Moral Schizophrenia: Alastair Graham, the “Michael Vick” of Scotland

Alastair Graham was sentenced to 9 months for killing a dog named Bruno, who apparently had bitten Graham. He tied the dog to a tree before dousing him in petrol and burning him to death. Graham, was also banned for keeping animals for life. He was sentenced to an additional 36 months for his part in a separate attempted robbery.

According to the BBC:

Graham pleaded guilty on indictment to causing the dog, called Bruno, unnecessary suffering by causing his death in the fire on 24 or 25 April.

Many people are outraged at what Graham did and regard it as unacceptable that the maximum jail term for Bruno’s killing is one year.

What Graham did was terrible. He inflicted suffering and death on an animal and had no justification for what he did. He caused unnecessary suffering and death.

But how is he any different from most of the rest of us?

I suggest that, before we condemn Graham as being a moral monster, we consider that we kill approximately 60 billion sentient land animals every year (and guesstimates of about a trillion fish) for food. No one with any expertise maintains any longer that eating meat, fish, dairy, eggs, etc. is essential for human health. Indeed, many mainstream health professionals are recognizing that animal foods are detrimental to human health. And animal agriculture is an ecological disaster.

The bottom line is that the best–indeed only–justification we have for inflicting all of that suffering and death is pleasure: we enjoy the taste of animal foods. The animals we eat and from whom we get milk and eggs have, under the best of circumstances, had lives filled with suffering and distress and have been killed in violent and painful ways. There may be a psychological difference between those who inflict suffering and death directly and those who pay others to do it. But there is no moral difference.

Like Graham, we are all responsible for the unnecessary suffering and death of other sentient beings.

If you believe that what Graham did was morally wrong–and it most certainly was–you should consider going vegan and thereby stop your direct participation in the exploitation of nonhuman animals. Indeed, if you believe that animals matter morally and are not merely things, going vegan is the only rational thing to do.

The Graham case is yet another example of the sort of moral schizophrenia that we see all the time: we all agree that it’s wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals but the overwhelming majority of us do it every single day.

And we never spend a second of time in jail.

*****

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

Manager of VegFestUK Tim Barford: “Many people . . . get very ill” on a Vegan Diet

Tim Barford, Manager of VegFestUK, expressing support for Vegan Society Ambassador Fiona Oakes, who said on BBC Radio that veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people,” had this to say:

Sadly it it is true that many people don’t get on well with a vegan diet and get very ill on it. Not an ethical justification obviously, but a plain statement of fact.

He said it here:

ScreenHunter_278 Jul. 20 16.18

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He elaborated:

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As Tim mentions in the above comment, he has agreed to come on Go Vegan Radio with Bob Linden on August 3, 2014, to discuss this with me.

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If animals matter morally at all–if animals are not mere things that exist as resources for human use–than veganism is the only rationally response.

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Going vegan is easy, better for your health (as a matter of plain fact) and the heath of the planet, and most important, it is what we owe morally to nonhuman animals.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

Welfarists Have Always Been Hostile to Abolishing Animal Exploitation

In doing research into the history of veganism, I was interested to see that Lewis Gompertz (1783/84–1861), a vegan on moral grounds who also believed in the notion of human and nonhuman equality, was a co-founder in 1824 of the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which became the RSPCA.

The SPCA governing Committee included people who hunted and who ate meat and other animal products. They objected to Gompertz’s veganism and moral views. So they engineered a resolution that limited membership in the SPCA to Christians. Gompertz was a Jew, and he was forced to resign.

It is interesting that from the very beginning of the modern “animal movement,” the welfarists have been hostile to vegans and those who opposed animal use.

It is also the case that anti-Semitism has a long history amongst some “animal advocates” that persists to this day.

*****

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

An Observation

In human history, no conduct has generated more vacuous excuses than animal use.

Attempts to justify animal use have generated some of the most profoundly silly statements ever made.

The desire to consume animal products has clouded some of the most brilliant minds who ever lived, reducing them to making statements that a small child could easily see are just nonsense.

If animals matter morally, we cannot morally justify eating, wearing, or consuming them. Period. End of story.

You can try as hard as you want to come up with excuses, justifications, and rationales. You will, however, only generate nonsense.

Going vegan is the only rational response to the recognition that animals matter morally. If you reject the idea that animals are things that exist only as resources, you have no rational option other than to go vegan.

*****

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

The Animal Confusion Movement

All of the large animal charities are partnering with industry to promote happy exploitation.

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All of the large animal charities and their supporters reject abolition as it is presented here:

* a rejection of the status of animals as property and recognition of nonhuman personhood based only on sentience;

* an emphasis on veganism as a moral imperative;

* a rejection of welfare campaigns, which merely increase production efficiency, and single-issue campaigns, which normalize animal exploitation by reinforcing the idea that the problem is the “abuse” being targeted and not our eating, wearing, and using animals and are often used to promote discrimination against humans; and

* a recognition that human rights and animal rights are inextricably intertwined and that sexism, racism, heterosexism, or violence have no place in the animal rights movement.

All of the large animal charities and their supporters simultaneously claim to be “abolitionists” who support welfare regulation, happy exploitation, single-issue campaigns, and reject the human rights/animal rights connection.

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The level of confusion is profound.

To those who claim that no one has a monopoly on “abolition” and they can describe themselves as “abolitionists” even they support welfare reform, happy exploitation, and single-issue campaigns, I would reply that no one has a monopoly on “apple” either. You can choose to call a banana an apple if you want. But that does not mean that a banana is an apple.

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If animals matter morally at all–if animals are not mere things that exist as resources for human use–than veganism is the only rationally response.

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Going vegan is easy, better for your health and the heath of the planet, and most important, it is what we owe morally to nonhuman animals.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

Statement on “Abolitionist” and “Abolitionist Vegan” Groups

I have no formal affiliation with any organization, including those that characterize themselves as “abolitionist” or “abolitionist vegan” organizations.

Some people who get exposed to my work get excited and decide to start “abolitionist” or “abolitionist vegan” groups. I am not sure why these people feel motivated to do this. After all, if they are rationally persuaded by my position (and rational persuasion is the only thing in which I have any interest; I am not interested in “followers”), why not just use the materials that I have developed and made available for free, and engage in creative, nonviolent abolitionist vegan advocacy? Why do they have to start a new “group”?

I don’t know the answer to that question.

In almost all of these cases, the person involved is a relatively new vegan, has often come from a welfarist background, and has little understanding of, or perspective on, how the modern animal movement developed and the ways in which it has gone seriously wrong, and really has no grasp on abolitionist theory. Being able to recite the Six Principles of the Abolitionist Approach does not mean you understand what those principles mean in the context of the overall theory.

These new groups are more or less centralized. Some have a more democratic structure; some have “executive directors” and are more authoritarian. Some engage in merchandizing and produce buttons, bags, and t-shirts to “brand.” Some don’t. But all basically purport to use my theory as a way to distinguish themselves from large animal charities and from smaller, more grassroots but still overtly new-welfarist efforts.

My experience is the moment I observe that these “abolitionist vegan” groups are engaging in advocacy that involves welfarism, single-issue campaigns, or any of the things that I have argued are inconsistent with abolition, or that they engage in advocacy that I believe is superficial and trivializes or even misrepresents the abolitionist position, or that they are engaging in deliberate efforts to keep people away from my work in favor of promoting their “brand” for the sake of it, these “abolitionist” groups complain that they have been victimized in some fashion by my observation. They apparently believe that I have some obligation to support them because they are supposedly representing my views even when I believe that they are not, and, in some cases, have seriously misunderstood and misrepresented my views. Some attempt to denigrate my ideological concerns by claiming or intimating in a dishonest way that my criticism is a matter of “personal conflict” or engaging in overtly ad hominem or defamatory attacks. But all go on to claim that they are really abolitionist vegan groups even though they incorporate some element or elements that I reject as inconsistent with abolitionist theory as I have developed it over the past three decades.

I cannot stop people from calling themselves “abolitionists,” “abolitionist vegans,” or from starting groups of this sort that purport to represent my position while not doing so. But I want to be clear that I have nothing to do with any of these groups and I believe that some of them are contributing in significant ways to the confusion that is impeding effective advocacy for nonhuman animals.

I do believe that there is room for collective “think tank” efforts that will develop intellectually sound materials to facilitate grassroots abolitionist advocacy, and develop and promote reading groups and other similar activities. I regard reading groups as extremely important. But these efforts should never become efforts in merchandizing, branding, or the promotion of superficial or trivial actions, and they should adhere to the main tenets of the abolitionist approach: a rejection of animals as property and and recognition of nonhuman personhood; veganism as the moral baseline; a complete rejection of welfare reform and single-issue campaigns, and a recognition that human rights and animal rights are inextricably intertwined.

Those who are persuaded rationally by the abolitionist theory I have developed would be better advised to educate themselves thoroughly–both as to the theory of abolition and how to teach others–and then go and advocate in creative, nonviolent ways. In my experience, groups of this sort have nothing to do with helping animals and everything to do with why the animal “movement” is in the mess it is in.

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If animals matter morally at all–if animals are not mere things that exist as resources for human use–than veganism is the only rationally response.

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Going vegan is easy, better for your health and the heath of the planet, and most important, it is what we owe morally to nonhuman animals.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

An HSUS Reprimand and My Reply

Someone from the The Farm Animal Protection Corporate Outreach Program at the Humane Society of the United States sent me a poster bearing the standard welfarist slogan, “don’t be divisive,” apparently to reprimand me for not getting with the corporate program:

PotterHSUS

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I liked the color scheme and general layout. Here is my reply to my friends at HSUS:

PotterReply

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And here’s a combined one:

Potterleft

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*****

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

And criticizing welfare reform and happy exploitation does not make you “divisive.” It means that you realize that animal rights means we reject animal exploitation, not seek to make the public more comfortable with it.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione