocacy—one statistic claims up to a third of online activists are corporate agents. However, one can start to question the sincerity of people who repeatedly spend much more time criticizing animal advocates with little desire to chastise exploiters. Exploitation isn’t the problem, activists are the problem.

 

As we said, Francione uses some truths in order to spread a lie. Of course abolition is morally preferable to reforms. Consider the situation with the World Wildlife Fund. This is a large organization (started in part by hunters) which does not promote veganism or even sincere consistent animal advocacy. In the 1990s the WWF encouraged hunters who were killing rhinos (for their horns to use in traditional Chinese medicine) to kill the saiga instead—which led to a 90% decline in their numbers. In this case, an abolition message would have been preferable. But Francione is too busy attacking real animal advocacy groups like PETA which would never advocate such an obscene immoral position. Yes, if people made decisions based on a vegan philosophy so many problems would disappear—but it does not make sense to aim a message of veganism at “animal people” alone, which is what Francione does. He has never accused vivisectors or hunters or dog abusers of being morally schizophrenic, only those who care about nonhuman animals. He accuses animal advocates of being racist but did he offer a view on Mr. Bundy of Nevada, the anti-government, gun-toting cattle rancher who said African Americans were better off under slavery? He is too busy attacking animal advocates. The vegan who attacks animal advocates.

 

If he doesn’t accuse them of being hypocrites he accuses them of promoting racism or sexism. PETA used the “I’d rather go naked” campaign to counter the images used by the fur industry to promote fur to women. The PETA ads worked. They drew the attention to the target audience: women. Some recently have claimed those ads were ineffective because college-aged men indicated the ads didn’t make them consider animal rights issues. Why is this surprising? The ads are aimed at women—the main consumer of fur products—to make them regard it as bad. Francione urges that PETA not use such campaigns because they violate his definition of veganism which includes a strict interpretation of human rights, one that the fur industry would concur with, for it would discourage the type of advertising that has been effective in drawing attention to fur.

 

Some point to the mostly Caucasian and Western nature of animal advocacy as proof that it is racist/elitist. But this is hardly a conspiracy. Advocacy for women, children, LGBT issues, and the handicapped—they also started as mostly Caucasian and Western organized issues. Are we to abandon human rights concerns because we do not have agreement among all people in universal human rights? Those who fought slavery in the 19th century were also accused of elitism—should they have heeded those voices and quit? Most nonhuman animals cannot advocate for themselves or defend themselves, thus they are totally dependent on others—preferably those with influence—to advocate for them. This isn’t racism, it is reality.

 

Being vegan is preferable to abstaining from meat (but eating some dairy as a transition to full vegetarian or vegan). If someone is ideologically committed to eating dairy on the basis that it can be done without suffering or killing, then the debate becomes whether that is true, however, we should applaud anyone’s efforts to reduce consumption, whether meat or dairy. Some (including Francione) will dismiss ovo-lacto-vegetarians as doing nothing of consequence. He does not commend their efforts and he condemns organizations that do. He may claim that reduction isn’t good enough for the nonhuman animal victims—but given the fact that one person’s efforts does little or nothing to stop industrial exploitation, it makes more sense to be supportive than dismissive of any change to the status quo. It makes more sense to build support rather than tear it down for trivial reasons.

 

If “new welfarist” organizations did as Gary Francione demands, they would lose media interest—why would the media have PETA or HSUS on air to talk about going vegan? It isn’t news. They would only be on air if there is a focus topic—a single issue campaign. And remember what Francione said: Single-issue campaigns are, on many levels, a very bad idea.” He wants them to discuss it only as part of an overall vegan message (as he defines it), which is precisely what the meat industry or vivisectors or hunters say when they appear in the media: “these activists don’t want welfare; they want to make the world vegan.” If Paul Watson had followed Francione’s advice in that interview on whaling, he would have ceased to discuss whales and focused on how bad factory farming is, which would make the whalers happy and do nothing to help animals in factory farms around the globe. If PETA and MFA ended single issue campaigns they would lose support and money—and before long be as small in influence as current vegan groups (such as Francione’s). It makes no sense to heed the advice of Gary Francione on activism and strategy unless you are on the side of vivisectors, whalers, hunters, the meat industry etc.

 

Francione has said that in the 1990s animal rights was talked about in the media, but now the message is more about “welfare” and reforms, a step backwards. It is true that in the 90s, when animal concerns were seen as a curiosity, the focus was more abstract: “do animals have rights?” What he overlooks is that the idea of animal concerns became an accepted one, and as organizations increased their membership and focused on specific campaigns that seemed winnable (logical strategy—why focus on a campaign you are sure to lose?), this was reported by the media, and thus reinforced the idea that animal concerns matter—whether defined as welfare or rights. Issues are talked about regularly, unlike in the 1990s. This is a step forward whether Francione likes it or not.

 

Despite the industry-applauded infighting we see with animal activists these days, it is fair to say that the exploiters are still their own worst enemy. They seek to increase profits or to expand the boundaries of cruelty–thus they push atrocities to such a grotesque point that they draw attention to themselves, and in doing so, invigorate the opposition. The same occurred with slavery. But, unlike slavery, the issues surrounding nonhuman animal exploitation literally have global repercussions. Climate change, water and other resource scarcity—these factors will likely be the greatest agents in forcing the collapse of the animal agriculture industries. But public awareness of the victimization of nonhuman animals is growing steadily alongside as well.

 

This doesn’t mean one should be satisfied as things are at present, but there is legitimate criticism and sincere concern and then there is the kind offered daily by Gary Francione and his followers which appears designed only to demoralize activists and that makes the meat industry happy:
‘”Francione, a lawyer, contends that the ethical position stance regarding animals is “the complete elimination of all animal ownership.”
This is a position that leads Francione “to bash HSUS at every turn.”
Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about! And if I might suggest that a wonderful the outcome of this debate would be a further widening of the schism between the hardcores and the reformers. That would be highly entertaining for everyone involved in animal agriculture. So get it on, activists.’

Dan Murphy-Anti-Animal Rights Food Industry Writer http://www.cattlenetwork.com/news/meat-matter-great-debate

NOTES

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/some-thoughts-on-the-abolitionist-approach/#.U7MIr7GYzMA

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/betrayal-animals/#.VLwNgHurvMA

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/ringling-circus-elephants-another-victory-isnt/#.VQEWk-GrvMA

http://www.believermag.com/issues/201102/?read=interview_francione

Intersectionality and Animal Rights: Unreasonable Moral Perfection Demands

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Intersectionality and Animal Rights: Unreasonable Moral Perfection Demands

 

Animal advocates use the history of slavery or racism to draw meaningful parallels with nonhuman exploitation and pursue the interests of compassion and justice. Exploitation supporters often use accusations of racism in an effort to distract and deceive from their wrongdoing.

 

When confronted, the animal exploiters will frequently put forward a perverse paranoid accusation that the animal activists are systemically racist. This is the standard rhetoric of the fur industry and hunters:

 

“Animal rights activists are racist—they hate people.”
 

Strangely enough, some vegans make the same accusation while claiming to champion animal concerns. This has been known as the Intersectionality movement.

For example, they will allege an anti-dog meat campaign in Asia is promoting racism by giving an incentive to people who are upset about the torture and death exhibited in a video to express their outrage in racially offensive language. This suggests that potentially offending people’s sensibilities in social media forum comments is as great as or greater than the systemic, economic-driven exploitation of the victims— i.e. being born to be tortured to death. A sincere activist knows where to place their priorities.

It is one thing to say you feel a particular campaign isn’t effective enough, but it is another matter entirely to say the campaign encourages racism or sexism—this latter concern implies you care more about hurt feelings than trying to address systemic, economic-driven torture and death. Not a position a true supporter of nonhuman animals would take.

Those that dismiss nonhuman animal concerns have often thrown a familiar response at activists:

“Human problems come first.”

Interesectionality is being trumpeted by some so-called vegans under the guise of universal justice when in fact the goal is to bog down animal activists and discourage their efforts by giving them rules and restrictions that would not be applied to other social causes (especially ones that do not involve large industries and making money from systemic exploitation of helpless beings).

Gay rights activists are not expected to be equally devoted to fighting racism, anti-poverty activists are not brow-beaten to defend LGBT causes. Advocates for children in a war torn country are not forced to be political and condemn the dictatorial regime of their host. Single issue focus is tolerated for human concerns but not for nonhuman animal concerns, even though the most abused and exploited beings on earth are apolitical, and their exploitation crosses all ideological boundaries.

These so-called vegans will equate political correctness with systemic industrial mass torture and death. This defies logic, fairness, and decency.

Another area where Intersectionality is highlighted is in responses to the arrival of Christian conservative authors who champion animal concerns. In this case, we are told that those who show concern for nonhuman animals should be shunned if they do not agree with us on all other political ideological fronts.

Mathew Scully’s articulate and passionate promotion of animal issues might be the most significant development of the movement since the 90s, and should not be derided and dismissed. While many vegans are secular and adhere to left leaning politics, outreach beyond this group is absolutely vital if one wants to see significant gains for the victims of exploitation who as we have said before, are apolitical and non partisan. A speech writer for a sitting US president is extremely well positioned and equipped to advertise these issues to the public, far more than philosophy academics with an audience that primarily consists of their students.

To reject efforts to gain the support of a larger segment of society for the critical cause of innocent beings born into hellish suffering due to differences in ideology is to abandon them for trivial and selfish reasons. Whatever one’s position on social programs, gun control, or abortion, the scale of nonhuman animal exploitation is such that it not only requires but deserves independent attention, not a backseat to a “humans first” mantra.

Intersectionality is not only an effort to distract, divide, and demoralize advocates with a charge of racism, sexism, or hating people, but also a moral perfection demand. As we have said before, neither intersectionality nor moral perfection existed among those fighting slavery, and human rights activism is not morally perfect either. We all have benefitted from wars, slavery, human experimentation, and other exploitation now deemed wrong, yet we do not say human rights is therefore impossible and should be abandoned.

The definition of vegan used to mean someone who was committed to opposing the exploitation of nonhuman animals and making a personal commitment to avoiding products that are connected to such exploitation (as much as possible). There is no rule book on this, though avoidance of meat and dairy, fur, hides, is usually a standard lifestyle profile. But, just as the word vegetarian has seen its definition subject to personal interpretation, vegan has naturally undergone the same phenomenon. On one end you have those who aren’t as strict in their definition, and on the other, those who go to great lengths to divorce themselves from any tie to exploitation.

While this behavior can be a personal aim, there has been an orchestrated effort by industry (indeed—anti-vegans) to promote a special kind of vegan perfectionism in order to distract/divide/demoralize animal advocates.

This vegan perfection demand attempts to make personal purity the primary objective while diminishing attention to industry—or rather, suggesting that those who have criticized industry practices and strive to bring it to the public attention are being tricked by, or even collaborating with industry, and against nonhuman victims.

“Vegan” Gary Francione will put the focus on the “animal people” as he calls them, demanding they achieve a vegan state according to his own definition, otherwise they are guilty of being hypocrites and (in his mind), worse than those non vegans (or anti-vegans) who are actively breeding, torturing, and killing victims for profit.

The aim is really to change the conversation—and keep advocates busy chasing perfection and fighting among themselves so industry can get on with their business—or at the very least, delay the inevitable.

He often frames his points in the major media as an attack on the animal people—that they are hypocrites—that they should look at themselves before criticizing others—meaning, the abusers are not the problem—the activists are. In other words they must be morally perfect. He might give lip service to meat and dairy exploitation when on a major network news program but not as a sincere and passionate vegan/animal activist, rather he speaks as a non vegan exploiter would in order to deflect from the issue at hand.

Whether it is a CNN television segment on cat abuse or a NYT column on horse carriages, he downplays the advocacy topic and steers discussion to attacks on the advocates. He is inclined to avoid giving a detailed summation of slaughterhouse cruelty or the destructive effects of animal agriculture on the environment to a public that could benefit from the information.

Francione is fond of saying that an animal person who buys meat from a store is no different than Michael Vick. “We are all Michael Vick.” A meat eater who opposes animal cruelty is no different from serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. He has also said that committing a murder directly or hiring someone to do it for you are regarded as the same thing by law and therefore a purchaser of meat is no different from the slaughterhouse worker or dog fighter. But he knows perfectly well that nonhumans are systemically exploited by industry and that current cultural beliefs regard meat and dairy the same way slavery was seen in 1800. If someone pays taxes to the government to fund an army for defense, and the money is used to finance a war where soldiers are instructed to attack a village and in doing so, a few soldiers torture prisoners for personal gratification, we would not normally say the moral responsibility of the taxpayer is identical to the soldier’s. By Francione’s logic or whatever we can call it, “exploiter’s logic” may be most appropriate; the taxpayer is just as guilty as the soldier. Such philosophical foolishness is completely unhelpful to animal advocacy and can only seek to undermine it. Animal rights activists are only racist if you want to believe it. Why believe what the worst exploiter would want you to believe?

 

 

Notes

 

Francione’s Rules:
1. veganism; 2. non-violence; 3. intersectionality

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/some-thoughts-on-the-abolitionist-approach/#.U7MIr7GYzMA

Francione: 2. Those who reject speciesism are committed to rejecting racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of discrimination as well.
Explanation: Some animal advocates maintain that the “animal movement” does not take a position on other forms of discrimination. That is not correct. Those of us who want justice for nonhumans are necessarily committed to justice for humans and for an end to human discrimination as well as discrimination against nonhumans. The animal movement should not, for example, be perpetuating sexism as a means to the end of animal rights. Sexism involves the commodification of women. Commodification is the problem, and not the solution.
Exploitation is not the problem, the activists are the problem.

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/01/17/horse-carriages-are-not-just-a-ride-in-the-park/carriage-foes-are-right-but-reveal-our-hypocrisy

Human Rights perfection:

“There is considerable evidence that proud names in finance, banking, insurance, transportation, manufacturing, publishing and other industries are linked to slavery. Many of those same companies are today among the most aggressive at hiring and promoting African-Americans, marketing to black consumers and giving to black causes. So far, the reparations legal team has publicly identified five companies it says have slave ties: insurers Aetna, New York Life and AIG and financial giants J.P. Morgan Chase Manhattan Bank and FleetBoston Financial Group. Independently, USA TODAY has found documentation tying several others to slavery:* Investment banks Brown Bros. Harriman and Lehman Bros.* Railroads Norfolk Southern, CSX, Union Pacific and Canadian National.* Textile maker WestPoint Stevens. * Newspaper publishers Knight Ridder, Tribune, Media General, Advance Publications, E.W. Scripps and Gannett, parent and publisher of USA TODAY. ….Lloyd’s of London, the giant insurance marketplace, could become a target because member brokerages are believed to have insured ships that brought slaves from Africa to the USA and cotton from the South to mills in New England and Britain. The original benefactors of many of the country’s top universities — Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton and the University of Virginia, among them — were wealthy slave owners. Lawyers on the reparations team say universities also will be sued.” USAToday, Feb 21, 2002

How the Enemies of Animals Use Fifth Column Veganism to Attack Animal Advocacy

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

 

How the Enemies of Animals Use Fifth Column Veganism to Attack Animal Advocacy

Distract/Divide/Demoralize:

 

“Consequently the vivisector is not only crueler than the prizefighter, but, through the pressure of public opinion, a much more resolute and uncompromising liar…It is the vivisector’s interest to refine upon the cruelties of the laboratory, whilst persuading the public that his victims pass into a delicious euthanasia and leave behind them a row of bottles containing infallible cures for all the disease. Just so, too, does the trainer of performing animals assure us that his dogs and cats and elephants and lions are taught their senseless feats by pure kindness.”

George Bernard Shaw

 

There are two types of advocacy for animals that vivisectors, the meat and dairy industries, the fur industry, hunters, dogfighters, zookeepers etc. don’t have a problem with. Shelter adoptions and veganism, especially the total purist morality product boycott “abolition now or nothing” veganism.

 

Neither of these activities affects animal exploitation industries now or in the immediate future. They do not put pressure on industries to change, nor reach enough members of the public either regularly or repetitively to interrupt anti-vegan advertising and culturally-reinforced business operations that you find on every street corner.

 

What do affect these industries are incremental, single issue campaigns that use legislation and repetitive media exposure to put pressure on exploiters and abusers to cease torture and/or death and educate the public on what industries do. The campaigns are strategically based on what the public will get behind, and which the exploiters have the hardest time defending. The more the media talks about it, the more the listener comes to accept these issues as good and important and supports the efforts to change the status quo. It is a slow process but an essential one.

 

Veganism is a rational moral sensible action that one can take to make a personal expression of their belief in equality, justice, compassion, ecological sanity, human and nonhuman welfare and rights. But it is not about moral perfection and never was, nor is it about shutting down industries or ending animal exploitation by excluding every kind of activism except telling people to “go vegan now.” This is why the industries do not have a problem with it, and why they have supporters posing as vegans aggressively promoting it in the guise of caring about animals.

 

They want to distract/divide/demoralize people who are receptive to a message of “animal concerns,” whether that means welfare, rights, anti-cruelty, abolition, stewardship or whatever else you call a position promoting some kind of compassion for nonhuman animals exploited from birth to death in various exploitation practices and businesses.

 

Fifth Column Veganism is what we call a position where someone claims to support “animal concerns” to the greatest extent possible, but uses arguments that originated in the mouths of the most hard-line opponents of any animal concerns.

 

When criticized hunters, vivisectors, the fur industry, meat industry, cockfighters, etc. have a standard catalog of irrational responses they throw at the activists that are intended to distract/divide/demoralize:

Large activist groups that oppose vivisection and other industry exploitation needlessly kill shelter animals when they can use donated money to keep them housed indefinitely.”

Protests (aka single issue campaigns), ballot initiatives, and legislative changes by activists are useless, and will only increase not decrease animal exploitation.”

We can trust exploitation industry to make reforms according to consumer demand.”

“A vivisector is more ethical (and/or cares about animals) more than a non-vegan anti-vivisection campaigner.”

“Activists must be morally perfect–they must be against all exploitation of human and nonhuman animals.”

“Anti-fur campaigns are motivated by hatred of women—they hate people.”

“Animal rights activists are racist—they hate people.”

“Single issue campaigns only serve as fundraisers for big charities—they don’t care about animals—just making money.”

“The animals are going to die anyway so what does it matter how they are treated?”

“Only humans can have rights and those that regard humans and animals as equal are the reason why we had slavery and concentration camps.”

“These animal rights activists are crazy/they want to abolish everything! They want to take your freedoms and rights!”

Every single one of these statements essentially mean: Exploitation isn’t the problem, the activists are the problem.

 

Animal people are deceptive, crazy, evil, hateful, and cruel. They are like Hitler and the Nazis. They are against freedom and justice.

 

When a hunter or vivisector says such foolish things, it may be easily dismissed since one knows they have a personal or financial motive to seek a distraction from their actions. However, when someone who claims to be vegan and on the same side of animals says the same things (with slight word adjustments), then a different reaction tends to happen. The person listening, if a vegan or leaning towards such a view, may tolerate the message because they sincerely want to help animals and welcome anyone who claims to be on the same side.

 

The more it is repeated, the more the listener may come to accept the bogus claims as possible and the internal disagreement among animal advocates as normal.

 

During WW2 a fifth column agent would pose as a member of the army, winning the trust of their enemy in order to sabotage their aims.

 

A fifth column vegan who is an agent for exploiters and abusers also seeks to sabotage the aims of the enemy, they wage an active campaign to distract/divide/demoralize advocates, and they may reveal themselves by exhibiting:

a) less than enthusiastic support for animal concerns i.e. the nonhuman animal victims in systemic exploitation practices

 b) more than enthusiastic desire to criticize the advocates for those victims

 c) disinterest in (if not thinly-veiled defense of) the exploiters/abusers of those victims (especially the worst exploiters)

 d) no capacity to accept a difference of opinion or change their own opinion

The fifth column vegan usually has two sides—there is the side they show to the mass media and non vegan public, and the side they show to vegans that they claim to be in agreement with.

 

They might start a major media appearance with “of course this exploitation is wrong/terrible/probably immoral” or they are introduced as “animal rights activists” and then they launch into their real purpose, attacking animal advocacy that targets exploiters and abusers. They avoid a detailed “animal concerns” message as they do not want to make the audience think about animals or reinforce a message that they should. The focus is not on the exploiters, the focus is on the activists. Exploitation isn’t the problem, the activists are the problem.

 

When they appear among a vegan/animal rights crowd (usually in a much smaller venue and audience), the fifth column vegans “preach to the choir” and “play to the crowd.” They might use a personal anecdote about a horrible act of cruelty and say how much they were affected by it. Or they will provide FAQ responses to use when challenged on veganism (adequate but not necessarily the most persuasive). The exploiters are not left out, but it is always linked to large animal advocacy groups as the most serious problem, either suggesting they are sincere but misguided, or the real enemy: liars, they betray animals, they make secret collaborations with exploitation industries or government (and the companies singled out as the number 1 enemy are not the big agribusinesses that oppose any and all animal concern initiatives, but rather the companies (supermarkets and restaurants) that have supported welfare reforms and advertised them to the public. The animal organizations are accused of wasting money (not that this cannot happen with sincere advocacy but there is a difference between imperfection and the belief they are motivated to waste money). The basic theme is the same: Exploitation isn’t the problem, the activists are the problem, and the goal is to distract, divide, and demoralize vegans and sincere animal activists from supporting welfare initiatives.

 

It must be noted that some will say that the mere mention of “fifth column veganism” is an example of distracting/dividing/demoralizing activists, so what’s the difference? The difference is in goals and the emphasis (or lack there-of) on the victim and the victimizer. It is insincere activists seeking to undermine sincere activism, thus we seek to undermine their efforts to do so.

 

Another example would be in how you react to a single issue campaign. I.e. you see someone protesting fur. Those on the side of exploiters would say to the person: “do you eat meat? What are your shoes made of? Why are you focusing on this when billions of animals are killed for food?”

 

If you care about the victims, you would say instead: “Good for you! I am against fur too and fully support what you are doing! I am vegan so I am against fur, also don’t eat meat, dairy, use clothing etc. I am against all of it so once again-thanks for helping animals.”

 

If you respond with encouragement for their efforts you are not distracting, you are not dividing, and you are not demoralizing.

 

That is the difference. Fifth column veganism seeks to harm animals, demoralize and deceive activists, and benefit exploiters who oppose all animal concerns. Those that challenge fifth column veganism have no confusion about who they are advocating for.

 

 

Welfare vs. Abolition

 

There is an old story that Leonardo da Vinci would buy caged birds from a market and release them, and developed a plough for the purpose of taking heavy burdens from oxen. They may seem to be kind gestures to the casual observer, but to some others they are counter-productive and paltry—the merchant will just buy more birds with the money and oxen aren’t liberated from abuse and massacre so why bother? Remember the standard anti-animal responses:

Protests (aka single issue campaigns), ballot initiatives, and legislative changes by activists are useless, and will only increase not decrease animal exploitation”
“The animals are going to die anyway so what does it matter how they are treated?”

Those who truly care about animals and their wellbeing would not ask such questions. They already know the answers.

 

It is one thing to be happy for Leonardo’s birds but remain determined to help as many other birds that come to market, it is quite another thing to say that the effort is useless or counter productive. That reaction is not animal advocacy, it is fifth column veganism.

 

The alleged war between welfare and abolition in the animal rights movement (that is, among those who support gradual efforts to achieve as much benefit for nonhuman animals as possible vs. those who say a consistent message of total abolition now is the only way to reach that goal) is mostly a fabrication of those who represent exploitation industries but act as if they are motivated by nonhuman animal concerns.

 

The only real clash (if you can call it that) in animal advocacy is between those who support direct action (disrupting slaughterhouse trucks or whaling ships or rescuing victims from laboratories) and those who focus on legislation and legal means of achieving results.

 

There may be some well-meaning but narrow-minded academic or starry-eyed youth who puts idealism before practicality, and believe their personal commitment to boycotting participation in animal exploitation is enough for them, but those that aggressively push for abolition over welfare reform in their discussions with animal advocates are all but certainly fifth column vegans.

 

It makes absolutely no sense for someone who genuinely cares about other animals to dismiss any efforts to help them now. It makes even less sense to dismiss these efforts without a concrete alternative. Those calling themselves abolitionists do not have a plan to end exploitation and seem either ignorant of or indifferent to the reality of the problem, social forces, industry counter measures, and human nature.

 

People do not usually spend 24 hours a day thinking about others. They are easily distracted, and the mass media bombardment by exploitation industries, as well as pressure from friends and family to conform may not have an effect on an independent thinker with the personal fortitude of Leonardo da Vinci, but for many others, they do. If we truly care about helping animals we have to recognize the scope of the task at hand.

 

Yes, we want people to instantly see that these things are horribly wrong and not only commit to change but be evangelical in getting others to see the light as well, but even if this could happen (and it usually cannot), this is not enough—in fact, unless you have access to a mass media platform to spread this message and on a regular basis (as the exploitation industries have currently), you will be trying to topple a skyscraper by breaking a few windows on the 30th floor.

 

Austrian animal activist Martin Balluch has fought successfully for sweeping legislative reforms and believes that attacking industries— reforming or banning them outright is the only way to bring us closer to a society in line with vegan beliefs. As structural changes are made, people in society will grow accustomed to the changes and accept them as normal, this supporting more of the same. He has argued that “people are more social than rational.”

 

Truth be told, unless conversion rates for veganism suddenly skyrocket, animals are in the hands of compassionate non vegans who are moved to support small reforms that the public is easily educated on and impossible to reject, which slowly but surely changes community attitudes towards nonhuman animals and allows for further education/reform. Someone who uses products that come from exploitation, but do care about suffering, are at least a likely to support reforms as a vegan, perhaps even more so, since they would have a stronger sense of guilt and impulse to “do something.”

 

There is no structure in place which would allow the public to receive a vegan message that would stick, or provide a mechanism to bring about a vegan society. Think about it. How would meat and dairy industries shut down—and how long would it take? Veganism makes total sense—but the reality is how do you market the product (veganism)—and how do you prevent advertising by your competition (the meat/dairy corporations) that blocks your message when they are selling their wares at every street corner? These questions are not addressed by fifth column vegans beyond a fuzzy “let the market decide” concept which does not favor veganism. They can eloquently discuss veganism and animal concerns in articles all they want to, but this does not constitute practical change. This demonstrates the psychopathic cleverness of animal agriculture—for they can pay lip service to suffering, morality, or ecological destruction, but only because they know it has no effect on their immediate selfish interests.

 

 

Humane CERTIFIED FARMS ARE BAD, FACTORY FARMS ARE GOOD

 

Representatives for the meat and dairy industry routinely lie in the media about the way animals are treated. They claim that activists for reforms are hurting the family farmer, implying that the animals are able to enjoy grass, sitting in the sunshine, and companionship. In truth 99 % of meat and dairy production in North America comes from industrial factory farms, not small farms. Only 1% is classified as “humane certified.” Most animals are born into nightmarish conditions few could have the twisted imagination to visualize—not even Hieronymus Bosch depicted anything comparable to the Hell of 21st century animal agriculture.

 

Fifth Column vegans will focus on the 1% only, claiming those “pretending” to care about animal treatment as the real threat to animals. To the non vegan public and major media, they will say that the 1 %, “humane certified label” is a fraud, which implies that the public would be better off not supporting “useless” reforms pushed for by big charities but continue to buy from the “honest” 99% traditional meat and dairy “farmer.”

 

The Fifth Column vegan does not give a passionate argument for veganism or animal rights at the same time we might add.

 

Their goal is not to awaken the public to a message of “animal concerns,” but to discredit those who do make such a message to the public.

 

When speaking to vegans and animal rights activists, the fifth column vegan depicts big charities and humane certified as a Machiavellian scheme to spread the “humane myth” across the land in order to deceive the public and ensure animals are enslaved and die for an unnecessary diet until the end of time. This of course ignores the fact that small farms cannot feed the world population at current levels without causing immense ecological disaster, and therefore it is an imaginary threat and merely a scare tactic.

 

The real purpose is an effort to discredit “humane certified,” welfare reforms and influential companies (Whole Foods, Chipotle) that educate and encourage the public to think and care about animal concerns. Such influences can lead the public to support further reforms, including pressure to eliminate corporate subsidies that go to the 99% meat and dairy industry in order to artificially lower their costs and prices (in addition to the cost-saving measures gained by treating animals like inanimate manufacturing products). Public awareness of animal concerns and higher costs for meat and dairy encourage people to go vegan, not the opposite.

 

The exploitation industries know this, which is why they have agents preaching abolition or nothing.

 

Let’s imagine for a moment that anti-welfare reform vegans get their wish. Tomorrow morning PETA and HSUS and all the animal concern organizations announce they are abandoning present campaigns and switching entirely to veganism or nothing promotion exactly as some abolitionists have preached for decades. Everyone should abstain from all animal products as much as possible—meat, dairy, clothing, you name it. So what happens next? Well the news media would likely report the story for a little while—call the groups crackpots or extremists and leave it at that. Without these groups focusing on farms and other single issue campaigns the media will lose interest and stop talking about them. Why would the news invite PETA or HSUS on air to talk about veganism when there would be no single issue to focus on? Farms? Nope. Whales in captivity? Nope. Gary Francione, the “animal rights activist” expert, has said all SICs are bad (other than adopting cats and dogs from shelters—which as we pointed out, exploitation industry/anti-vegan groups do not oppose). The organizations will lose their donations since people would have no incentive to donate to groups promoting a kind of moral perfection lifestyle while ignoring specific examples of cruelty and exploitation. So in the end—you would have no big animal groups and exploitation industry would have no pressure to change policy.

 

Mission accomplished for a Fifth Column Vegan/Total failure for sincere animal activists who are suckered by this “abolitionist approach” philosophy.

 

Fifth Column Vegans and Animal Rights Terrorism

 

Vivisectors, the meat and dairy industry, the fur industry, hunters—those opposed to any and all animal concerns, like to paint a picture of violent animal rights extremists—but in truth what they consider violent is passionate language, victim rescues, or strategic property damage. There is very little concrete evidence of animal activists violently attacking, maiming, or killing exploiters (while there are cases of the contrary-–activists injured or killed by animal exploiters–dating as far back to the Brown Dog Affair of 1905 when London medical students rioted over a commemorative statue of a dog tortured by vivisectors for two months, attacking activists and police in an effort to destroy it). In the publicized cases, it is an outspoken vivisector like Colin Blakemore who alleges he was attacked, or had a bomb sent to him that “almost” detonated around their family or children. Blakemore claims to be a target of constant terror tactics and yet can find the courage to take a daily run for exercise.

 

To repeat Shaw: “Consequently the vivisector…is…through the pressure of public opinion, a much more resolute and uncompromising liar.”

 

And yet, we do find some characterizing themselves as vegans and abolitionists who agree with the vivisector’s claims of activist violence. At present animal advocacy is far more peaceful than other social movements. There are numerous examples of anti-abortion violence but nothing to compare to it in animal rights. If there were a case of a vivisector killed by an animal activist there is no doubt the news media would resurrect the name every time the topic came up for discussion.

 

 

Fifth Column Vegans Cherry Pick the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

 

It is 1800 and you, opposed to slavery, see a slave ship in port with the hull on fire threatening to horribly scald the slaves in front of many onlookers. You can help the slave ship crew pour water on the fire to put it out which means the slaves will be spared burning but still be carted off to their destinations to face a life of servitude and abuse.

 

Or you could stand by shouting slavery is wrong—and use the misery of the scalded slaves as proof of this truth.
Such a situation would no doubt test the sincerity of the activist’s commitment to compassion and justice and equality.

 

Ideally one wants to see an end to exploitation practices but also wants to help the victims in whatever way one can along the way to abolition.

 

The major industries that exploit nonhuman animals and their supporters in government are ruthless and cunning, and determined to maintain profits as long as possible, and resist any effort at reform.

 

Exploitation industries do not want the majority of public to see how nonhuman animals are treated, and they certainly don’t want a coalition of varied interests to join forces against them.

 

Fifth Column Vegans misrepresent the history of slavery and the methods used to fight it on order to serve an agenda of discouraging successful advocacy efforts.

 

Abolitionist

 

Fifth Column Vegans will claim that anti-slavery activists were ideologically pure abolitionists, that they were united behind this message, that they refused to compromise on a belief in universal human rights and justice. They are revealing their adherence to the typical exploiter statement: “Only humans can have rights and those that regard humans and animals as equal are the reason why we had slavery and concentration camps.”

 

What the Fifth Column Vegans leave out in the history of slavery is the evidence that would debunk their claims that it came to an end thanks to a unified uncompromising message of universal human rights.

 

Those best known as “abolitionists’ were advocating economic sabotage and violence—the most famous, John Brown, killed several slavery supporters. Others, such as the Quakers, endorsed peaceful resistance and product boycotts.

 

To a resolute supporter of slavery, everyone who criticized slavery was an abolitionist.

 

Despite the evidence to the contrary, the opponents of nonhuman animals routinely slander advocates as terrorists and violent extremists even if they are only seeking a law that forces vivisectors to be decent enough to provide daily food and water to the innocent victims they torture. Likewise, the defenders of slavery also slandered everyone with the same title—whether one wanted slavery abolished now, or in the future, or merely regulated—they were called abolitionists. In the days of the fight over slavery, abolitionist meant extremist, just as “animal rights activist” is interpreted as extremist when one is batting for the exploiters’ side.

 

Welfarist

 

The mainstream anti-slavery movement was “welfarist,” supporting gradual, incremental steps, and legislative reforms. Some of them, such as Abraham Lincoln, had family ties to slavery. You might even say some of them were racist, being against cruelty to Africans, but not willing to have them run for political office, and especially not live in the same neighborhood. To a number of these prominent anti-slavery leaders, the abolitionists were insignificant or extremists.

 

Others, like ex-slave Frederick Douglass, who supported many human rights positions, made familiar compromises—supporting the vote for black men and rejecting entreaties by his ally Elizabeth Stanton to stand firm on a vote for women to be included in the same legislation. Since coalition support for extending the vote to black males was so thin (and violently opposed even after ratification), he did not want to see it defeated by a wider demand for human rights concessions.

 

Douglass opposed John Brown’s call for armed rebellion, fearing it would turn public opinion against the cause (and there was a backlash against abolitionists), and later appeared at an event with the prosecutor who had conducted Brown’s trial and execution.

 

Single Issue Campaigns/Incremental Reforms

 

The first concrete attack on slavery was not “abolitionist” in nature—it was reforming how slaves in the UK industry were transported from Africa to the West Indies. This was used by pro-slavery supporters to argue, as pro-exploitation and fifth column vegans do, that it had made slavery more profitable. James Boswell, circa 1791: “It must be admitted, that in the course of the present imprudent and dangerous attempt to bring about a total abolition, one essential advantage has been obtained, namely, a better mode of carrying the slaves from Africa to the West-Indies.”

 

Product Boycotts

 

Among true abolitionists, there were a few who advocated violence as Brown did, and others who opposed any act of violence or anti-government speech. There was an initiative popularized among some anti-slavery Quakers to use product boycotts as a means of making a protest against the slave trade while rejecting violence and civil disobedience. The Free Produce Movement gained adherents for a time, but did not ultimately achieve a pivotal effect on slavery. In fact, one of its most articulate defenders, William Lloyd Garrison, turned completely against the movement tactic, and it became a subject of ridicule among abolitionists. Note this telling quote by Wendell Phillips Garrison about the FPM: “The Abolitionists proper, we repeat, although always stigmatized as impracticable, never mounted this hobby as if the battle-horse of victory.”

 

“Always stigmatized as impracticable” refers not to the Free Produce Movement, but slavery abolitionism itself.

 

The main kind of activism that fifth column vegan abolitionists push is essentially an intense Quaker style product boycott—the one method of advocacy that was considered totally irrelevant in stopping slavery by true abolitionists and mostly off the radar of “welfarist” anti-slavery campaigners.

 

Open Rescue-Underground Railroad

 

Recently there has been calls by so-called “vegans” and “champion of animal rights” to emulate the Underground Railroad, and conduct open rescues of animals instead of covert investigations into farms (which is what the meat and dairy industry opposes most we must point out—having pushed for ag-gag laws in many states). The Underground Railroad is referenced as a role model, but typically, the fifth column vegan leaves out important details.

 

For one thing, the Underground Railroad was for the benefit of slaves who sought to escape and could usually aid in their own escape. Nonhuman animals cannot typically express a desire to escape therefore it is the rescuer who is making all the decisions on who they choose to rescue and where and why.

 

Frederick Douglass, who was an escaped slave, was critical of the Underground Railroad, saying that while he welcomed the noble intentions of the abolitionists involved; he believed that “open rescues” did more to encourage slave owners to be on the alert for escape attempts:

 

I have never approved of the very public manner in which some of our western friends have conducted what they call the Underground Railroad, but which I think, by their open declarations, has been made most emphatically the upperground railroad.”

 

“Human Rights are Self-Evident”

 

Martin Luther King jr is often quoted in social activism for saying “we take these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal.” Although they may have seemed self-evident to his supporters in the 1960s, it was not always so crystal clear.

 

One of the biggest lies that fifth column vegans use in reference to slavery, which exploitation supporters also use regularly, is that human rights is an ancient universal fact that was self-evident (unlike nonhuman rights), and the greatest impediment to justice was when humans were equated with other animals (such as with slavery and the Nazi regime). This is totally false. Human rights were not an ancient widely accepted fact, but came slowly, building in awareness over hundreds of years, usually after a focus on a particular kind of exploitation of vulnerable persons for economic reasons.

 

The efforts to end slavery were not based on an understanding of universal human rights, only a few advocated that idea, the main driving force was an anti-cruelty campaign, aided by technological change and a civil war. Awareness of broader social issues, for women, children, poverty, disability, nonhuman persons, prison reform, public education, etc. were encouraged by the initial focus on slavery. But progress did not not come quickly or without stubborn and ruthless opposition.

 

 

Intersectionality and Moral Perfection Demands

 

While sincere advocates use the history of slavery or racism to draw meaningful parallels and pursue the interests of compassion and justice, exploitation supporters and Fifth Column Vegans use it to distract/divide/demoralize advocates and the public.

 

The comparisons made to systemic industrial exploitation like slavery is twisted by animal exploiters into a perverse paranoid accusation that the animal activists are systemically racist. Remember the standard rhetoric of the fur industry or hunters:

 

“Animal rights activists are racist—they hate people.”

 

Fifth Column Vegans make the same accusation while claiming to champion animal concerns.

 

For example, a fifth column vegan will allege an anti-dog meat campaign in Asia is promoting racism (subtle way of saying animal activists are racist), which suggests that potentially offending people’s sensibilities in social media forum comments is as great or greater than the systemic, economic-driven exploitation of the victims—i.e. being born to be tortured to death. A sincere activist knows where to place their priorities.

 

It is one thing to say you feel a particular campaign isn’t effective enough, but it is another matter entirely to say the campaign encourages racism or sexism—this latter concern implies you care more about hurt feelings than trying to address systemic, economic-driven torture and death. Not a position a true supporter of nonhuman animals would take.

 

Those that dismiss animal concerns have often thrown a familiar response at activists:

 

“Human problems come first.”

 

Interesectionality is being trumpeted by some so-called vegans under the guise of universal justice when in fact the goal is to bog down animal activists and discourage their efforts by giving them rules and restrictions that would not be applied to other social causes (especially ones that do not involve large industries and making money from systemic exploitation of helpless beings).

 

Gay rights activists are not expected to be equally devoted to fighting racism, anti-poverty activists are not brow-beaten to defend LGBT causes. Advocates for children in a war torn country are not forced to be political and condemn the dictatorial regime of their host. Single issue focus is tolerated for human concerns but not for nonhuman animal concerns, even though the most abused and exploited beings on earth are apolitical, and their exploitation crosses all ideological boundaries.

 

Fifth Column Vegans will equate political correctness with systemic industrial mass torture and death. This defies logic, fairness, and decency.

 

Another area where Intersectionality is highlighted is in responses to the arrival of Christian conservative authors who champion animal concerns.

 

Mathew Scully’s articulate and passionate promotion of animal issues might be the most significant development of the movement since the 90s, and should not be derided and dismissed. While many vegans are secular and adhere to left leaning politics, outreach beyond this group is absolutely vital if one wants to see significant gains for the victims of exploitation who as we have said before, are apolitical and non partisan. A speech writer for a sitting US president is extremely well positioned and equipped to advertise these issues to the public, far more than philosophy academics with an audience that primarily consists of their students.

 

To reject efforts to gain the support of a larger segment of society for the critical cause of innocent beings born into hellish suffering due to differences in ideology is to abandon them for trivial and selfish reasons. Whatever one’s position on social programs, gun control, or abortion, the scale of nonhuman animal exploitation is such that it not only requires but deserves independent attention, not a backseat to a “humans first” mantra.

 

Intersectionality is not only an effort to distract, divide, and demoralize advocates with a charge of racism, sexism, or hating people, but also a moral perfection demand. As we have said before, neither intersectionality nor moral perfection existed among those fighting slavery.

 

The definition of vegan used to mean someone who was committed to opposing the exploitation of nonhuman animals and making a personal commitment to avoiding products that are connected to such exploitation (as much as possible). There is no rule book on this, though avoidance of meat and dairy, fur, hides, is usually a standard lifestyle profile. But, just as the word vegetarian has seen its definition subject to personal interpretation, vegan has naturally undergone the same phenomenon. On one end you have those who aren’t as strict in their definition, and on the other, those who go to great lengths to divorce themselves from any tie to exploitation.

 

While this behavior can be a personal aim, there has been an orchestrated effort by industry (indeed—anti-vegans) to promote a special kind of vegan perfectionism in order to distract/divide/demoralize animal advocates.

 

This vegan perfection demand attempts to make personal purity the primary objective while diminishing attention to industry—or rather, suggesting that those who have criticized industry practices and strive to bring it to the public attention are being tricked by, or even collaborating with industry, and against nonhuman victims.

 

“Vegan” Gary Francione will put the focus on the “animal people” as he calls them, demanding they achieve a vegan state according to his own definition, otherwise they are guilty of being hypocrites and (in his mind), worse than those non vegans (or anti-vegans) who are actively breeding, torturing, and killing victims for profit.

 

The aim is really to change the conversation—and keep advocates busy chasing perfection and fighting among themselves so industry can get on with their business—or at the very least, delay the inevitable.

 

He often frames his points in the major media as an attack on the animal people—that they are hypocrites—that they should look at themselves before criticizing others—meaning, the abusers are not the problem—the activists are. In other words they must be morally perfect. He might give lip service to meat and dairy exploitation when on a major network news program but not as a sincere and passionate vegan/animal activist, rather he speaks as a non vegan exploiter would in order to deflect from the issue at hand.

 

Whether it is a CNN television segment on cat abuse or a NYT column on horse carriages, he downplays the advocacy topic and steers discussion to attacks on the advocates. He is inclined to avoid giving a detailed summation of slaughterhouse cruelty or the destructive effects of animal agriculture on the environment to a public that could benefit from the information.

 

Francione is fond of saying that an animal person who buys meat from a store is no different than Michael Vick. “We are all Michal Vick.” A meat eater who opposes animal cruelty is no different from serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. He has also said that committing a murder directly or hiring someone to do it for you are regarded as the same thing by law and therefore a purchaser of meat is no different from the slaughterhouse worker or dog fighter. But he knows perfectly well that nonhumans are systemically exploited by industry and that current cultural beliefs regard meat and dairy the same way African slavery was viewed in 1700. Killing an African slave was not regarded as murder but an insurance loss. By Francione’s logic, someone who pays taxes and supports an army for defense is as guilty as a soldier who massacres a village in a foreign war–the taxpayer is just as guilty as the soldier-regardless of whether the latter is following orders or personally sadistic or uses a gun, knife, fire bomb etc. and whether or not the taxpayer approves. This kind of conflating of action is meant to dismiss the focus—the victim at hand—the nonhuman animal–whether they be a stray cat on the street or a dog in a Chinese fur farm or a pig in a Florida slaughterhouse. It seeks to undermine the message of animal concern.

 

A sincere vegan may think that his comparisons to Jeffrey Dahmer are justified in a general way, but they are thinking as an idealistic vegan convert, not as a member of the general public. His comments are not meant to enlighten, but alienate. He can demoralize and distract animal advocates and project the image that animal rights “leaders” like himself are extremists. It is a win-win situation (for exploiters, not their victims).

 

Francione is rather fond of the term “moral schizophrenia” to describe the disconnection between those who care about some animals that come to focus in abuse cases and single issue campaigns, but not the ones they eat without a second thought thanks to upbringing in cultures where it is the norm. Once more, let us look back at typical comments made by industry exploiters:

“These animal rights activists are crazy/they want to abolish everything! They want to take your freedoms and rights!”

Moral schizophrenia—a kind of crazed thinking that afflicts advocates for animals. “Go vegan or nothing,” a moral perfection demand that vivisectors and hunters have said for decades in response to criticism and to scare the general public. Francione advises animal activists to avoid single issue campaigns and push for total abolition now, using a moral perfection definition of veganism.

 

Truth be told when Gary Francione is in the media to represent animal rights, the meat industry, fur industry, hunters, vivisectors, dog fighters, and cockfighters need not fear, their interests are being well looked after.

 

 

Fifth Column Vegans and the No Kill Shelter Movement

 

 

Perhaps the vilest way that fifth column vegans have attacked activism is by using abused or abandoned animals dumped into shelters as pawns in the fight against animal advocacy groups that target exploitation industries. The public face for this scam is Nathan Winograd, a 20 year vegan who claims that there is no overpopulation of cats and dogs and the real problem is not pet stores and breeders, but rather big advocacy groups that use the myth of overpopulation to make money while sacrificing animals in mass extermination camps. Remember those common attacks that vivisectors and other exploiters have used against animal activists?

 

Large activist groups that oppose vivisection and other industry exploitation needlessly kill shelter animals when they can use donated money to keep them housed indefinitely

 

Winograd appears determined to disrupt if not dismantle the shelter system, while putting animals in harms’ way, either being caged and stockpiled in unregulated No Kill shelters or given out to people without thorough background checks. The philosophy of his opponents PETA and HSUS has been that suffering is worse than death, and if quality homes are not found for the animals, then it is better they are carefully euthanized rather than the alternative. In addition, these advocacy groups must contend with the unregulated shelters that either through mismanagement or legal indifference will abuse animals or use cruel methods of extermination. As well, sincere shelters have in the past had to choose between killing animals after a waiting period or be legally obligated to turn them over as fodder for vivisection labs.

 

There are many perils that domesticated animals bred for human use can and do face.

 

But Winograd actively seeks to support the lies of vivisectors and other opponents of animal welfare or rights—that the animal groups are systemically and maliciously killing healthy animals when they have the money to keep them alive.

 

While he, like vivisectors, demands that PETA put its donations to housing the animals indefinitely, he does not make any demands for financial contribution from pet industry or breeder organizations that “create” the shelter animal situation. Exploitation is not the problem, the activists are the problem.

 

He has pushed for “rescue access” legislation which may seem at first glance to give shelter animals a reprieve from death, but which actually lowers the standards in place to ensure animals do not end up in abusive situations—something Winograd cares nothing about.

 

He also opposes breed specific legislation such as bans on the breeding and sale of pit bulls in the guise of opposing discrimination against dogs. Just as some dogs are bred for speed or sense of smell, others like the pit bull, have been bred for aggression, and while a dog may go through life without a violent incident, to deny that the dog has been manipulated by human tampering (and inbreeding) to possess exaggerated characteristics is to deny reality and condone dog attacks and the victimization of the breed itself. On one hand ruthless politicians seek to have all pit bulls rounded up and killed so they support BSL for this purpose, and on the other, dog fighters oppose BSL because they do not want to have their “supply” of exploited dogs jeopardized. Groups like PETA support efforts to discourage the breeding of the animals primarily for benefit of pit bulls and public safety (the human/nonhumans who are annually victims of attacks). Winograd tries to distort PETA’s intentions, equating them with the “dog exterminator” politicians, while through his No Kill shelters he encourages the adoption of pit bulls, even ones with a dangerous reputation, so that any public incidents can be used to further discredit the shelter system for offering “damaged goods,” which in turn gives promotion to pet stores and breeders.

 

The image of the dog catcher has long been a negative one in the public, as private contractors motivated by money and not concern for animals were prevalent until modern animal advocacy started to tackle the issue. Winograd and other opponents of animal concerns have exploited this aversion to the “dog catcher” stereotype to slander well meaning advocates in order to distract/divide/demoralize, and promote the interests of the meat and dairy industry, vivisection, pet industry, and other exploiters of animals.

 

 

Conclusion

 

No person or organization is perfect or beyond criticism, but there is fair and constructive criticism and the opposite. Peter Singer’s version of utilitarianism is not an intuitive guide for animal rights issues—he does not categorically oppose animal consumption like Leonardo da Vinci or Tolstoy, nor the unequivocal rejection of their use for medical research as George Bernard Shaw did. He admits this himself, however, despite these lapses his promotion of nonhuman animal concerns did help energize animal advocacy and spread a desperately needed message to quarters where it needed to be heard.

 

Others have done the same, and we are at a point where even a speechwriter for conservative politicians is promoting animal concerns and billionaires invest in vegan product development.

 

Those who seek to demoralize advocates will say that 200 years of animal welfare has been an abysmal failure and there is more exploitation than ever before. This delusional appraisal you would expect from the most obscene callous exploiter of innocent animal victims, but when said by someone who claims to be the animals’ greatest champion we need to question their sincere concern.

 

200 years ago dogs and cats were tortured freely in the streets. Now, a dog left on a leash in a yard may be the focus of public outcry. 100 years ago zoos would slaughter wild animals and take the survivors to captivity. Now, a “surplus” giraffe executed in front of bystanders can bring a massive out pouring of criticism.

 

The advances have not come easily, and new means of inflicting suffering and death have advanced at least as much, but a change in public perception has happened, and one cannot dismiss this or the tactics that were used to achieve it.

 

Yes, the cuteness of an infant seal being bludgeoned to death for the garment industry was used to generate public interest when a more basic moral appeal could not attract attention. The focus on fur trapping or cosmetic testing was aimed primarily at women for a reason—as this was the customer base and the demographic most likely to be supportive. In doing so a foundation was established to spread further. Undeniably cruel and unnecessary exploitation practices such as cockfighting or bear baiting or crush videos have found wide coalitions against them.

 

From this, further campaigns are launched with even wider aims. It is a slow process but vital, inevitable, since the ability to engage public attention in order to present new ideas (or rather old ideas) and make them stick through repetitive exposure is not easy, especially when those who seek to oppose your efforts are determined to not only maintain the status quo, but expand their profits. Industries have massive advertising advantages which are why big “welfare” organizations are the strongest opposition to them, and the reason so many fifth column vegans are focused on them, not the exploiters.

 

Human social issues are not perfect either. We still have wars, crime, racial and religious intolerance, and exploitation of women, children and every other kind of misery, sporadic in nature if not systemic. If someone indifferent to suffering and injustice can exploit the vulnerable and gain profit from it, you can bet there is a customer somewhere waiting to purchase. Progress towards sanity and peace is always in danger of being disturbed by a trouble maker and those willing to follow behind.

 

But we do not let this reality deter us from the common sense of compassion and justice.

 

The most sincere expression of animal rights is a golden rule philosophy of do unto others and you would have them do unto you. If you were imprisoned when innocent and scheduled for a torturous execution you would welcome anything that relieves your plight—if freedom is not possible then a reduction in the misery of your unjust punishment is better than nothing.

 

No one truly sincere in their caring about other animals would advocate that they be abandoned to their fate if total abolition is not possible today. Nor would they say the more the victim suffers, the stronger the case can be made for their release. If we apply this to human concerns we can see the absurdity and double standard. It would be saying the best way to overthrow a capitalist system is to exploit sweatshops workers as much as possible, or end a war by subjecting civilians to the worst possible weapons.

 

Fifth Column Vegans are well funded, but they have a fatal weakness, which is that they can only carry the performance of a sincere activist so far, since they are bound by their industry-backed goals and a tired, deceitful message that reeks of malicious cruelty and incoherent bigotry. They are like scarecrows in tuxedos, fancy to look at but just as frail as their kin in old shirts and overalls, with the difference being that their stuffing was not gathered from sun-warmed haystacks, but scraped from the floor of the slaughterhouse.

 

 

Notes

 

I must confess that I was once fooled by Fifth Column Vegans to a certain extent, thus my enthusiasm to expose their tricks even though I suspect their impact is too small to seriously affect major advocacy initiatives. Then again, why take the chance? In our previous article on the topic Fifth Column Veganism we were polite in our description of Fifth Column Vegans—suggesting that one might be sincere but misguided. However, after gathering more evidence, we will just assume the worst until news comes that they had a change of heart. This can they do by ceasing to represent the interests of major exploiters of nonhuman animals. The advantage of this stance is instead of legitimatizing their views–we turn the discussion back to exploiters and question why they are agreeing with the worst enemies of animals.

 

Related Articles

https://supremacymyth.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/fifth-column-veganism-nathan-winograd-gary-francione-and-the-philosophy-of-distract-divide-and-demoralize-2/
https://supremacymyth.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/the-trans-atlantic-slave-trade-pro-and-con-parallels-to-animal-rights-activism-4/

Rick Berman (industry lobbyist): “Groups such as PETA and Mercy for Animals are transparent as activist groups focused on ‘animal rights’, he says. HSUS and its true agenda have been harder for the public to recognise. This organization has maintained a front focused on animal welfare and humane care but make no mistake, said Mr Berman, it is in lock step in viewpoint and agenda with the animal rights groups. Statement such as ‘the meat industry equals systematic murder’ are part of its rhetoric.”

“Is this really a group you can negotiate with?” asked Mr Berman. “We’re talking about people who represent a vegan culture, who are basically equating animals with people and advocating an end to eating meat. It’s animal rights and an extreme agenda masquerading as animal welfare.”

Notice here that Gary Francione is advocating what Rick Berman wants–Francione says the focus should be on promoting veganism not welfare, and that is what Rock Berman says would harm animal interests: “If HSUS disclosed its true agenda, it would be out of business, he believes. But by portraying itself as a welfare organisation and manipulating the public consciousness, it has become a gargantuan money machine collecting over $130 million annually to support its true anti-meat agenda.”

Mr Berman said: “Groups like this are constantly looking for ways to make their points seem legitimate and mainstream, to get the support they need to advance their own self-interest and true agenda.”

http://www.thepigsite.com/articles/4220/full-court-press-on-the-activist-agenda

 

Welfare vs Abolition

 

We do not know when a “rift” in animal advocacy appeared, however, an article in the January/February 1992 Animals Agenda gives us a good summary of the positions as presented by Tom Regan and Gary Francione on one side and Ingrid Newkirk on the other. http://arzonetranscripts.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/point_counterpoint-regan_francione_newkirk.pdf

 

A point made by Regan and Francione is revealing:

 

‘“We should add that ARAs who support animal welfare means are playing into the hands of the biomedical establishment’s current strategy of portraying this “temporary” acceptance of animal welfare as proof of the “dishonesty” of the animal rights movement. In a recently published article, Patrick Concannon of Cornell Veterinary School argues that animal rights advocates often support welfare reforms, but “are not bound by any moral requirement to be truthful about their ultimate goals and intentions.” The animal rights movement must be careful to ensure that these untruths do not succeed in creating an impression of a movement that is dishonest in any sense.’ Tom Regan/Gary Francione The Animals Agenda 1992 January/February

 

It is very odd that those who claim sincere support for all animal concerns (indeed a leadership role in such matters) would be so worried about the typical delusional “shoot the messenger” attacks of vivisectors. A vivisection supporter who tries to criticize animal advocates as liars for seeking reforms that a wide sector of the public supports by accusing them of misrepresenting their true intentions is not only foolish but malicious—and not worthy of quoting. It certainly makes a poor argument for why “abolition only” should be adopted.

Vivisectors and other exploiters would be all too happy for animal advocates to divert public discussions away from the matter of why a vivisector is pouring acid into a rabbit’s eyes for the 100th time or why they do not want to provide water and food to their victims which they claim they care so dearly about. This would be a propaganda godsend for them. Anyone who supports compassion, mercy, social decency and justice would be in favor if reducing the suffering and exploitation of innocent beings as much as possible—this is a given—it does not even need mentioning. The only time where it can be valuable to discuss in media is in situations where the advocates for animals are not focusing on a particular issue. As we have said before, whether it is a vivisector, a hunter, a meat industry representative, they always throw in a mention that “crazy” animal activists want to abolish everything. The principles of veganism need not be mentioned, since the opponents of all things vegan are bound to bring it up as a scare tactic and diversion…in addition to fifth column vegans of course.

Also from the same article, Ingrid Newkirk defends the single issue/welfare reform idea by an anecdote about a petition she circulated to vegetarians to oppose a cost-saving attempt by the meat industry to eliminate water to animals awaiting slaughter. The petition to the vegetarians for support was sent back unsigned with the excuse: “We are ethically opposed to the slaughter of animals for food, therefore we cannot get involved.”

 

She writes: “luckily, the water requirement remained in place, but I cannot imagine how those vegetarians with clean hands, who declined to help, could explain their politics to the poor cows, sitting in the dust with parched throats. The issue was not to slaughter or not, it was to water or not. Sometimes philosophy can get in the way of helping animals suffer less during the many years before they achieve the rights we wish for them.”

 

Food Inc.

 

When John Robbins and Howard Lyman enjoyed the media airwaves in the 1990s, they were able to attack animal agriculture in a major way. These were two insiders to the workings of the meat and dairy industry blowing the whistle on it in talk shows and news programs. Lyman’s appearance on Oprah Winfrey caused shockwaves in the stock market for the cattle industry and they unsuccessfully tried to sue.

 

But after Mad Cow disease and the 2000 foot and mouth disease outbreaks, Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan appeared on the scene, causing Robbins and Lyman to fade from attention. Neither Schlosser nor Pollan are Fifth Column Vegans since they do not advocate abstinence from animal agriculture (in fact I have observed them being dismissive of animal concerns). But their focus on food safety and workers’ rights did have some negative reference to factory farms and some animal abuse footage found its way into the documentary Food Inc. Due to the fact that the film had wide release, it appears to have helped encouraged some to take animal concerns seriously and vegetarianism/veganism even if it seeks to promote a short term, band-aid solution of unsustainable small farms and locavore philosophy.

 

Nathan Winograd

 

Here’s an old story on Winograd that once again reaffirms his commitment to the philosophy “who cares if they suffer as long as they aren’t dead.” Winograd has criticized spay and neutering programs but lends support to declawing, a practice considered cruel by those who actually care about animals once they leave a shelter. Here he proves he cares much more about emptying his shelter than being sure the animals are in a home where they are respected and wont end up back in another shelter or abandoned on the street (without claws).

“Shelters should relax their standards when it’s in the animals’ best interest. For example, many shelters won’t adopt cats to families that will declaw them,” said Nathan Winograd, director of the Tompkins County (N.Y.) SPCA. When his shelter found a woman who willing to take two kittens with the feline-leukemia virus, but her husband insisted they be declawed to protect the couple’s new furniture, Winograd agreed. After all, he figured if he could ask the kittens whether they would rather have their fingertips amputated or be dead, they would choose the former. Three years later, the cats are still happy in that home.”

http://lists.envirolink.org/pipermail/ar-news/Week-of-Mon-20031027/009148.html
http://www.examiner.com/article/no-kill-reality-misplaced-blame-nathan-winograd-do-you-believe-a-lie

http://workingtohelpanimalstodaytomorrow.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-tompkins-county-no-kill-miracle.html

Gary Francione

 

Some might ask how I could regard Gary Francione as ideologically committed to helping exploitation industries when he has written books on animal rights. Yes, he has–books that only get read by vegans or would-be vegans. As I have said, industries do not care about veganism–especially the kind that gets promoted in a niche market. They care about things that affect their bottom line right now–like welfare campaigns. You’ll notice he will occasionally mention doing some debate with an opponent of animal rights, but it is usually some obscure professor on topics like “do plants feel pain?” He does not seek to promote animal concerns to the wider public. Not like the groups he attacks. Exploiters? He is polite and defends them. Don’t take my word for it–watch him in action. Gary Francione is asked about a cat abuse case where he completely wastes the opportunity to discuss animal concerns in order to reinforce it and educate the public:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyiSsEzyWWQ

 

He agrees with the host that a cat is not a person (on his facebook page he has corrected people for saying “it” instead of he or she when referring to nonhuman animals), he mentions “racism” and we need no crystal ball to know who he was going to accuse of that. He lends support to the host’s foolish idea that a stray cat gets more attention from the law than humans would—as anyone but an idiot knows, unless the human was a baby, the force of the kick by the assailant would be negligible in harm. This is the type of idea you would expect from a backwoods cockfighter or bear baiter, not a university law professor who claims to be an expert supporter of animals (I mean nonhuman animals).

 

He does mention meat and dairy—but only in passing, and only to reinforce the idea that “animal people” upset about the cat have bigger problems. He could have talked about the pet industry or breeders but why do that when it would promote animal concerns not attack advocates? He has criticized Mercy for Animals: “The word “vegan” appears nowhere in the press release.” And yet in the CNN interview he does not mention it either.

 

Recently Chris Hedges, a Left-leaning journalist announced that he had become vegan. Good news as it means he can spread veganism to a greater segment of the “progressive” community. The bad new is he interviewed Francione.

“This is not, however, an issue about whether animals are tortured,” he went on. “The big issue now is factory farming. Do I think factory farming is bad? Well, yes, but so what? Family farms are bad as well. There is a lot of violence that happens on family farms. Consider two slaveholders—one who beats his slaves 25 times a week and the other who beats his slaves once a week. Is Slaveholder Two better? The answer is yes, but it does not address the morality of slavery.”

 

Note that Francione does not point out that factory farms make up 99% of meat dairy production or that the Free Produce Movement type of boycott he advocates was unsuccessful in abolishing slavery.

 

Francione excoriates organic family farms that raise free-range chickens and grass-fed cattle. “The idea that loving something is consistent with killing it is not dissimilar from the man who says ‘I love my wife but I beat her a lot,’ ” he said. “I am not interested in discussions about the cruelty of factory farming. It does not matter. It is not a question of whether you go into the woods, buy a small farm and the animals come into the house at night so you can all play cards. The entire institution of animal exploitation is wrong.”

 

Francione conflates current attitudes on wife beating with current attitudes on animal agriculture. As he knows, you can buy the products of the meat industry on any corner. By contrast, you cannot buy an item advertised for beating your wife.

 

“Most animal rights activists argue that ‘using them is not the problem, the problem is how we treat them.’ My view is that using them is the problem. It does not matter how well we treat them. Obviously, it is worse to impose more suffering than less suffering, but that does not mean it is all right to use them in a ‘humane’ way. If someone sneaks into your room while you are sleeping and blows your brains out and you do not feel a thing, you are still harmed. You may not have suffered. But you have been harmed.”

All of the large animal charities, such as PETA and HSUS, are businesses,” he said. “They want to maximize their donor base so they try and let everyone stay in their comfort zone. They don’t take the position that veganism is the only rationally and morally acceptable response to the recognition that animals have moral significance. They promote reform and not abolition.”

Gary Francione seeks to distract/divide/demoralize newbie vegans with his message that most animal rights activists support the use of animals not their abolition. As we have said before, he downplays the role of industrial exploiters and attacks anyone who shows any expressed interest in animal concerns. Also, his use of “animal rights activists” is deceptive, since an organization like HSUS is usually considered an animal rights organization by its strongest enemies—those who resist all welfare reforms.
“This comes as no surprise. Ever since 2005, Mercy for Animals, along with Peter Singer and the other large animal welfare groups, have explicitly and publicly embraced “happy exploitation.”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/all_forms_of_life_are_sacred_20150104

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/betrayal-animals/#.VLwNgHurvMA

Francione’s tactics regarded favorably by a Meat Industry writer: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/news/meat-matter-great-debate

http://www.believermag.com/issues/201102/?read=interview_francione

Tom Regan

 

I went vegan in the late 1980s but read very little of Singer and perhaps nothing of Regan. I did not hear mention of either outside of philosophy books and my introduction to animal concerns was Faces of Death and Star Trek. I did not even know about the horrors of factory farms until an X-Files episode which described feeding the corpses of chickens to chickens–I naively assumed this was science fiction. I went vegan due to small farms and reinforced/encouraged by quotes by Tolstoy and others.

So reading more deeply into Tom Regan’s beliefs, he expresses a view somewhat similar to Francione but without the attacks on activists or defenses of exploiters (from what we have observed).

http://human-nonhuman.blogspot.ca/2011/05/arzones-tom-regan-week-part-four.html

UPDATE: Alas, in reading more on Tom Regan some very large billowy red flags come up. In the link below he gives a long winded interview which he was given days to respond to. He makes a few statements which are seriously problematic. First, while claiming that he supported ALF activities in the 1980s, he now says that ARAs became violent–like Francione, he characterizes property damage as violence. He also says he prefers “open rescues.” Frederic Douglas, the anti-slavery activist of the 19th century, considered open rescues to be more beneficial to the slave owner than slaves–and for animal advocates, would mean putting not only the activist at risk from the law or vindictive animal exploiters, but risks the rescued animal as well. Open rescues benefit the exploiter.  Also, in a 2001 interview in Vegan Voice quoted by a question poser, he endorsed incremental reforms. “ARM activists can be both radical and realistic. On the radical side, we work for empty, not merely larger, cages. On the realistic side, we know that the cages will not be empty tomorrow. The wall of oppression has to be taken apart one brick at a time. We are not going to have every right of every animal respected in one fell swoop; but we can have some rights of some animals respected in an incremental basis. For example, we can pass legislation that prohibits debeaking or face branding of cattle, legislation designed to respect an animal’s right to bodily integrity within a system of exploitation even while we cannot thereby end that system of exploitation. Changes like these (incremental rights respecting changes) are the kind of change I support, the kind I think anyone committed to animal rights should support.”

But in the 2011 interview he says: “I don’t think ARAs should be working for improved welfare for the prisoners exploited by the animal industrial complex. To make such improvements will only make their exploitation more socially acceptable and, as a result, perpetuate the very evils we oppose. To my way of thinking, as I wrote twenty-five years ago, “to reform absolute injustice is to prolong injustice.”   http://arzone.ning.com/profiles/blogs/professor-tom-regan#sthash.B6jvNl2B.dpuf

HumaneMyth.org

A website operated by filmmakers behind the documentary Peaceable Kingdom and its sequel which, unlike Food Inc., did not enjoy wide circulation (beyond vegans that is). A very strong Fifth Column Veganism vibe emanates from it. The website misrepresents the history of slavery to completely ignore welfare reforms and the Free Produce Movement. Like Francione they advocate “go vegan or nothing” and animal adoptions, as well as support for No Kill shelters.

They put forth the view that the greatest threat to animals is Whole Foods, using its “humane labeling” as a deception to fool activists and the public. No mention of the 99% factory farms. As of this writing the website is infrequently updated and its “grassroots” facebook page is hardly updated.

 

http://www.humanemyth.org/invasion.htm

From a Humane Myth page on Whole Foods’ strategy to trick activists we find a useful theory:

You never know when a PR agency is being effective; you’ll just find your views slowly shifting.–PR Executive

Humane Myth claims the goal of Whole Foods is to:

1) Isolate the radicals

2) “Cultivate” the idealists and “educate” them into becoming “realists”

3) Co-opt the opportunists into agreeing with industry.

The opportunists they refer to are the big charities like HSUS.

Fifth Column Vegans like Humane Myth are actually doing this:

Isolate the realists (HSUS, PETA)

Cultivate the idealists (vegans and others who care about animal suffering) and educate them into becoming radicals (abolitionist or nothing vegans)

Co-opt the radicals into agreeing with industry.

: http://www.humanemyth.org/mediabase/1014.htm

http://www.humanemyth.org/actions/1395.htm

 

DxE Direct Action Everywhere aka “It’s not violence, it’s profit.”

 

DxE is the newest fifth column vegan project in town. Like another group TAVS, it claims to have been inspired by Gary Francione but are now estranged from their surrogate father for personal/ideological reasons. And yet their message is virtually identical to Francione’s.

  1. veganism; 2. non-violence; 3. intersectionality

 

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/some-thoughts-on-the-abolitionist-approach/#.U7MIr7GYzMA

 

Francione: 2. Those who reject speciesism are committed to rejecting racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of discrimination as well.

Explanation: Some animal advocates maintain that the “animal movement” does not take a position on other forms of discrimination. That is not correct. Those of us who want justice for nonhumans are necessarily committed to justice for humans and for an end to human discrimination as well as discrimination against nonhumans. The animal movement should not, for example, be perpetuating sexism as a means to the end of animal rights. Sexism involves the commodification of women. Commodification is the problem, and not the solution.

Exploitation is not the problem, the activists are the problem.

DxE’s Wayne Hsiung reminds me of Nathan Winograd in that they both use detailed anecdotes about animal suffering before they launch into their attacks on advocates.

Hsiung employs “animal people are racist” claims, and like HumaneMyth, focuses on the evil of Whole Foods and Chipotle. Here’s a good example:

http://directactioneverywhere.com/theliberationist/2014/11/4/is-there-a-place-in-animal-rights-for-a-kid-from-china-part-iii-the-path-forward

 

Wayne Hsiung uses the phrase “performing whiteness” to suggest that animal rights activism is a project of white colonialism. This betrays his claim of being an animal rights activist. He is attempting to change the conversation and accomplish the three Ds of a fifth column vegan: distract, divide, and demoralize.

 

“The Japanese activist Tetsuhiko Endo writes that “the international whaling industry makes no more than $31 million a year while major anti-whaling NGOs spend around $25 million. What have whales gotten out of all this anti-whaling money? Hunting rates that are twice as high as they were in 1990…The Nonhuman Animal rights movement was founded as a project of white supremacy.”

 

The above quote essentially says:

“Single issue campaigns only serve as fundraisers for big charities—they don’t care about animals—just making money”

Protests (aka single issue campaigns), ballot initiatives, and legislative changes by activists are useless, and will only increase not decrease animal exploitation”

 

More Hsiung:

 

“A recent pro-vivisection rally in Southern California had far more diversity than the typical animal rights protest.”

 

“And the largest corporations in the world trumpet their diversity efforts, e.g. Coca Cola, McDonald’s, and Exxon. Corporations such as Exxon take racial diversity and cultural awareness more seriously than the animal rights movement.”

 

In other words:

 

“Animal rights activists are racist—they hate people”

 

Hsiung: “But when I made what I thought was a relatively uncontroversial statement – that all Chinese people in this country have had the experience of walking into a white room and feeling immediately undermined and excluded – I was met with a shockingly hostile response.”

 

Of course he got a hostile response. He claimed to speak for all Chinese people, and saying this in the company of animal advocates essentially changed the conversation from the victims and implied that they were all racist. Their “hostile reaction” punctuates the notion that they are racially intolerant.

 

Here is another example of Hsiung seeking to distract, divined, and demoralize: “Yet the video ignores the fact that, as a product of PETA-Asia, Chinese activists almost certainly played a role in this investigation. Or the fact that recent grassroots mobilizations have inspired countless Chinese to travel great distances to block trucks delivering dogs to meat factories — at great personal risk in a nation where civil disobedience is often met with violent oppression. The movement has saved thousands of dogs from slaughter through these courageous acts of nonviolent direct action. When did we last see any similar action taken in the United States for the millions of dogs killed in experiments or “shelters” including, distressingly, many thousands killed by PETA itself? Those Chinese, it seems, could attack “barbaric Americans” (and “barbaric animal activists”) for their heartlessness, cruelty, and cowardice toward dogs.”

http://directactioneverywhere.com/theliberationist/2014/12/18/oixwepwfrdnipslfyvjfr8tfpz4ppt

 

Translation: PETA is racist or encouraging racism for not directly highlighting the contribution of Chinese activists. Instead of applauding a campaign to help animals in systemic exploitation he uses diversions to slam it and demoralize supporters. He applauds Chinese activism but for the purpose of attacking animal activists and PETA, ignoring differences in culture and law and circumstances—as the street actions against the dog meat trade in China was partly motivated by meat industry workers seizing dogs from people’s homes.

He asks why animal rights activists haven’t taken similar action against vivisection (or in a nod to fellow Fifth Column Vegan Nathan Winograd) PETA’s shelter killing in the US.

Likely we would see a similar reaction in the West if vivisectors were grabbing dogs and cats from residences also.

Thus he does what a fifth column vegan always does—instead of showing support for an effort to help animals, he distracts, divides, and demoralizes, just as any supporter of a dog meat business or vivisection would do.
Note here that he says: “So why did I — as someone who has spent the better part of 15 years fighting for the animals we use for food often at the very places where they are being held captive or killed — find myself shaking my head, laughing,.. while reading the piece?”
http://directactioneverywhere.com/theliberationist/2015/1/21/zu8ymmlgftswsx2rwsvlwmynyzk5c3

And yet, another Wayne, Wayne Pacelle, reporting on the same story, did not find it amusing at all: http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2015/01/us-meat-animal-research-center.html

And also notice that Pacelle discusses many vegan issues besides the research lab. Hsiung mentions them as an exploiter rep would, i.e. what about the billions of animals killed? Pacelle, on the other hand, understands that this NYT article is immensely valuable in shedding light on a torture facility that has been ignored for decades:
“Indeed, factory farms every day inflict cruelties on animals about as shocking as the cruelties inflicted on the animals at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, and they don’t want to have to modify their production methods one bit or give the animals even a few inches of extra space or a quick death.”
Pacelle attacks exploiters. Hsiung attacks activists and journalism that supports that effort against industry.
http://directactioneverywhere.com/theliberationist/2014/12/19/why-race-matters-even-to-animal-rights-activists

 
Why is DxE focusing on Whole Foods and Chipotles? They give reasons here which are remarkably similar to those outlined by Humane Myth. Whole Foods is the greatest threat to animals (even though they represent, at best 1% of the industry–the other 99% is factory farming).
 
http://directactioneverywhere.com/theliberationist/2014/12/2/why-whole-foods
 
Wayne Hsiung: “We have to empower critical voices with less bias and more knowledge, such as James McWilliams.”

James McWilliams

 

A professor/journalist/author with access to the major media, he advocates for veganism (ethical diet mainly), but will intersperse articles that attack the environmental or ethical worth of animal agriculture with deliberations on whether vegans should support insect farming. He primarily targets small farms. He talks eloquently enough about animal concerns, the morality and the ecological destruction of eating meat, but the focus is away from industrial farms much of the time.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/opinion/meat-makes-the-planet-thirsty.html

 

But with rare exception, those in the big, lumpy tent have thrown down a red carpet for “ethical butchers” while generally dismissing animal rights advocates as smug ascetics (which they can be) and crazed activists (ditto) who are driven more by sappy sentiment than rock-ribbed reason. It’s an easy move to make. But the problem with this dismissal—and the overall refusal to address the ethics of killing animals for food—is that it potentially anchors the Food Movement’s admirable goals in the shifting sands of an unresolved hypocrisy. Let’s call it the “omnivore’s contradiction.”

 

Conscientious carnivores will argue that we can justify eating animals because humans evolved to do so (the shape of our teeth proves it); that if we did not eat happy farm animals, they’d never have been born to become happy in the first place; that all is fine if an animal lives well and is “killed with respect”; that we need to recycle animals through the agricultural system to keep the soil healthy; that animals eat animals; and that in nature, it’s the survival of species and not of individuals that matters most. These arguments create room for a productive conversation.
 

The first is that the economics of nonindustrial animal agriculture doesn’t work. Consolidation pays. Pasture-based systems are a costly alternative to factory farming and will by necessity appeal primarily to Bittman’s “privileged” consumers rather than have broad appeal to the carnivorous masses. In perhaps the most important and overlooked book published on animal agriculture in a generation, Jayson Lusk and F. Bailey Norwood’s Compassion, by the Pound, the authors—agricultural economists—document the hard economic reality of humane farming. They show beyond a doubt that Plato’s pig requires the riches of Croesus and a horde of foodies willing to pay a mint for meat. Of course, many carnivores will happily do that. Niche support for humane meat, however, will do very little to challenge the overall allure of cheap protein churned out by agribusiness. Most consumers will always rally around the lowest price. If there is no stigma against eating animals, the cheapest options will prevail. And so will agribusiness. Simply put: you can’t beat the devil at his own game.

 

The second unrecognized reality is that although nonindustrial animal agriculture might appear to be substantially more humane than industrialized agriculture, small farms are only nominally more accommodating of farm animals’ full interests. My research for a book looking into the downside of small-scale animal agriculture has revealed that problems reminiscent of factory farms readily plague many of their smaller counterparts, too. Owning animals for the purposes of slaughter and consumption means that ethical corners will be cut to enhance the bottom line. As competition for privileged consumers increases, this corner cutting can only be expected to intensify.

 

A short list of routine and sometimes unavoidable problems prevalent on nonindustrial animal farms, all noted by farmers themselves, includes the following: excessive rates of pastured animals being killed by wild and domestic animals, mutilation of pig snouts to prevent detrimental rooting, castration without anesthesia, botched slaughters, preventive (and illicit) antibiotic use, outbreaks of salmonella and trichinosis, acute pasture damage, overuse of pesticides and animal vaccines, and routine separation of mothers and calves. Animals granted a little more space, in other words, still suffer the negative consequences of being owned for exploitation. Given that they are destined to be commodities, not companions, this should not come as a surprise. Hence the ultimate cost of failing to address the omnivore’s contradiction: the ongoing suffering of the animals that farmers and foodies say they care so much about.
Necessarily complementing this shift would be a gradual but sharp reduction in the practice of raising animals for the purposes of killing them for food, with smaller, more humane farms serving as a necessary but temporary phase in the larger mission of ending animal agriculture altogether.

http://theamericanscholar.org/loving-animals-to-death/#.UydONPldUoS

 

In this article he discusses the “hardcore vegans” Gary Francione and abolitionist attacks on HSUS, while he appears to take the stand that both sides should come together, I feel it is slanted more in the favor of Fifth Column Vegans, since he includes Friends of Animals (an organization Francione has spoken favorably of and which is not on the hit list of Center for Consumer Freedom) while not getting HSUS to present their side. Remember that note we made about Humane Myth and the tricks of industry: “Isolate the realists.”

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2012/09/hsus_vs_abolitionists_vs_the_meat_industry_why_the_infighting_should_stop_.single.html

 

http://grist.org/article/food-2010-12-08-james-mcwilliams-meat-industry-defender-and-aggrieved-vegan/

 

Paul Watson

 

No, we aren’t accusing him of being a fifth column vegan—but we wanted to highlight an interview he did which was used by fifth column vegans to attack him and animal advocacy in general. Watson is media savvy; he knows what he needs to say and how to keep the discussion on topic. When asked the “what about pigs?” question he skillfully turns it into an attack on the whalers, keeping on message that does not denunciate veganism at all, but maintains focus on whaling. If it seems like he is dismissing the plight of pigs and chickens, this may indicate how much the influence of fifth column vegans has altered one’s thinking—so often has the veganism and abolition message been repeated by industry agents, it is hard not to be affected and assume a negative is present when one doesn’t exist (demoralizing success).

 

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/sea_shepherds_paul_watson

 

My editor wanted me to ask you: Why is killing a whale worse than killing a pig, for example, when a pig is intelligent, too?

 

I get this question from the Japanese a lot, and I find it offensive. How can anybody compare the killing of a pig to the killing of a whale? First of all, our ships are vegan. Forty percent of the fish caught from the oceans is fed to livestock – pigs and chickens are becoming major aquatic predators. The livestock industry is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions ever. The eating of meat is an ecological disaster.

 

Are you a vegetarian or vegan?

 

Yes, a vegan, but we’re promoting veganism not for animal-rights reasons but for environmental conservation reasons.

 

You cannot compare the killing of animals in a domestic slaughterhouse to the killing of a whale. What goes on with those whales – or dolphins, say, in Taiji – would never be tolerated in a slaughterhouse. Those slaughterhouses would be shut down. It takes from 10 to 45 minutes to kill a whale and they die in horrific agony. That would be completely intolerable and illegal in any slaughterhouse in the world.

 

Also they’re an endangered and protected species – pigs and cows are not. They’re part of an ecosystem, which pigs and cows are not. It always bothers me that that comparison is brought up. And especially when it’s brought up by the Japanese, who eat more pigs, cows, and chickens than all people of Australia and New Zealand combined. Only one percent of the Japanese people eat whales; for the most part they eat cows and pigs and chickens. It’s a ridiculous analogy.

 

Do you see any situation where it’s okay to hunt a whale, say Indigenous people who have for centuries been living off whale meat and blubber?

You know, everything has changed because we have a population of seven billion people on the planet right now, and the oceans are dying. The oceans have been so severely diminished that there’s a good chance we could kill them. And if the oceans die, we die. In light of that prospect I find it very difficult to be sympathetic to any cultural needs in order to destroy endangered species. Yeah, sure, it isn’t the Inuit’s fault that the whales have been diminished, but they can finish the job. When you get right down to it, it’s all about human beings. I don’t divide them into groups – the human species has been an extremely destructive species and has the potential to destroy the life support system for humanity. So this traditional stuff really gets to me – anything that involves killing an endangered species or destroying a habitat, if that involves tradition, I say ecology comes before tradition. I’d rather be ecologically correct than politically correct.

 

 

Watson recently commented on the internal fighting among vegans. He ignores the issue of industry agitators, but provides common sense observations:

Veggie Jesuits and Competitive Purism

‘I get the same thing with people saying in response to our campaigns to protect dolphins, “well what about cows.” They can’t seem to grasp the definition of “Sea Shepherd.” We are not the pasture shepherds or the barn shepherds. Yes the plight of cows and pigs is important and we do not eat them, but to undermine a campaign for one species by demanding that the campaign be abandoned in exchange for another is just ridiculous. It would be like me going up to a crowd of activists trying to stop bull fighting and saying, “hey what about the dolphins?”’

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Pro and Con: Parallels to Animal Rights Activism

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Pro and Con: Parallels to Animal Rights Activism

      Lo then, in yonder fragrant isle
    Where Nature ever seems to smile,
    The cheerful gang!–the negroes see
    Perform the task of industry:
    Ev’n at their labour hear them sing,                              

    While time flies quick on downy wing;
    Finish’d the bus’ness of the day,
    No human beings are more gay:
    Of food, clothes, cleanly lodging sure,
    Each has his property secure;                                     

    Their wives and children are protected,
    In sickness they are not neglected;
    And when old age brings a release,
    Their grateful days they end in peace.

    But should our Wrongheads have their will,                      
    Should Parliament approve their bill,
    Pernicious as th’ effect would be,
    T’ abolish negro slavery,
    Such partial freedom would be vain,
    Since Love’s strong empire must remain.

NO ABOLITION OF SLAVERY: OR, THE UNIVERSAL EMPIRE OF LOVE. 1791, James Boswell

 

Making comparisons between nonhuman suffering and human suffering can greatly upset people who hold dearly to the Supremacy Myth aka Human Supremacy aka Human Exceptionalism, Chosen Species fable, etc. It is one thing to say an oppressed group of humans were being treated “like animals,” since the former is meant to benefit by the relationship drawn, but if the beneficiary is supposed to be a nonhuman being, then arrogance, intolerance, and ignorance can fuel a hostile reaction, clouding their sense of compassion and justice.

 

They will consider comparisons between human and nonhuman suffering to be offensive, and might go so far as to utter the unwise claim that regarding humans and nonhumans equal in moral value is what led to slavery in the first place.

 

This view romanticizes humanity’s past in an incredibly naïve fashion, suggesting that an ancient universal concept of human rights has always existed (despite all the wars in history to prove otherwise), and grossly slanders the rest of Nature and non-humanity, for it implies that extreme abuse and cruelty has always been the lot of nonhuman beings–and that there is nothing wrong with it—as long as humans don’t experience the same. In truth, most of what we mean when we say “treated like an animal” refers to things that nonhumans could not experience without human intervention—being caged for life, castrated, branded, starved to death, blinded, worked to death—in wild Nature such scenarios would either be impossible (how could a fox get trapped in such a way that he chews his own leg off?) or extremely rare.

 

It also means that equality is a bad thing, and that a group regarding itself as more important, deserving of special rights and double standard morality, is a good thing.

 

Actually, it is this belief in the importance of a special VIP group that led to slavery and the defenses of it, not a belief in equality and justice for all.

 

Those that supported human slavery believed their group (as they defined it) was superior in value, deserving of more rights, and a different standard of justice than those who were enslaved. This is how oppression operates. The victimizer is better than the victim.

 

It has nothing to do with regarding the victim as nonhuman animals—all that is required is that the victim be vulnerable. Nonhuman animals are at the forefront of this vulnerability but humans have always been alongside—other tribes, women, children, disabled etc. Slave masters knew perfectly well slaves were human (as the poem quoted in the opening verifies: “no human beings are more gay”), but this wasn’t seen as important as being a white Christian male, or more to the point, making money off the misery of others.

 

One of the most articulate supporters of slavery was the writer James Boswell:

 

“The wild and dangerous attempt which has for some time been persisted in order to obtain an act of our legislature, to abolish so very important and necessary branch of commercial interest, must have been crus(h)ed at once, had not the insignificance of the zealots who vainly took the lead in it, made the vast body of Planters, Merchants, and others, whose immense properties are involved in that trade, reasonably enough suppose that there could be no danger. The encouragement which the attempt has received excites my wonder and indignation; and though some men of superior abilities have supported it, whether from a love of temporary popularity, when prosperous; or a love of general mischief, when desperate, my opinion is unshaken. To abolish a status which in all ages GOD has sanctioned, and man has continued, would not only be robbery to an innumerable class of our fellow-subjects; but it would be extreme cruelty to the African Savages, a portion of whom it saves from massacre, or intolerable bondage in their own country, and introduces into a much happier state of life; especially now when their passage to the West Indies and their treatment there is humanely regulated. To abolish that trade would be to shut the gates of mercy on mankind.” Boswell, J., Life of Johnson (N.Y.: Modern Library Edition, 1965) p. 365.

 

An animal rights activist will notice many familiar arguments. That the exploitation is important and economically necessary, that the critics are motivated by recklessness or selfishness. And that the victims were better treated by their tormentors than among each other in their own habitat—which is similar to arguments made to defend nonhuman exploitation such as meat eating, hunting and zoos. There’s even a nod to the idea that any reform of exploitation will make it more appealing (humane regulation). At the same time, nowhere is Boswell suggesting that the Africans are not human.

 

In the afterward to his poem No Abolition of Slavery, he writes:

 

“That the Africans are in a state of savage wretchedness, appears from
the most authentic accounts. Such being the fact, an abolition of the
slave trade would in truth be precluding them from the first step towards progressive civilization, and consequently of happiness, which it is proved by the most respectable evidence they enjoy in a great degree in our West-India islands, though under well-regulated restraint.”

 

Happy slavery. Once more it should be noted that he is not regarding them as nonhuman—indeed, he sees slavery as a stepping stone to them achieving “civilization.”

 

He adds:

 

“That the evils of the Slave Trade should, like the evils incident to
other departments of civil subordination, be humanely remedied as much as may be, every good man is convinced; and accordingly we find that great advances have been gradually made in that respect, as may be seen in various publications, particularly the evidence taken before the Privy-Council. It must be admitted, that in the course of the present imprudent and dangerous attempt to bring about a total abolition, one essential advantage has been obtained, namely, a better mode of carrying the slaves from Africa to the West-Indies; but surely this might have been had in a less violent manner.”

 

There should be a strong sense of déjà vu for animal rights activists–he is saying that efforts to end slavery had actually made it more profitable, and there is reference to violence, just as supporters or vivisection or any other atrocity will refer to its critics as violent extremists and terrorists.

 

Reform Fuels Exploitation

 

It has been fashionable to argue that efforts to reform exploitation such as hard won legislation that regulates rather than abolishes a farm industry practice will only help the same industry to be crueler. But this was also observed with slavery. The slave traders exploited legislation any way they could:

 

“One of the most chilling of all the appalling documents is ‘The Plan of the Brookes’, a notorious eighteenth-century scheme for stacking slaves into the slave-ship ‘Brookes’…By a precise mathematical calculation, the technology of horror is laid out – feet and inches, standing room and breathing space assigned with lethal concern for maximum profit. A Mr. Jones recommends that ‘five females be reckoned as four males, and three boys or girls as equal to two grown persons. ..every man slave is to he allowed six feet by one foot four inches for room, every woman five feet ten by one foot four…’, and so it continues until every scrap of flesh is accommodated – 451 in number. But an Act of Parliament allows for 454. So the document concludes that, ‘if three more could be wedged among the number represented in the plan, this plan would contain precisely the number which the act directs.’” Newsweek (March 15, 1965) p. 106.

 

It is difficult to see how the anti-slavery movement could have prevented such things from happening. Changing society and fighting big industry was not simple, fast, or easy. We should not expect it to be different for nonhuman exploitation. The meat and dairy industry is just as ruthless as the slave industry was in fighting reforms and maximizing their profits. Even the publication of the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was in part a reaction to the Compromise of 1850 (a Congressional package of bills that included pro-slavery concessions such as the Fugitive Slave Act) did itself spark a series of pro-slavery novels. As animal activists know, pro-animal exploitation propaganda is just as common today.

 

Free Produce Movement

 

Veganism and vegetarianism have long been tied to the view that one should seek to reduce exploitation and one’s personal involvement is central to that—but this was not viewed as a boycott strategy, nor did it condemn other forms of animal advocacy. “Abolitionist” Gary Francione is most well-known in the view that not only is veganism as he defines it a prerequisite for being an animal advocate, but that all other reform efforts are useless or counter productive (especially legislative efforts to reform industry). Francione does not appear to speak about the Free Produce Movement although there are connections to veganism:

 

“The first abstainer on record…was Benjamin Lay. Born at Colchester, England, in 1677, Lay went to Barbados in 1718 and there saw slavery at first hand. When he arrived at Philadelphia in 1731, he was already outspoken in his views on the subject. As he advanced in years, his eccentricity became notorious. He consistently refused to eat any food produced by slave labor, nor, in the houses of his friends, would he accept anything served by slaves. His clothing was made of tow which he spun himself, while his other peculiarities included vegetarianism, residence in a cave-like dwelling, and prolonged fasts.” THE FREE PRODUCE MOVEMENT A Quaker Protest Against Slavery by RUTH KETRING NUERMBERGER, Ph.D. DUKE UNIVERSITY- PRESS 1942

The Quakers led the Free Produce Movement initiative, seeing it as a way to protest the slave trade without use of violence.

 

Prominent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who had almost been hanged for his anti-slavery activities and later championed women’s rights, was at first supportive of the Free Produce Movement:

 

“. . . Slavery is a system of robbery, practised upon millions of our
fellow beings— . . . The assertions which have been made are true-
that the consumers of the productions of slave labor contribute to a
fund for supporting slavery with all its abominations— that they are
the Alpha and the Omega of the business — that the slave-dealer, the
slave-holder, and the slave-driver, are virtually the agents of the
consumer, for by holding out the temptation, he is the original cause,
the first mover in the horrid process — that we are called upon to
refuse those articles of luxury, which are obtained at an absolute
and lavish waste of the blood of our fellow men — . . .

… I say, then, that entire abstinence from the products of
slavery is the duty of every individual. In no other way can our
example or influence be exerted so beneficially. How many are there
in the free states, who will gladly give a preference for those articles which are not tainted with oppression, even though at first they come a trifle higher than slave products? Let us open a market for free goods, and encourage conscientious planters to cultivate their lands by free labor. . . . Orice(?) bring free into competition with slave labor, and the present system of bondage will be speedily over-
thrown.”

 

But then:

 

“Soon, however, Garrison turned his attention more and more to advocating immediate emancipation and denouncing colonization. It is difficult to establish just when he turned wholly away from the
free labor principle as a means to advance the abolition of slavery. Certain it is, however, that his reversal had been accomplished by 1847, when he said that abstinence was a waste of time when strong and vital issues were at stake. He further asked, who but the abolitionist was so well entitled to use products of the slave’s toil in whose behalf he was laboring? In later years the free labor idea was viewed even with ridicule, when Wendell Phillips Garrison wrote, “The Abolitionists proper, we repeat, although always stigmatized as impracticable, never mounted this hobby as if the battle-horse of victory.” THE FREE PRODUCE MOVEMENT A Quaker Protest Against Slavery by RUTH KETRING NUERMBERGER, Ph.D. DUKE UNIVERSITY- PRESS 1942

 

 

Slavery and God

 

It is a common assumption that Christianity was synonymous with human rights and an anti-slavery position, but if you read the Bible itself and look into the history, you will discover that slavery is not condemned in either the Old or New Testament. There is even instruction on how to properly beat a slave to death:  Exodus 21:20-21 “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money [property].”

 

Cardinal John Henry Newman: “slavery is “a condition of life ordained by God in the same sense that other conditions of life are.”

 

In the 1860s Rabbi M.J. Raphall, while not a slaveholder himself, spoke on the issue of slavery and the Bible, indicating that the 10th commandment puts slaves “under the same protection as any other species of lawful property…That the Ten Commandments are the word of G-d, and as such, of the very highest authority, is acknowledged by Christians as well as by Jews…How dare you, in the face of the sanction and protection afforded to slave property in the Ten Commandments–how dare you denounce slaveholding as a sin? When you remember that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job–the men with whom the Almighty conversed, with whose names he emphatically connects his own most holy name, and to whom He vouchsafed to give the character of ‘perfect, upright, fearing G-d and eschewing evil’ (Job 1:8)–that all these men were slaveholders, does it not strike you that you are guilty of something very little short of blasphemy?”

 

“Receiving slavery as one of the conditions of society, the New Testament nowhere interferes with or contradicts the slave code of Moses; it even preserves a letter [to Philemon] written by one of the most eminent Christian teachers [St. Paul] to a slave owner on sending back to him his runaway slave.” Rabbi M.J. Raphall, “The Bible View of Slavery,” delivered in New York City, 1861.

 

Furthermore, those early church representatives who were hostile to vegetarianism such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, were similarly hostile to an anti-slavery position. In 340 the Synod of Gangra in Armenia condemned followers of Manichaeism for practices that included not eating meat and urging slaves to liberate themselves.

 

Comparisons and Inconsistencies

 

Early slavery abolitionists made comparisons to how sailors were formerly abused in the British Royal Navy in order to make their point about the treatment of African slaves brought over by ships, just as we see with animal rights activism making comparisons to the slave trade. They used an established and accepted reform in order to communicate the present issue where reform is sought. Perhaps the relatives of Caucasian sailors were offended that their suffering was being exploited to serve the abolitionist cause, just as we see with those generations removed from slavery or Nazi Germany who get outraged that activists are drawing comparisons for the sake of social justice and truth.

 

There was also inconsistency just as we see with animal rights activism. Rodrigo de Albornoz and Bartolomé de las Casas opposed the enslaving of North American tribes, but advocated the use of African slaves in their place.

Rodrigo de Albornoz denounced the enslavement of the indigenous thus: “It causes havoc in the land, and the people who may be converted [to Christianity] will be lost if it is not remedied soon… It is a great matter of conscience.”

Albornoz did not feel the same about his license to import 150 black slaves.

 

Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were slaveholders but endorsed anti-slavery views. Abraham Lincoln rejected the “extreme” position of the abolitionists, while he, along with Stephen Douglas, John C. Fremont, and Ulysses Grant married into slave owning families.

 

Anti-slavery efforts led to the rise of pro-slavery defenders called the Fire Eaters. Just as we see speakers who defend the meat industry, hunting, and other exploitation attempting various rhetorical tricks to elude the truth.

 

Here is an example by “Fire Eater” William Lowndes Yancy:

 

“You (the Northern anti-slavers) are allowed to whip your children; we are allowed to whip our Negroes. There is no cruelty in the practice. … Our Negroes are but children. … The Negro that will not work is made to work. Society tolerates no drones.”

 

The equivalent in animal rights to Yancy’s argument might be someone defending vivisection or hunting by highlighting the critic’s meat eating.

 

The 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery, which is considered the first document in North America to criticize slavery, referred to the Golden Rule and also the negative effects slave revolts would have on immigration to America (and therefore business). It wasn’t merely a selfless moral appeal (the writers of the document did not have slaves or need of them in their work), but one of self-interest (encouraging emigration to the colonies which slave revolts would hamper). It took decades for other Quakers to support an anti-slavery effort.

 

Abolitionist vs Welfarist

 

Abolitionists like Gary Francione dismiss “welfare” campaigns, and say that only a total abolition of animal products by individual advocates will lead to the end of nonhuman exploitation. Legislative changes, single issue campaigns, incremental steps, and other attacks on systemic industry are considered counter productive or designed by industry to deceive activists and the public. However, unlike a number of their anti-slavery counterparts they strongly oppose violence—which for them also includes language they consider aggressive or hateful.

 

They would have you believe that anti-slavery groups were united—and that their namesake—abolitionists– led the efforts to end slavery. In reality, anti-slavery groups were far from unified in belief or tactics, and much of it was very much a welfare-guided campaign just as we see with animal rights activism. Slow, single issue, and incremental. We already highlighted Boswell’s remark that efforts to end slavery (or merely reform it) led to it being more economically efficient.

 

Abolitionists like John Brown advocated violence—not just harsh words, but killing slavery supporters and creating armed rebellion in order to end it.

 

Then there were the Tappan brothers, targets of the Anti-Abolitionist Riots of 1834 that saw their property attacked by a white mob. They opposed the American Anti-Slavery Society’s support for women’s suffrage and feminism or suggestions that class had any role in promoting slavery, but they defended the slaves who revolted on the Amistad (killing sailors and slavers alike).

 

Animal rights advocates have been accused of being privileged and elitist—the same accusation was made of anti-slavery activists.

 

And the standard attack that animal rights advocates are hypocrites for being against exploitation when they themselves have benefited from it? The same charge was also made of anti-slavery activists (as the quotes by W L Garrison indicated). Also consider the ties between slavery and vivisection:

 

“J. Marion Sims, a leading 19th- century physician and former president of the American Medical Association, developed many of his gynecological treatments through experiments on slave women who were not granted the comfort of anesthesia. Sims’s legacy is Janus-faced; he was pitiless with non- consenting research subjects, yet he was among the first doctors of the modern era to emphasize women’s health.”
African Americans used in medical experiments by Alondra Nelson  The Washington Post, Jan. 7, 2007

 

Or the vast array of connections between slavery and business interests which few human rights advocates could claim total separation from to escape a charge of hypocrisy (commonly directed at nonhuman animal rights activists):

 

“There is considerable evidence that proud names in finance, banking, insurance, transportation, manufacturing, publishing and other industries are linked to slavery. Many of those same companies are today among the most aggressive at hiring and promoting African-Americans, marketing to black consumers and giving to black causes. So far, the reparations legal team has publicly identified five companies it says have slave ties: insurers Aetna, New York Life and AIG and financial giants J.P. Morgan Chase Manhattan Bank and FleetBoston Financial Group. Independently, USA TODAY has found documentation tying several others to slavery:* Investment banks Brown Bros. Harriman and Lehman Bros.* Railroads Norfolk Southern, CSX, Union Pacific and Canadian National.* Textile maker WestPoint Stevens. * Newspaper publishers Knight Ridder, Tribune, Media General, Advance Publications, E.W. Scripps and Gannett, parent and publisher of USA TODAY. ….Lloyd’s of London, the giant insurance marketplace, could become a target because member brokerages are believed to have insured ships that brought slaves from Africa to the USA and cotton from the South to mills in New England and Britain. The original benefactors of many of the country’s top universities — Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton and the University of Virginia, among them — were wealthy slave owners. Lawyers on the reparations team say universities also will be sued.” USAToday, Feb 21, 2002

 

Is Anti-Slavery Cultural Imperialism?

 

Another argument made against animal rights activists is that any criticism of tribal exploitation practices of nonhuman animals would be cultural imperialism. And yet, the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution also abolished slavery among North American tribes. Wouldn’t that also be cultural imperialism? It seems unlikely that all tribes with a form of slavery would be in lockstep agreement with the attitudes of the European colonists. So if it is acceptable to impose colonial moral views on tribal cultures when it comes to human rights issues, why the double standard when it comes to nonhuman issues?

 

Conclusion

 

When you make comparisons between human slavery and nonhuman exploitation you invite diversionary reactions that usually stem from the idea that humans deserve special status and that this truth is an ancient and universally known reality. But as we can observe with the history of slavery, the facts support a different view—that humans have exploited those vulnerable to exploitation whether human or not, and where there is an opportunity to make money, conscience is regularly dismissed. Efforts to correct this are often slow and difficult.

 

The view that animal rights abolition is diametrically at odds with welfare reform is a phenomenon that does not appear to have a parallel in the history of the anti-slavery movement. Even the abolitionist John Brown would likely not have opposed seeking to help victims anyway one could even if he preferred armed resistance. The evidence suggests that the hard won reforms to slavery (regulating the transport of slaves from Africa) did lead to an increased awareness and helped to expand efforts to fight it (as well as expanding interest to other social causes such as children’s rights and prison reform).

 

The idea that nonhuman victims are served best by abandoning all legislative efforts and only focusing on converting people to a definition of veganism that strives for a high level of personal purity and boycotting any products associated with exploitation might seem like a noble aim at first glance, but invites two objections: it indicates a lack of concern in the suffering of victims at present, and ignores the role of exploitation business interests in maintaining their profits and resisting any effort to change.

 

It can also nurture a bizarre conspiracy theory—that meat and dairy producers orchestrated efforts to criticize their operations in order to draw public condemnation and legislation that somehow means they increase profits. One only needs to examine the history of media and meat/dairy advertising with its idyllic or nonexistent depictions of animal treatment to see that industry opposes cruelty legislation (indeed, they press for laws against the filming of farm operations—an odd action if they felt “humane” labeling and legislation was good for business).

 

Getting the public to pay attention to nonhuman concerns is not an easy task given the distractions and counter propaganda by exploitation business. Singe issue campaigns and incremental reforms keep the subject in the media and help to broaden public awareness. If large animal charities switched to veganism promotion only, they would have less opportunity for media exposure as well as abandoning nonhuman animals to whatever industry has in store for them while the only pressure is placed on the activists and the public—which under the Francione-type abolitionist view is the true culprit in nonhuman suffering:

“The institutional exploiters are not “the enemy.” We are the ones who demand animal products. If we stopped consuming animal products, institutional users would shift their capital elsewhere.”

 

Francione’s view, if presented in the 18th century, would be saying that slave traders are not responsible for slavery—the consumer of sugar and cotton and other products connected to it is the main problem. Instead of putting pressure on the slave traders, the public must stop using products connected to slavery. As noted, the Free Produce Movement did not attract large numbers of followers—and certainly there is no evidence that advocates of FPM emphatically opposed all other means of social action, which is what the Francione abolitionist endorses.

 

Farming reforms are not the solution but they are not the enemy of veganism and animal rights. Anyone who aggressively argues that any and all effort to put pressure on exploitation industries amounts to sell-out collaboration is either seriously misguided or working for exploitation industries themselves. One can support legislative efforts and promote veganism at the same time. In fact, as we see with the history of slavery, diversity in view and action was the reality when it came to championing morality and justice and we should not be surprised if animal rights activism follows the same path.

 
NOTES:
 

The following site has the agenda of defending Islam as more progressive about slavery than Christianity. Despite this objective or perhaps because of it, there is valuable information on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade that has not been willingly highlighted in Western recollections (especially by critics of SICS and incremental changes).
 

http://www.al-islam.org/slavery-from-islamic-and-christian-perspective-sayyid-akhtar-rizvi
 

“The Church did not condemn slavery. Orthodox and heretic, Roman and barbarian alike assumed the institution to be natural and in-destructible. Pagan laws condemned to slavery any free woman who married a slave; the laws of Constantine [a Christian emperor] ordered the woman to be executed, and the slave to be burned alive. The Emperor Gratian decreed that a slave who accused his master of any offence except high treason to the state should be burned alive at once, without inquiring into the justice of the charge.”

 

“Because there was so much profit to be made by taking slaves from Africa, Europeans refused to listen to their consciences. They knew about the suffering that was inflicted upon people in Africa, on the slave-ships and on the slave-plantations of the Americas, and they were aware that to sell their fellow human beings could not be morally justified. Yet the Christian church came forward with excuses for the slave-trade. Many priests themselves carried on slave-trading, especially in Angola, and many others owned slaves in the Americas. The only reason the Catholic Church could give for its actions was that it was trying to save African souls by baptising the slaves. The Protestants were worse, for they did not even make it clear that they accepted that the Africans had a soul. Instead, they supported the view that African slave was a piece of property like furniture or a domestic animal. There is no part of the history of the Christian church which was more disgraceful than its support of the Atlantic slave-trade. “

 

“By the nineteenth century, there was another change of the people who took the leading role in exploiting Africa. The European countries themselves were not as active in the slave-trade, but instead Europeans who had settled in Brazil, Cuba and North America were the ones who organised a large part of the trade. The Americans had recently gained their independence from Britain, and it was the new nation of the United States of America which played the biggest part in the last fifty years of the Atlantic slave-trade, taking away slaves at a greater rate than ever before.”

 

“considered that the best way in which to remedy abuse of Negro slaves was to set the plantation owner a good example by keeping slaves and estates themselves, accomplishing in this practical manner the salvation of the planters and the advancement of their foundations’. The Moravian missionaries on the island held slaves without hesitation; the Baptists, one historian writes with charming delicacy, would not allow their earlier missionaries to deprecate ownership of slaves. To the very end the Bishop of Exeter retained his 655 slaves, for whom he received over 12,700 pounds compensation in 1833.”

 

“Church historians make awkward apologies that conscience awoke very slowly to the appreciation of the wrongs inflicted by slavery and that the defence of slavery by churchmen ‘simply arose from want of delicacy of moral perception’. There is no need to make such apologies. The attitude of the churchmen was the attitude of the layman. The eighteenth century, like any other century, could not rise above its economic limitations. As Whitefield argued in advocating the repeal of that article of the Georgia charter which forbade slavery, ‘It is plain to demonstration that hot countries cannot be cultivated without Negroes.’.”

 

“Quaker nonconformity did not extend to the slave trade. In 1756 there were eighty-four Quakers listed as members of the Company trading to Africa, among them the Barclay and the Baring families. Slave dealing was one of the most lucrative investments of English as of American Quakers, and the name of slaver, The Willing Quaker, reported from Boston at Sierra Leone in 1793, symbolizes the approval with which the slave trade was regarded in Quaker circles. The Quaker opposition to the slave trade came first and largely not from England but from America, and there from the small rural communities of the North, independent of slave labour. ‘It is difficult’, writes Dr. Gray, ‘to avoid the assumption that opposition to the slave system was at the first confined to a group who gained no direct advantage from it, and consequently possessed an objective attitude.’…”
 

Humanemyth.org, which has apparently lost its initiative to make site updates, was strongly critical of welfare reforms—focusing its attacks on large animal charities and those that have sided with them like Whole Foods supermarket chain. They appear to be less critical of the agri-businesses that are at the forefront of the meat and dairy misery—the businesses that oppose investigations into their operations and any changes to how they torture and kill their victims. This essay on the history of anti-slavery shows a narrow focus, ignoring the scope of resistance and the difficulties faced in fighting entrenched exploitation:
http://www.humanemyth.org/letsnotgiveup.htm

 
An informative summary of the Free Produce Movement and its effectiveness:

http://speciesandclass.com/2014/10/25/what-can-animal-activists-learn-from-the-free-produce-movement/
 

Well worth reading:
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/30/was-abolitionism-a-failure/?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0

Supremacy Myth Argument: FAQ and Responses

The Supremacy Myth Argument: FAQ and Responses

 

In advocacy for nonhuman causes, one seeks to explain the issues in a way that answers all objections and prevents a discussion from being sidetracked or ignored. But often the emphasis is placed on the obvious—that nonhuman victims suffer needlessly, and that it is therefore wrong. The disagreement usually focuses on whether the victims actually suffer, or whether it is needless, and inevitably leads to attacks on the advocate. We are so accustomed to this that we take the defensive posture as if it is normal or desirable. Instead, we should be challenging the beliefs that block accepting the truth of the nonhuman rights position.

 

 

Strip away the philosophical theories and scientific data and you are left with a self-evident Golden Rule kind of truth: “how would you feel if you were born in a cage, taken away from your family, deprived of sunlight or the freedom to move, physically mutilated and finally killed for an unnecessary diet or practice?”

 

The purpose of the Supremacy myth argument is to focus and control discussions so that you are giving an overwhelming yet simple and intuitive case for nonhuman rights, thereby making it impossible for skeptics to ignore the truth because their own interests in fairness and justice are threatened if they do. If they do not accept it they are left in a demoralized position: they think they are right but cannot prove it, while you the animal rights advocate have presented an argument they cannot refute.

 

You use reality as an instrument, the unquestionable fact that humans can and do exploit other humans despite idealistic moral codes and laws to discourage it (excluding the codes and laws that actively encourage it). The central belief is “humans are superior in moral value to the victims.” Every time an attack on an “animal rights” position is made, you can answer by debunking the claim of human superior worth and using examples of human exploitation of humans to reinforce it. Essentially you cannot have “human rights” without accepting nonhuman rights. It is simple but powerful.

 

 

To summarize the argument, humans defend exploitation of nonhumans in farms, zoos, labs, hunting, fishing etc by the claim that humans are worth more—that humans are superior in moral value, which leads to grotesque double standards in ethical policy. This supremacy claim is usually taken as axiomatic-something self-evident and beyond question. There is usually criteria put forward to support it, that humans possess an immortal soul, the favor of a divine (yet mute and invisible) supreme being or beings, some kind of intellectual attribute—from “reason,” to consciousness to the ability to understand moral codes, to the ability to write symphonies. Or it is simply called “might makes right” or “survival of the fittest.” It does not matter what the criteria is—it can be one or a thousand, they all have the same problem, that it cannot be shown that all humans possess this criteria (and equally) or that all nonhumans lack it, and regardless, it cannot be shown the criteria is validated by an absolute authority. It can be questioned, doubted. If humans are morally superior how come they get no preferential treatment from weather or gravity? If it can be doubted—it cannot be absolute—which means it is biased personal opinion, just like the claims made by racial supremacists that skin color or specific interpretations of a particular religious text are absolute in importance. The most axiomatic and self-evident denial of this claim of human superiority is human behavior. Humans can and do exploit other humans—regularly, regardless of codes and laws to discourage it. This means that a human supremacist denier of nonhuman rights cannot effectively argue against a racial or gender or religious supremacist since they both adhere to biased personal opinions to make their case.

The human supremacist either has to allow anyone to exploit as they see fit, or extend moral regard to nonhumans in order to solve this problem.

 

This argument has advantages over the traditional “nonhumans are sentient/feel pain” argument in that it makes the issue entirely about human superiority claims which are always assumed even if not specifically expressed, and removes the ability to divert the discussion to trivial distractions. It keeps pressure on the beliefs of the person who denies “animal rights,” which is what should happen if you seek to change the status quo and champion common sense.

 

In the following we present common statements used to attack animal rights which reveal a human supremacist double standard, and how to respond in a way that highlights it and puts the critic in the defensive position.

 

 

Better to Have Lived and Suffered Than Not Live at All

 

1. “Animals in farms etc wouldn’t even exist if not for their use in exploitation so it’s better that they exist and suffer than not at all.”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Therefore, it is better that slaves were born in captivity and suffered, than not exist at all. It is better that the victims of the Nazis were born and suffered, than not exist at all. It is better that a victim of child abuse have been born and suffered, than not exist at all. This has no bearing on the morality of the systemic practice—if slavery and concentration camps are immoral and wrong, so are labs and farms.

 

Wasting an Exploited Life is Worse than Exploiting

 

2. “If you exploit an animal it is important to use all parts of the animal (in respect of their sacrifice).”

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Then the Nazis weren’t wrong when they exploited their victims, taking their money, their gold fillings, and using their skin and hair for furniture. They would only be wrong if they exploited their victims half-heartedly. As long as you exploit a victim fully, it is acceptable.

 

Moral Contractualism:

 

 

3. “If we have to respect nonhumans then they have to respect us. If they don’t, then they deserve to be exploited systemically in labs, zoos, farms etc. Human rights codes and laws are in every human’s best interests.”

 

The Supremacy myth answer: The idea that nonhumans must respect our moral codes is a biased personal opinion not absolute objective fact. What unbiased authority says they must understand moral codes in order to benefit? Various kinds of human from children to criminals can either not understand or deliberately violate moral codes and still receive much better treatment. Nonhumans already do “respect” us by not putting us in zoos, farms or systemically exploiting us for non essential survival related activities. They follow our moral concepts better than we do. To demand that nonhumans follow human moral codes when observable reality shows us that they do not and can not, is like demanding an armless man catch drowning swimmers and punishing them when they fail. You are making unrealistic and unfair demands.

 

And who says codes and laws are in every human’s best interest? Clearly criminals and dictators can violate this assumption and have lived quite well without caring about other humans. Same goes for humans living on one side of the planet-why should they care what happens to humans in another continent? Why should nonhumans be left out when clearly such codes would be in their best interest? If you say they are excluded you open the door for justifications as to why some humans deserve to be excluded too (since human supremacy/superior moral worth is unproven).

 

 

Moral Perfection/Hypocrisy

 

 

 

 

4. “Plants/bacteria are alive (and or feel pain) therefore you are causing harm even if you do not eat animals.”

 

5. “We can’t be perfect in morality when it comes to nonhumans, insects, plants, bacteria, therefore we don’t have to refrain from exploiting them systemically in zoos, farms, labs etc.”

 

The standard reply to this kind of statement is to deny that plants (or bacteria) can feel pain or that harm done to plants/bacteria is comparable to the harm done to nonhuman animals. Usually the person who brings up this issue does not care about “plant rights” or “bacteria rights” and is already aware that plants or bacteria cannot be proven to scream. Therefore if you answer their objection, you are not really explaining why meat eating and vivisection are wrong. You are diverting the discussion from it. Instead of going into a lengthy debate on plant pain or bacteria, you can instead assume they have a good point for the sake of argument, and show how it would affect human rights issues if we followed their logic and weren’t blinded to the double standard morality.

 

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: We can’t be perfect in human rights morality either—we have car accidents, child abuse, homicides, and yet do we say human rights morality must be abandoned because it isn’t perfect? If the failure to be perfect in dealing with insects or plants or bacteria justifies farms and labs, then car accidents and child abuse should justify concentration camps and warfare.

 

 

 

6. “You live in a society where the exploitation of nonhuman animals has benefitted you, therefore you are a hypocrite for not being morally perfect.”

 

The moral perfection demand leads to a variation argument that accuses the advocate of being a hypocrite—that they are not really opposed to or in no position to criticize exploitation if they have benefitted from any aspect of exploitation. Although they often actually mean inconsistency, hypocrite carries a stronger negative tone. Once again you can use the talking points raised to show how human rights are compromised by the same logic.

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: We live on land taken in wars, we pay taxes to governments that exploit humans, we have benefitted from the medical research conducted on humans without their consent (Dr James Sims, former AMA president, Jonas Salk-who infected mental patients with influenza, Dr Josef Mengele who experimented on concentration camp prisoners, and the Pfizer scientists who experimented on African villagers in the 1990s). If one must be morally perfect to be in favor of nonhuman rights, then one must be morally perfect to be in favor of human rights.

 

Hypothetical Emergency Scenario “Your child or a dog/rat/spider..”

 

 

7. “If you had to choose between a dog or a human child in an emergency, who would you save?”

 

8. “What if you were stranded in the Arctic or a boat and either kill an animal or starve?”

 

These questions are often thrown out there in a “either you are with us or against us” kind of loyalty test as well as attempting to discount animal rights if the advocate admits they would choose a human in an emergency situation. If they would not choose a human, then they are made to look like a crazy misanthropic traitor. The issue of personal survival is used to negate the entire concept of nonhuman rights—thus finding yourself stranded in the Arctic (why you would be in the Arctic or deliberately place yourself in a situation where your survival is threatened is also worthy of moral analysis) is equated with unnecessary systemic practices like hunting, fishing, zoos, the meat and dairy industries etc. without justification. Basically, the goal is to delegitimize “animal rights” by ignoring what such an argument would mean if applied fairly to human rights situations.

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Let us turn the tables. What if the scenario was about human rights? What if the emergency choice was between a familiar human and a stranger—someone of your race or gender or religion or language or a foreigner? Who would you save? If you choose the familiar does that mean the loser deserves to be systemically exploited in farms, labs, etc? If not, then the same applies for a nonhuman rights situation. Emergency situations tell us nothing about systemic morality practices unless you concede that racial or gender or religious preferences matter as much as species ones.

 

 

Utilitarianism/Least Harm

 

9. “Morality is based on the concept of seeking to reduce suffering as much as possible—therefore eating meat is less suffering than growing plants where animals will be killed in cultivation.”

 

The unfortunate reality of philosopher created “animal rights” arguments is the allowance for theoretical and idealistic investigations into harm reduction. This can lead us further away from common sense and allow opponents of nonhuman rights issues to distract and divert attention.

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: If reducing suffering as much as possible is the true motive then why isn’t utilitarianism or least harm calculations used in determining the moral value of same sex marriage or whether a particular war is good for the long term happiness of the planet? These kinds of calculations only seem to appear in discussions of nonhuman rights and reveal a double standard. If we say that direct harm is preferable to indirect harm (i.e. that raising animals for food or shooting wildlife is better than vegetarian/vegan diet where animals can be indirectly or accidentally harmed) then it should be applicable to human situations. If someone was driving along and came to a forked road-one side foggy, the other side with people in the middle of it, then by the logic of the least harm meat eater, one would be better off driving over the people you could see as opposed to taking the foggy road where you may kill more, or to get out and walk (which is the equivalent of less destructive crop cultivation methods—who said heavy destructive machinery must be the only way of gathering crops?).

 

See Moral Perfection/Hypocrisy section for further information.

 

 

Moral Relativism

 

10. “Different moral codes for different cultures. We can’t criticize other cultures for their treatment of nonhuman animals.”

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: What about their treatment of humans? By this logic one can’t criticize any culture for not following our standards of human rights either.

See Human Hunting section for more information.

 

 

 

Might Makes Right/Survival of the Fittest

 

11. “Morality doesn’t matter—it’s survival of the fittest. Humans are stronger therefore they can exploit the weaker animals.”

 

They may say morality doesn’t matter but the double standard is still there.

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: If survival of the fittest is your motto and morality doesn’t matter then you should be fine with humans exploiting other humans according to the “fittest” claim as well. There is no reason to remove humans from the consequences since human superior moral worth can’t be proven as anything other than a biased personal opinion.

 

 

 

Historical Concession

 

12. “Meat eating and exploitation of nonhuman animals was necessary for the development of humans/civilization.”

 

 

The standard response is to challenge the idea that meat eating was/is necessary—but we can bypass the distraction by answering that the person can’t delegitimize nonhuman rights claims by referring to history or necessity unless they also want to accomplish the same for human rights.

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: And slavery, war, and various injustices towards humans were also necessary for the development of humans/civilization and yet we still hold to moral values that suggest these things are wrong. The same goes for present day exploitation of nonhuman victims.

 

 

 

 

Humans First

 

13. “Even if nonhumans deserve moral concern, human problems must always come first.”

The Supremacy Myth answer: If you claim morality follows such a hierarchy of importance, then one could further refine and prioritize morality  based on the importance of race, gender, age, religion, family, language, territory, etc. since any such boundary is based not on fact but personal opinion. Many would say we should not prioritize morality and charity based on bias and personal opinions but follow the general aim of doing good in any situation, and if we agree with this, then nonhumans are just as valid for equal consideration.

 

Never Ending Exploitation

 

14. “Meat eating, hunting or other nonhuman exploitation will never be stopped (and thus we should not even try).”

The Supremacy Myth answer: human rights causes are just as unlikely to be eliminated completely and in some ways even less so than nonhuman rights ones.

The failure to eliminate homicide or child abuse does not seem to foster a view that we should not even try to curb them. In fairness the same should be true for nonhuman rights issues.

Nonhuman exploitation by humans is due in large part to domestication which requires immense effort to maintain. By contrast, human slavery, child abuse, and homicide have existed as long as humans have, and will likely continue to do so in some form as long as humans can reproduce. The elimination of the former is actually a more realistic hope when you consider it from a practical standpoint.

 

Top of the Food Chain

 

15. “Humans are top of the food chain.”

The Supremacy Myth answer: How can you prove this? Humans are just as mortal as all other life and subject to death and decay and being eaten by other organisms. If humans were top of the food chain, it can also be asked, are humans who prey on other humans (some for cannibalistic dietary preferences) “more” on top of the food chain than other humans who do not?

 

No Pain No Gain

 

16. “Nonhuman animals don’t feel pain like us or have consciousness therefore it doesn’t matter how they are treated.”

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Only an idiot would say that nonhuman animals who can bleed, make sounds when harmed, and seek to avoid being harmed do not feel pain. The horsewhip was invented on the belief that the animal being whipped could feel it. But if we can believe that an animal scream is merely an illusion of pain, then we can also make the same assumption about other humans. We cannot be sure that what we perceive as an individual is true reality—thus we can easily claim that other humans are just soulless mechanical objects for our use. If one wants to have human rights, or believe that other human-like beings have souls and can feel pain, the same courtesy must be extended to nonhumans to close this “anything goes” loophole.

 

 

Dominion

 

17. “God Gave Us Dominion Over Nature/Animals Have No Souls.”

One can claim anything when it comes to invisible mute deities but we know that humans are mortal and subject to the natural phenomenon as other life forms. There is no evidence that humans have a special quality or soul that leaves the body upon death which nonhumans do not possess. Faith is not fact.

Also, there are religious views that believe nonhumans have souls and deserve respect and compassion. In the end you have a “my god said this and your god said that” disagreement which has been the basis for endless violence and warfare in the name of invisible mute deities.

The Supremacy Myth answer: If someone can say that their deity sanctions the systemic exploitation of nonhumans than someone else can justify the systemic exploitation of humans by claiming their deity gave them dominion over other humans. There are cultures that have and continue to do this. Whether secular or spiritual you cannot have human rights without nonhuman rights since human supremacy cannot be proven as anything other than biased personal opinion. We do not allow people to justify human slavery even though the Bible supports it, therefore nonhumans are just as worthy of moral respect.

Violent Stewards of Nature

18. “It is necessary and moral for humans to kill invasive species or ones that get too numerous in the wild.”

The Supremacy Myth Answer:

If it is acceptable to kill members of other species to keep them from crowding out other species, then the same should apply to humans if we were fair and just since humans are incredibly destructive. How can humans claim they are managers when they cannot even manage themselves? Morally, humans have no right to intervene in the life of other species and claim they know what is best for them. Observable reality tells us that other species have managed themselves quite well long before humans came along, and can do so if humans do not allow themselves to get out of control.

Human Hunting

19. “Humans are hunters and meant to kill other animals.”

The Supremacy Myth answer:  Real natural born hunting animals do not depend on tools for killing and consuming other animals as humans do when it comes to any animal larger than an insect. The same tool-making ability that is used for hunting non human animals can also be used for digging in the soil to plant seeds or to kill other human beings. You do not often hear about tigers and wolves planting gardens or killing other tigers and wolves. Thus humans are not natural predators unless homicide is also natural. In addition, humans also accidentally kill themselves or other humans when hunting. This can occur with guns or spears. It is unlikely that true predator animals accidentally kill themselves on their own claws or mistake a fellow lion for a gazelle. Natural predators have no “hunting seasons.” It can also be pointed out that the dismissive regard for the “accidental” deaths of non-hunting humans killed in proximity to hunting areas (walking, jogging, sitting in their homes) suggests that the lives of humans are considered less important than preserving the activity of recreational killing of nonhumans.

 

   20.  “Hunting by non-caucasian or poor people is justified.”

 

The basic idea is that the closer humans live to Nature without industrial means, the more one is entitled to commit acts of violence and discrimination against members of other species.

If one is poor and of any racial extraction, it is not usually considered permissible for the person to exploit and kill other humans for subsistence or basic survival. If one lived in an environment where a need to kill other humans for survival was a routine occurrence, then it would be strongly encouraged or demanded that the person or persons relocate or alter their survival patterns to be in harmony with accepted moral standards. The morality of exploiting other humans when it is not absolutely necessary would trump any lifestyle or tradition argument. Even a Caucasian critic would not usually have to worry about being called a racist because they oppose these activities of non-whites.

If we are to be fair and just in our moral principles, then racial character and economic status would not be deemed an excuse for harming innocent lives when alternatives exist.

If a tribe was killing humans for food, we would offer support to stop this from happening. Ideally, this should be the same principle when dealing with any human group in their systemic exploitation of nonhuman animals if we regard all humans as equal.

This is not extreme or unreasonable; it is merely exercising fairness and consistency in moral policy.

This basic concept of morality is like the sun—people in different regions have different words for it, but they all mean the same object. The moral principle of regarding yourself and others as equal and deserving of respect is universal to any human society on earth—we are simply refining it for consistency and fairness. If a member of a pre-industrial tribe would say that it is wrong for anyone to harm their tribal group while at the same time claiming it is morally justified for the tribe to systemically harm nonhumans, they are guilty of the same double standard morality and bigoted views demonstrated by their urban counterparts.

The practicality of implementing a more ethical lifestyle is not relevant to the ethical argument. As we pointed out—morality is not perfect and one can only do the best we can, but systemic exploitation is not doing the best you can.

We know that humans of any racial heritage are capable of discrimination, unfairness, bigotry, and exploitation. We also know that humans of any ancestry have dealt with wars, crime, slavery, illness, disability, and injustice. We do not allow someone descended from a family who was slaughtered in a war to justify their own behavior against others because of their ancestor’s plight. Thus to be fair and just, someone descended from a designated ethnic group that experienced slavery does not mean they have the right to justify their own discrimination and exploitation of others by citing this link.

Human societies that have access to industrialized technology, and in fact live in association with urban societies while at the same time seeking to maintain pre-industrial lifestyles, exhibit a double standard in their moral values. They are willing to embrace modern technology and instruments but reject any notion that they should give up violent behavior that arises from their own particular version of Manifest Destiny.

If they are willing to give up human slavery or human sacrifice (which was also practiced by some tribes) than surely it is no outrage to suggest they treat other living beings as they would wish to be treated themselves. An Inuit would no doubt say that a Canadian of European descent has no moral right to exploit them, so what right do they have to do the same to seals, polar bears, elk etc? They cannot claim they are natives of the Arctic as a polar bear is, since the latter requires no artificial means to survive-while humans do.

If one truly believes that humans are equal then race is irrelevant. To suggest that some humans deserve special consideration or moral exemptions because of their ethnic or cultural background is to endorse an ethical double standard.

The Supremacy Myth answer: If non-caucasians or poor people are human and held to a concept of equal rights and responsibility then they should be obligated to hold to standards of fairness and justice. If they would say it is wrong for others to systemically exploit them when alternatives exist or refuse to seek out alternatives, then the same must apply to their treatment of nonhumans being systemically exploited by them.

 

Vivisection

21. “Animal research is necessary.”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: The ridiculousness of the claim that nonhuman research is necessary is demonstrated if you ask the research supporter this question: If they had a choice between a drug tested only on rats or chimps, and a drug tested only on humans, which would they deem safer for human use? The answer determines one’s actual belief in the importance of nonhuman animals in research.

The only reason this logical hypothetical is not asked is because of the double standard morality created by the human supremacy myth and intellectual blindness to it.

 

22. “If you had to save the life of your child, would you not sacrifice a rat?”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Ignoring the fact that scientists cannot find cures for illnesses by simply torturing one or a few or thousands of rats to death no matter how much they want people to believe they can perform magical miracles, the answer to this should be no less controversial than the following alternative scenario.

23. “If you had a choice between your child and a neighbor’s, who would you choose?

If you chose your child, does it mean you want the neighbor’s child to be tortured in a lab? If you refuse to choose, does that mean you do not love your child as much as your neighbor’s? This type of question is not raised, even when common sense tells us that the best and safest research model for human disease is another human. If finding a cure for disease is so important, why aren’t scientists and patients advocating the use of criminals or volunteers in medical experiments? Humans are the best and safest model for research, and we send healthy people off to be maimed and killed in wars for natural resources, religion and political ideology, and yet the war against cancer is only considered of dire importance when it comes to the discussion of abolishing nonhuman animals in research. This exposes how the double standard of the human supremacy myth is the driving force in defenses of vivisection. The more recent claims that genetic engineering can alter the physiology of nonhuman animals so they are better models for human research also exploits public ignorance since it requires faith that scientists understand Nature so well that they can predict how the physiology of other species will react to the altered genetics. But even if they could turn a nonhuman into a perfect copy of human anatomy with the same responses to chemicals, the torture and death could not be justified by the discriminatory ethical arguments based on the false belief in human supremacy as mentioned earlier. Citing alleged benefits of an action is not the same as providing ethical justification for it.

 

24. “Animal rights activists cannot protest animal research if they have benefited from research that has been linked to nonhuman animal research experiments.”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Then human rights advocates have no right to protest either since no one is perfect. Lethal research on humans against their consent has also been done and the research preserved.  Do we make the same demand of human rights activists that they cannot use anything that may be traced back to human experimentation? The work of Joseph Mengele is well known, but there is also James Marion Sims, former head of the American Medical Association who experimented on black slaves and was awarded for his humanitarian efforts by a statue in New York’s Central Park. And there is Jonas Salk, reported to have deliberately infected patients at mental hospitals with influenza.
Researchers say they need to use nonhuman animals for research because they are like us–-and yet they say they deserve no rights because they are not like us. This highlights the real issue: the motivation for animal research beyond money and sociopathic tendencies is an arrogant belief that humans as a species are superior in value to all other life, based upon biased personal opinion criteria conveniently determined by those who stand to benefit from the discrimination and exploitation. Sims and Mengele and Salk thought the same way about the use of humans they deemed inferior.
If one cannot be against vivisection if they were unwitting patients of corporate medicine, then the same is true for those using Pfizer drugs (who experimented on humans in the 90s). Or those using any medication that can be linked to the Nazi research (which was kept for human medicine). Or anyone with medication treatments linked to Jonas Salk or James Sims. Beyond that one should not be advocating for human rights if they live on land that was taken in a war—or pay taxes to governments that finance human rights abuses or warfare.  No one can be perfect in an imperfect world. If human rights supporters are not expected to be perfect than the same holds true for supporters of nonhuman animal rights causes.

If we say that someone who is ill does not have the moral right to demand that other humans be used for research to find a cure (even though the results would be far more beneficial than using nonhumans) then logically since humans cannot be shown to be superior to other beings (as all standards and criteria are based on biased personal opinions like they are for racial supremacy etc.) they cannot make the same demand when it comes to nonhumans used in vivisection. It is not complicated–it simple and fair morality.

25. “Animal rights activists must come up with alternatives to using nonhumans in research.”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: If one seeks to find cures for human illness, the onus is on them to do it in a way that does not violate basic and consistent standards of moral conduct, not the animal right advocate for pointing out the immorality of a practice.

 

26. “Only privileged people can afford to think about nonhuman rights. Regular people are too busy dealing with their own problems to be concerned about trivial things.”

The Supremacy Myth answer: Only privileged people can afford to think about human rights. Regular people are too busy dealing with their own problems to be concerned about trivial things (like fighting racism, sexism, gender discrimination, children’s rights and other interests which don’t necessarily impact an individual’s quest for survival). Concern for nonhuman rights demonstrates an unselfish and sincere interest in social advocacy and justice, which is not necessarily the case with those who seek human rights for their own self-interest.

Fifth Column Veganism? Nathan Winograd, Gary Francione, and the Philosophy of Distract, Divide, and Demoralize

No one is perfect. Everyone is open to criticism. Any individual or group can be examined and criticized where appropriate and fair. The misery and death perpetrated against nonhuman animals is an unfathomable catastrophic hell, and one should seek to improve the lives of victims whenever possible while pursuing an end to the practices. This is what we would do with a human rights situation and nonhumans deserve no less.

In the 1980s and well into the 1990s, the conflicts between “animal rights” and “animal welfare” centered on disagreements between those who sought only to improve the lives of victims of exploitation and those who sought to end it, as well as disputes over illegal methods of protest (as was the case with efforts to end the slave trade). But any improvements in the wellbeing of nonhuman animal victims were not seen as a bad thing—except by the exploitation industries and their supporters. This is what we would do if the victims were human. Anti-death penalty advocates would welcome changes in policy that eliminated more sadistic forms of execution. We would not say: “who cares if they suffer when they are going to be killed anyway?”

In recent years there are individuals who repeatedly declare their support for non human rights and vegan goals but have been intensely critical of traditional tactics and campaigns, as well as the advocates themselves. And yet, so strong is their criticism that the exploitation industries are given much gentler treatment if not ignored completely.

It is reasonable to assume that someone who is very harsh on advocates would be as hard on the exploitation side they claim to oppose–the cause of the problem. If not, then one can ask this question: Why are you agreeing with the anti-AR arguments of those who engineer and profit from maintaining and increasing the exploitation of nonhuman animals?

There are a few beliefs being circulated by vegan animal rights advocates which originated from the mouths of the most hostile opponents to veganism and animal rights:

 

“big activist groups that oppose vivisection and other industry exploitation needlessly kill shelter animals when they can use donated money to keep them housed indefinitely”

“protests (aka single issue campaigns), ballot initiatives, and legislative changes by activists are useless, and will only increase not decrease animal exploitation”

“we can trust exploitation industry to make reforms according to consumer demand”

“a vivisector is more ethical than a non-vegan anti-vivisection campaigner”

“activists must be morally perfect–they must be against all exploitation of human and nonhuman animals”

“anti-fur campaigns are motivated by hatred of women”

“animal rights activists are racist”

“single issue campaigns only serve as fundraisers for big charities”

 

Every single one of these statements essentially mean: Exploitation isn’t the problem, the activists are the problem.

If you are a vegan or animal rights advocate, do you want to be agreeing with the side that opposes your goals?

This is what needs to be asked of supporters of Nathan Winograd and Gary Francione.

 

 

Nathan Winograd: Who cares if they suffer as long as they aren’t killed?

Nathan Winograd advocates no kill shelters—claiming that the overpopulation of cats and dogs is a myth and that PETA and HSUS are maniacally committed to killing healthy animals (for monetary or nefarious ideological reasons), when the animals can be housed indefinitely through donations (a charge that was made against PETA in the early 90s by vivisectors facing criticism for animal torture). He emphasizes a “let the market decide” view, claiming that if all shelters were no kill, this would drive animal breeders and pet stores out of business. Regardless of whether PETA and HSUS can be criticized on ideology or policy, Winograd portrays PETA and HSUS as the problem, not any other factor or entity. He talks about PETA and HSUS having the budgets to house shelter animals indefinitely, but interestingly, does not make such a demand for financial assistance to shelters from the pet/companion animal industry—such as food manufacturers or big chain stores, who help engineer and profit from the problem. Winograd does not offer solutions for how to avoid animals crammed into cages for their entire lives or ending up in abusive situations. On his blog he speaks in vague terms on his opposition to nonhuman animal exploitation, but when doing a major media piece with a wide audience—he goes for the most savage sensational attack on his target: animal charities that oppose vivisection and meat industry business practices. One could assume the purpose was to damage the public image of the organization in order to divert from exploiters–the source of the problem, as well as distract, divide, and demoralize advocates. But Winograd claims to be a 20 year vegan, and yet his first book interview was granted to the Center for Consumer Freedom, a widely criticized “astroturfing” group for major exploiters, including vivisection and the meat industry. He has responded to this lapse of integrity by comparing his interview with CCF to Fox News, equating a giant media corporation with a tiny obscure industry front group that opposes everything he claims to stand for.

Nathan Winograd recently announced that he had been denied his request to participate in a vegan conference where he intended to debate Gary Francione.

Gary Francione: He wants you to eat like you care but when you stop eating, not care?

Gary Francione is a law professor and author opposed to all forms of nonhuman animal exploitation for human use, while apparently focusing a great deal of his energy on criticism of animal rights advocates and organizations. He bases his “animal rights” argument on the property status of nonhuman animals and the arbitrary nature of criteria used to defend human superiority, maintaining that sentience is the only criteria that matters for determining moral value and that veganism (as he defines it) should be the baseline.

He has long been critical of the concept of “animal welfare” (as he defines it) and criticizes Peter Singer, who has defended some vivisection and non-vegan food consumption in accordance to his utilitarian moral philosophy, for not being a true proponent of animal rights/veganism.

In the 2000s Francione began criticizing “happy meat” welfare reforms, especially after a well-publicized agreement with Whole Foods which was supported by PETA and other organizations, and expanded his opposition to any single issue campaigns (with one exception).

He has regularly attacked PETA and Mercy for Animals among other groups. Like Winograd, he proposes a “let the market decide” solution to nonhuman animal exploitation and is consistently vague and brief on the wrongdoing of industries, sometimes appearing to agree with them in attacks on advocates who support legislation and protests that targets industry or groups.

Here are some examples:

He has said single issue campaigns and legislative efforts are not only useless but counter–productive (and immoral), fueling a demand for animal products (i.e. a ban on foie gras would encourage people to eat other meat, improvements to the treatment of calves would encourage people to eat more veal). He alleges that if people engage in direct on the street vegan advocacy the types of reforms people want to see in farms will happen anyway as industry conforms to public sentiment (but without legislation or protest). He has said that there is more fur visible on the streets of London than when he visited it in the 1970s. He has said anti-fur campaigns encourage (if not being motivated by) hatred of women and has hinted that advocates are cowardly for not confronting motorcycle gangs for their use of animal hides in clothing. He has implied animal rights advocates who are not purely vegan are hypocrites and should be morally perfect. He has said 200 years of welfare reform in the treatment of nonhuman animals has been a total failure. He has implied campaigns against dolphin slaughter in Japan are racist and protests of Jewish ritual animal slaughter anti-semitic. He has said those opposed to speciesism must also be against racism, sexism, and all other human rights concerns, however, he does not bother to say that an anti-racism or anti-sexism advocate must also be opposed to speciesism, nor does he say someone opposed to racism must also be opposed to sexism etc. I.e. someone campaigning to end child abuse in Africa is not expected to also advocate for an end to sexism or discrimination against homosexuals at the same time—they are permitted to use single issue campaigns. Moral perfection is not demanded of human rights advocates, but it is demanded of nonhuman rights activists. This is a common double standard found in the arguments of those who say humans are morally superior in value (which as we have repeatedly said in other articles, falls apart quite easily after you examine the “Supremacy Myth”). When Francione says a campaign that targets practices of a particular group promotes or encourages racism, he is saying in essence that the suffering and deaths of the nonhuman victims is not as important as hurting the feelings of the victimizers. In other words, humans are superior in value to nonhumans (aka adhering to the myth of human superiority).

His rhetoric is almost identical to comments and attacks made by supporters of exploitation industry dating back well before the 1980s. Every one of these claims has been made by those who engineer and profit from nonhuman animal suffering and death. At the same time, despite his support of a total vegan message, he is surprisingly soft on anti-vegans (those who are aggressively hostile to all aspects of veganism and nonhuman animal rights), often using defensive arguments (i.e. if someone challenges him to choose between a human and a nonhuman he answers by suggesting that if the choice were between a healthy human and a comatose person, just because he may choose the healthy individual does not mean the comatose person should be used in farms or labs. This does not make a strong case for why nonhumans should not be used in farms or labs, but it does counter the Peter Singer view that some nonhumans would be more deserving of moral regard than some humans).

He has also pushed the term “abolitionist” and linked the vegan philosophy to efforts to abolish the African slave trade, implying that abolitionists were not doing a single issue campaign, did not seek incremental change and sought immediate uncompromising abolishing of the slave trade. He ignores that the word abolitionist was a slander term used by pro-slavery interests to label anyone who criticized slavery as an extremist, or that abolitionists split on the issue of including women in leadership positions, and that they included John Brown, who advocated killing slavery supporters.

He has repeatedly equated current public attitudes towards human rights issues with nonhuman rights, ignoring the fact that acceptance of human rights did not happen immediately and came about through incremental changes (racial equality, children’s rights, etc) as public awareness and acceptance of these new ideas overcame ignorance and peer pressure among other obstacles. As we know, a perfect human rights society does not exist even today. His claim that 200 years of welfare reform has been a total failure conveniently ignores increases in world population and the role of exploitation industry in aggressively pursuing greater and greater profits during this time. He employs a glaring double standard, demanding that advocates ignore current abuse of nonhuman animals in society even though, if humans were the victims, such a position would be considered callous and immoral. Interestingly, his implied belief that universal human rights existed as a concept in society in the time of the African slave trade also echoes sentiments by nonsensical anti-animal rights parties that try to romanticize “human supremacy” as something universal and eternal instead of the reality: a recent conceptual development no different in design from racial supremacy or other bigoted harmful beliefs.

Despite his use of the term abolitionist, he is fiercely opposed to ALF activities as well, and when a pro-vivisection writer opined that an increase in UK experiments may have been due to the acts of a small number of “violent” activists—Francione was quick to agree in full, ignoring other factors like the greed of vivisectors or the callous disregard of institutions. Apparently only the advocates are to blame, and if they cannot police their own ranks (something no social movement has ever been able to do successfully) then they are responsible for the exploitation.

Francione’s hostility towards single issue campaigns that do not emphasize veganism has one exception: the adoption of cats and dogs from shelters, an issue that is completely removed from advocating vegan philosophy and one that is not opposed by anti-animal rights interests since taking an animal from a shelter does not challenge exploitation businesses.

On one hand he promotes a naively idealistic vegan “domino effect” conversion and on the other he consistently seeks to divide and demoralize activists, slandering them in public media, and steering them away from advocacy that would champion campaigns that exploitation industries oppose while demanding they seek vegan personal purity. It must be noted, exploitation industries do not oppose his “domino effect” vegan advocacy or his demand that vegans be morally perfect since a boycott of products with stearic acid by vegan individuals will do nothing to affect their businesses.

Like Winograd, he blames activists for imperfection in dealing with a problem although Francione avoids claiming there is no problem except the actions of advocates as Winograd does. However, he also goes very soft on exploiters, stating it as a matter of fact that exploitation is wrong without a detailed reason as to why for the benefit of any non vegans. And like Winograd, he ignores the role of exploitation supporters in maintaining or increasing cruelty and injustice. And rather incredibly, Francione suggests that industry can be trusted to make compassionate improvements on the road to vegan utopia without any kind of legislation or protest as they will apparently gladly concede to change (despite all news reports of them aggressively lobbying to prevent changes in law except for such things as criminalizing undercover investigations into the meat and dairy or vivisection industries).

Francione has not appeared to comment on Winograd’s single issue campaigning efforts or criticized him for not promoting a vegan message. But he has shared Winograd’s hysterical attacks on PETA through his internet media pages.

Francione has related anecdotes of his alleged encounters with single issue campaign protestors who gave up protesting on seal killing or hunting because they concluded they were in no position to protest when they weren’t vegan aka morally perfect. In almost every case Francione adds a comment such as: “they’re right” or “I absolutely agree.” Does he convert them to veganism after announcing his agreement with exploiter’s demoralizing and diversionary rhetoric?

Francione’s advice for advocates is to ignore stubborn nonvegans and concentrate on people who show compassion for nonhuman animals. And yet he has compared meat eaters to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer or convicted dogfighter Michael Vick, speaking in a cavalier presumptive fashion which is sure to alienate people unless a detailed explanation is given for the morality behind extending concern to nonhumans (it is like shouting: “We are all Pol Pot!” during a discussion of genocide in Rwanda). A detailed explanation he does not bother to provide.

Also, he avoids going into compassionate appeals or detailed examples of exploitation—sticking to a mechanical recitation of an ethics formula adapted from Singer and Regan but more inclusive than theirs. This would suggest he is even more of an animal rights champion than they are, and yet, he consistently spreads a message of discouragement and divisiveness.

In the final analysis it does not matter what motivates Winograd and Francione to behave as they do, what is important is the message they convey, who benefits, and who doesn’t. The victims of vivisection, the meat and dairy industry, and other exploitation are not served by those who declare to be on their side while naively working to distract, divide, and demoralize the advocates challenging the institutions that create and profit from suffering and death. Nathan Winograd and Gary Francione may have the very best of intentions, but by being the unwitting mouthpiece of the injustices and industries they oppose, they harm more than they help.

Please, don’t be a fifth column vegan.

 

 

NOTES

There are endless examples of curious statements and behavior by Winograd and/or Francione. Here is a tiny sample (boldface is not in source text):

Nathan Winograd (victim of censorship?)
You would think if he, a “20 year vegan,” regarded vivisection as important he would start off an interview by declaring his firm opposition to it and other exploitation instead of adding it as an after thought on his blog with far less public reach:
http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=12642

“I just did a radio interview on PETA’s campaign of companion animal extermination, based on my Huffington Post expose. Toward the end of the interview, the host asked me about killing rats for medical research and when I tried to speak out against that, too, I was cut off.”

 

Here he goes into a hyperbolic tirade against PETA as usual and someone asks what they can do about a no kill shelter that abuses the animals. Instead of telling her how awful that is or to take the matter to the police or other authorities, he makes a short dismissive comment and directs her to a PR pamphlet for his site. This is Nathan Winograd, the animals’ savior. Also notice he deleted all negative comments.

Sherry M: “I’ve got a question. Is there any oversight for Rescues? Ran into one, very bad! Does anyone check on these rescuers? I’m all for no kill, but don’t want to see dogs tortured either…. So if a rescue takes in dogs, collects the donations, but doesn’t feed, socialize, exercise, clean them, what as a citizen can I do? I had rented my house to a rescue and witnessed this. As far as anyone was concerned this was legal. They would let things go just long enough. The dogs were adopted, without the new owners, knowledge of this, and no home checks either. Some were aggressive, and just might wind up in shelters again, because they didn’t socialize them. Scary to think it could be a cycle.”

Nathan Winograd: Sherry M: It depends on the state, but as you know, it is not an either-or proposition. In other words, the choice is not death at the pound or torture: http://bit.ly/198sATv

 

Nathan Winograd says don’t blame breeders or the pet industry:
http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=14009

“To continue to reduce every issue to a failure to spay/neuter is exactly what the regressive shelter director and the large, national groups which fight No Kill want animal activists to do: point the finger of blame anywhere but on those who are actually doing the killing. Those who love animals must stop giving them the luxury of this out. We don’t need animals to disappear from the Earth before we can do right by them. Instead, we should be demanding that those we pay to care for homeless animals with our tax and philanthropic dollars provide them the care, kindness, and a loving home that is their birthright.”(see previous item where he doesn’t appear to care about oversight of no kill shelters)

 

To Nathan Winograd, CCF = Fox News in media value?
Fox News is a giant media company that is impossible to avoid (even if you want to). CCF is a tiny obscure front group for industry that is easy to ignore (if one wants to).
http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=3859

“During the same period, I did an interview on Fox News. For those who know me, my politics are different than theirs. I voted for Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich in the last two presidential primaries, not exactly the candidates embraced by Fox News. But I did the interview, not because I am caught in a “web of corruption” with Fox News, but because I know that when it comes to saving dogs and cats from death in shelters, all those things that separate us as Americans don’t apply. Red states or blue, rich or poor, black or white, Democrats or Republicans, we all love animals.”

Gary Francione appears to throw some support towards a single issue campaign:
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/animal-care-and-control-the-sad-failure-of-new-york-citys-municipal-shelter-system/#.U6sYVihOJ8F
“And it is time for New York City shift toward a progressive no-kill shelter situation. This can be achieved if New Yorkers have political will to make it happen.”

 

Gary Francione: Industry is not the problem/vivisectors aren’t so bad either?
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/on-vivisection-and-violence/#.U6niErGYzMB

Let the market decide: “The institutional exploiters are not “the enemy.” We are the ones who demand animal products. If we stopped consuming animal products, institutional users would shift their capital elsewhere.”

Gary Francione: vivisection is so wrong that vivisectors are right?
Here he seems to make the assumption that many nonvegan anti-vivisection supporters have thought about their diet and the suffering and death it brings to nonhuman animals and deliberately and callously dismissed such concerns. He then suggests that a vivisector who directly and knowingly tortures an animal is morally superior to such protestors. He denies the anti-vivisection supporter the possibility of being kind but ignorant and gives the vivisector, who knowingly engineers torture of victims, the credit of noble social intentions.
Many “animal people” are not even vegan and are willing to tolerate and support the torture of nonhuman animals simply because they like the taste of animal products and just cannot give up the cheese, ice cream, or whatever animal products it is that they eat. How are these people any different in a moral sense from vivisectors? At least some vivisectors think that they are performing some social good. As I have indicated in my writing, I do not agree that the use of animals is necessary as an empirical matter and, like Penman and others, I maintain that vivisection is often clearly counterproductive.”

Gary Francione: Those who give up on protesting injustice are right?
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/why-veganism-must-be-the-baseline/#.U7XLzihOJ8E
“I was talking with someone recently who was involved with a campaign against hunting in a particular park. He withdrew from the campaign and explained to me that he decided that what the hunters were doing was really no different from what he was doing in buying and eating meat from his local supermarket and since he certainly was not about to give that up, he couldn’t see the logic in opposing hunting.
And, of course, he was right.”
“I was talking with another person who had, for years, been involved in the campaign to stop the clubbing of seals. She withdrew from that campaign because she decided that there really was no difference between seal fur and the fur, wool, or skin of any other animal and since she wasn’t going to give up all animal clothing, the seal campaign was really just based on the fact that animal groups could cash in on the fact that seals were adorably cute and that really was not a good basis for a moral position.
And, of course, she was right.”.
Then did he convert them to veganism???

Gary Francione on Karen Davis and UPC: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/the-kapparos-campaign-a-good-example-whats-wrong-single-issue-campaigns/#.U6nis7GYzMA
“Let me be clear: I oppose the use of chickens as Kapparos–or for any other purpose. And I like Karen Davis personally; I am glad that she was out there beginning in the mid-1980s trying to sensitize people to the plight of chickens, who are, with fish, the animals most exploited by humans but were often overlooked even by animal advocates. I appreciate that she promotes veganism more than many other charities do but I disagree with some of the welfarist campaigns she has supported and I am bothered by the anti-Kapparos campaign.
This is a perfect example of what is wrong with single-issue campaigns: they encourage the idea that what some group does is worse than what the rest of us do. A single-issue campaign focused on fur lets everyone who wears wool or leather off the hook and gives them an excuse to hate or attack those (mostly women) who wear fur. A single issue campaign about the dolphins at Taiji allows people, many of whom are not even vegan, to engage in vile ethnocentric and xenophobic hate speech against the Japanese. A single-issue campaign against a squirrel-shooting in a rural community encourages people to call those involved “rednecks” and “backward” when they are doing nothing different from what any non-vegan does or supports. And a campaign focused on Kapparos gives people an excuse to segregate the Jews as “bad people.”’

Single-issue campaigns are, on many levels, a very bad idea. They serve one primary purpose: fund-raising devices for animal charities. This is not to say that animal charities intentionally embrace campaigns that they know to be counterproductive in order to make money. It is, however, to explain the practical motivation that helps to account for why such welfare reform campaigns and single-issue campaigns are chosen and the failure to see how counterproductive they are.”

 

Gary Francione: PETA and exploitation industries are collaborators?

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/debating-eating-animals-museum-modern-art/#.U6njXrGYzMA
“Although Newkirk’s praise for Grandin is ostensibly bewildering, it makes perfect sense. There is a symbiotic relationship here. Industry needs welfarists like Newkirk to provide a positive moral characterization of their efficiency efforts. Industry needs to have its efforts to achieve efficiency, resulting in largely minor changes to the institutions of animal exploitation, declared “humane” by those identified as animal advocates. But PETA needs industry as PETA uses these efficiency measures to proclaim “progress” and to fundraise. For the most part, the campaigns of animal welfare organizations target economically vulnerable industry practices for precisely that reason. These practices are “low hanging fruit,” so there is an easy “victory” for fundraising purposes.”

‘As I have written in connection with this debate and elsewhere, including my academic work and blog essays, I regard the actions of groups like PETA to be problematic. I think that it is terribly wrong under any circumstance to say that some form of “better” exploitation should be normatively endorsed when the resulting situation still involves a violation of fundamental rights. To say that a slave owner who beats his slaves five times a week is “better” than one who beats his slaves six times a week does not mean that the former is practicing “humane” slavery, or that the “better” slavery is morally acceptable, or that the “better” slave owner ought to be declared a “Visionary.”’

 

Gary Francione: They are right but hypocrites?
Here he has a major media platform to speak out as a vegan and animal rights supporter why horse carriages are wrong—instead, he does a brief “oh yes it is wrong of course” and attacks the horse carriage opponents for moral imperfection as any supporter of horse carriages would do. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/01/17/horse-carriages-are-not-just-a-ride-in-the-park/carriage-foes-are-right-but-reveal-our-hypocrisy

“So it’s apparent that our thinking about animals is very confused. Given the grand scheme of animal use, it is somewhat arbitrary to target the carriage-horse industry. Indeed, opposition to that industry by those who criticize it while chomping down on their burgers is based on nothing more principled than that we fetishize horses but not cows. It is like sitting around the dinner table eating animals while we discuss what a bad person Michael Vick was for fighting them.”

 

Gary Francione posted an article link at his facebook page 27/06/14: It may not seem so at first glance, but this is a rather demoralizing item about veganism in the news and also provides a poor response to use on others when such an issue is raised. Who would feed their infant child hard boiled eggs or steak? If he is inviting people to use this answer it would set the vegan advocate up for ridicule. Also, in the original fb post he doesn’t say he will write to Salon and set them straight or urge others to do the same.

“Is veganism child abuse? A mother is arrested for infant neglect after a hospital crisis that began with her veganism”
http://www.salon.com/2014/06/26/is_veganism_child_abuse/
“These parents limited an infant’s diet to “soy milk and apple juice.” That’s not a vegan diet. That’s a stupid diet. If the parents fed the child nothing but hard boiled eggs or steak that the child could not chew or digest, we would not be reading some article titled, “Is feeding animal products to an infant child abuse?” This is appallingly biased and just plain bad journalism.”

Gary Francione on Vegan Outreach:
Getting people to accept the beliefs and ideology of veganism is not easy especially as industry and social culture maintain so much peer pressure against it, and when you sincerely wish to get people to change it is probably not a good idea to badger them with a “you must be morally perfect” right from the start. You can run the risk of sabotaging the effort and making them regard all future vegan entreaties with hostility (as well as spreading bad publicity to others about veganism). And yet, here we see Francione chime in to support a demand for vegan perfectionism in advocacy, just as a proponent of exploitation industries would demand of animal rights protestors:

http://www.examiner.com/article/a-critique-of-vegan-outreach-literature

While Donald Watson, who coined the word “vegan,” was not advocating personal purity or moral perfection, Francione has a different view (in line with the views of exploitation supporter attacks on animal rights advocates): https://www.facebook.com/abolitionistapproach/posts/158706247497247
‘”Vegan” Outreach maintains that it’s okay to eat meat and other animal products
on occasion and we should not seek “personal purity.http://www.veganoutreach.org/EIYLM.pdf In my view, that’s not vegan outreach-it’s vegan bashing. If you care about veganism, consider whether supporting “Vegan” Outreach is a good idea.’

 

Gary Francione: Vegans must be morally perfect? What about human rights activists?
Getting the public to pay attention to vegan/animal rights messages is difficult, and for those who think that the torture and death of billions of nonhumans is an infinitely greater concern than the risk of offending some people’s beliefs on race and gender in advertising imagery, the use of nudity or comparisons to racial injustice is considered acceptable and/or necessary. Whether such imagery is effective is another debate entirely. Francione is demanding that animal rights activists strive for moral perfection and avoid anything that would violate total allegiance to human rights beliefs. But does he make the same demand that human rights advocates avoid speciesism? He does not say, but his demand is exactly what supporters of exploitation industries have demanded of animal rights activists.

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/some-thoughts-on-the-abolitionist-approach/#.U7MIr7GYzMA

2. Those who reject speciesism are committed to rejecting racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of discrimination as well.
Explanation: Some animal advocates maintain that the “animal movement” does not take a position on other forms of discrimination. That is not correct. Those of us who want justice for nonhumans are necessarily committed to justice for humans and for an end to human discrimination as well as discrimination against nonhumans. The animal movement should not, for example, be perpetuating sexism as a means to the end of animal rights. Sexism involves the commodification of women. Commodification is the problem, and not the solution.

 

 

Additional Critiques of Nathan Winograd and/or Gary Francione

http://www.whypetaeuthanizes.com/ –Website devoted to answering Winograd’s attacks, not to be confused with http://www.whypetakills.org although that is what Winograd likely hopes will happen as he created that website in response to the other.

http://animaladvocateswildliferehabilitation.blogspot.com/2014/04/california-bill-ab-2343-what-it-is-and.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2008/07/negativism-in-francione-and-avoiding.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2008/06/playing-into-hands-of-animal-exploiters.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2008/06/test-period.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2013/09/complacency-about-minorities.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2008/06/am-i-obsessed-with-gary-francione-no.html

http://www.veggieboards.com/forum/60-vegan-support-forum/124720-video-i-m-vegan-gary-francione-2.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/05/no_kill_animal_shelters_and_peta_what_is_the_most_humane_way_to_treat_stray.html

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO COLIN WRIGHT OF THE LEGACY OF PYTHAGORAS BLOG for exposing Gary Francione’s fraud. Colin provided invaluable information on Francione’s articles and speeches which helped reveal the Francione deception. Wherever you are, thanks Colin!😉

 

 

Utilitarianism: With a Friend Like This…

Tags

, , ,

Utilitarian views on suffering reduction were pushed to prominence in nonhuman animal rights discussion by Peter Singer—using 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham as guide. Although Singer has been characterized by some as the “father of animal rights” and Bentham called the “first patron saint of animal rights” in some quarters, their stance includes support of meat eating and vivisection, and is less progressive than historical vegetarians like Leonardo Da Vinci.

 

The emphasis on suffering with no mention of justice reinforces the idea that nonhuman beings do not deserve rights comparable to the victimizer but they ought to be treated better when they are being (unnecessarily) exploited.

 

While Utilitarian thinking is regularly employed in “animal rights” discussion, it is rarely used in making a case for human rights concerns where justice, equal rights, and fairness are more likely to be emphasized. I.e. if discussing whether same sex marriage should be legal no one argues it from whether it will cause more happiness or suffering, instead the focus is on personal rights, equality, and fairness.

 

Utilitarianism as defined by Singer may not seem, at first glance, to represent a human supremacist bias due to the fact that he argues that some humans deserve less moral standing than some nonhumans (I.e. dolphins would be more deserving of rights than comatose people).

 

However, it is using a criteria (sentience) and a moral standard (“the needs of the many outweigh the few/ doing the greatest good and causing the least unhappiness”) which are biased personal opinions, just like “reason,” or a “soul” or Divine favor or “might makes right” etc.

 

According to Singer’s formula, most humans are already in a position of moral importance while most nonhumans are not, therefore it does make a human supremacist argument while at the same time extending some moral consideration (if not equal consideration) to some nonhumans.

 

Such doctrine has been used to turn the tables and attack the concept of veganism and nonhuman rights. One noted example is the claim that growing plants for vegetarians caused more death than raising cattle for meat eating. Intention plays no part in making the moral calculation, only the claim that the former is less harm than the latter.

 

And yet, intention would be factored in when dealing with human concerns. If one was driving towards a forked road and one side was dense fog and the other side had people standing in the center of the road, this least harm anti-vegetarian argument would demand that one drive over the people they could see than either a) take the chance of the foggy road where the driver may kill more people that cannot be seen or b) to get out and walk to make sure the path is clear (the equivalent of less destructive crop cultivation methods).

 

Another area where Utilitarian logic (or whatever you want to call it) gets highlighted is in the issue of wild predators. A few question whether their actions are morally permissible or should be interfered with.

 

The reality of wild predators routinely preying upon other animals and the suffering that results has been cited in arguments against animal rights beliefs for ages. Usually the focus is on defending meat eating humanity by using the example of lions and other natural born predators. If they can cause harm why can’t humans?

There are many responses to this, but within the framework of the Supremacy Myth argument the answer is that humans are the species that sets up moral codes and seeks to follow them—while it cannot be shown that lions and other animals use (or need) moral codes. A human can think: humans as a group have rights, which includes the right to systemically exploit inferior beings like gazelles.

 

A lion on the other hand, cannot be shown to think: lions as a group have rights, which includes the right to systemically exploit inferior beings like gazelles.

 

A human can be accused of a moral double standard, a lion cannot be. Thus a lion is not violating any moral concept or using unfair discrimination.

 

This is in addition to the obvious that lions are clearly designed for meat eating. While we can pity the victim of a lion’s hunger, we cannot deny that a lion has a more legitimate claim to predation than a human, who is entirely dependent on tools for the trapping, killing, and consumption of an animal (excluding insects).

 

At the same time, nonhumans (including lions and gazelles) must be recipients of moral concern by humans because to exclude them for not understanding or following human moral codes shows a double standard and bias: children, criminals, and the violently mentally handicapped persons can neither understand or follow moral codes and yet are not treated the same systemic exploitation that nonhumans are. To exclude nonhumans when you know they cannot follow moral codes is the same in concept as knowing an armless person cannot grab a drowning swimmer but making a demand of them to do so, and when they fail, punishing them for being true to their natures.

 

This is in addition to the fact that lions and other animals do not exploit humans in zoos, labs, for recreational hunting etc. One can say they already follow human moral codes without even trying.

 

The issue of wild predation filtered through a quasi-Utilitarian moral view attempts to bypass the issues of moral obligation and rights by focusing on what is considered a duty to reduce suffering in the world as much as possible—regardless of who is doing it and why.

 

The argument that wild predators need to be stopped makes the case that:

 

Wild predators cause routine suffering (some will claim they cause even more suffering than humans who choose to exploit nonhuman animals based on some fuzzy Utilitarian suffering calculation)

 

All suffering is wrong and should be diminished as much as possible

 

Jut as a deranged mentally retarded person would be stopped from harming others, the same principle should apply when the subject is a lion or tiger,

 

Technology may be able to engineer a future where no predators exist—either by genetic engineering of the species themselves,

 

This position suggests that lions and other predators should be prevented, either by scientific intervention (feeding them meat grown in Petri dishes, or through genetic manipulation) or if all else fails, by wiping them out.

 

An effort to defend wild predation by either pointing out the unfairness of judging lions by human morality codes or the extreme impracticality of interfering with their survival patterns falls on deaf ears.

 

Utilitarian belief can get in the way of common sense.

 

First—the belief that reducing suffering as much as possible is the rule in moral decisions is entirely subjective. That is the aim but it is idealistic-not practical. In practical terms we also seek to be fair and intentions do play into our day to day decision making.

 

But for the sake of argument, if suffering reduction as much as possible is all that matters, then why stop at predation? What about the suffering caused to wild animals by weather or disease or age? If intention doesn’t matter-then why stop at the actions of wild predators?

 

And if fairness doesn’t matter either—i.e. it doesn’t matter whether lions are born for predation and don’t follow human moral codes—then by such reasoning, one has the moral authority to kill humans who cause suffering—even without asking them to stop. Why would one ask them to stop when fairness doesn’t matter—only the goal of reducing suffering as much as possible? Fairness is irrelevant in this Utilitarian worldview. Only results matter.

 

The comparison to mentally deranged persons is problematic as most humans are not put into the same category as the deranged person, while just about every lions would be put into the category of the deranged. It is hardly an equal comparison since the deranged persons represent an exception or aberrant behavior, while lions represent the norm.

 

Technological intervention of course, has its own problems—since humans cannot control the consequences of their experiments and the experiments themselves cause immense suffering (i.e. vivisection).

 

Although this attack on natural predators is very uncommon, we felt it worthwhile commenting on after encountering it expressed both by those who deny and who claim to support nonhuman rights issues.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers