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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.