Category Archives: Podcast

Commentary #7: An Up-Close and Personal Encounter with Moral Schizophrenia

Dear Colleagues:

I refer to the delusional and confused way that we think about animals as a social/moral matter as constituting “moral schizophrenia.”

I had a recent encounter with moral schizophrenia in dealing with a deer who had been hit by a car and the hunters who stopped to help the deer.

In this Commentary, I describe and discuss what happened.

Gary L. Francione
© 2009 Gary L. Francione

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Commentary #6: Aspects of the Vegetarian/Vegan Debate

Dear Colleagues:

Our first Commentary about vegetarianism as a “gateway” to veganism has provoked continuing controversy and in this Commentary, I address three issues:

1. Does my position that we cannot draw a moral distinction between flesh and other animal products mean that we ought to be confrontational or judgmental when we talk to people who are not vegans?

The short answer: no, of course not.

2. What do we do when someone says that they care about the issue of animal exploitation but they just are not going to give up animal products.

The short answer: that is generally a reaction that is really inviting more discussion.

3. Why do new welfarists so vehemently reject veganism as a moral baseline?

The short answer: a key principle of animal welfare theory is that it is acceptable to use and to kill animals as long as we do not make them suffer. Veganism is simply one way—among many others, including “happy” meat/animal products—to reduce suffering. Veganism has no greater significance than as a way of reducing suffering.

I hope that this Commentary clarifies some of the excellent questions that I have received.

Gary L. Francione
©2009 Gary L. Francione

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Commentary #5: On Violence

Dear Colleagues:

I am opposed to violence. I regard violence as inherently immoral. I have written about and discussed that issue often, including in essays (1,2) on this site.

I recognize that many of you disagree with my opposition to violence.

But that is irrelevant. Even if you believe that violence can be justified, there are still compelling reasons to maintain that violence makes no sense whatsoever in the context of the struggle for animal rights.

I maintain that the only thing that makes any practical sense is creative, non-violent vegan education. That strategy is anything but passive; it involves our working actively and constantly to shift a fundamental paradigm—the notion that animals are things, resources, property; that they are exclusively means to human ends.

Until we build a critical mass of people who reject that paradigm, nothing will change.

In this Commentary, I discuss the matter of violence.

Gary L. Francione
©2009 Gary L. Francione

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Commentary #4: Follow-Up to “Pets” Commentary: Non-Vegan Cats

Dear Colleagues:

A number of people have written to me in response to the Commentary on “pets” to ask about the issue of non-vegan cats.

It is my understanding that many cats can live healthy lives on a vegan diet but what if there are cats who absolutely need to consume animal products?

In this Commentary, I offer some ideas that I hope will stimulate your thinking about this issue.

Gary L. Francione
© 2009 Gary L. Francione

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Commentary #3: On Michael Vick

Dear Colleagues:

As you know, I have since 2007 been wondering about why anyone thinks that Michael Vick is any worse than anyone else who consumes or uses animal products. (See 1, 2, 3)

In any event, Vick was released from prison in May, 2009, and on July 27, 2009, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstated Vick. The Philadelphia Eagles have given Vick a one-year deal with an option for a second year.

Judging from media reports and blog essays, many animal advocates are outraged and some advocates are calling for a boycott of the NFL

In this Commentary, I explain why I think the Michael Vick matter is not really about Michael Vick or dog fighting. It is about fundamental moral principles that we claim as a society to accept.

Gary L. Francione
© 2009 Gary L. Francione

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Commentary #2: “Pets”

Dear Colleagues:

The issue of “pets” is a hot button issue with many advocates.

Here is something I wrote in the Appendix to my book Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?:

Question 3: Does the institution of pet ownership violate animals’ basic right not to be regarded as things?

Answer: Yes. Pets are our property. Dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, and other animals are mass produced like bolts in a factory or, in the case of birds and exotic animals, are captured in the wild and transported long distances, during which journey many of them die. Pets are marketed in exactly the same way as other commodities. Although some of us may treat our companion animals well, more of us treat them poorly. In America, most dogs spend less than two years in a home before they are dumped at a pound or otherwise transferred to a new owner; more than 70 percent of people who adopt animals give them away, take them to shelters, or abandon them. We are all aware of horror stories about neighborhood dogs on short chains who spend most of their lives alone. Our cities are full of stray cats and dogs who live miserable lives and starve or freeze, succumb to disease, or are tormented by humans. Some people who claim to love their companion animals mutilate them senselessly by having their ears cropped, their tails docked, or their claws ripped out so that they will not scratch the furniture.

You may treat your animal companion as a member of your family and effectively accord her or him inherent value or the basic right not to be treated as your resource. But your treatment of your animal really means that you regard your animal property as having higher than market value; should you change your mind and administer daily and severe beatings to your dog for disciplinary purposes, or not feed your cat so that she will be more motivated to catch the mice in the basement of your store, or kill your animal because you no longer want the financial expense, your decision will be protected by the law. You are free to value your property as you see fit. You may decide to polish your car often or you may let the finish erode. The choice is yours. As long as you provide the minimal maintenance for your car so that it can pass inspection, any other decision you make with respect to the vehicle, including your decision to give it to a scrap dealer, is your business. As long as you provide minimal food, water, and shelter to your pet, any other decision you make, apart from torturing the animal for no purpose whatsoever, is your business, including your decision to dump your pet at the local shelter (where many animals are either killed or sold into research, or have your pet killed by a willing veterinarian.

Many years ago, I adopted a hamster from a law school classmate. The hamster became ill one night, and I called an emergency veterinary service. The veterinarian said that the minimum amount for an emergency visit was $50 and asked me why I would want to spend that amount when I could get a “new” hamster from any pet shop for about $3. I took the hamster to the veterinarian anyway, but that event was one of the first times my consciousness was raised about the status of animals as economic commodities.

As someone who lives with seven rescued canine companions whom I love dearly, I do not treat this matter lightly. Although I regard my companions as family members, they are still my property and I could decide tomorrow to have them all killed. As much as I enjoy living with dogs, were there only two dogs remaining in the world, I would not be in favor of breeding them so that we could have more “pets” and thus perpetuate their property status. Indeed, anyone who truly cares about dogs should visit a “puppy mill”–a place where dogs are bred in the hundreds or thousands and are treated as nothing more than commodities. Female dogs are bred repeatedly until they are “spent” and are either killed or sold into research. We should, of course, care for all those domestic animals that are presently alive, but we should not continue to bring more animals into existence so that we may own them as pets.

In this second Abolitionist Approach Commentary, we will explore the issue of “pets.”

Gary L. Francione
© 2009 Gary L. Francione

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