What to Do on Proposition 2?

Dear Colleagues:

I am getting a large number of inquiries about whether animal advocates in California should vote for Proposition 2 given that it is already on the ballot.

On balance, it is my view that animal advocates should vote against Proposition 2 (or at least abstain from voting on it at all). I base my view on three reasons:

First, Proposition 2 will do nothing to reduce animal suffering in the short term. Proposition 2 will not even come into effect, if at all, until 2015. Proposition 2 has numerous exceptions and qualifications and even if it does come into effect at some point in the distant future, and even if it is enforced, it will result in no meaningful reduction in animal suffering.

Second, Proposition 2, if passed, will only make the public feel better about animal exploitation and will result in increased exploitation. Animals will continue to be tortured; the only difference will be that the torture will carry the stamp of approval from the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, and the other animal welfare corporations that are promoting Proposition 2. It is telling that approximately 100 farming organizations are supporting Proposition 2. Why do you think that is? The answer is plain. These producers believe that Proposition 2 will help their “bottom line.” And it will.

Third, it is important for animal advocates to send a clear message to the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, and other groups to stop promoting measures like Proposition 2. If HSUS is really concerned about animal suffering, then it should perhaps spend a chunk of its $223 million in assets and $124 million in revenues on vegan education. Veganism reduces the demand for animal products and helps to shift social attitudes away from the notion that it is morally acceptable to use animals as long as we do so “humanely.” That view results in nothing but continued and increased animal use. It is time that advocates just said “no” to it.

It is time to demand more from the organizations that purport to represent the ideals of animal advocates than cheap campaigns that produce headlines and swollen coffers, but do nothing to provide meaningful protection for animal interests and do not in any way undermine the property status of animals. Creative, nonviolent vegan education is the best way to reduce animal suffering and death in the short term and in the long term. Increased veganism is the only means to achieve the abolition of animal exploitation. Efforts like Proposition 2, which make the consumption of animals more acceptable, will only reinforce speciesism and the notion that it is morally acceptable to consume nonhumans as long as we do so “humanely.”

The decision about how to vote on Proposition 2 is not one that requires that advocates choose between more animal suffering or less. It is a choice between continuing to promote the “happy meat” movement that is taking things in the wrong direction or getting down to serious animal advocacy that will really make a difference.

Animals advocates should not vote for Proposition 2.

Gary L. Francione
© 2008 Gary L. Francione