For many years, I have been making the argument that if animal exploitation cannot be morally justified (and I do not think it can be), then we ought, as an individual matter, to stop our direct participation in animal exploitation by going vegan and we ought, as a social matter, to advocate the abolition of, and not the regulation of, animal exploitation. I have argued, for example, that, having determined that pedophilia is morally wrong, we would not, even in the face of widespread child molestation in our society, advocate for “humane” pedophilia. Similarly, we should not advocate for “humane” animal exploitation. If animal exploitation is morally unjustifiable, we ought to say that and we ought to say that clearly. (I have also argued that as a practical matter, animal welfare reform does not work and is actually counterproductive.)
So it was with considerable interest that I read about the public reaction to Amazon.com’s advertisement of an e-book, “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct,” which is described by its author as an “attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian [sic] rules for these adults to follow.” CNN reports:
An e-book for sale on Amazon.com that appears to defend pedophilia has sparked hundreds of angry user comments and threats to boycott the online retailer unless it pulls the title.
Nearly 1,700 users who had commented on the title as of 9:40 p.m. ET deplored its publication and vowed to boycott Amazon until it removes the self-published title from the site. At least two Facebook pages have been set up dedicated to boycotting Amazon because of the book.
Amazon.com has apparently stopped selling the book in light of the public outrage.
The reaction to this book proves my point: even though we all know that pedophilia is rampant in society, and even though promoting “humane” pedophilia might lead to the reduction of suffering of children who are victimized in this way, no one who thinks that pedophilia is morally wrong thinks that we ought to advocate for “humane” or “compassionate” pedophilia.
Similarly, those who believe that animal exploitation is morally wrong ought not to be campaigning for “happy” or “compassionate” exploitation or promoting “happy” meat labels. The message should be clear: we cannot justify animal use, however “humane.” The reality, of course, is that the most “humane” animal use still involves what would be considered torture were humans involved. But no animal use, however “humane” or “compassionate” can be justified, just as no pedophilia, however “humane” or “compassionate” can be justified.
Until animal advocates react with as much outrage to the promotion of “happy” exploitation as we all react to the promotion of “happy” pedophilia, there will be no real animal rights movement.
If you are not vegan, go vegan. It is very easy, better for your health and for the planet. And, most important, it’s the morally right and just thing to do.
If you are vegan, then educate others in a creative, nonviolent way.
Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione