Save a Seal; Eat Non-Canadian Seafood

Dear Colleagues:

In his Report from the Seal Slaughter: Special Chance to Help, HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle writes:

It’s a day I dread each year: the first blow or bullet landed against a baby seal off Canada’s East Coast. It marks the beginning of the world’s largest, intentional slaughter of marine mammals.”

The HSUS solution? It has two parts.

First, HSUS has launched a “Save a Seal Today” campaign that asks people to sign a pledge “not to buy seafood products produced in Canada—such as snow crabs, cod, scallops, and shrimp—until Canada ends its commercial seal hunt for good.”

So, according to HSUS, we should boycott seafood produced in Canada and instead eat seafood produced in America, France, Norway, Japan, etc. But have no fear. We do not have to give up those yummy Canadian seafood products forever. Once the Canadians stop the commercial seal killing, then we can resume eating them.

The first part of the HSUS solution not only does what just about every single-issue campaign does—sends the message that some animals, whether seals, wolves, or nonhuman primates, have greater moral value than others—but it explicitly reinforces that speciesist valuation by encouraging the consumption of other non-Canadian sea animals until Canada stops killing the seals (as a commercial enterprise).

Now, I understand that humans find seals to be more cute than codfish, shrimp, scallops, etc. but human perceptions of cuteness really ought not to be the criterion for membership in the moral community.

HSUS notes:

Why boycott Canadian seafood? Because it’s working.

A small group of commercial fishermen in Eastern Canada kill seal pups for their fur, earning a tiny fraction of their annual income. Their industry has seen its revenue plummet since we started the boycott a few years ago.

So if we continue the boycott and the seal kill stops, then the Canadian seafood industry can reemerge and continue its previous higher level of slaughtering fish and other aquatic nonhumans.

The difference is that codfish, shrimp, scallops, etc., although presumably appealing to other codfish, shrimp, scallops, etc. simply don’t have those little faces that just make us humans melt.

But sentient sea animals value their lives just as the seals value theirs.

So the first part of the HSUS solution to the seal kill is explicitly speciesist and deliberately reinforces the notion that some animals matter more an others. This is very typical with these single-issue campaigns. And HSUS takes the further step of encouraging the public to consume the less-favored animals in order to benefit the more-favored ones.

Animal protection organizations are increasingly using boycotts that explicitly promote animal exploitation. For example, PETA announced a boycott of Kentucky Fried Chicken until KFC agrees to buy its chickens from producers who gas the birds, which PETA promotes as a more “humane” way of killing the birds and as economically more profitable for chicken producers. When KFC in Canada agreed to gassing chickens, PETA called off its boycott (in Canada). The message sent is crystal clear: it is morally acceptable to consume birds who have been gassed.

Second, Pacelle states:

This fight can be demoralizing. But we must keep our gaze fixed on our goal. Today, I’m asking for your support to help us stop it once and for all. If you give now to our efforts to save seals, your donation will be tripled by the Giant Steps Foundation and other generous donors. With every dollar you give, until we hit a total of $400,000, these other donors will give two dollars. Please consider a special gift—with this chance to turn every dollar you donate into three—to help us finally win the battle.

So, according to HSUS, your contribution of money can help HSUS “finally win the battle” because a total contribution of $400,000 will be worth $1.2 million to HSUS.

I do not understand this.

How can anyone say with a straight face that another $1.2 million is going to make a meaningful difference? Pacelle acknowledges that HSUS has an annual budget of $150 million and financial records indicate that HSUS has assets of almost $225 million.

But another $1.2 million is what we need “to help us finally win the battle”?

It is, of course, terrible that the seals are being killed. But it is also terrible that some use this tragedy to rake in a few more dollars.

I should add that the HSUS seal campaign is being directed by Humane Society International (HSI). HSI has launched a “Humane Choice” label in Australia that it claims “will guarantee the consumer that the animal has been treated with respect and care, from birth through to death.” A product bearing the HSI “Humane Choice” label assures the consumer of the following:

[T]he animal has had the best life and death offered to any farm animal. They basically live their lives as they would have done on Old McDonald’s farm, being allowed to satisfy their behavioural needs, to forage and move untethered and uncaged, with free access to outside areas, shade when it’s hot, shelter when it’s cold, with a good diet and a humane death.

So let’s “dread” the day the seal kill begins but reassure the public that the daily slaughter of millions of farm animals is just fine.

And Pacelle, at a recent news conference about animals used for food, stated:

We’re not asking for an end to the confinements of animals in buildings. We’re asking they not be crammed into cages and crates barely larger than their bodies.

So let’s “win the battle” against the seal kill but provide a bit more space to the animals tortured on factory farms.

It should be apparent to you that the mainstream groups (and they’re all pretty much the same) are exploiting animals as a business venture and none of this has anything to with shifting the paradigm from animals as property to animals as moral persons.

The campaign against the seal kill has been going on for decades. It has not ended yet. But many of the mainstream groups have made millions and millions of dollars from the campaign over those decades.

There is one way to change the status quo: to dislodge people from the default position that animals are things. There is one means to that end: creative, nonviolent vegan education.

The alternative is telling people that they should eat American codfish rather than Canadian codfish until Canada stops killing certain animals who have the good fortune to appeal to us. The alternative is pretending that there is some difference between seal fur or the skin of any other animal. The alternative is to maintain that we should stop killing cute seal pups but that we can continue to consume cows, pigs, and chickens who have a “Humane Choice” label slapped on their corpses.

The alternatives make no sense. Indeed, they are counterproductive in that they mislead the public into thinking that we can make meaningful moral distinctions among different sorts of animal exploitation.

So I say to Wayne Pacelle, whom I have known for many years: Wayne, do you really want to “finally win the battle”? Then put your talent and the talents of your HSUS colleagues, and the considerable resources of HSUS, behind a single clear message:

Go Vegan. Stop eating, wearing, consuming, or otherwise using nonhuman animals.

Wayne, if you really want things to change, stop promoting the notion that some animals count more as a moral matter than do others. Stop promoting “happy” meat and animal products. Stop promoting the notion of “responsible breeding.” Stop promoting the fantasy that some slaughterhouses are “abusive” and others are not. Educate your 11 million members that the issue is animal use, not fetishizing certain animals over others or reforming animal torture, which, given the status of animals as chattel property, will never result in improved protection for animals anyway and will only make the public feel more comfortable about exploiting and consuming animals. Yes, your more conservative donors will object but so what? Imagine the impact you could have if you made clear that a “humane” society was one that rejected all animal use.

To all of you: If you are not vegan, go vegan. It is incredibly easy to do; it is better for your physical health and for the planet. But, most importantly, it is the morally right thing to do.

And then, go educate others about veganism in creative, nonviolent ways. An idea shared with others is worth so very much more than a dollar given to already fantastically wealthy corporations—even if the dollar you donate is tripled.

Finally, amidst all of the focus on seals and other “special” animals, please do not forget the fact that there are millions of dogs, cats, rats, fish, birds, mice, and other nonhumans who need homes today. Right now. Please adopt a homeless nonhuman. There are more animals now than ever who need homes. The housing crisis is depriving nonhumans as well as humans of their homes. Please adopt. We are responsible for domesticated animals being in a world in which they do not fit. The least that we can do is to give them a place of refuge. Adoption is an important form of animal rights activism.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione

Singer Approves (Again) of Animal Exploitation; Drayson on Vivisection in the U.K.

Dear Colleagues:

Two items of note came across my desk in the past several days:

First, Peter Singer, “father of the animal rights movement,” said in an interview:

PROFESSOR PETER SINGER: If we are going to eat animal products then I think there’s a heavy responsibility on us to make sure that the animals didn’t suffer. And that might involve a bit of going to local markets, or, at the very least, buying certified organic, given the present system.

And that will definitely be better than the factory farm production. I think those are options. I don’t think we should be eating nearly as much meat or animal products as we we’re eating anyway.

So by consuming locally produced flesh and animal products, or “certified organic” products, we discharge our “heavy responsibility…to make sure the animals didn’t suffer.” That is absurd. Locally produced or organic flesh/products come from animals who are tortured. Singer’s comment is no different from saying:

If we are going to molest children, I think there’s a heavy responsibility on us to make sure that the children didn’t suffer. And that might involve giving them a bit of chocolate.

And Singer adds that we should not be eating “nearly as much meat or animal products as we’re eating anyway.”

Peter, the amount that we should be eating is zero.

Thanks to Our Father for once again reinforcing that animal exploitation is morally acceptable.

Second, Britain’s Science Minister, Lord Drayson, noted that despite militant direct action targeting vivisectors, the number of animal experiments in the U.K. increased 14% from last year and a study

shows that just a third of British adults would like a ban on animal experimentation, while the number of people who now unconditionally accept the need for animal research has increased by 28 per cent since 1999.

The present approach is not working. And apart from the question of the morality of violence, militant direct action is doing nothing more than increasing the perception that animal rights is a fringe issue that is promoted by crazies who should not be taken seriously. But that should come as no surprise. In a world in which the overwhelming number of people think that it is morally acceptable to inflict pain, suffering, and death on 56 billion animals per year for no better reason than that they taste good, the public is not about to regard those who advocate violence against a use of animals that has been sold to them as “necessary” for their health as anything other than crazies. This frustrates serious discussion about the morality of animal use.

We need to shift the paradigm away from property status and toward moral personhood. And the only way to do that is through creative, nonviolent vegan education.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione

Commentary #16: Responding to Questions: Single-Issue Campaigns and MDA Opposition to the Abolitionist Approach

Dear Colleagues:

Several weeks ago, I asked for questions that people would like me to address. I received approximately 80 questions. I plan to do several Commentaries in which I discuss at least some of these questions.

A number of the questions that I received concern single-issue campaigns so this Commentary deals primarily with that topic and with the issue about why many of those who promote violence are opposed to the abolitionist approach.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione


Euphoria? For Whom?

Dear Colleagues:

In my previous blog post, Partners in Exploitation, I discussed the various labeling schemes endorsed and promoted by HSUS, PETA, and other animal welfare corporations.

Well low and behold, yesterday, I went to the local Whole Foods Market, you know, the one to which PETA gave the Best Animal-Friendly Retailer award, and I picked up a copy of the Whole Foods magazine, “Whole Deal.”

And there was a coupon for “All Natural Brown Cow Parfaits,” which are apparently combinations of different flavors of yogurt.

Yogurt? But doesn’t that involve animal suffering and death?

Not to worry. As you can see:

This yogurt carries the “Certified Humane Raised & Handled” label. The Certified Humane Raised and Handled Label is the stamp of approval of an organization called Humane Farm Animal Care, which developed the label with its partners, including the Humane Society of the United States. The HFAC/HSUS label is described as “a consumer certification and labeling program” to give consumers assurance that a labeled “egg, dairy, meat or poultry product has been produced with the welfare of the farm animal in mind.”

The fine print on the coupon says that the Brown Cow Parfait:

“Meets the Humane Farm Animal Care Program standards, which include nutritious diet without antibiotics, or hormones, animals raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space and the ability to engage in natural behaviors.”

Please note that cow on the coupon is wearing a little service cap and holding a spoon in her mouth. So it’s all okay. You see, she’s willingly serving you this product, made from her suffering and death and the suffering and death of her children.

The coupon has “Euphoria!” written at the top. “Euphoria” is defined as a “sense of happiness or well-being.”

And whose euphoria, whose sense of happiness or well being are we talking about?

Perhaps the euphoria of Humane Farm Animal Care, which charges fees for its little stamp-of-approval? Perhaps the euphoria of HSUS, which promotes these “humane” products so that HSUS members and the public in general can feel warm and furry about eating the products of animal torture? Perhaps the euphoria of Whole Foods, who peddle “humane” animal flesh and “happy” animal products and make a fortune doing so? Perhaps the euphoria of PETA, who gives awards to places like Whole Foods so that it, like HSUS, can cash on the “happy meat” fundraising and encourage animal consumption?

One thing of which we can be completely certain: It is not the euphoria of the cow.

If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s incredibly easy. It is better for your health. It is better for the planet, which sustains all life. And most importantly, it’s the morally right thing to do.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione

Partners in Exploitation

Dear Colleagues:

Making society feel more comfortable about animal exploitation and encouraging consumption are more often than not an explicit goal of animal welfare campaigns and organizations.

For example, many of the large animal advocacy groups in the United States and Britain are involved in promoting labeling schemes under which the flesh or products of nonhumans is given a stamp of approval. For example, Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), with its partners HSUS, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal People, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, and others, promotes the “Certified Humane Raised & Handled” label, which it describes as “a consumer certification and labeling program” to give consumers assurance that a labeled “egg, dairy, meat or poultry product has been produced with the welfare of the farm animal in mind.”

HFAC emphasizes that “[i]n ‘food animals, stress can affect meat quality . . . and general [animal] health'”and that the label “creates a win-win-win situation for retailers and restaurants, producers, and consumers. For farmers, the win means they can achieve differentiation, increase market share and increase profitability for choosing more sustainable practices.” Retailers win as well because “[n]atural and organic foods have been among the fastest growing grocery categories in recent years. Now grocers, retailers, restaurants, food service operators and producers can benefit from opportunities for sales and profits with Certified Humane Raised & Handled.”

The Humane Society International, an arm of HSUS, has launched a “Humane Choice” label in Australia that it claims “will guarantee the consumer that the animal has been treated with respect and care, from birth through to death.” A product bearing the “Humane Choice” label assures the consumer of the following:

[T]he animal has had the best life and death offered to any farm animal. They basically live their lives as they would have done on Old McDonald’s farm, being allowed to satisfy their behavioural needs, to forage and move untethered and uncaged, with free access to outside areas, shade when it’s hot, shelter when it’s cold, with a good diet and a humane death.

Whole Foods Market, Inc., a chain of supermarkets located in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, to which PETA gave an award to as Best Animal-Friendly Retailer, claims to be working “with our knowledgeable and passionate meat and poultry providers as well as with forward thinking humane animal treatment experts” in order to “not only improve the quality and the safety of the meat we sell, but also support humane living conditions for the animals.” Whole Foods also claims that “species-specific Animal Compassionate Standards, which require environments and conditions that support the animal’s physical, emotional, and behavioral needs, are currently being developed. Producers who successfully meet these voluntary Standards will be able to label their products with the special ‘Animal Compassionate’ designation.” PETA, Peter Singer, and other welfarist organizations have enthusiastically endorsed the “Animal Compassionate Standards.”

The RSPCA in Britain has the “Freedom Food” label, which is “the farm assurance and food labelling scheme established by the RSPCA, one of the world’s leading animal welfare organisations. The scheme is a charity in its own right, set up in 1994 to improve the welfare of farm animals and offer consumers a higher welfare choice.” The RSPCA provides “certification for farmers, hauliers, abattoirs, processors and packers and the scheme approves well-managed free-range, organic and indoor farms.”

The Freedom Food label “gives consumers the assurance that the scheme is backed by the RSPCA, one of the most respected animal charities in the world.” The RSPCA advises that consumers can show their support for improving farm animal welfare and higher welfare standards “by choosing products with the Freedom Food logo.” Producers can add value to their animal products because the Freedom Food label “differentiates your product and can give you a competitive advantage. Displaying the Freedom Food logo enables consumers to identify your products as higher welfare.” Producers also benefit because of increased margins, the development of a “niche” for “higher welfare” products that allows producers to “widen . . . [the] target market,” and “[a]ssociation with the RSPCA, one of the most well known animal welfare charities in the world.”Moreover, producers can “[g]ain credibility within the supply chain” and get other economic benefits, including cheaper farm insurance provided through the RSPCA. And the RSPCA will actually help producers to market their animal flesh and other animal products: “We use a variety of marketing tools including advertising, pr, website, exhibitions, sampling and in-store promotions. We also work closely with national retailers to develop joint promotional activities, undertake joint campaigns with the RSPCA and offer marketing support to our members.”

Another British organization, Compassion in World Farming is giving “Good Egg Awards” to companies like McDonald’s and praising them for using “cage-free” eggs. CIWF has an explicit partnership program with institutional exploiters called the Food Business Team, in which CIWF “engage[s] with Europe’s leading food companies, inspiring progress through prestigious awards and supporting products.” CIWF is, in effect, serving as a public relations firm to support animal use by corporations like McDonald’s and Unilever. And these corporations return the favor and praise CIWF. In statements posted on the CIWF website, McDonald’s acknowledges the “truly productive relationship” it has with CIWF and Unilever states: “The partnership has been challenging and constructive and ultimately helped to achieve the goals of both organisations and of course the objective of the brand-that of good (best) quality ingredients.”

It is clear in my view that these large animal corporations have become partners with industry to promote the consumption of animal products.

This topic will be discussed and debated in the forthcoming book, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, which I co-authored with Professor Robert Garner, and which Columbia University Press will be publishing shortly.

And remember: THE WORLD IS VEGAN! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione

Eight Animals

Dear Colleagues:

This morning’s AOL News carried a story, PETA’S Euthanasia Rates Have Critics Fuming.

The story states that PETA:

euthanizes over 90 percent of the dogs and cats relinquished to its headquarters in Norfolk, Va. In 2009, PETA euthanized 2,301 dogs and cats — 97 percent of those brought in — and adopted only eight, according to Virginia state figures. And the rate of these killings has been increasing. From 2004 to 2008, euthanasia at PETA increased by 10 percent.

I checked the documents that PETA filed with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and confirmed that the AOL story is correct. PETA killed 681 dogs and 1620 cats. PETA also killed 51 “other companion animals.”

That’s a total of 2352 animals.

And PETA adopted eight animals. Eight animals.

That is a disgrace. “Euthanasia” is death that is in the interest of the human or nonhuman euthanized. Euthanasia is never in the interests of a healthy being.

PETA apparently shares Peter Singer’s view that a relatively painless death does not constitute a harm for nonhuman animals because, unlike humans, most nonhumans are not self-aware and cannot grasp what it means to “have a life.” In order to have an interest in your continued existence, you must be human. So those 2352 animals that PETA killed weren’t really harmed. They did not care about their lives anyway. Nothing was taken from them when they were killed.

What unmitigated, speciesist nonsense.

According to the Economic Research Institute, PETA has revenue of $31,053,316 and assets of $19,759,999.

How much of this money went for an adoption program?

How many PETA celebrities are promoting the adoption of PETA animals rather than taking off their clothes to “go naked” for the glory and relentless publicity and promotion of PETA?

Eight animals? It would seem that the office staff could have adopted more than that.

Combine this with PETA’s sexism, and its giving awards to slaughterhouse designers and grocery chains that sell “happy” meat and animal products, and it is clear that PETA is nothing but a joke, albeit, for the animals, a most tragic one.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione

P.S. Added March 11, 2010:

Last evening, I made a comment on Twitter:

Temple Grandin announces that she is going to design “humane” facilities at PETA to handle slaughter of thousands of “rescued” animals.

This was obviously intended to parody the fact that PETA gave Grandin an award and they call her a “visionary” for designing slaughterhouses that PETA praises.

A considerable number of people thought that the comment was serious. I find it fascinating that PETA has gone so far in the direction of exploiting animals that people would think the comment was serious. That tells us a great deal about the confusion rampant in a movement in which “animal rights” means “we take in 2300 animals; we kill all but 8.”

By the way, I also posted this on Twitter:

HBO to retitle documentary on PETA’s Newkirk from “I Am An Animal” to “I Am An Animal (But Not One of the Ones We ‘Rescue’ and Kill).”

That was also said in jest although it, too, is a possibility, I suppose.

Veganism: Just Another Way of Reducing Suffering or a Fundamental Principle of Justice & Nonviolence?

Dear Colleagues:

It is important to understand that there are significant differences among those who regard themselves as vegans.

One important difference is between those who maintain that veganism is merely a way of reducing suffering, and those who maintain that it is a fundamental commitment to justice, nonviolence, and a recognition of the moral personhood of nonhuman animals.

The difference between these two groups is not merely a matter of abstract theory—it has profound practical consequences.

The prevailing position on veganism among new welfarists is that veganism is a way—one way—of reducing suffering. Understood in this way, veganism is no different than cage-free eggs or meat produced from a slaughterhouse designed by PETA-award winner Temple Grandin. These are, new welfarists claim, all just ways of reducing suffering. If X chooses to reduce suffering by being a vegan, great; if Y chooses to reduce suffering by eating cage-free eggs, great. If X decides to reduce suffering on Monday by eating no animal products and on Tuesday by eating “humanely” produced animal products, that’s fine. To maintain that, as a moral matter, X should be a vegan on Monday and Tuesday and every other day is “absolutist,” “fundamentalist,” or “fanatical.”

People like Peter Singer, and groups like “Vegan” Outreach and PETA maintain this position. For example, Singer maintains that being a “conscientious omnivore” is a “defensible ethical position.” He claims that being a consistent vegan is “fanatical.” Singer labels himself a “flexible vegan” who will be non-vegan when it is convenient. He mentions eating free-range eggs and dairy. He talks about the “luxury” of eating meat and other products from animals who have been well treated, in his view, and killed “humanely.” PETA claims that adherence to veganism as a matter of principle is a matter of “personal purity,” “narcissistic cultural fad,” and “fanatical obsession.” “Vegan” Outreach makes the emphasis on suffering clear and downplays the use of animals in claiming that veganism:

is not an end in itself. It is not a dogma or religion, nor a list of forbidden ingredients or immutable laws—it is only a tool for opposing cruelty and reducing suffering.

A fundamental assumption of the new welfarist position is that killing animals does not per se inflict a harm on them. Animals do not care that we use and kill them; they only care about how we treat them and kill them. As long as they don’t suffer too much, animals are indifferent to our using them. They have no interest in continued existence.

It is this thinking that has led to the “happy” meat/animal products movement, which has been the most serious setback in the struggle for justice for nonhumans in decades. It is this thinking that leads PETA and Singer to maintain that we may have a moral obligation not to be vegan in situations in which others will be annoyed or disconcerted by insistence on veganism.

I reject this view. I believe that it is speciesist to maintain that nonhumans must have minds similar to human minds in order to have an interest in continued existence. Any sentient being has an interest in continued life in that she prefers, wants, or desires to remain alive.

We can no more justify using nonhumans as human resources than we can justify human slavery. Animal use and slavery have at least one important point in common: both institutions treat sentient beings exclusively as resources of others. That cannot be justified with respect to humans; it cannot be justified with respect to nonhumans—however “humanely” we treat them.

The abolitionist approach sees veganism as the application of the principle of abolition to the life of the individual. It is our personal expression that we embrace the moral personhood of all sentient beings and we reject the status of nonhumans as chattel property. Veganism is an essential part of our commitment to nonviolence.

Veganism is not just a way of reducing suffering; it is what justice for nonhumans requires at the very least. It is not the last step in our journey to reject the moral schizophrenia that characterizes the human/nonhuman relationship; it is the first step. If animals have any moral significance, then we cannot eat, wear, or use them. A vegan is not a vegan only on Mondays, or only when it is convenient. A vegan is a vegan all the time. I would no more not be vegan just because my being vegan made someone else uncomfortable than I would remain silent if someone told a racist joke or harassed a woman because to object would make the perpetrator uncomfortable.

It is no more “absolutist” or “fanatical” to be a consistent vegan as it is to be consistent in one’s rejection of rape or pedophilia. Indeed, to characterize consistent veganism as “absolutist” is itself speciesist precisely because we would not so characterize our complete rejection of fundamental forms of human exploitation.

If you are not vegan, go vegan. It really is easy. It is better for our health and reduces the violence that we do to ourselves. It is better for the planet and reduces the harm that we do to the home of sentient beings and to the ecosystems that sustain all life. But, most importantly, it’s the morally right thing to do. We all say we reject violence. Let’s take what we say seriously. Let’s take an important step to reduce violence in the world starting with what we put in our mouths or on our bodies.

And remember, it’s not an impossibility: THE WORLD IS VEGAN! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione

New Book Coming Soon!

Dear Colleagues:

My newest book, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, will be published by Columbia University Press in November or early December. In the first section, I defend the abolitionist approach. In the second section, Professor Robert Garner of the University of Leicester (U.K.) defends the protectionist approach (what I refer to as “new welfare”). In the third section, Professor Garner and I discuss and debate issues such as the moral status of nonhuman animals and the efficacy of welfare reform.

I hope that this book will help you to think through the issues involved and that it will assist you in your advocacy efforts.

If you are not vegan, go vegan! Animal products are injurious to your health and animal agriculture is an ecological disaster. But most importantly, veganism is the morally right thing to do. It represents your daily celebration of nonviolence.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione

Opposing Views: On Violence

Dear Colleagues:

Opposing Views posted my essay, On Violence. It generated a lively discussion with well over 200 comments. Read the various threads and make up your own mind.

If you are not vegan, go vegan! Animal products are injurious to your health and animal agriculture is an ecological disaster. But most importantly, veganism is the morally right thing to do. It represents your daily celebration of nonviolence.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione

On Violence

Dear Colleagues:

Unfortunately, there are people who identify themselves as animal advocates who claim that the solution to the problem of animal exploitation is violence.

Some of these people have actually engaged in acts of violence against institutional exploiters. Others incite acts of violence by calling on people to use “intimidation” against animal exploiters or to make animal exploiters “fearful” of retaliatory violence.

Putting aside the moral/spiritual aspects of violence, those who promote violence are deeply confused about the basic economics of animal exploitation. Institutional users engage in animal exploitation because the public demands it. Institutional users are, for the most part, indifferent to whether they are selling beef or bananas. They will put their capital wherever they’ll get the best return.

Most people regard animal use as “normal” in the same sense that breathing and drinking water are considered as “normal.” They demand animal products. If you destroy ten slaughterhouses today, as long as demand remains, ten more slaughterhouses will be built or ten existing ones will expand production (and probably make production more economically efficient). If you shut down a supplier of animals used for vivisection, and the public continues to support vivisection, which it clearly does, then another supplier will emerge. So as a purely practical matter, violence is a strategy that cannot work.

As long as animal use is regarded as normal and as not raising a fundamental moral question, nothing will ever change. But we are not going to get people to think about animal use through intimidation, fear, and acts of violence. Education, if it is to be effective, can never be violent; it can never seek to intimidate or make people fearful. It must open their hearts and their minds. The non-violent strategy is anything but passive; it involves our working actively, constantly, and creatively to shift a fundamental paradigm—the notion that animals are things, resources, property; that they are exclusively means to human ends.

And it is clear that our efforts to educate are working. There is a dialogue emerging about the use of animals that goes beyond questions of “humane” treatment. There is a constant stream of stories about how people are becoming increasingly aware of the moral schizophrenia that characterizes the human/non-human relationship.

Those who advocate violence are not only confused about basic economic issues, but they are hindering this progress because they provide an easy target that gives people an excuse to dismiss the issue of animal exploitation. In this respect, the pro-violence people are similar to those who promote sexism.

Would Martin Luther King have campaigned for civil rights, claiming “I’d rather go naked than sit in the back of the bus”?

Of course not.

Would King or Gandhi have urged us to “intimidate” others and to make others “fearful” that they were going to become victims of violence?

Of course not.

Sometimes, when I see some of the things that the pro-violence people say or do (or when I see a video with a woman stripping “for the animals”), I shake my head and wonder what people could do that could be worse in terms of getting the public to take this issue seriously. Indeed, it seems that these people are trying to sabotage meaningful change.

For further discussion of these issues, listen to the Commentary I did on this subject, or read A Comment on Violence, More on Violence and Animal Rights, and On Violence and Vivisection, all of which are on this site.

I also discuss the issue of violence in my forthcoming book, which I co-authored with Dr. Robert Garner, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, which will be published by Columbia University Press in May 2010.

THE WORLD IS VEGAN! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione