More on Michael Vick, Andre Robinson, and “Animal Abusers”

I often hear people say that the difference between “animal abusers” like Michael Vick and Andre Robinson, and non-vegans, is that Vick and Robinson inflicted suffering on animals because they enjoyed the process of inflicting harm on animals whereas non-vegans just enjoy the taste of animal products but don’t want to harm animals. This difference, it is claimed, makes it wrong for me to say that non-vegans are morally indistinguishable from people like Vick and Robinson.

That is unsound thinking.

First of all, there are lots of non-vegans who do enjoy the process of killing animals. They are called hunters. Those people are in all ways–morally and psychologically–identical to Vick, Robinson, and anyone else who enjoys the actual process of harming animals.

But what about the non-hunting non-vegans who just buy animal products at their grocery store?

In order to understand their status, consider the following situations:

Situation #1: John kills Sam himself and enjoys the process of killing Sam.

Situation #2: Mike needs Morty to be dead in order to get an economic benefit (Mike will inherit money) but Mike is sad about that because he likes Morty and he abhors violence. Nevertheless, he needs Morty to die so he pays Dan to kill Morty. Mike enjoys the results of Morty being dead but did not enjoy the process of harming Morty.

There may be a psychological distinction between John and Dan on one hand, and Mike on the other; there is no moral difference. This moral equivalence is reflected in legal norms: John and Mike are both treated as murderers.

Once you realize that animal foods involve suffering and death (and no one over the age of 4 can claim not to realize that), and that we do not need to eat animals to be healthy, continuing to pay others to impose suffering and death on animals makes you morally indistinguishable from Vick, Robinson, and others you regard as “animal abusers.”

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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.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

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

©2014 Gary L. Francione

The Unfortunate Racism of Some “Animal Lovers”

I posted an essay from this site on Facebook concerning Andre Robinson, the man who kicked the cat named King, and who faces anticruelty charges in New York. The point was simple: What Andre Robinson did was terrible but was no different from what non-vegans support and participate directly in every single day.

I got comments which indicated that many people simply missed the whole point:

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These people apparently do not see the problem with maintaining that we can respect the fundamental rights of nonhumans at the same time we treat nonhumans and things and impose suffering and death on them to satisfy our palate pleasure or fashion sense.

I got dozens of comments (most of which I deleted) calling Robinson names, such as:

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I wonder if these people regard their non-vegan relatives or friends, or themselves, if they are not vegans, as “assholes,” “Knob Heads,” “cruel fucker[s],” “mother FUCKER[S],” “fucking pieces of shit,” “fucking cunts,” etc. or whether they refer to non-vegans in ableist terms, such as “retarded” morons.

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I wonder if she thinks that all her non-vegan friends and relatives (or she herself if she is not vegans) are all “pricks” who will get their “karma.”

There were dozens of these sorts of comments.

And I got many wishing him harm and expressing violence, such as:

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I wonder if these people think such things with respect to non-vegans.

And I got overtly racist comments–on, including:

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Please note that the last comment had a reference to the Ku Klux Klan. Absolutely shocking.

This overt racism has characterized other high visibility animal cases involving other people of color, including Michael Vick, Kisha Curtis, and the children who tortured the cat in Patterson, New Jersey.

We should all be upset by what Robinson did to King. But we should also remember that what he did was in no way morally different from what non-vegans directly support every single day. And however upset we are with anyone, we should never use racially charge language to voice our criticism.

And it is sad that so many people are so conceptually challenged that they cannot see that there is no morally significant difference between Andre Robinson and anyone who consumes nonhuman animals.

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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.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

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

©2014 Gary L. Francione

ADDENDUM, November 9, 2014

I did another post on Robinson on November 8.

In addition to the endless parade of ignorant name calling and expressions of violence, there were more racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments, such as:

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Moral Schizophrenia–Again, and Again, and Again

Gavin Dingman, an 11-year old from Michigan, killed an albino deer.

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Many people are upset about this, with some even making death threats to Gavin.

It is tragic when any healthy animal is killed for “sport” or any other purpose.

And it is tragic that we teach our children that violence is “fun.”

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But those non-vegans who are critical of this ought to do some serious self-reflection.

You see, there is no moral difference between what Gavin Dingman did and what any non-vegan supports and participates in.

Our moral schizophrenia where animals are concerned is profound. We have seen it in the context of Michael Vick, Andre Robinson, Kisha Curtis, Mitt Romney, and others. We have seen it in the campaigns that seek to portray groups of “others” as the culprits.

It makes no sense for “animal lovers” to complain about hunting if they are not vegans. There is no morally coherent difference between killing an animal you eat and paying someone else to kill an animal you eat.

So what Gavin Dingman did was tragic. If you agree, then please stop being confused and hypocritical and go vegan. Otherwise, you’re just attacking an 11-year old kid for what you yourself support and do.

And any “animal lover” who makes death threats to anyone is just using animals as an excuse to express their misanthropy.

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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.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

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

©2014 Gary L. Francione

More on Andre Robinson, Kicking Cats, and Consuming Animal Products

Here is an essay I wrote on the Andre Robinson that was published on October 10, 2014 in the New York Daily News.

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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.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

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

©2014 Gary L. Francione

ADDENDUM:

Here is my New York times essay on the subject.

Here is a brief CNN interview I did on the Robinson matter.

ADDENDUM, October 17, 2014

Unfortunately, some animal advocates continue to use unfortunate and racially charged language to criticize Robinson. For example, on a Facebook page devoted to the King matter, someone commented on Robinson’s “pimpish ‘I’m the man’ attitude”.

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That is shocking.

When I pointed it out, another animal advocate responded that she disagreed that the comment was racist, stating: “perhaps the person shouldn’t have used the word ‘pimpish’ but you did not see his demeanor nor his mother’s in court.”

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“[P]erhaps” the person should not have used “pimpish”?

Sorry, there’s no “perhaps” about it. The use of “pimpish” is unquestionably racist in this context and should be condemned clearly as such.

And how is Robinson’s demeanor–or his mother’s conduct– in court relevant to the propriety of calling him “pimpish”? That is a rhetorical question. It isn’t.

We should all be upset by what Robinson did to King. But we should also remember that what he did was in no way different from the violence that we support every single day if we consume animal products. And however upset we are with anyone, we should never use racially charge language to voice our criticism.

Veganism: It Follows From What Most People Already Believe

You don’t need a theory of animal rights to get you to veganism. You don’t even need to believe in human and nonhuman equality to get to veganism.

If you believe–as most people believe–that: (1) animals matter morally; (2) because animals matter morally, we cannot justify imposing “unnecessary” suffering on them; and (3) pleasure, amusement, or convenience cannot suffice as “necessity,” then you are already committed to stop eating, wearing, or using animals in any situation in which there is not compulsion or real necessity, such as being on the desert island or the lifeboat with no access to plant foods.

Veganism is not in any way “extreme.” What is “extreme” is saying that you believe that animals matter morally but acting in your life as though they were merely things.

So what are you waiting for? Follow through in your conduct with what you say you believe. Go vegan.

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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.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

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

©2014 Gary L. Francione

My Happy Exploitation Label is Better Than Your Happy Exploitation Label

In this article, HSUS happy exploitation czar Paul Shapiro complains that the American Humane Association American Humane Certified Label, which will be on Butterball turkeys this Thanksgiving, is inadequate:

Paul Shapiro, vice president for farm-animal protection for the watchdog group Humane Society of the United States, gave an even harsher assessment: “It’s an industry-friendly standard that doesn’t really differ from what the industry is already doing”

Apparently, the American Humane Certified label is not as good as the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards used by Whole Foods. HSUS CEO/President Wayne Pacelle sits on the Board of Directors of the Global Animal Partnership, which developed the 5-steps of happiness. And the American Humane happy label is not as good as the Certified Humane Raised and Handled Label that HSUS supports/endorses. And it’s also not as good as the Humane Choice Label of Humane Society International, an arm of HSUS.

But it gets even more confusing. The American Humane Certified Label standards which HSUS finds inadequate, was developed by a Scientific Committee that includes Temple Grandin, who was given an award by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for being a “Visionary”:

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You know, it’s so darn difficult to keep all of these happy labels straight. I’ve written about these labels many times before (see 1; 2; 3; 4 for a few).

And no less a luminary than Peter Singer, “father of the animal rights movement,” on behalf of himself and every large “animal protection” organization, including HSUS, PETA, Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals, Vegan Outreach, etc., expressed “appreciation and support” for the “pioneering” happy exploitation program of Whole Foods.

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Why, with all these happy labels endorsed by all these “animal advocates,” it’s apparently the case that the only animals who aren’t being exploited in a happy way are those who have the American Humane Certified Humane label.

So American Humane had better get on the (butter)ball as the animals whose corpses bear their happy label are not as happy as the animals whose corpses bear the labels of these other “animal advocates” even though American Humane has Temple Grandin, a PETA “Visionary,” developing their happy standards.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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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.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

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

©2014 Gary L. Francione

CNN Interview on The Andre Robinson/King Case

On October 4, 2014, I did a brief interview on the Michael Smerconish Show on CNN concerning the Andre Robinson case.

You can watch the interview here.

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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.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

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

©2014 Gary L. Francione