Category Archives: PETA

Vegan Trove Podcast Ep 9: Direct Action Everywhere (DxE): Welfarist or Abolitionist?

welfarism everywhere DxE ChipotlePlease listen here.

Friends, I thought it important to address this issue since there’s a number of problems with this particular advocacy group Direct Action Everywhere’s strategy and theory, in particular the most welfarist indicator of them all — their decision not to mention veganism –  the very action needed to end the property status of animals.

The links to vegan resources I mentioned.
A list of recommended animal ethics books

Disclaimer: Please note I do not necessarily endorse individuals, opinions, links or ads on external sites.DxE Welfarists attacking Suppliers

I look forward to your company next time. Thanks for listening.

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Filed under Mercy For Animals, PETA

Some Thoughts on Why Vegans Criticise Vegans for Promoting Veganism

As the title “Why Vegans Criticise Vegans for Promoting Veganism” suggests, it would appear we advocates are confused and rendering ourselves ineffectual. If I didn’t know better I would think that there were agent provocateurs amongst us, but no, it’s really a simple matter of speciesism…. and in some cases career advancement.

On various social media sites there appears to be much confusion amongst those who claim to be vegan over what veganism and being vegan entails. The most obvious confusion amongst those who claim to be vegan is the mistaken belief that veganism is a diet, and is a matter of personal choice. Conflation of vegetarianism and veganism is common. Advocates also seem to be under the impression that it’s morally acceptable to promote “humane” use and “humane” slaughter of animals and single issue campaigns (SICs) as part of vegan advocacy. It is interesting to note that amongst proponents of these ideas, there is a general intentional avoidance of the words “vegan” and “veganism”, and in the case of large animal organisations this is done so as not to challenge their predominantly non-vegan donor base. There is also increasingly an appropriation of the term “abolitionist, just as the term “animal rights” was appropriated.

These are ongoing problems so I thought I would share some thoughts. I invite you to listen to the podcast here.

Claiming We are Vegan but Continuing to Use Animals.

There are some of us who claim to be vegan, and think we can be vegan and continue to use animals in our personal lives with the excuse that we treat them “nicely”. Where have I heard before that it’s morally justifiable to use animals as long as it is “humane”? Oh yes! Large animal organisations consistently promote this notion to the public. And because large animal organisations also conflate vegetarianism and veganism, there is a common misconception among advocates who support them that veganism is a diet. This leads some to believe that being vegan means as long as they aren’t eating animal products, then they can still use animals. But veganism is much more than a diet, it’s an ethical position which rejects using non-human animals for food (dairy, eggs, flesh, honey etc), clothing (wool, leather, fur, silk etc), entertainment (zoos, animal circuses, petting zoos etc), or other reasons.

We need to be clear. If we are vegan, we cannot pick and choose and redefine veganism based on our personal choice of how we like to exploit animals.

It is confused thinking to say:

Well I like horse-riding, so that’s OK because I treat my horse “nicely”.

or

I love honey and I buy it from a small farm where the bees are treated well, therefore that makes it OK.

or

Well my uncle keeps some backyard hens, and he “allows” them to live out their natural lives. He looks after them well and he thinks of them as “pets”. He finds good homes for the male chicks, so therefore I eat their eggs.

or

I have a rescued sheep in the back paddock. She produces a lot of wool and I have to shear her anyway, so I may as well collect the wool, spin it, and use it for clothing.

No. It doesn’t work like that.

First it assumes that animals’ lives, their body parts and secretions are ours to use. Second, no matter how “nicely” we may use animals, it doesn’t make it morally justifiable. 

Claims that Single Issue Campaigns should be included in Vegan advocacy

I’m not sure why anyone thinks it is necessary or logical to focus on and promote the idea that one form of animal use as worse than another, or that one species is more important than another. Are we not vegans? Isn’t it morally consistent that if we reject animal exploitation, then we should reject it all equally? Doesn’t being vegan mean we recognise that all non-humans are equally morally important? Apparently, not according to some. So why are we doing this? First, let’s remember that 99% of our use of animals is for food (which is “unnecessary” since we can meet all our nutrition needs from plants [and non-animal sources]). That’s 180 million plus *land* non-humans who are tortured and murdered every day mostly for food and many more aquatic non-human animals suffer the same fate. Something to consider is that if we — the non-vegan public — care about what’s on our plate – something we sit down to 3 times a day – we will care about the small percentage of animals used for entertainment, clothing, animal experimentation, and other reasons.

Single Issue Campaigns: Illogical, Speciesist and Futile

Fur

Despite decades of SICs targeting those who wear fur (mostly women) and targeting business that sell fur, statistics show that fur sales have been increasing globally. According to the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF), fur sales have been increasing year on year since 1998, reaching £10.3bn for last year alone. Unfortunately anyone who may have stopped wearing fur due to a fur campaign is most likely still eating and wearing animal products including “leather”, silk, wool etc and is still using animals in general. We need to understand that using leather, wool, silk etc are equally as bad as wearing fur and involve at least as much suffering and death. Leather is not just a byproduct of the flesh industry. Cows and calves are not only killed for their flesh, they are killed specifically for their skin as well. Due to the fast pace of the “production” lines, cows and calves are often conscious at the “hide-ripping” machine.  Why do so many people who stop wearing fur continue to eat, wear and use animals? Because large animal organisations and their supporters do not promote veganism, and instead make moral distinctions between different species and different forms of animal use.

One reason fur campaigns are so popular with large animal organisations is because animals used for fur are generally popular with the non-vegan public and viewed as “cute” and “exotic”. Asking the public not to wear fur from these animals is not much of a challenge to their personal behaviour, therefore fur is an easy target and a reliable source of donations. Think of all the hundreds of millions of dollars given by non-vegan donors over the years to large animal organisations which were spent on “vegan” celebrities and fur campaigns. How many unfortunate sexist and misogynist “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” soft porn ads have we been exposed to over the decades? Yet despite this, fur sales keep increasing! Imagine if all those millions of donors had been asked to go vegan and all those donations had been used to promote veganism only?

Live Exportif I see one more SIC
Despite decades of  live export campaigns, many “cruelty” investigations, including a feature on ABC’s 7.30 Report, and despite millions of dollars in donations to large welfarist organisation, Animals Australia, by its non-vegan donor base, Australia’s live “cattle” exports to Indonesia are expected to increase by more than 70 per cent in 2014.

Lynn White, campaign director of Animals Australia was asked by ABC’s Landline (16th June, 2013)Does Animals Australia have a policy of opposing the rearing of livestock for human consumption?” Lynn White responded “No, we certainly don’t“. Why do some advocates who claim to be vegan vehemently defend Animals Australia, “Humane Society of the United States”, RSPCA and others when they have each stated publicly they have no interest in ending animal exploitation and moreover, promote and peddle animal products for industry? They clearly do not have veganism as their moral baseline.

Fox hunting
In a vegan society, there would be no legal fox hunting because nonhuman animals would be recognised as moral persons and not viewed as legal property. Hunting foxes would no longer be viewed as a form of entertainment. Fox fur (or any other nonhuman’s skin) would not be used in clothing, or any other apparel any more than a baby’s skin would be used for a purse. There would be no domesticated animals trapped in pastures, runs, or barns who need “protecting” from predators like foxes. How do we achieve a society where foxes and ALL animals are safe from being hunted and exploited? By promoting clear consistent veganism to the public.

Badger “culling”
In a non-vegan society, cows are viewed as mere economic commodities. There is evidence that cows infected badgers with bovine tuberculosis.  Badgers are now vectors of the disease and are passing BT on to cows and because they can pass on this disease on to cows, this means farmers lose profits since they “have to” kill infected cows. Therefore badgers are viewed as “pests” by farmers. In a vegan society, there would be no badger “culling” because there would be no animal agriculture and no cows to “protect” from bovine tuberculosis. In other words, if cows were not property and if there was no animal agriculture, there would be no need to murder badgers. There’s literally millions upon millions of “wild” animals tortured, murdered and displaced each year so farmers can “protect” their “livestock”. How do we achieve a society where cows and badgers, foxes, coyotes, wolves, kangaroos, wombats, mountain lions, lions – and any other non-human who might threaten farmer’s profits – are safe from being hunted and being exploited? By promoting clear consistent veganism to the public.

Shark “culling”
Recently there has been a single issue campaign on ending the Western Australian shark “cull”. If society were vegan, we would not be decimating shark’s food supply, and in turn sharks would not be in need of frequenting swimming beaches in search of fish. If society were vegan, China and other countries would not be looking to Western Australia and other countries to supply them with shark fins for their “delicacy”, shark fin soup. If society were vegan, there would be no “fisheries” that need to be protected from sharks. How do we achieve a society where sharks (and all other nonhuman animals) are safe from being hunted and exploited for their body parts and for other uses? By promoting clear consistent veganism to the public..

Single Issue Campaigns, Hunters, “Poachers” and “Wildlife”
Interfering with hunters and “poachers” is a complete waste of time and resources. There would be no hunting or “poaching” if society were vegan and there were no demand for animal body parts or skins from gorillas, elephants (“poachers” recently poisoned a water hole which killed 80 elephants ), sharks, rhinos, tigers, bears, etc. There also would be no hunting or “poaching” if society no longer viewed non-human animals as “things” and resources, and no longer viewed murdering and imprisoning non-humans as entertainment. In other words, there would be no hunting of whales, dolphins, foxes, tigers, ducks, lions, elephants, rhinos, marlin, deer, sharks, moose, tigers, bears, wolves, etc, and no need to protest hunting and “poaching” if society were vegan. The non-vegan public create demand for animal products and animal use and they are our target for change, not hunters or industry who are meeting that demand.

There would be no KFC, McDonalds, animal circuses, zoos, animal “research” laboratories, puppy mills, fur farms, whaling or dolphin industries, tiger hunts, “poaching”, factory farming, bear baiting, bear-bile farms, canned hunting, trophy hunting, aerial wolf hunting, “organic” farms, gestation crates, live export, battery egg farms, “free range” farms, fur-seal industry, etc, if the public were vegan.
Animal welfare reform never a good idea
We are exploiting more animals in more horrific ways than ever before, despite two hundered-plus years of welfare and despite thousands and thousands of single issue campaigns. What does this tell us about single issue campaigns and welfare? That they’re not working. What does it tell us about large animal / “vegan” organisations that promote them and which do not have veganism as their moral baseline? That they’re confusing the public and are worse than useless. When are those who claim to be vegan going to understand this?

Promoting Anything Remotely Pro-Animal Instead of Veganism

Why do we promote anything remotely pro-animal instead of promoting veganism? Here’s a few questions we might like to consider.

Is it that we refuse to read anything that counters what we are already committed to? Is it because we support large animal organisations and therefore cannot bear anyone criticising them? Is it because we have been told by large animal organisations that this is the way it must be done and we are so used to not thinking for ourselves, we just do as we are told? Is it because we have been told we need to be pragmatic? Is it because we refuse to budge from our belief that political systems, capitalism or religion are responsible for animal exploitation (even though speciesism existed long before any of these religions or systems)? Is it because we are always told that the “enemy” is out there, instead of us looking at ourselves and what we are participating in? Is it because most of us can’t concentrate on anything longer than a tweet and are incapable of reading animal rights theory or a vegan blog which might challenge our current beliefs? Is it simply that we do not like being told that we might be wrong?

Vegan Education is Boring?

I heard someone once say once that promoting veganism only is boring. When did veganism become all about us? Is it all about our comfort zone, our advocacy social circles and whether or not we are entertained? What would we do on Saturday if we couldn’t hang out with our friends at our local KFC protest? What would we do if we couldn’t go down to the docks with our friends and visit the “Farley Mowat” or sit round with our vegan friends and watch Whale Wars” and remember the time we met Captain Paul Watson? Do we enjoy yelling at hunters and trying to sabotage them? Is it exciting to don balaclavas and go out with fellow advocates at night and release hundreds of thousands of animals who, by the way, will probably starve to death and eventually be replaced. Do we feel like heroes entering factory farms and “exposing cruelty“? Why be bored when we can be rewarded for writing books about factory farms but neglect to mention that veganism is the way to abolish animal use. Why be bored when we can show a little skin, be sexy, get some notoriety, travel the world, create big expensive animal events for the purpose of peddling books and revitalising one’s career, or be a CEO of a large animal organisation and get a six figure salary and talk about “humane” use and puppy mills all the time? It’s exciting “going naked” for the animals. It’s exciting dressing in animal costumes and making people giggle, or throwing red paint onto women wearing fur coats and abusing them. (Interestingly we don’t see advocates hassling bikie gang members who wear leather jackets, do we? So there’s an element of misogyny in fur campaigns which usually targets women.) All of this on the backs of animals and not one mention of veganism.

If non-humans could tell us to just STOP because we are worse than useless, they would have done so quite some time ago.

Large Animal Organisations and Their Avoidance of Veganism

Large animal organisations have different (commercial) reasons for avoiding promoting veganism. One reason is because single issue campaigns are a never-ending source of donations. If they promoted veganism this would challenge their non-vegan donors and effect their organisation’s financial bottom line. It’s much better to mollycoddle non-vegan donors than to ask them to go vegan. Donors give over their money, eat “happy animal products”, and sleep easy at night knowing animals were used and murdered “humanely”. It’s consoling to know that we – the non-vegan public – are not the problem. Instead we are told “Factory farming is the problem! Industry is the problem! Slaughterhouses are the problem! Large animal experimentation labs are the problem!” They tell us “Feel good, non-vegan public! Give us your money and we will help animals. We have it all under control.”  Large animal organisation are the industry’s monitor for animal “abuse”. They make sure that “non-abusive” murder can continue in our slaughterhouses!

One of many examples of moral confusion caused by large animal organisations was the criticism of Olympic skater Johnny Weir, who wore fur during his performances. Welfarist organisations – “Friends of Animals” and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) – criticised Mr. Weir’s fur use and ignored the fact that he wore leather and wool and ate animal products. Some members of the non-vegan public pointed out this moral inconsistency to large animal organisations, a sad indictment of the speciesism and lack of internal consistency of these organisations.

Suffice to say using single issue campaigns in advocacy is like trying to stomp out thousands of burning embers, while the raging forest fire of speciesism goes unabated.

We have to ask ourselves the question: If we claim to be vegan, why aren’t we promoting veganism? Why are we promoting anything remotely pro-animal and calling it “animal rights”? Why are we promoting anything other than veganism and treating the word “vegan” as if were a dirty word?  I’ve already addressed a few reasons why large animal organisations do this, but the answer as to why those of us who claim we are vegan do not promote veganism may be quite simple.

Here’s a few thoughts.

Is it that many of us are afraid of a little social rejection because we’re being clear? Is it because many of us deep down do not believe that non-humans are our moral equals, which in turn effects our message? Is it because many of us deep down are speciesist and pessimistic and we cannot recognise it in ourselves? Is it because we want a “quick fix” because it makes us feel better? We talk about “compassion”, “mercy”, “loving animals”, “being kind”, and forget about justice and nonviolence. It fact, for many of us, we haven’t internalised the ethical position at all. In my experience some of the most vehement defenders of animal welfare “reform”/”humane” use, vegetarianism, and single issue campaigns have been those who claim to be vegan.

Veganism isn’t something we should simply *hope* people catch on to, because more often than not they don’t. The non-vegan public often default to welfare, or they fetishise certain species. Why? Because those of us who claim to be vegan do. Many advocates are promoting “humane” use and “happy animal products”, and they are fetishising certain species and making moral distinctions between different kinds of animal use. All the while those who are supposed to be our target audience are eating, wearing and using animals *every single day*. We tell them fur is bad, so they stop wearing fur or curse others for wearing fur and continue on eating, wearing and using animals. We tell them using ivory is bad so they make sure nothing contains ivory while they chew on their cheese-burger and wear their leather shoes and woollen coat to a zoo. in a vegan world

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a single issue campaign which has a strong vegan message. Single issue campaigns are inherently problematic and speciesist. Why are we highlighting one form of use? Yes it’s good if people understand what is wrong with dairy, eggs, honey, etc, because most of our use of animals is for food. Explaining what is wrong with these products on occasion is good, but veganism is the umbrella which covers all forms of animal use. Since 99% of animals used are used for food, focusing on one species like whales, even though they are used for food, is an easy target. Most people don’t eat whales. Most people don’t eat dolphins. Most people “love” whales and dolphins. Even most governments “love” whales because the “whale watching” industry pays a lot of taxes to government. That’s why the Australian government has an interest in “protecting” whales. It’s not that they think whales deserve moral consideration. No. “Protecting” whales means profit. The Australian government lets the speciesist organisation “Sea Shepherd” – do their job for them. For those who are not familiar, Sea Shepherd has stated they are an environmental organisation, not a vegan organisation and Captain Watson has stated publicly that whales suffer more than chickens. Despite this, surprisingly, vegans give millions and millions of dollars in donations to Sea Shepherd each year so crew members can play pirate on the high seas. But that’s another topic for another time.

Vegan outreach criticizes vegansIt is an unfortunate fact that many of us who claim to be vegan are speciesist. Most of us have come to advocacy by way of large speciesist animal organisations that promote “humane” use of animals. As I mentioned earlier, there were members claiming to be vegan on LiveVegan recently and defending their own private use of animals. Many of these same vegans (usually those who support large animal organisations) criticise promoting veganism as “extreme”, or criticise promoting veganism only as “absolutist” or “purist”.  On a regular basis I hear vegans criticising vegans for promoting veganism only. Included in those who criticise vegans for promoting veganism only is Jon Camp the director of “Vegan” Outreach. In fact on Twitter recently, the director of “Vegan” Outreach  criticised me for  not promoting “humane” use of animals and only promoting veganism.

Groups who promote speciesism but claim to be abolitionists

10846452_10152914841903630_967878787473339825_nAnd then we have about three groups who have formed in recent times (2013/2014) that claim to be abolitionist. The 1st one states that they are the oldest abolitionist organisation despite being aware that at least one much older and well-established abolitionist organisation exists. Then, despite the “abolitionist approach” which they embrace which clearly rejects all forms of discrimination in its theory, this “abolitionist” organisation states we need to put human rights issues first and foremost and THEN after we have addressed them, we can advocate for nonhuman animal rights when these issues of racism, sexism etc are addressed. It would seem we would never get to address nonhuman animal rights if we were to follow this idea. And unfortunately they use issues like intersectionality in dishonest and confused ways as a means of making ad honimem attacks on abolitionists who they deem represent “white” patriarchy.

The 2nd group who claims to be abolitionist formed more recently. They perform flash mob-style protests (sans the promotion of veganism) in mostly business establishments to the chagrin of the business owner. This group’s leader promotes speciesist single issue campaigns and states we need to “build bridges” with welfarists like Bruce Friedrich (PeTA, Farm Forward and Farm Sanctuary) who promotes “happy” animal slavery/”happy” animal products.

The 3rd group that claims to be abolitionist also is similar to the 2nd group and performs flash mob-style protests (which also does not promote veganism) and these protests take place mostly in business establishments. Evidence would suggest that all most of these protests manage to achieve is to annoy the business owner and confuse or annoy the customers who are sometimes eating animal products. Neither the 2nd or 3rd group promotes veganism in any of these protests and the 3rd group’s website claims “veganism is not enough”; that vegan education is not activism, that veganism is all about social gatherings, “eating kale” and potlucks. Certainly not something I have ever experienced in the abolitionist movement.

When you consider it all, is it any wonder vegans are confused?

Finally, here’s a good gauge of whether an activity is speciesist and non-vegan. Consider the activity while replacing non-human with human and it will give us some indication.

If you’re vegan, please promote veganism only, and if you’re not vegan, please go vegan. It will one of the best decisions you will make in your life. It’s easier than you think. Please start here and here .

red-divider

For further information:
To illustrate the extent of confusion, check out this blog post on the unfortunate direction “The Vegan Society” has headed.

Here are some excellent blog posts by Gentle World a vegan intentional community

What’s wrong with wool?
Cage Free Eggs: Not free enough
What’s wrong with Leather?
Why vegans don’t use silk
Mother’s Milk
Why vegans don’t eat honey
What is pain to fish?
What is wrong with backyard eggs?
How are down feathers collected

10 Myths of New Welfarism

And an excellent post by UVE archives “What’s wrong with vegetarianism?
Discussion on LiveVegan about the moral compartmentalisation concerning the murder of Maurius the Giraffe

Prof. Sherry Colb: Marius the Giraffe and Abstract and Concrete Harms

Comments Off on Some Thoughts on Why Vegans Criticise Vegans for Promoting Veganism

Filed under animal ethics, animal exploitation, backyard eggs, bears, breeding, commodification, dairy, deer, dolphins, eggs, elephants, Factory farming, fox hunting, fur-seal industry, Giraffes, habitat, honey, horse-riding, land clearing, lions, Live export, LiveVegan, mountain lions, non-vegans, nonviolence, People for the ethical treatment of animals, PETA, poaching, property paradigm, rational irrationality, rhinos, sharks, single issue campaigns, slaughterhouse, speciesism, veganism, Vegans, Western Australia shark "cull", whales, wildlife, Zoos

“Why do people take things so seriously?”

A couple of nights ago, I accidentally came across a program which featured a female performer and her band.  I decided to find out more about them online  and  to my dismay I found a rather unfortunate article. It was written in 2011, so this characterisation may not still apply and I sincerely hope it does not, but the article claims the lead vocalist is reportedly quite misogynist and her band is quite homophobic and misogynist. The female performer – Syd Tha Kid -happens to be lesbian and Black. I’m aware that misogyny, sexism and homophobia are still fairly widespread in most genres of music today but it’s always disappointing when yet another new performer emerges and we find out that they may do nothing more than reinforce discrimination against women and LGBTI people.

I posted the article’s link on  the band’s Twitter page in the faint hope that they might consider it or clarify. The band didn’t deny anything and tweeted back “lol someone’s living in the past“.  I would like to think their reply meant they no longer held those views but sadly I don’t think so. One of their followers — a young Black woman — took exception to my posting the article on Twitter and replied to me “Why do people take things so seriously?”  I replied, that we should take misogyny, racism, heterosexism, sexism seriously because they cause violence.

I thought if this young woman’s reply was sincere, and she didn’t understand why we should take misogyny and homophobia seriously then she was either not paying attention, or didn’t have any insight into the issue, or just doesn’t care and thinks this is acceptable. I thought it was a rather a sad comment which doesn’t understand the power of words and actions, the power of discriminatory attitudes and how these attitudes always lead to violence. We only have to look at the levels of violence against women today to see whether sexism and misogyny should be taken seriously. So let’s look at a few facts:

Based on country data available , up to 70 per cent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime – the majority by husbands, intimate partners or someone they know. Among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.

Femicide ─ the murder of women because they are women

In the United States, one-third of women murdered each year are killed by intimate partners.
In South Africa, a woman is killed every 6 hours by an intimate partner.
In India, 22 women were killed each day in dowry-related murders in 2007.
In India currently 60 million women are missing and have either been aborted before birth, killed once born, died of neglect because they were girls, or perhaps murdered by their husband’s family for not paying enough dowry at marriage.
In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
In Australia, a woman is killed almost every week by a male partner or ex-partner.

Trafficking

Women and girls comprise 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually , with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation. In 2011, 23,000 women were abducted in China.

Harmful practices

Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
Early marriage is a form of sexual violence which sees over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.1 million in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million). In Yemen in Sept 2013, a young 8 year old child bride died on her wedding night from sexual-related injuriesAccording to Human Rights Watch, 14% of girls in Yemen are married before age 15, and 52% are married before age 18.

Sexual violence against women and girls

As many as 1 in 4 women worldwide are physically or sexually assaulted while pregnant.
An estimated 150 million girls under 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone.
As many as 1 in 4 women experience physical and/or sexual violence during pregnancy  which increases the likelihood of having a miscarriage, stillbirth and abortion . Up to 53 percent of women physically abused by their intimate partners are being kicked or punched in the abdomen.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds.
In Ecuador, adolescent girls reporting sexual violence in school identified teachers as the perpetrator in 37 per cent of cases.

Rape as a method of warfare

Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996, though the actual numbers are considered to be much higher. Rape has been used in warfare throughout history.

Sexual Harassment

Between 40 and 50 per cent of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advancements, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at their workplace.
In the United States, 83 per cent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.

Judging by these statistics, it’s clear we live in a patriarchy.

Regarding heterosexism and homophobia and their relationship to violence, if one does research on violence and bullying of  LGBTI people today, it is significant despite advances on the front against heterosexism.

And let’s not forget the most invisible and widespread form of discrimination — speciesism — and consider what results from our speciesist attitudes towards nonhuman animals as we continue to use them as resources. We torture and murder more nonhumans animals (mainly for food) in a 3 to 5 day period than all humans killed in wars, genocide, famines, plagues and murders throughout history. Should we take this seriously? We certainly should and the way to take this horrific violence and injustice seriously is to become vegan.Syd Tha Kid

Considering the violence resulting in all forms of discrimination, we can not overstate the importance of taking any form of discrimination seriously if we believe these groups ( human or nonhuman) morally matter.

If I may be a little candid. I am often astonished and saddened when I hear women preface their comment with “I’m not a feminist but …..”, as if being a feminist is a bad thing; as if being a feminist is something to be a shamed of and something we need to back away from. I sometimes have to stop for a moment just to make sure I have heard correctly.  Is social approbation so important to us? Are are we so fearful of being called “crazy”, one of many slurs used against women throughout history who dared have independent thought and who voiced their strong opinions?  Are we that disempowered as women, or lacking insight, or misogynist, or morally weak that we  would rather turn away, play down, or deny there’s a very serious problem that needs addressing? I am astonished and saddened when I see or hear young women (or any women) being misogynist and sexist or defending misogyny and sexism. I’m saddened when I see women in the public eye –who have an opinion which differs from mainstream thinking– having their appearance criticized instead of their opinion. We witness this all too often.

If ever there were ever a time we need more feminists, it’s now.

Sexism and misogyny are rampant and ubiquitous in our society. It saddens me that some young women seem to have internalised societal misogyny. They have internalised the hatred and are projecting it on to other women. You only have to read the stomach-churning live Twitter stream under Twitter hashtags regarding female celebrities or women in the public eye. One only has to read the comments, articles or interviews in the mainstream media or read comments on Youtube, Facebook and other social media to witness the endless gleeful hatred of women and how it goes unchallenged to realise how socially acceptable it is. It sometimes appears as if the very mention of a woman in the media is seen as an invitation to attack. Is it any wonder we have horrifying and outrageous statistics today of violence against women? I would have thought by now in the 21st century society would be taking sexism seriously but that’s not the case. In fact it seems in many ways we are going backwards.

Australia's current Prime Minister Tony speaking behind misogynist placards about the then PM Julia Gillard

Australia’s current Prime Minister Tony Abbott along side two female cabinet ministers, speaking publicly at a rally about the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard

In Australia the media (70% owned by Rupert Murdoch) and certain sections of the  public directed a relentless stream of misogyny and sexism at our first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Last night she was interviewed for the first time since her removal as prime minster a couple of months ago and she said at times she felt “murderous rage” at the sexism directed at her. It felt that every time she was attacked because of her gender, that it was an attack on all women. It was truly horrible. Please watch former Prime Minister Julia Gillard give her speech criticising the current Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s history of misogyny.

We need to consider that all forms of discrimination are just faces of the same ignorance and where we have one form of discrimination, we will have all forms. While there is speciesism we will have sexism, racism, heterosexism and so forth and we will continue to “otherise” and objectify. We will continue to inflict violence against certain vulnerable groups and this behaviour ultimately makes us all the poorer and demeans us.  As Martin Luther King Jr said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

Chavez

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Filed under Australia, Child brides, Domestic Violence, female genetal mutilation, femicide, heterosexist, India, Misogyny, PETA, property status, racism, rape, rational irrationality, sexism, sexual violence, slavery, speciesism, transsexual, USA, violence, Women, Yemen

UVE archives “PETA: A Corporate Tangle of Contradictions”

“In the media and the minds of most people, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (“PETA”) is the corporate embodiment of “animal rights”. In some respects, this common belief in the connection between “animal rights” and PETA is understandable. Browse PETA’s website or literature and you’ll frequently see the terms “animal rights” and “vegan” mentioned favorably, as well as their motto, “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment”. Indeed, PETA wants to be thought of as the largest and best-known “animal rights” organization in the world, and they have the resources, relative to other individuals and organizations involved in animal advocacy (approximately $34 million in annual revenues) to keep that impression strong in public discourse and the media.Despite the “animal rights” public image PETA intentionally promotes, however, their underlying philosophy and activities, by and large, are decidedly welfarist and substantially contradict any coherent notion of animal rights.
PETA’s Self-Contradictory Philosophy of Animal Ethics
PETA is notorious for calling the utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer “the father of the animal rights movement” as well as calling Singer’s book, Animal Liberation, the “bible of animal rights”. Ironically, however, Singer is an act-utilitarian who explicitly rejects rights for anyone, human or nonhuman. In contradiction to PETA’s motto, Singer believes that animals are ours to eat, wear, and experiment on (1, 2, 3). According to Singer, as long as we raise and kill them “humanely”, or as painlessly as reasonably possible, there is nothing wrong with using animals for our purposes. In other words, for Singer, following the 18th century utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham who founded the animal welfare movement 200 years ago, the issue is treatment, not use.So, according to PETA, we have an “animal rights” philosopher who “fathered” the animal rights movement and wrote its “bible”, but in bold contradiction, would agree with Jeremy Bentham that rights (for anyone, including humans) are “nonsense upon stilts”.Why does PETA, whose motto claims that animals are not ours, and presents itself as an “animal rights” organization, promote a philosopher who rejects animal rights and strongly believes that it is morally permissible to exploit animals? This is the core contradiction that lays the foundation for most of the other contradictions that we will explore in this essay.PETA’s Self-Contradictory Activities

Like a serious error made early in a long math problem, PETA’s philosophical self-contradiction carries through to most of the activities in which they engage, rendering those activities confusing and misleading at best, and at worst, antithetical and regressive to animal rights. If our philosophy – our blueprint and foundation for carrying out our activities – is seriously flawed, then no matter how well we execute that philosophy, it will lead us down the wrong trail and end in botched and bungled results. What follows is a list of activities regularly carried on by PETA – welfare campaigns, sexism, embarrassing publicity stunts, a self-interested business model, and worst of all, unjustified killing – that boldly contradict the philosophy of animal rights and its foundations of justice, nonviolence, good judgment, and equal consideration of others based on morally relevant criteria.

PETA’s Welfare Campaigns Contradict Animal Rights

PETA allocates a substantial portion of their money, time, and effort to high-profile campaigns that attempt to reform and regulate the methods and practices of the animal exploitation industry. This helps to reinforce the speciesist paradigm in two significant ways: 1) By adding additional layers of rules and regulations and additional “inspector” jobs, it strengthens the legislative, economic, and bureaucratic system that supports animal slavery; and 2) Through the marketing of these reforms and regulations, people feel better about contributing to the rape, torture, and murder [1] of tens of billions of innocent beings annually, which in turn increases industry’s profits.

These welfare campaigns are consistent with Peter Singer’s speciesist [2] utilitarian philosophy, but contradict any meaningful concept of animal rights. It is useless to talk about what “rights” someone may have if they do not have a basic right not to be intentionally killed or seriously harmed for the preferences of others. For example, consider how we would assess a human rights organization running campaigns for regulations prohibiting certain methods of slavery, rape, torture, and murder, instead of campaigning consistently and unequivocally for the end of these practices. The vast majority of us would oppose such a human “rights” organization that lacks ambition to the point of implicitly condoning such activities, regardless of their superficial mottos and platitudes about “rights”. The only thing stopping us from opposing PETA for the same reasons is our speciesism.

PETA’s Killing Policy Contradicts Animal Rights

Sadly, there are thousands of cases annually in our extremely speciesist society where dogs and cats are found in a condition so painful, deplorable, and irreversible that the only appropriate course of action is euthanasia. If I’m ever in a terminal state of severe pain or coma, I hereby express my immense gratitude in advance to those who will end my life quickly and painlessly. In such cases where life no longer holds inherent value due to the permanent changes in its nature (i.e. terminal severe pain or coma), PETA does and should euthanize animals.

But PETA goes beyond merely euthanizing terminally ill or unadoptable animals. In another contradiction of animal rights, PETA kills healthy, adoptable dogs and cats who are classified as “unwanted”. PETA also opposes no-kill shelters. Of course, both of these policies are consistent with Peter Singer’s welfarist (and speciesist) view that dogs and cats have no interest in continued existence; only an interest in not suffering. But these policies are not consistent with the animal rights view that sentient nonhumans have an important interest both in continued existence and in not suffering. When these two interests strongly oppose each other, we may have a difficult decision to make, but being “unwanted” is not the same as enduring terminal suffering or a permanent coma. When PETA kills a healthy, adoptable dog or cat who they deem “unwanted”, it is a decision based on anthropocentric utilitarian preferences, not animal rights. [3]

Again, the vast majority of us would strongly oppose a human rights organization condoning and even engaging in the mass killing of human refugees; and attempting to justify such actions by pointing to the problem of overpopulation and the potential suffering of the refugees if we don’t kill them. It is speciesism that prohibits people, including many animal advocates, from recognizing the injustice in this act.

PETA’s Sexism Indirectly Reinforces Speciesism

Speciesism, sexism, racism, and heterosexism are all bigotries rooted in the same underlying confusion that ignores morally relevant characteristics, like sentience or interest, in favor of morally irrelevant characteristics, like species or race, in providing equal consideration to others. And yet so many people are strong, passionate advocates trying to eliminate one or more of these prejudices while ironically scoffing at another. It is common to see feminists, LGBT activists, and civil rights advocates ridicule concern over speciesism while blithely ignoring the underlying implications of their dismissal. Many condemn the bigotry of others, but cannot see their own.

The same goes in the other direction for PETA and their sexism. If PETA is exploiting women in fur and flesh campaigns, reinforcing the current societal paradigm which sees women as objects and their bodies as commodities, why should anyone take seriously what such a hypocritical organization has to say about speciesism? Advocates of social justice issues render their own cause trivial when they trivialize the causes of others.

PETA’s Publicity Stunts Trivialize a Grave Injustice

When we look at successful social justice movements of the past – 19th century abolition of slavery, the suffragists, and the civil rights movement – we see that their leaders were people of strong, serious, and noble character. Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks were not the kind of people who would have engaged in silly or embarrassing publicity stunts to grab the attention of the media of their time. When they received attention from the public, it was because of the moral power of their message and words, not because they “got naked” or engaged in shock humor or other stunts that trivialized the injustices they were fighting against.

In contrast, PETA is best-known for its obnoxious and often sexist publicity stunts and gaudy self-promotion, appealing to the lower aspects of human attitudes and behavior. Sadly, PETA cannot even attempt to speak with moral authority because it would so blatantly contradict their attitudes and actions as manifested in “Save the Whales” billboards that make fun of female obesity, banned television advertisements, and sexist campaigns like “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur”.

PETA Is a Business

PETA’s self-contradictions can be traced to two primary factors: 1) their contradictory blend of traditional utilitarian-welfarist philosophy (animal are ours…) with a façade of rights-sounding rhetoric (“animals are not ours..”) and 2) that PETA is, among other things, a corporation existing as a legal person, but with none of the potential conscience of a human moral agent.

PETA’s business cycle starts with single-issue and welfare campaigns against targets selected as low hanging fruit – practices that industry would not mind changing even if only for public relations reasons, but often for profitability reasons as well. PETA then sends out the urgent call to donors: “HELP! Donate as much as you can or we might not win this victory!” Donors – most of whom are not vegan, and are therefore contributing to the very problems to which they donate money to “resolve” – respond by opening their checkbooks and filling PETA’s coffers. After several weeks or months of campaigning, the target exploiter “gives in” to PETA’s campaign. PETA immediately declares “VICTORY!” to their donors and, usually as part of the deal with the target exploiter, PETA promotes the exploiter in a public relations campaign, as they did for KFC Canada.

The result of the business cycle is that PETA wins donations and reinforces their reputation as the “watchdog” over industry, enabling them to perpetuate the cycle indefinitely. Non-vegan donors win a “victory” and a false sense that they are doing something to offset their own personal contribution to the hell that their innocent victims endure. The animal exploiters win by increased misguided public confidence that these products are “humane” and by obtaining the public relations support of a (so-called) animal “rights” organization. The losers, of course, are the innocent beings who are exploited and killed for the trivial pleasures of those who see them as commodities.

Further, since there are so many ways in which we exploit and inflict cruelty on sentient nonhumans, and since industry is so resilient to the temporary and superficial changes brought about by the so-called “victories”, the opportunities for the welfare-campaign-donation business cycle can easily last indefinitely, or for as long as industry itself lasts.

PETA’s Opportunity Cost

PETA’s contradictions in philosophy, rhetoric, and activities – which have led to profound public confusion and fortification of the utilitarian-welfarist status quo that has been in existence since Jeremy Bentham – have been a barrier to progress in advancing animal rights, and will continue to be a barrier as long as they continue as an animal welfare organization.

However, PETA as a barrier to animal rights is only one part of the cost to any viable abolition movement. The other part is the opportunity cost incurred by PETA. We should ask not only how PETA could remove itself as a barrier, but how much more PETA could do by being consistent with animal rights philosophy in their public education. What if PETA dropped the garbage – the single-issue campaigns, the welfare campaigns, the sexism – and engaged solely in creative, nonviolent vegan education? When we add the opportunity cost to the barrier cost, the total cost to progress in animal rights is enormous and tragic.

Vegans Against PETA

Is it any wonder why vegans who are serious about animal rights and the eventual decline, fall, and abolition of industrial animal exploitation and killing are against PETA? In Abolition versus Welfarism: A Contrast in Theory and Practice, I explained industry’s strengths and weaknesses and explained how welfarism caters to industry’s strengths, while the abolitionist approach attacks industry’s weaknesses. PETA’s welfarism, sexism, and trivializing publicity stunts all play to industry’s strengths. Only a strong and consistent message that we are not morally justified in exploiting sentient nonhumans and that veganism is a minimum standard of decency will shift the paradigm and result in the eventual abolition of industrial exploitation and cruelty. Large, corporate organizations like PETA are the last groups we need to make this progress. Only a strong, grassroots, abolitionist animal rights movement will succeed.

Further Reading

The topic of new welfarism in general and PETA in particular is too broad to tackle with adequate depth in a blog essay. As such, I highly recommend reading Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement  for a far more comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the problems with new welfarism and PETA. In addition, the links above offer additional information and perspective on the topic of new welfarism generally.

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Notes:

[1] By “murder”, I mean unnecessary, intentional killing. At least 99% of the intentional killing of animals in our society is unnecessary, in any meaningful sense of that word, and qualifies as murder if any act does.

[2] Although Peter Singer talks a lot about avoiding speciesism (and implicitly denies that he is a speciesist), his assumption that sentient nonhumans have no interest in their continued existence is itself plainly speciesist. We do not need on-going “projects” in our life, as Singer believes we must, to have a strong and important interest in continued existence. All sentient beings struggle for existence, and it doesn’t take an expert in ethology to confirm it. This struggle for existence makes the interest in continued existence obvious. To deny it in nonhumans, or to define “an interest in continued existence” to the exclusion of this struggle, is speciesism.

[3] An in-depth analysis of the dog and cat population and guardian management issue is beyond the scope of this essay, so I’ll only say that the underlying disease is the institution of “pet” ownership and its resultant breeding and lack of spaying and neutering that is responsible for the myriad of problems leading to enormous suffering and intentional killing of millions of dogs and cats annually. If PETA ever decides to take a rights-based approach to this issue, they’ll assist no-kill shelters; increase their contributions to TNR programs; and educate the general public about why the institution of “pet” ownership is immoral. All breeding is irresponsible; and spaying and neutering is essential for all existing dogs and cats.

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Filed under animal rights, animal welfare, exploitation, humane, People for the ethical treatment of animals, PETA, Peter Singer, property paradigm

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): A Corporate Tangle of Contradictions

PETA: A Corporate Tangle of Contradictions

­ions: http://bit­.ly/nLFoW3
PETA’s Undercover Investigat­ions: Another Example of the Welfarist Business Cycle: http://bit­.ly/ow0Tpo

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