Someone sent me this as one of the many examples of opportunistic so-called “animal advocates” who fall over themselves in a mad dash to say that animal exploitation is really okay while they hold their hands out for donations:
Imagine someone saying: “Most of the time, I am not a bigot. But I’m not perfect and I occasionally engage in actions that are legal but that harm others and that are motivated by my racial animus because I enjoy it.”
Imagine someone saying: “Yeah, I’m a bigot. But I’m a reducetarian bigot. I am cutting down my racist behavior here and there. For example, I don’t tell racist jokes on Monday before 6.”
Would we say, “Civil Rights Advocates, We Gotta Break Through This 100% Perfect Sh*t” and argue that it’s perfectly okay to deliberately engage in racist conduct, and that we just have to get over this “sh*t” about associating the concept of civil rights with equality?”
Of course not.
Imagine someone saying: “Most of the time, I don’t engage in sexist behavior. But I am not perfect and I occasionally engage in behavior that is legal but that harms women because, well, I enjoy a bit of misogyny now and then.”
Imagine someone saying: “Yeah, I’m a sexist. But I’m a reducetarian sexist. I am cutting down my sexist behavior here and there. For example, on Mondays, before 6, I don’t tell misogynistic jokes that have some sort of sexual violence to women as the punchline.”
Would we say: “Women’s Rights Advocates, We Gotta Break Through this 100% Perfect Sh*t” and argue that it’s perfectly okay to deliberately engage in sexist conduct and that we need to get over this “sh*t” about associating the concept of radical feminism with rejecting misogyny?”
Of course not.
In both cases–in *all* cases involving fundamental human rights–we would be clear: We would say: “You need to think more seriously about justice and fundamental fairness. You need to recognize that justice requires that you not deliberately harm others in these ways.”
But to excuse exploitation–indeed, to celebrate it as some sort of virtue–is the approach of certain opportunistic “animal advocates” when it comes to animals. It’s sad. It’s intellectually vacuous. And it’s transparently speciesist. These “animal advocates” put their stamp of approval on actions that involve imposing suffering and death on animals.
Always speak with people in a nonviolent way and remember your goal is to educate, not judge people (as opposed to actions, practices, and institutions). That it very important.
But it is also important that we recognize that justice requires we always be clear that we have a moral obligation not to engage in victimizing the vulnerable. Those concerned about justice should never put a stamp of approval on that victimization.
And the claim that we often hear that none of us can be “perfectly” vegan because, for example, animals are unintentionally killed in the process of harvesting crops is, like this entire enterprise, intellectually vacuous as well as morally bankrupt. For example, just about every product we consume involves a process where humans are unintentionally injured and sometimes even killed. That does not mean that there is no difference between unintentional deaths that occur during the manufacturing process and deliberately murdering human beings and approving of that murder–and even praising it as a normatively desirable thing.
The animal wefare/happy exploitation crowd has as its central goal to make people feel comfortable about continuing to exploit. This assures that they will bring in donations so that they can be careerists–professional “activists” who ask you to contribute money that you earn at your job so that they can have the “job” of being professional “activists” who compromise the interests of animals and reject veganism as a moral baseline, and then canonize themselves as heroes “for the animals.” It’s appalling and it’s corrupt. Supporting these people in any way is supporting animal exploitation.
The person who wrote the essay that I was sent this morning is not a vegan and explicitly rejects veganism as a moral imperative. “Sh*t” is non-vegans lecturing us about veganism and then holding their hands out for a donation.
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.
If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.
Embracing veganism as a moral imperative and advocating for veganism as a moral imperative are, along with caring for nonhuman refugees, the most important acts of activism that you can undertake.
Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.
Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Professor of Law, Rutgers University
Honorary Professor (Philosophy) University of East Anglia
©2018 Gary L. Francione