Commentary #8: A Discussion of Abolitionist Principles

Dear Colleagues:

There are some advocates who claim to be abolitionists but who support welfare reform or who support violence.

In this Commentary, I explain why welfare reform and violence cannot fit into the abolitionist approach.

Gary L. Francione
©2009 Gary L. Francione

Sexism and Misogyny in the Movement

Dear Colleagues:

For two decades now, I have argued that using sexism and misogyny supposedly to promote animal rights is a very bad idea. Perpetuating the commodification of women is not only inherently immoral but will do nothing to change social thinking about the commodification of nonhumans. PETA has been doing various versions of the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign for years now. And what result has it had? The fur industry is stronger now than it has ever been. Even those who once went naked for PETA are wearing fur again.

I have just seen a video ad produced by Wakker Dier, which means “Animal Awake,” a Dutch organization described as “Europe’s PETA counterpart.” Wakker Dier hired Dutch Playmate and fetish model Ancilla Tilia to play the part of a stripper who gets clubbed and mutilated.

PETA pushed its sexist campaigns further with its frontal nudity video. And now we are seeing outright graphic violence.

If you believe that any of this is going to do anything to raise consciousness about animal exploitation, I respectfully but strongly disagree.

These antics are intended as nothing more than entertainment for the movement; they do nothing to convince the public of the importance of the issue of animal exploitation. In the many years that I have been doing animal work, I have never had anyone come to me to say that they had been moved to consider the animal issue because they saw a naked woman in a cage. Indeed, this is precisely the sort of thing that makes progressive people think that the animal rights movement is a pathetic joke to be dismissed and ignored.

The commodification of nonhumans is very similar to the commodification of women. But society has no problem with the commodification of women. Instead of opposing sexism and misogyny, a large segment of the movement actively promotes it. As long as we continue to think of women as meat, we will never see the problem with using animals as meat.

I urge you to think about this issue and to consider active opposition to sexism and misogyny in the movement. It is inherently wrong and it is doing nothing–absolutely nothing–to help animals.

Gary L. Francione
©2009 Gary L. Francione

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

Hey, Is That Milk on Your Balaclava?

Dear Colleagues:

As you know, I am opposed to all violence. See, e.g., A Commentary on Violence (podcast), A Comment on Violence, More on Violence and Animal Rights, and On Vivisection and Violence. That has been a consistent theme in my work for many years. I oppose all violence—including violence against property. Those who claim that there is such a thing as destroying a building or engaging in a break-in that does not result in harm or the risk of harm to sentient beings (humans and nonhumans alike) are simply deluding themselves.

For the reasons that I have stated on numerous occasions, I regard violence as the problem and not as any part of the solution and I encourage those who are concerned about animal exploitation to go vegan and to engage in creative, non-violent vegan education.

I just took a look at the website of the Animal Liberation Front, which I had not looked at in a while.

It is really quite remarkable.

According to the Alf “credo”:

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters, usually through the damage and destruction of property.

The credo also says:

Any group of people who are vegetarians or vegans and who carry out actions according to ALF guidelines have the right to regard themselves as part of the ALF.

Okay, let me see if I have this right. If you are a vegetarian—if you consume milk, ice cream, cheese, eggs, etc.—you have the ALF’s blessing to destroy property in its name.

Now I do not think that you should be engaging in violence even if you are vegan, but it is beyond bewildering to me that anyone could suggest that people who are actively engaged in animal exploitation themselves by not being vegan could think it even remotely acceptable that they should be engaged in acts of violence against other people involved in animal exploitation.

But wait. There’s more. There is a Saints Alive link that features many non-vegan (or non-vegetarian) celebrities and public figures, including those who have promoted or endorsed animal products.

And they have links to almost every welfarist organization that promotes “happy” meat/animal products.

So people who exploit animals and who support other animal exploiters claim to be militants with the right to engage in violence against other animal exploiters. The level of confusion here is profound.

I have often argued that those who support violence cannot coherently claim that we ought to target institutional exploiters because it is we, the consumers, who create the demand for animal products. The solution is education to shift the moral paradigm. There is no other realistic solution. The pro-violence people get violently angry when I make that argument and they call me all sorts of names and, unfortunately, some of them threaten and harass those who express support for nonviolence.

I now see why. They would all have to put on their balaclavas and do violence against each other if they accepted my position.

Go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for you; it’s better for the planet; and, most importantly, it’s the morally right thing to do. And, at least as far as I am concerned, animal rights and ethical veganism represent a commitment to non-violence.

Gary L. Francione
©2009 Gary L. Francione