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Jul 10, 2007
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Human Beings and Other Animals as Utterly Distinct Categories.

How societies build and maintain speciesism.

Sociologist Keith Tester [1] outlines the absolute necessity, as well as the practical pragmatism, of conceptualising ‘others’ and ‘enemies’ in terms of nonhuman animal categories. For example, in relation to the infamous My Lai massacre in which a company of highly trained North American soldiers, as he puts it, ‘murdered and raped their way through a whole community’, Tester found that often the soldiers believed they were not fighting other human beings.

Biologist and feminist Lynda Birke [2] argues that ‘human’ and ‘animal’ categories are usually regarded as utterly distinct. Human beings commonly conceive of themselves as human by strictly reserving the label ‘animal(s)’ for other animal categories - or for certain demonised human individuals or groups. Thus, it is generally only seen as appropriate for ‘bad’ or ‘deficient’ humans to be labelled as animals.

In a sense, these understandings also account in part for some of the utility in dehumanisation processes, a common feature in human warfare. In other words, categorical distinctions are constructed as things that matter, and the label ‘animal’ ultimately becomes what ‘we’ are not. Furthermore, it is a label most human beings would not want to associate themselves with.

Birke says the word ‘animal’ may be seen as a ‘cultural standard’ against which human beings may set themselves. Moreover, humans are in general assumed to be ‘better’ than those placed in ‘animal’ categories. Hence, football (soccer) supporters, at least those who ‘go around fighting and wrecking places’, find themselves called ‘animals’ or even ‘worse than animals’. This linguistic formulation, Birke suggests, is to signify that human beings are ‘out of control’, and that suggestively means behaving sub-humanly. Displays of ‘animal-like behaviour’, with notions of ‘the beast within’, when applied to human beings, are normatively pejorative.

According to Birke, a now obsolete dictionary definition of ‘beasts’ used to include human beings but ‘later usage’ specifically and deliberately separates ‘us’ from ‘them’. Thus, in modern usage, the term ‘beast’ is often associated with passive but strong - but also probably stupid - ‘work animals’, within categories of nonhuman animals classified as ‘livestock’. On the other hand, the term ‘beast’ is connected to ideas suggesting ‘evil forces’: the ‘devil’ himself is part-beast after all [3].

Joanna Bourke [4] argues that authorities who sent ‘boys’ to war were extremely wary of the potentially dangerous ‘creatures’ who might return; those who were perhaps brutalised by war experiences and thus may subsequently represent a beast-like threat to their own friends, families, sweethearts and spouses. Given the negative cultural meanings associated with the term ‘animal’, it is perhaps not surprising that in Northern English prison argot (and in tabloid newspaper headlines), the label ‘beast’ is often bestowed by ‘regular cons’ on both unconvicted and convicted sex offenders - especially those who have allegedly sexually assaulted children. These human individuals are also often regarded as passive, and perhaps weak and stupid, but who are at the same time ‘evil’, &lsquoredatory’ and ‘animal-like’ at least in their sexual proclivities, &lsquoicking on’ children because they are putatively incapable of a sexual relationship with a grown-up person.

Stephen Clark [5] sees such notions imbued with ‘folk-taxonomic meanings’, carrying moral significance. Treating people ‘like an animal’ means treating them ‘without due regard for their preferences, or their status as free and equal partners in the human community’. Again, the importance of community in these constructions is clear. Indeed, Clark adds that, ‘To behave ‘like an animal’ is to pay no regard to the normal inhibitions and ceremonies of that community’. Such ‘creatures’ surely cannot be community insiders because they do not know how to return friendship; they do not know how to keep or make bargains, they cannot play a social contractual role as they are ‘forever excluded from distinctly ‘human’ practices’. Once ‘outside the realm of justice’, all ‘animals’ - human or otherwise - may be more easily enslaved, hurt, or killed, and in great numbers.

[1] Tester, K. (1997) Moral Culture. London: Sage.

[2] Birke, L. (1994) Feminism, Animals and Science: The Naming of the Shrew. Buckingham, Phil.: Open University Press.

[3] Thomas, K. (1983) Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800. London: Allen Lane.

[4] Bourke, J. (2000) An Intimate History of Killing. London: Granta.

[5] Clark, S. R. L. (1991) ‘Animals’, in J. O. Urmson and J. Ree (eds.) The Concise Encyclopedia of Western Philosophy and Philosophers. London: Routledge.

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Posted: Jul 10, 2007 3:20am
Apr 4, 2007
This is purely disgusting!
i do not understand how those so selflabelled "animal lovers" can support such things. This is seriously making me sick. & the worse is they believe they are doing good things & many are hoping to reach freedom for non humans. How do they seriously think it's possible keeping them as resources?


By Andrew Martin, The New York Times

March 28 - In what animal welfare advocates are describing as a "historic advance," Burger King, the world's second-largest hamburger chain, said yesterday that it would begin buying eggs and pork from suppliers that did not confine their animals in cages and crates.

The company said that it would also favor suppliers of chickens that use gas, or "controlled-

atmospheric stunning," rather than electric shocks to knock birds unconscious before slaughter. It is considered a more humane method, though only a handful of slaughterhouses use it.

The goal for the next few months, Burger King said is for 2 percent of its eggs to be "cage free," and for 10 percent of its pork to come from farms that allow sows to move around inside pens, rather than being confined to crates. The company said those percentages would rise as more farmers shift to these methods and more competitively priced supplies become available.

While Burger King's initial goals may be modest, food marketing experts and animal welfare advocates said yesterday that the shift would put pressure on other restaurant and food companies to adopt similar practices.

"I think the whole area of social responsibility, social consciousness, is becoming much more important to the consumer," said Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm. "I think that the industry is going to see that it's an increasing imperative to get on that bandwagon."

Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said Burger King's initiatives put it ahead of its competitors in terms of animal welfare.

"That's an important trigger for reform throughout the entire industry," Mr. Pacelle said.

Burger King's announcement is the latest success for animal welfare advocates, who were once dismissed as fringe groups, but are increasingly gaining mainstream victories.

Last week, the celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck announced that the meat and eggs he used would come from animals raised under strict animal welfare codes. And in January, the world's largest pork processor, Smithfield Foods, said it would phase out confinement of pigs in metal crates over the next decade.

Some city and state governments have banned restaurants from serving foie gras and have prohibited farmers from confining veal calves and
pigs in crates.

Temple Grandin, an animal science professor at Colorado State University, said Smithfield's decision to abandon crates for pregnant sows had roiled the pork industry. That decision was brought about in part by questions from big customers like McDonald's, the world's largest hamburger chain, about its confinement practices.

"When the big boys move, it makes the entire industry move," said Ms. Grandin, who serves on the animal welfare task forces for several food companies, including McDonald's and Burger King. Burger King's decision is somewhat at odds with the rebellious, politically incorrect image it has cultivated in recent years.

Its commercials deride "chick food" and encourage a more-is-more approach to eating with its turbo-strength coffee, its enormous omelet sandwich, and a triple Whopper with cheese.

Burger King officials said the move was driven by their desire to stay ahead of consumer trends and to encourage farmers to move into more
humane egg and meat production.

"We want to be doing things long before they become a concern for consumers," said Steven Grover, vice president for food safety, quality assurance and regulatory compliance. "Like a hockey player, we want to be there before the puck gets there."

Mr. Grover said the company would not use the animal welfare initiatives in its marketing. "I don't think it's something that goes to our core business," he said.

Beef cows were not included in the new animal welfare guidelines because, unlike most laying hens and pigs, they continue to be raised outdoors. Burger King already has animal welfare standards for cow slaughter, he said.

The changes were made after discussions with the Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA.

PETA, in particular, has started a series of high-profile campaigns to pressure fast-food companies to change their animal welfare practices,
including a "Murder King" campaign that ended in 2001 when Burger King agreed to improve its animal welfare standards to include, among other things, periodic animal welfare audits.

Since that time, PETA officials said they had met periodically with Burger King officials to encourage them to adopt tougher standards. About a year ago, the Humane Society began its own efforts to encourage Burger King to improve its farm animal standards.

Mr. Grover said his company listened to suggestions from both groups, but ultimately relied on the advice of its animal welfare advisory board, which was created about six years ago and includes academics, an animal welfare advocate, an executive of Tyson Foods and Burger King officials.

"Where we think we can support what our animal advisers think is right, we do it," Mr. Grover said.

The changes apply to Burger King suppliers in North America and Canada, where the chain purchases more than 40 million pounds of eggs a year and 35 million pounds of pork, he said.

A reason that such a small percentage of purchases will meet the new guidelines is a lack of supply, Mr. Grover said. Burger King plans to more than double its cage-free purchases by the end of this year, to 5 percent of the total, and will also double its purchases of pork from producers who do not use crates, to 20 percent.

The cage-free eggs and crate-free pork will cost more, although it is not clear exactly how much because Burger King is still negotiating prices, Mr. Grover said. Prices of food at Burger King restaurants will not be increased as a result, he said.

Most laying hens in the United States are raised in "battery cages," which are usually stacked on top of each other three to four cages high. Sows, during their pregnancies, are often kept in gestation crates, which are 24 inches across and 7 feet long.

Matt Prescott, PETA's manager for factory farm campaigns, argued that both confinement systems were filthy and cruel because the animals
could barely move and were prone to injury and psychological stress.

Under Burger King's initiative, laying hens would be raised in buildings where they would be able to wander around. Similarly, sows would be raised indoors, most likely in pens where they would be able to move freely.

"This is not free range, but simply having some room to move around inside a controlled environment,
" Mr. Grover said.

While converting barns for crate-free sows is relatively simple, Ms. Grandin said it was much more difficult and expensive to raisecage-free hens because not nearly as many birds fit in one building.

Burger King officials say they hope that by promoting controlled-atmosphe
re stunning, more slaughterhouses will adopt the technology. Currently, there are only a few in the United States using the technique, and most of them process turkeys.

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Posted: Apr 4, 2007 2:18am
Nov 22, 2006
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Various
Location: United States
francione makes so much sens! i cannot understand why welfare is still "alive"

Abolition of Animal Exploitation: The Journey Will Not Begin While We Are Walking Backwards

by Gary L. Francione

In The Longest Journey Begins with a Single Step: Promoting Animal Rights by Promoting Reform (, Peter Singer and PETA's Bruce Friedrich claim that an “odd” controversy has developed in “recent years” about whether animal advocates ought to pursue animal welfare as a means to achieve animal rights. This controversy is neither “odd” nor “recent.” The controversy is not “odd” because there is a fundamental inconsistency between the regulation of animal exploitation and its abolition. The controversy is not “recent” in that the tension between rights and welfare has been a constant in the animal advocacy movement for the past fifteen years. What is “recent” is that there is an emerging worldwide grassroots movement that is challenging the hegemony of corporate animal welfare organizations that have dominated the movement and that is attempting to formulate an alternative, abolitionist paradigm. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Singer, who is the principal formulator of welfarist ideology, and PETA, which implements that ideology and maintains that any dissent or even discussion is “divisive” and threatens movement "unity,” are expressing concern.

There are at least five reasons for an abolitionist to reject the welfarist approach presented in the Singer/Friedrich essay.

1. Animal Welfare: Making Exploitation More Efficient

Singer and Friedrich claim that welfare reforms will recognize that nonhumans have “rights” and “interests”—that the reforms will incrementally move animals away from the status of being property or commodities that have only extrinsic or conditional value. They are wrong. The reforms they support have nothing to do with recognizing that animals have morally significant interests that must be protected even when there is no economic benefit for humans. For the most part, these reforms, like most animal welfare measures, do nothing but make animal exploitation more economically profitable for animal exploiters and further enmesh animals in the property paradigm.

For example, consider the campaign that led to agreement by McDonalds to require supposedly more “humane” standards for slaughterhouses and increased space for battery hens. Singer applauds these actions by McDonalds, which were followed by Wendy's and Burger King, as a “ray of hope” and “the first hopeful signs for American farm animals since the modern animal movement began.”
(N.Y. Rev. of Books , May 15, 2003) Friedrich claims that “[t]here's been a real change in consciousness” concerning the treatment of animals used for food ( L.A. Times , Apr. 29, 2003 ), and PETA's Lisa Lange praises McDonalds as “‘leading the way' in reforming the practices of fast-food suppliers, in the treatment and killing of its beef and poultry.” ( L.A. Times , Feb. 23, 2005 )

The slaughterhouse standards praised by Singer and PETA were developed by Temple Grandin , designer of “humane” slaughter and handling systems. Grandin's guidelines, which involve techniques for moving animals through the slaughtering process and stunning them, are based explicitly on economic concerns. According to Grandin, proper handling of animals that are to be slaughtered “keep[s] the meat industry running safely, efficiently and profitably.” Proper stunning is important because it “will provide better meat quality. Improper electric stunning will cause bloodspots in the meat and bone fractures. . . . An animal that is stunned properly will produce a still carcass that is safe for plant workers to work on.” She maintains that “[g]entle handling in well-designed facilities will minimize stress levels, improve efficiency and maintain good meat quality. Rough handling or poorly designed equipment is detrimental to both animal welfare and meat quality.” (

In discussing as a general matter the slaughter and battery-cage improvements to which Singer and Friedrich refer, McDonalds states: “ Animals that are well cared for are less prone to illness, injury, and stress, which all have the same negative impact on the condition of livestock as they do on people. Proper animal welfare practices also benefit producers. Complying with our animal welfare guidelines helps ensure efficient production and reduces waste and loss. This enables our suppliers to be highly competitive.” ( ) Wendy's also emphasizes the efficiency of its animal welfare program: “Studies have shown that humane animal handling methods not only prevent needless suffering, but can result in a safer working environment for workers involved in the farm and livestock industry.” ( In a report about voluntary reforms in the livestock industry, the Los Angeles Times stated that “[i]n part, the reforms are driven by self-interest. When an animal is bruised, its flesh turns mushy and must be discarded. Even stress, especially right before slaughter, can affect the quality of meat.” ( Apr. 29, 2003 )

This example (and there are many others) illustrates how the producers of animal products—working with prominent animal advocates—are becoming better at exploiting animals in an economically efficient manner by adopting measures that improve meat quality and worker safety. But this has absolutely nothing to do with any recognition that animals have inherent value or that they have interests that should be respected even when it is not economically beneficial for humans to do so. Supposed improvements in animal welfare are, for the most part, limited to and justified by economic benefits for animal exploiters and consumers. Moreover, large corporate animal exploiters can now point to the fact that animal advocates such as Singer and PETA are praising them for their supposedly “humane” treatment of nonhuman animals. PETA quite remarkably presented its 2005 Visionary of the Year Award to Grandin, who is a consultant to McDonalds and other fast-food chains, for her “innovative improvements” in slaughtering processes and PETA's Ingrid Newkirk praises Grandin as having “done more to reduce suffering in the world than any other person who has ever lived.” ( New Yorker, Apr. 14, 2003 )

There is also serious doubt as to whether these changes actually provide any significant improvement in animal treatment apart from the issue of efficient exploitation. A slaughterhouse that follows Grandin's guidelines for stunning, prod use, and other aspects of the killing process is still an unspeakably horrible place. Battery hens that supply some of the major fast-food chains may now live in an area that is equivalent to a square of approximately 8 ½ inches rather than the industry standard—a square of approximately 7 inches—but it would be nonsense to claim that the existence of a battery hen is anything but miserable.

2. Animal Welfare: Making the Public More Comfortable About Animal Exploitation

Singer and Friedrich claim with no support whatsoever that animal welfare reforms will lead to greater protection for animals and then to “animal liberation” (more on that below). We have had animal welfare for about 200 years now, and there is no evidence whatsoever that welfare reforms lead to significant protection for animal interests, much less abolition. Indeed, we are using more nonhumans today, and in more horrific ways, than at any time in human history. To the extent that we have made marginal improvements in some aspects of animal treatment, those improvements have, for the most part, been limited to measures that make animal exploitation more profitable. Although it is possible, in theory, to go beyond this minimal level of animal protection, the status of nonhumans as property and the resulting concern to maximize the value of animal property militate strongly against significant improvement in our treatment of animals and ensures that animal welfare will do little more than make animal exploitation more economically efficient and socially acceptable. In any case, the reforms that Singer and Friedrich propose, and that are presently being promoted by the corporate welfare organizations in the United States , do not go beyond the minimal level.

Singer and Friedrich claim that opponents of welfare are saying “that before these reforms, large numbers of people were refusing to eat meat, but now they have decided that, because animals are not treated so badly, they can eat meat again.” Neither I nor any critic of animal welfare of whom I am aware has ever said any such thing. What I have said is that animal welfare has quite clearly not resulted in large numbers of non-vegans changing their behavior and refusing to eat meat or other animal products, and that welfare reforms are not likely to lead in that direction anytime soon for the very reason that they make people feel more comfortable about animal exploitation. That comfort is the explicit message of the welfarist movement. Animal advocates claim that we can “consume with conscience.” ( N.Y. Times, Oct. 6, 2004 , statement of Paul Waldau) Indeed, in Singer's most recent book, The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter , he and co-author Jim Mason claim that we can be “conscientious omnivores” and exploit animals ethically if, for example, we choose to eat only animals who have been well-cared for and then killed without pain or distress.

The message that this approach sends is quite clear, and if Singer and Friedrich really think that it does not encourage the consumption of animal products, they are deluded. Moreover, welfare reforms may increase demand and increase net animal suffering. The relationship between increased demand and “humane” standards is recognized by the welfarists themselves. For example, literature produced by The Humane Society of the United States to promote its campaign for more “humane” alternatives to the gestation crate for pigs states explicitly that adoption of alternative systems may result in some increased demand or market premium for producers.

I would like to share with you a story that, while anecdotal, illustrates the problem. When the Whole Foods store near my house opened, it sold meat products but did not have a meat department. There is now a large fresh meat and fish department. There are also signs in the store advertising the “Animal Compassion Foundation” established by Whole Foods, which provides funding so that ranchers and farmers can develop ways of raising their nonhumans more “humanely.” Several weeks ago, I was walking by the meat counter and I remarked to an employee standing there that I thought it was a shame that Whole Foods sells corpses. The employee responded: “Did you know that PETA gave an award to Whole Foods for how well they treat animals?” Yes, that's right. In addition to giving an award to Temple Grandin , PETA has also lauded Whole Foods for “requiring that its producers adhere to strict standards.” ( ). The Way We Eat features Whole Foods and has pages and pages of adoring praise of the company as an ethically responsible seller of animal products.

Putting aside that there is some serious question as to whether the “strict standards” that PETA and others praise have any meaningful effect on the lives and deaths of the animals whose corpses are sold at Whole Foods (a forthcoming article from Professor Darian Ibrahim at the University of Arizona maintains that the standards are lacking), this sort of approach can only encourage confusion where there should be clarity and encourages people to believe that we can “consume with conscience,” which serves to perpetuate—and legitimate—the consumption of animal products. In the words of a reviewer of The Way We Eat on “You don't have to become a vegetarian or even a vegan, although becoming one could be a good way to live, both healthwise and morally, but the book sure makes you want to shop at Whole Foods and to buy free range chickens and to do whatever you can to make your food supply come from a decent source.”

3. The Goal? What Goal?

Singer and Friedrich talk about how welfare promotes “animal rights” and claim that opposition to animal welfare is “counterproductive to the goal of animal liberation that we all share.” Exactly what goal is it that we all share?

Singer is a utilitarian who has consistently rejected moral rights for both nonhumans and humans although he confusingly uses rights language when it is convenient. So from the outset, those who maintain that humans have certain moral rights, such as a right not to be enslaved or used as a commodity by others, do not share Singer's goal as far as humans are concerned. As for nonhumans, Singer is not opposed to use per se of most animals; he is concerned only about treatment. To the extent that he discusses use, it is only in the context of a concern that we may not be able to assure adequate treatment. But his goal is not the abolition of all animal exploitation; given Singer's general moral theory, abolition cannot be his goal. Singer has maintained consistently that most nonhumans do not have an interest in continuing to live because they are not self-aware in the same sense that normal humans are and, as a result, they do not care whether we use them; they only care about how we use them. This reflects the views of Jeremy Bentham, the 19th century utilitarian on whom Singer bases his theory. Bentham argued that although animals could suffer and, therefore, mattered morally, animals do not care whether, for instance, we eat them. They care only about how we treat them until we eat them.

This view—that it is not use per se but only treatment—is the foundation of animal welfare ideology and differs from the animal rights position as I have articulated it. I maintain that if animals have an interest in continued existence—and I argue that any sentient being does—then our use of them as human resources—however “humanely” we treat them—cannot be defended morally and that we should seek to abolish and not regulate animal exploitation. I also argue that Singer is wrong to maintain that it is possible to accord equal consideration to any interests that he acknowledges animals do have as long as they are human property. The interests of property will almost always be regarded as weighing less than the interests of property owners.

You do not have to get deeply into philosophy, however, to assess the nature of Singer's “animal liberation.” Singer's most recent book not only maintains that we can ethically eat animals and animal products, but it also has a disclosure that should inform our views about Singer and his views about violence toward nonhumans. In The Way We Eat , Singer and Mason tell us that they learned that a turkey factory needed workers to assist in artificial insemination. “Our curiosity piqued, we decided to see for ourselves what this work really involved.” Singer and Mason spent a day “collecting the semen and getting it into the hen” They caught and restrained the male turkeys while another worker “squeezed the tom's vent until it opened up and the white semen oozed forth. Using a vacuum pump, he sucked it into a syringe.” Singer and Mason then had to “‘break'” the hens, which involved restraining the hen “so that her rear is straight up and her vent open.” (28) The inseminator then inserted a tube into the hen and used a blast of compressed air to insert the semen into the hen's oviduct.

And it wasn't just the turkeys who had an unpleasant time. Singer and Mason complain that their day at the turkey factory was “the hardest, fastest, dirtiest, most disgusting, worst-paid work we have ever done. For ten hours we grabbed and wrestled birds, jerking them upside down, facing their pushed-open assholes, dodging their spurting shit, while breathing air filled with dust and feathers stirred up by panicked birds.” All that, and they “received a torrent of verbal abuse from the foreman. We lasted one day.” (29) One wonders whether Singer and Mason would have returned for a second day if the working conditions had been better.

It is deeply disturbing that Singer and Mason regard it as morally acceptable to engage in violence against nonhumans for any purpose, particularly to satisfy their curiosity about what “this work really involved.” I suggest that there is no non-speciesist way to justify what Singer and Mason claim to have done without also justifying the rape of a woman, or the molestation of a child, in order to see what those acts of violence “really involved.” Perhaps Singer's perverse actions with the turkeys can be explained by his claim in 2001 on that “ sex with animals does not always involve cruelty” and that we can have “mutually satisfying” sexual contact with animals. In any event, if violence against nonhumans is permitted under Singer's theory, we do not need to know much more before concluding that the theory has some very serious flaws and his goals are probably not ones that, as Singer thinks, we share.

As for the goals of Friedrich and PETA, one thing that has become clear over the years is that PETA'a understanding of “animal rights” is, to say the least, idiosyncratic. To cite one example of many, no theory of animal rights of which I am aware would sanction the mass killing of healthy nonhumans, as occurred at PETA's Aspen Hill “sanctuary” in 1991, or, more recently at PETA corporate headquarters and by PETA employees who allegedly used deception to obtain healthy animals who were subsequently killed and dumped. I suppose that if you agree with Singer—that the animals that PETA killed did not have an interest in their lives, but only wanted a “kind” or “compassionate” death—this makes sense to you. I, however, would disagree.

When animal advocates question the corporate welfarists, the stock reply is to say that we all have the same goal, we are all working for the animals, and that dissent or discussion will threaten the unity of the movement. Like “compassionate consumption,” the notion of “movement unity” is a fiction that is used to maintain control of discourse and strategy. There is no movement “unity” because there is an irreconcilable difference between the abolitionist/rights position and the regulation/welfare position, between those who maintain that we should be as “fanatical” (to use Singer's disparaging description) about speciesism as we are about human exploitation, and those, like Singer, who do not. Proclamations about movement “unity” are simply another way of telling advocates not to question the control of the movement by corporate welfarists.

4. Animal Welfare or Nothing: The False Dichotomy

Singer and Friedrich maintain that those who are concerned about nonhumans have two choices: pursue animal welfare or do nothing to help animals. The implication here is that the abolitionist position is too idealistic and cannot provide a strategy to pursue for the short term. This is a standard ploy of welfarists and it is not clear to me whether they really believe this, or if it is just a slogan. In any event, Singer and Friedrich present us with a false dichotomy.

We are inflicting pain, suffering, and death on billions of nonhumans every year. No one—including the most convinced abolitionist—maintains that we can stop that overnight or, indeed, anytime soon. The issue that confronts the advocate is what to do now . Moreover, we live in a world of limited time and limited resources. We cannot do everything. So the issue—at least for those whose goal is abolition—becomes: what do we choose to do now that will reduce suffering most in the short-term, that is consistent with the abolitionist approach, and that will build a political movement for further change in the abolitionst direction?

I would suggest that welfarism is not the rational choice for the abolitionist. It is a bit late in the game to promote animal welfare as the “single step” that will start on us on our long journey. We have spent billions of dollars and what do we have to show for it? I submit that the answer is: nothing and certainly nothing that could be described as an effective use of our limited resources. Singer and Friedrich cite the Animal Welfare Act (a federal law in the United States that purports to regulate the use of nonhumans in experiments and exhibition) and the U.S. Humane Slaughter Act as examples of welfarist laws that would leave animals worse-off if we did not have them. I disagree.

The Animal Welfare Act, which does not even apply to 90% of the nonhumans used in experiments, imposes no real substantive limits on what vivisectors can do with animals in the laboratory. The Act does, however, provide a resource for the research community and for people like Singer and Friedrich to point to in order to assure the public that there is regulation of vivisection. The Humane Slaughter Act, which also does not even apply to most animals who we eat, is, in any event, focused on reducing carcass damage and ensuring worker safety. Again, the primary purpose of the Act is to make consumers feel more comfortable. The Act does not require much more protection than a rational property owner would provide in the first place, and there have been countless instances in which the U.S. government does not enforce the Act.

Singer and Friedrich also cite as an example of the progress of animal welfare that “the stocking density changes for hens, although meager, mean that conditions have gone from 20% percent annual death rates to two or three percent annual death rates.” This is particularly bizarre in that 100% of the chickens will ultimately be killed. Any reduction in deaths before the slaughterhouse keeps the birds alive longer in horrible conditions and increase profit for exploiters. So welfarists have succeeded in educating exploiters about how to, in McDonalds's words “ ensure efficient production and reduce[] waste and loss.” Singer and Friedrich may find this exciting. I do not.

So what can an abolitionist do now that will reduce suffering more effectively in the short term and is consistent with the abolitionist end? The abolitionist approach provides practical guidance in a number of respects. The most important form of incremental change is the decision by the individual to become vegan. Veganism, or the eschewing of all animal products, is more than a matter of diet or lifestyle; it is a political and moral statement in which the individual accepts the principle of abolition in her own life. Veganism is the one truly abolitionist goal that we can all achieve—and we can achieve it immediately, starting with our next meal. If we are ever going to effect any significant change in our treatment of animals and to one day end that use, it is imperative that there be a social and political movement that actively seeks abolition and regards veganism as part of the moral baseline. There is, of course, no rational distinction between meat and other animal products, such as eggs or dairy, or between fur and leather, silk, or wool.

Most national animal advocacy organizations in the U.S. focus on animal welfare even if they pay lip service to veganism. An excellent example of this is PETA. On one hand, PETA purports to encourage veganism. On the other hand, PETA's campaigns are, for the most part, focused on traditional welfare regulation and PETA actively and confusingly promotes the concept of “humanely” produced animal products.

There is, however, no sense in which veganism is promoted as a moral baseline of the movement. Rather, veganism is presented merely as an optional lifestyle choice and is often portrayed as being difficult and only for the committed few rather than as an easy way to eliminate exploitation. That is, the corporate movement, many of the “leaders” of which are not themselves vegan, itself sets up the vegan/abolition position as the “fringe” or “radical” position, making the “normal” or “mainstream” position the one where we try to “consume with compassion.” Indeed, Singer claims that we “don't have to be fanatical” about food issues, and “[a] little self-indulgence, if you can keep it under firm control,” is acceptable. ( The Way We Eat , 281, 283) We would, of course, never say that “a little self-indulgence” is acceptable where rape, murder, child molestation, or other forms of human exploitation, are involved, but the so-called “father of the animal rights movement” assures us that “a little self-indulgence” in participating as consumers in the brutal killing of nonhumans is nothing to worry over. It is acceptable—indeed, expected—to be “fanatical” about not molesting children or other serious forms of human exploitation, but Singer tells us that it is acceptable to be flexible when it comes to nonhuman exploitation.

A movement that seeks abolition must have veganism as a baseline principle and should not have as its “mainstream” position that we can be “conscientious omnivores” who can “consume with compassion.” We must be clear. “Compassionate” consumption is an insidious myth. All animal products, including those insidiously stamped “Certified Humane Raised and Handled” by various corporate animal welfarist organizations, involve unspeakable brutality.

Veganism and abolitionist education, including boycotts, peaceful demonstrations, school programs, and other non-violent acts aimed at informing the public about the moral, environmental, and health dimensions of veganism and abolition provide practical and incremental strategies both in terms of reducing animal suffering now and in terms of building a movement in the future that will be able to obtain more meaningful legislation in the form of prohibitions rather than mere “humane” regulation. If, in the late-1980s—when the animal advocacy community in the United States decided very deliberately to pursue a welfarist agenda—a substantial portion of movement resources had been invested in vegan education and advocacy, there would likely be hundreds of thousands more vegans than there are today. That is a very conservative estimate given the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been expended by animal advocacy groups to promote welfarist legislation and initiatives. The increased number of vegans would reduce suffering more by decreasing demand for animal products than all of the welfarist “successes” put together and multiplied ten-fold. Increasing the number of vegans would also help to build a political and economic base necessary for more pervasive social change as a necessary predicate for legal change. Given that there is limited time and there are limited financial resources available, expansion of traditional animal welfare is not a rational and efficient choice if we seek abolition in the long term or even if we only seek reduction of animal suffering in the shorter term.

Singer claims that the reality is that “going vegan is still too big a step for most.”
(The Way We Eat , 279) Putting aside the fact that more people might be inclined to go vegan if Singer and the corporate welfare movement were not telling them that they can consume animal products "with compassion," the solution is incremental veganism, not "humane" animal products. For example, a campaign to get people to eat one vegan meal a day, and then two, and then three, is much better than encouraging them to eat “free range” meat, eggs, or dairy at all three meals. But the message should be clear: veganism, and not “compassionate consumption,” is the baseline principle of a movement that promotes abolition.

At this point in time, it is unlikely that most legislative or regulatory campaigns that seek to go beyond traditional welfare reform are going to be successful; there is no political base to support such reforms because the corporate movement has not sought to build one. If, however, advocates wish to pursue such campaigns, they should at the very least involve prohibitions and not regulations. These prohibitions should recognize that animals have interests that go beyond those that must be protected in order to exploit the animals and cannot be compromised for economic reasons. At no point should animal advocates propose alternative, supposedly more “humane” substitutes. For example, a prohibition on the use of all animals in a particular sort of experiment is to be preferred over the substitution in the experiment of one species for another. But I want to be clear that I do not favor investing any resources in legislative or regulatory campaigns at this time.  The political compromise required usually results in evisceration of the benefit sought.  Rather, the abolitionist movement should focus on veganism, which is a much more practical and effective way to reduce animal exploitation.

I stress that the abolitionist movement should embrace a non-violent approach, both on the level of individual interactions and as a matter of movement ideology. As I have long argued, the animal rights movement should see itself as the next step in the progress of the peace movement; as a movement that takes the rejection of injustice to the next step. The problem of animal exploitation is complicated and involves roots that go deep into our patriarchal culture and our disturbing tolerance for violence against the vulnerable. Not only is violence problematic as a moral matter, it is unsound as a practical strategy. We will never address the problem successfully by using violence to try to create a social movement in favor of abolition. As Mohandas Gandhi maintained, the most powerful force with which to oppose injustice is not violence but non-cooperation. There is no better way to refuse to cooperate with the exploitation of nonhumans than to eliminate it from your own life through veganism and work to educate others to do the same. It is disturbing that PETA spends much more time criticizing those who oppose the welfarist approach than it does those who will only marginalize the animal issue further by associating it with violence.

It is also disturbing to see the extent to which PETA uses sexism in its campaigns, literature, and events. Speciesism is closely tied to sexism and other forms of discrimination against humans. As long as we continue treating women like meat, we are going to continue treating nonhumans as meat. It is high time that serious animal advocates make clear to PETA that its sexism is destructive and counterproductive.

5. "Whose Side Are You On?"  Good Question.

Singer and Friedrich end their essay by asking: “Whose Side Are You On?” They tell us that the animal exploiters all oppose animal welfare and ask whether we want to be on the side of the animal exploiters who oppose animal welfare or on the side of Singer and Friedrich, who support animal welfare. This question by Singer and Friedrich is problematic in at least two respects respects.

First, it assumes that if animal exploiters oppose animal welfare, it must be because animal welfare is really harmful to animal exploiters. That is nonsense and indicates either naivety or disingenuousness. An industry may oppose regulation even when it does not really oppose it and even when the regulation may benefit it. A case in point involves the federal Animal Welfare Act amendment of 1985, which created “animal care committees” to monitor animal experiments. These committees have not only failed to provide any meaningful limitation of animal experiments, they have effectively insulated vivisection from public scrutiny more than it was before 1985. Vivisectors publicly opposed the 1985 amendment although I had many vivisectors tell me privately that the amendment was, on balance, not harmful for the practice of animal use. They opposed it because they oppose the principle of any governmental regulation of animal use. It would be difficult to find a vivisector who would say, with a straight face, that the 1985 amendment has done anything to restrict vivisection, and many are delighted that they can now assure the public that there is a committee that reviews all animal experiments.

Second, Singer and Friedrich are wrong factually in that a number of large animal exploiters openly and publicly embrace the welfare reforms that Singer and Friedrich applaud. McDonalds and others have done so because they understand that they got a bargain. They made minimal changes that were more than offset by the great publicity that they got from prominent animal welfarists. A shareholder of these companies would be justified in complaining if they did not take the “deal” that PETA and others offered as it can only maximize shareholder wealth.

Although I generally do not think that questions such as “whose side are you on” are helpful, I am going to make an exception in this case and ask the same question. Here goes:

  • Singer maintains that animal use per se does not raise a moral issue because most nonhumans do not have an interest in continuing to live;

  • Singer maintains that we can consume animals in an ethical manner;

  • Singer regards inflicting violence on nonhumans as an acceptable way of learning about animal exploitation;

  • PETA kills (“euthanizes” is the wrong word because it implies a death that is in the interest of the animal) thousands of healthy animals because PETA apparently accepts Singer's view that animals do not have a fundamental and morally important interest in continuing to live. “Animal rights” means “humane” executions.

  • PETA promotes campaigns that are embraced by corporate animal exploiters, and gives awards to animal exploiters.

  • PETA has thoroughly trivialized the animal rights movement by turning the issue of animal exploitation into one large, self-promoting media stunt, and has made sexism a constant theme of its animal campaigns.

So whose side are you on?

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Posted: Nov 22, 2006 3:01am
Nov 3, 2006
Focus: Education
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

The World is but a Stage

Animals and Sociological Theory

by proctalgia

Arkangel has previously highlighted the hypocrisy of a media that is selective in its condemnation of animal cruelty. So on one hand we have journalists who would, if pressed, no doubt talk of a (mythical) necessity to eat 'meat'. The same journalists will be as intolerant, in words and not action, as the average animal 'extremist' is toward, say, the seal 'hunt' [1]. Time and time again we are told of the 'barbaric', 'sadistic' acts that lone individuals - usually male youths - perpetrate against cats or dogs. It is right that these daily acts of hatred toward the animal nations are condemned. But the animal activist can't help but notice the double standards. It seems that some animals really are more equal than others: stand on a cat's tail and you're a sadist of the highest order. Spend your week killing ten thousand cows, chickens and other animals, and, well, it's just your job and anyone who even highlights the resulting bloodbath is a 'fanatic', is 'anthropomorphic', etc.          

I would like to examine, briefly, this and other related phenomena in the context of social theory. It seems to me that animal activists are often brought to book, on some disingenuous pretext or another, for being 'inconsistent' [2]. But as I will show, there is a structural inconsistency at the very heart of our society's treatment of animals and, in resisting this, animal activists are in fact apogees of consistency. It seems to me that good place to start is with the brilliant sociologist Erving Goffman. Goffman, writing in the late fifties, sought to understand human interaction in the context of what he called 'dramaturgy'. Without wanting to enter into technical details only students of sociology will be concerned with, 'dramaturgy' is the theorising of human interaction, and of institutions, as though social life was a staged performance. "The entire world is a stage and we are all actors". Many concepts have been derived from this metaphor.

'Front' is a product of projection. Individuals and organisations work toward projecting an idealized front. Front exists in the frontstage region of human behaviour: it is, if you like, what we are allowed to 'see'. Front is a social performance. But this depends on a 'backstage' region, an 'area' of preparation, with people colluding, conspiring and knowingly contradicting 'front' [3]. This all sounds rather simple. It is and it isn't. The concept allows a gradation of complexity. At its most literal level we have the Grand National, or circuses, or whatever. In the frontstage region, an aesthetic show - the might of galloping horses, the apparent wonder of the tame lion, etc. But in the backstage region, so much occurs that contradicts these performances which is knowingly blocked from public view: the horses dying prematurely, or being indifferently discarded, the lion being beaten into submission. Needless to say, the inherent suffering that racehorses and circus animals endure is not part of the 'drama' that animal exploiters amuse the public with. Such suffering is, if we accept the language of dramaturgy, something animal activists must try to bring from out behind the curtains.

A more complex example would be the consumption of 'meat'. The 'front' of meat is what we see in our supermarket refrigerator: i.e. something that bears no resemblance to the animal that it once was. Cleansed of blood, shrink wrapped, decorated with herbs: how could this ever have been a screaming animal? The 'backstage reality' of a suffering animal being torn into its component parts - the whole bloody process - is something hidden from view. Our 'meat' based culture does not generally encourage us to think beyond the 'meat' we see in supermarkets (it is not coincidental that we often hear that children do not know where, say, 'ork' comes from: it is understandable that, living in a culture that sweeps such facts under the carpet, many children think as though 'meat' grows in supermarket refrigerators) [4]. When a concession is made and the origins of 'meat' are acknowledged we are not provided an insight into the real 'backstage' but into a sanitised, cartoon like version of it.

"Today it would arouse rather uneasy feeling in many people if they or others had to carve half a calf or pig at table or cut meat from a pheasant still adorned with its feathers... Carving was formerly a direct part of social life in the upper class. Then the spectacle was felt more and more to be distasteful. Carving itself did not disappear, since the animals must, of course, be cut when being eaten. But distastefulness was removed behind the scenes of social life" (Elias, The Civilising Process, vol 1) [5].

Norbert Elias's point here might, loosely, be understood as saying that we have adopted a blind spot toward our treatment of animals that is not ahistorical. We think ourselves civil, not because we have actually become 'civil', but because we have employed various techniques to distance ourselves from our brutality. Slaughterhouses do not have glass walls. Furthermore they are not located in public sight. They do not have windows. In this sense, they are geographically backstage. But the saying 'out of sight, out of mind' suggests a sociological truth. Slaughterhouses are geographically backstage but our treatment of animals is epistemically backstage also [6]. In other words, not only is our physical treatment of certain animals coerced "behind the scenes of social life" but understanding of our bloodstained relationship with animals is pushed outside of our consciousness. It is not just a case that we cannot see the blood and guts of animal suffering because it exists in isolated, rural parts, but also that we won't allow ourselves to even envisage, even contemplate, such suffering because of the defence mechanism that militant against it. 

How are animals excised from our minds, exiled to the backstage regions of our mind? There are many methods. One of the most interesting is touched upon by Berger and Luckmann in the volume, The Social Construction of Reality. In this volume three stages of 'legitimation' are discussed. Pre-theoretical legitimisation will concern us here. They write:

"Incipient legitimisation is present as soon as a system of linguistic objectification of human experience is transmitted... the fundamental legitimating 'explanations' are, so to speak, built into the very vocabulary".

Those who are not familiar with sociological parlance are right to ask: What does this mean? It means that the very words we use justify the 'way things are'. Berger and Luckmann have nothing to say about animals. An author who has analysed how we linguistically apprehend/understand animals is Carol Adams. If we want to know how it is that animals can be expelled to the backstage, and how a structural distinction between backstage and frontstage animals can be maintained, it is Carol Adams we should turn to [7]. Carol Adams looks at the way that the very word 'meat' hides the reality of our treatment of animals. It is an innocuous, neutralised word. The animal, its life and its death, is an 'absent referent'. Think about when somebody is eating 'meat' and the animal activist calls a spade a spade: "that's not a sirloin steak, that's part of a dead animal you're eating!" The animal activist will invariably be accused of being over-emotional (or whatever) - but he is only being so to the extent that he is penetrating through the 'front' of 'meat' and bringing attention to backstage reality. This may sound tenuous. But compare bringing the origins of 'meat' to the attention of a 'meat-eater' and bringing the origins of a carrot to the attention of a 'carrot-eater'. The former will provoke a defensive reaction and this defensive reaction, I suggest, is an effort to keep the backstage/frontstage divide in place[8].

This is why I claim that animal activists are simply being consistent. Our culture is more than capable of seeing cats and dogs strut their stuff on the frontstage of social life. Indeed, the fact that we appreciate the presence of a handful of animals - cats, dogs, parrots, - has been sufficient for Britain to claim the mantle of 'animal lovers'. But as for cows, chickens, pigs, and so on, these are coerced to backstage regions of social life: out of sight and out of mind. It is in this connection that we can claim the notion of 'humane treatment' for farm animals a thoroughly going nonsense. It is an attempt to project into backstage regions, frontstage norms. The language that originates in the frontstage region is simply not suitable to a backstage region where the business is killing and dismemberment. To talk about 'humane slaughter' is, at root, to distort backstage brutality through the 'frame' of cosy frontstage norms. The average meat-eating 'animal lover' is thoroughly inconsistent because they are epistemically [6] committed to a man made distinction between frontstage animals (cats) and backstage animals (cows) - a distinction that has no materialist justification. Out of this, of course, comes the widespread, often absurdist, sentimentalisation of frontstage animals - to the point of 'marrying' dogs and whatnot - and the blanket massification of backstage animals, with the lives and deaths of billions of animals being "just a number". Animal activists are being consistent because we refuse to treat life like a stage drama. We refuse to permit fundamental contradictions. We know all too well of the geographical divide, but we refuse to see an epistemological divide between cats and cows. Our culture wants it both ways: it wants to be a culture of 'animal lovers' and a culture of animal corpse-eaters. Whatever we do - whether it is a factory farm raid or simply eschewing meat - animal activists risk offending society. This might be because we are 'extremists', etc. But it might also be because ours is a society of hypocrites with a very, very precarious definition of reality.    

In sum, what is my argument? I have suggested that it is useful to think of our relationship with other than human animals with reference to the idea of a backstage/frontstage dichotomy. I have suggested that certain animals are coerced "behind the scenes of life" and that this is not so much a physical process, as it is a mental process. There are various methods - explicated most fully by Carol Adams, including ontologisation, reification, etc [8] - by which we develop blind spots toward certain animals. There is a saying in the animal rights community: She Was Born to Die. That is true. But we can go further: the pig was never allowed to be but 'ork', the rat was never allowed to be but a 'lab subject', etc. Animals come into the world and are immediately ensnared with human definitions - every cat to the left, all cows to the right [9]. And there is nothing natural in this. Our power, our true power, as animal rights activists is not to throw bricks (although there might be a place for that) but to, if you like, give semantic medicine to what Gary Francione calls the moral schizophrenics.




[1] As Captain Paul Watson has pointed out, it is a misnomer to describe what happens in Canada as a 'hunt'. For it to be a 'hunt', the victims would at least have the opportunity to flee before being clubbed to death. As Watson points out: it is a heartless massacre, pure and simple. back

[2] Such charges are mostly asinine. We've all heard them before: we're hypocrites because we claim to care for life but eat parsley, etc. back

[3] The example that Goffman uses is the restaurant. back

[4] Many animal activists have spoken of 'making a connection' between pets and meals. John Curtin for example, in a very touching tale, has spoken of the trauma he suffered when his dog died and his realisation that all animals suffer - including those he was eating at the time. This is a powerful example of the backstage/frontstage divide dissolving and, if you like, backstage animals being 'freed' from the mental abyss that John, as a child, was no doubt trained to expel them to. Berger and Luckmann might have something to say here: "It takes severe biographical shocks to disintegrate the massive reality internalised in early childhood..." (B/L The Social Construction of Reality, p162). back

[5] Norbert Elias, a wide-ranging social theorist, has no particular concern with animals. The subject of meat covers only 2 pages of his massive 'The Civilising Process'. back

[6] For those unsure of the word 'epistemology' and its variants: epistemology is the study of knowledge, of how we know what we know. To talk of the 'epistemically backstage' is not dissimilar than to speak of, say, a "mental blind spot". In philosophy, epistemology is concerned with the legitimacy of taken-for-granted knowledge: e.g. is the 'everyday' belief in free will misplaced? In sociology, epistemology is concerned with the social context of knowledge: e.g. what are the origins of "everybody knows that..." common thought? back

[7] In this writer's opinion, Carol Adams is one of the leading lights in our movement; a 'theorist' worthy of the name. I cannot do justice to her thought here. back

[8] Carol Adams has numerous other concepts worth coming to grips with. 'Ontologisation' is the projection of man-made meaning into animals. The pig is an example. It is often said, what use a pig if not pork? This is a refusal to see that the pig has an existence independent of the meaning that we enforce on 'it'. 'Laboratory animals', 'broiler chickens' and so on, all of these words show a reificationback of animals: in other words, the very essence of an animal is redefined along the lines of how humans wish to (mal)treat him or her. Carol Adams, provocatively, points out that just as, say, sexists blame their victims - e.g. the claim that a woman 'deserved' to be raped because of her choice of dress  - so does a speciesist culture blame its animal victims. After all, meat-eaters are often quite close to implying, if not saying so explicitly, that pigs 'deserve' to be eaten because, say, "their flesh tastes so nice".  

[9] Needless to say, the lunacy goes beyond cats and cows. Various cultures and religions obviously have favoured 'et animals' and favoured 'meals'. It is hard to take seriously the eater of cows who cries over the eating of, say, cats - or for that matter the admirer of the 'sacred cow' who eats pigs. Backstage/Frontstage regions are not, in that sense, universal. Hypocrisy manifests itself unique to any particular culture. Animal activists are the only individuals who have a genuine leg to stand on for criticizing the eating of cats and dogs. I am, of course, following Francione here and claiming that animal activism and veganism/vegetarianism must be coextensive.

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Posted: Nov 3, 2006 6:03am
Apr 13, 2006
Focus: Death Penalty
Action Request: Read
Location: United States
The Interview: Nathan Winograd from No Kill Solutions goes up against PETA's pro-killing stance of Pound Animals

He's vegan. His attitude is enlightened and revolutionary towards pound animals. His successes to date have been remarkable. Nathan Winograd is the guru of no-kill sheltering in the world today. He once said, "Once a fringe movement dismissed by the status quo, the no-kill movement is now only the legitimate standard for animal sheltering". No Kill is also the only legitimate standard for the animal rights movement to embrace as well. If the AR Movement refuses to embrace
No-Kill options for all animals then not only will it have a credibility problem on its hands but also, if neglected, this one thing alone will plant the seed for the destruction of the continuance of the animal rights movement. Here he speaks with the Abolitionist.


Here's a taste of what's in store:

"I am an ethical vegan and I don't think that's necessary to be a shelter director but you really want people who love animals and who hurt by the killing and if you hurt by the killing you will stop at nothing to save lives."

"I don't think most people know about PETA's position. I have a copy of a postcard Ingrid sent me back in 1992/3 where she says she does not believe in 'a right for life' for feral cats and she does have a policy against No-Kill shelters and there's the whole thing about the pitbulls."
"Her position is these animals should be dead even in the face of life saving alternatives. Because of that, PETA have stopped making sense to us as vegans, as animal rights people, as animal lovers and we have chosen to focus on other groups that have a more enlightened stance when it comes to cats and dogs."

"{PETA} have a policy against No-Kill shelters and, my best guess is, that their founder Ingrid Newkirk rose from the ranks of animal control at the Washington Humane Society and actually spent a good part of her career killing animals instead of protecting them."

"As early as the mid- 1970's the Humane Society of the United States (HSU and all those large groups were opposing the very types of efforts that made San Francisco so incredibly successful. In fact right after San Francisco did achieve success the HSUS started vilification campaigns against no-kill. I believe there's a body count attached to their anti no-kill rhetoric and positions."

Also the Corrine Daws Interview: Making Sydney No-Kill

"In the last 10 years since my pound has been no-kill I have not once looked at a dog and thought, "You are a horrible dog. You don't deserve a home. You deserve to die"".
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Posted: Apr 13, 2006 3:26am
Jan 9, 2006
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

2006: 130 Years Since the First Cruelty to Animals Act


Since the 19th Century…

 In 2006 it will be 130 years since the approval of the “Cruelty to Animals Act” in the United Kingdom. Some other acts regarding nonhuman animals had previously been passed in the 19th century.

The “Ill-treatment of Cattle Act” was introduced back in 1822, although this law only opposed harming nonhuman animals in as much as they were resources or property that could be damaged. In 1835 The Protection of Animals Act was approved. It banned some uses of animals for entertainment such as cock and dog fighting, as well as bear, bull and badger baiting, leaving nonetheless many other uses of them untouched.

 The 1876 “Cruelty to Animals Act” was focused on the use of nonhuman animals in experiments. It was a result of strong anti-vivisectionist campaigning during the years before, as well as of the reaction against this of the pro-animal experimentation lobby. The final outcome was disappointing: no real curtails to the use of nonhumans in experiments were approved.

…to the 80’s

 1896 is not the only date to remember this year: in 2006 it’ll be 20 years since the ratification of the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, which replaced the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876. This controversial law divided the organisations concerned about the interests of nonhuman animals in the UK. Although some of them supported it as they considered it better than nothing, others strongly opposed it, arguing that it didn’t mean any significant improvement for nonhumans, but rather was giving legitimacy to their use as resources. In actuality it has not brought about any notable improvements in the situation regarding the use of nonhuman animals as laboratory tools.

1986 was a year in which legislation regarding animal experimentation passed not only in the UK but in all of the European Union (which was then still known as the EEC), with the European Directive 86/609, on the “Protection Of Animals Used for Experimental or Other Scientific Purposes”. This directive has since then aroused debates in the continent similar to the ones that took place in the UK regarding the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act.

And also in the US

 Similarly, in the US this year it will be four decades since the approval of the Animal Welfare Act, in 1966. Just as in the case of the British laws, this act set some standards for the use of some nonhuman animals. Since then, this act has been amended on several occasions. But again, it has failed so far to draw any significant limitations to the use of nonhumans.

Therefore, the conclusion is that these acts introduced regulations to how nonhumans should be used, and prohibited only some of the uses of nonhumans, but none of them recognised other animals as right holders.


The Situation Now

 Nowadays, nonhumans are still massively subjected to suffering and are killed for various human purposes. Their numbers haven’t reduced, but have actually dramatically increased. It thus seems a good occasion to look back and reflect on what have been the achievements as well as the blunders in the struggle to defend nonhuman animals.

Regarding this, in spite of the very short effects that the mentioned laws have had, it would not be accurate to say that the endeavor to defend nonhumans from human exploitation so far has only been a failure. In one respect the achievements have been remarkable, but they have had to do with the efforts directed to changing the minds not of legislators but of the public. The number of people who have abandoned using nonhuman animals, irrespective of such use (i.e. slavery) being fully legal, has been significant, for example vegetarianism and veganism have never been so widespread. This seems to be, then, a proper focus for our future efforts. Besides, laws can only be approved insofar as they have enough support among the public –as long as the public keeps on viewing nonhuman animals as means for us to use then no significant legal change will ever be achieved.


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Posted: Jan 9, 2006 11:16am
Jan 7, 2006
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Petition
Location: United States
Please, if you haven't signed yet, take a minute to do it

Animals have rights

This petition is international!

signing this petition are asking that the rights of each animal - related to
his/her interests as autonomous individuals and to his/her status of sensitive
beings, since they can feel emotions the same as we do, such as pain, pleasure,
sadness, joy… - are immediately recognized.

That means
each animal has an interest in living a life filled with as much pleasure as
possible & free of pain.

The rights
brought up by this statement are:

  1. The right to live

Animals are
autonomous beings. No animal can be deprived of his/her life that s/he is the
only one to own.

  1. The right to be free

No animal
can be imprisoned. This includes the fact that no animal could be considered as
a resource or used as subject of a trade.

  1. The right to neither be
    tortured nor to undergo bad treatments

No matter
what the reason is, no bad treatment will be inflicted to an animal, even if it
is for the common well being.

Animals cannot protect themselves the way we would in their situation.
It is up to us to require rights that protect them!

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Posted: Jan 7, 2006 11:43am
Dec 7, 2005
Hi friends!

Just a quick note to let you know i'm working on updating my website... well, as you might know... it can take hours!
Anyway, i've been able to add a few things, so you'll find some new poems here:
Many more to come though, but it really asks hours to add all i have written!

Another thing is here:
A lot of new pix!

Also, your comments about my page are very welcome, so if you feel like typing something, just reach:

i'm working on comingback & be more active soon in care2
i hope you're all doing great!
be well & in peace.
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Posted: Dec 7, 2005 2:41pm
Nov 15, 2005
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Petition
Location: United States
There are still thousands of animals wandering the deserted streets of New Orleans. They have survived the floods but are now dying from hunger and thirst. Many could be saved and volunteers have been leaving food and water all over the city. However Governor Blanco has threatened to arrest these volunteers and will not permit vets from other states to volunteers their services. This is a city which turns a blind eye to dog and cock fighting so it is not surprising that she cares nothing for the animals. Please sign this petition requesting she take immediate steps to help these creatures and forward it on to as many people as possible. Volunteers are desperately need to help the few brave people still there.

Also take a look at these photos so you can see for your self.
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Posted: Nov 15, 2005 11:10am
Nov 14, 2005

San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center

PETA President auctioned as a Personal Assistant for a Day
by foa Friday, Nov. 11, 2005 at 12:16 PM

Original article is at

In a recent eBay auction, Ingrid Newkirk, President/Founder of PETA, offered her services for a day to the highest bidder as a fundraiser for PETA. Winning bid: $43,600.00. As part of the ebay format, potential bidders can ask questions of the seller (in this case, PETA). And, as you can imagine, there were a lot of questions asked, and they were answered well with a bit of humor and sometimes sarcasm.

While it's only good for 90 days, here's the link to the auction. The questions are at the bottom.

There's a link at the bottom to View all 101 questions, or try this:
Hire PETA President as a Personal Assistant for a Day

Bidding has ended for this item

Winning bid: US $43,600.00 (Reserve met)
Ended: Nov-10-05 07:00:00 PST
Start time: Oct-31-05 07:00:00 PST
History: 42 bids (US $100.00 starting bid)
Winning bidder: bearautovista ( 9 ) About Me
Item location: Norfolk, Virginia
United States

Description (revised)
Hire PETA President as Your Personal Assistant for a Day

Here’s a unique chance to hire hands-on corporate administrator and founder Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as your personal assistant for a day.

Use her experience in animal matters and corporate know-how to good advantage, perhaps by having her accompany you on your annual hunting expedition or to the rodeo or a bullfight.

What about having her redesign your animal testing lab or your bear bile farm, check your trapline, sharpen the lamb mulesing shears on your Outback farm or unload your poor old sheep from the docks in Dubai, build supports to stop your cattle from slipping off the truck ramps at the leather market, or count how many times the workers at your slaughterhouse miss with the captive-bolt gun?

You can have her clean rodent cages or racehorse stalls, serve customers at your dog-soup restaurant, or just have her listen for hours to your hunting club members expound on their manhood.

Of course, as one of the world’s most prominent animal rights leaders, Newkirk would gladly also help you veganize your corporate cafeteria or cook your family’s dinner, bring your wardrobe into the 21st century by going with you on a compassionate shopping spree, or cap your chimney to keep wildlife out of your fireplace this winter. She could help you select cruelty-free holiday gifts, train you to be nicer to your Rottweilers or teach you how to talk to your cats, restock your bathroom cabinet with cruelty-free toiletries and cleaning products, or swap out your sticky glue traps for Havahart® humane box traps.

Or perhaps you have other ideas.

Newkirk is available to give you honest critiques or humane advice or just do what you’d like her to do as long as it’s legal and, if animal suffering or death is involved, you did not cause it or add to it in any way specifically for this occasion.


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with more than 850,000 members and supporters, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. Founded in 1980, PETA is dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals. PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.

PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: in factory farms, laboratories, the clothing trade, and the entertainment industry. PETA also works on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds, and other so-called &ldquoests” and the abuse of backyard dogs.

PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns. For more information, see



Ingrid Newkirk will only engage in legal activities (for example, only Louisiana and New Mexico still allow cockfighting) and will only serve as a personal assistant for activities that are a normal part of the lifestyle of the winner, not for any activities in which pain and suffering are inflicted specifically for this offer.

Ingrid Newkirk reserves the right to refuse any bid.

Accommodations and round-trip air travel between Norfolk, Virginia, and the job site are the responsibility of the winner and are not included in the purchase price.

Ingrid Newkirk may choose to be accompanied by a videographer or member of the media.

See for additional information, quotations, or photos.

When you bid, please send details of how you plan to have Ingrid Newkirk assist you to IngridNewkirk at


>From the last page of the Q&A:

Questions from other members : Hire PETA President as a Personal Assistant for a Day Item number: 5630325919

Question & Answer Answered On

Q: Hi there, I just ran across the auction. What a great idea! And kudos to you for how you're handling all the ribbing--some of it good-natured, some not--keep up the good work! I hope you raise lots of money for the cause and get a few people to think about some things along the way.

A: Well, thank you. We hope so too.

Q: hey freaks, why it is OK for her assistant to take penasilin that is derived from animals and tested on animals for her diabetes? Or if she thinks abortion is acceptable?

A: Oh my, where to start? It’s a vice-president, not her assistant; it’s insulin not penicillin; and all insulin produced these days is non-animal based since there were so many problems with allergic reactions to animal-based insulin. PETA even has a free booklet you can order on on how to control diabetes and how going vegan would reduce your need for additional insulin. PETA’s mandate concerns animals, so it does not have any opinion about abortion. If you win the auction, you may ask Ms Newkirk about her personal opinion on the subject.

Q: i was wondering if she could help me find the deer i shot on nov.6? is that a possibility? i really dont like it just laying in the woods, and would she be willing to hunt with me, im not a good shot when they are running so there might be a accident if you know what i mean.

A: Thank you for identifying yourself as a slob hunter. Most of your ilk don’t. Hunting accidents are tragedies but unlike drive-by shootings the victims aren’t usually innocent bystanders.

Q: Answer me this, if I understand correctly a vegan must be very careful and make sure to eat a certain variety of foods/beans in order to get the proper protein and nutrients. If this is true, it just does not sound natural to me. Our ancestors were not designed to go out of their way to find a certain vegetable or bean. That lends itself to this, why is it so bad to just not eat meat? I understand the conditions on a dairy farm are not to your standards but what about free range eggs / milk / cheese which lends itself to a veg. diet where one doesn't have to make a special effort. I believe if we were not intended to eat meat we wouldn't have the capacity to do so.

A: That view is a bit outdated. Actually, as long as a vegan eats a balanced diet with plenty of fresh food and enough calories and gets enough B12 in cereal or soymilk, s/he will be fine. You might look at for advice or We eat well. And, hey, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is grains, nuts and fruits in one bite! Add a banana and you can pretend you are Elvis Presley. How much meat do you suppose our ancestors really ate? You may have noticed that we’re not exactly designed to chase down antelope and rip their throats out with our teeth. I suppose prior to the use of fire they were also raw foodists. It just doesn’t feel natural to me to chew on raw meat when there are so many delightful fruits, nuts and vegetables grown ready-to-eat. Sure, if you’re not ready to stop eating eggs or milk products, those from free range animals probably caused less suffering, but you should try some of the wonderful soy and rice based products – cheese, sour cream, yoghurt, even soy ice cream.

Q: I'm not sure you know your facts on the gentle and quiet creatures. Deer and other animals are by no means gentle and quiet. Try petting one of them sometime in the wild. You might be knocked back into reality, if you live through it. I'm not trying to be sarcastic or make you mad in any way. I don't agree with animal cruelty and such. On the other hand, I hunt for food, not trophies. Why is that so hard for PETA to understand? I don't like to see animals suffer any more than anyone else. I never take a questionable shot when hunting. When I shoot an animal, it is over very quickly. If you want to see something sick, get into a deer stand, unarmed and watch a coyote take an adult deer down and start tearing it apart before the deer is dead. I'm a law abiding hunter and I don't see that changing, it's a family tradition that is being instilled into my kids. One note, I'm also 100% Native American. Where did your ancestors come from?

A: You’re right, but we would certainly never encourage anyone to try to pet any wild animal. We understand that you eat the animals you kill and as we’ve said that’s a more honest way of relating than buying them shrink-wrapped in the supermarket or as a plate of chicken wings in a bar. Still, these days, there is no real need to hunt wild animals for food, as safer, more nutritious food is readily available. Our ancestors were also Earthlings, so we share a common background. More specifically, I think Ms. Newkirk is originally from Africa. All Europeans are.

Q: Is PETA trying to make domesticated animals extinct? If we don't eat beef, chicken, etc., and if we neuter every dog and cat on the planet, then what becomes of these poor beasts? Do you really think people will keep a herd of cattle just to look at? I think PETA has gone nuts. NANCY

A: Hi, Nancy - People are doing their best to keep a herd of elephants in captivity just to look at, so, yes, they probably would do the same with cattle. The reason there are so many farmed animals is that they are relentlessly bred to keep up with the demand for cheap meat. Modern day chickens have been bred to grow to full size in just weeks – a process that used to take months – to produce food faster although it makes them unable to stand and barely even move. I appreciate what you’re trying to say but there is very little danger of domestic or companion animals becoming extinct.

Q: Does this day consist of 8 hours or 24 or somewhere in between? Also, how come vegeterians die on average earlier then meat eaters?

A: Well, we were thinking of a normal work day but I guess it depends on what you have in mind. Ms Newkirk will try to accommodate your schedule if you win. Not only don’t vegetarians die at a younger age than meat eaters but they are healthier throughout their lives - their longevity rate is superior. Check Your comment would have more zing if it were accurate.

Q: hi, i don't know anything about your organization. i just so happen to stumble upon your auction through ebay's most watched auctions page. CONGRATULATIONS! Anyhoo, let the president know that she is a beautiful woman in and out for caring so much for God's creatures. Here's my question...when you say that animals are not for us to eat, what information did you use in order to come to that conclusion?

A: There is a lot of evidence that humans aren’t ideally designed to eat animals – from the shape of our teeth to the way our digestive systems work. We’re not true carnivores like tigers. We’re primates, and primates aren’t big meat eaters. In fact, most don’t eat meat at all. But our creed that animals are not ours to eat is based more on a philosophical stance that each animal has his own interests, desires and a unique place in creation and that for animals this place is certainly not a factory farm or a veal crate or having her wings sold for 29 cents each during ‘Happy Hour’ at your neighborhood bar. Simply because we are the cleverest and most powerful animal does not mean that the other animals were put here for us to do with as we please. In fact, we are in an ideal position to protect those weaker than us.

Q: Great publicity stunt idea, who came up with this one? To bad that’s probably all you will get. I very seriously doubt you will see the cash on this one. Not exactly hi-rollers bidding so far haha.. At least it has given people a forum to lash out at PETA which I found very funny. You seem to have a good sense of humor. How much do you think this Auction will net PETA I would put my money on a loss.

A: I don't know. More than 50,000 people have looked at this auction, it’s on Ebay's most viewed list, is featured on several other sites, and bidding has already passed $14,000. We're glad to hear that the high rollers haven't checked in yet – we can hardly wait!

Q: L@@K auction # 5631870282 I just wanted to say that I think you all are great... my three puppy dogs along with myself are watching your auction hoping for a great outcome. Good luck!!!

A: Thanks – keep an eye on those pooches or they'll outbid you when you leave the room.

Q: Just because she is the self-titled -President- of PETA does NOT equate her position with that of the President of the United States. She should not have to be accomodated in a room that would be of the caliber fit for George Bush, the President of the United States. She is worthy of respect, but the levels due are NOT equivalent based on titles. For President Bush, I would would make special accomodation; for -President- Newkirk, she gets what everyone else gets.

A: Well, then, she and George can visit at the same time!

Q: Blessings to Ingrid and to all of the wonderful folks at PETA for doing such great work. Thank you for making our world a better place for ALL living creatures -- furry and hairless, big and small, the intelligent, and the not so intelligent (who are well represented as the authors of some of these questions!). Your responses here have made me laugh and your good hearts give me hope. Best wishes from me, and my three darling rescue kitties (Julia, Kate, Sasha, and Molly).

A: Thanks for your comments. Glad to see that your cats get equal billing in your family! I'm sure they wouldn't have it any other way.

Q: I would like to know one thing, many great scientific discoveries have been made through testing on animals. If we do not use animals how can we possibly make any progress? Maybe you would suggest using prisoners on death row, or maybe we could auction someone on eBay to do this, like say, a certain President of an Animal Advocate group.

A: Good question, but like many people I think that you might be confusing progress with growth. Animal testing has grown to become a huge business but it hasn't made much progress – more people die today of cancer, heart disease and problems caused by medical treatment than ever before – and that's with tons of animal testing. Prisoners were once asked to volunteer to test yellow fever vaccinations in exchange for a reduction in their sentences. I think that this might be a useful contribution that prisoners can make to repay society, if they choose to, but not if they are coerced. Better than the animals who are innocent, have no choice and will certainly be killed. But there are also many healthy and sick people who would be glad to be included in an experimental study either for the chance for a cure or to help humanity. Look at Rock Hudson trying desperately but without luck to get into an experimental program and having to go to France for one when it was too late. Keep in mind that many of the tests that you are supporting are often to investigate drug, alcohol or tobacco addiction in animals, HIV or dozens of other diseases or conditions that do not normally occur in animals. Today's epidemiological studies and human cell cultures, and more allow us to use humans without harming them.

Q: I agree with you. I love animals too. They are beautiful to look at, fun to shoot, and delicious to eat.

A: We love original ideas like this. The first time we heard it, about 25 years ago, we laughed ourselves silly.

Q: If I win, will Ms. Newkirk come hunting with me, and explain to me overpopulation of animal species? could she possibly explain how an animal dying a slow & painful death starving over the course of a winter because of overpopulation & lack of food is better than harvesting an animal & feeding a family (possibly more than 1 family)? If you vegans stop reproducing & eating all the animals natural foods maybe this wouldn't occur? Is she capable of such in depth conversation, or is it animals feel pain & the veggies don't?

A: You know, she would, but save your money and don't bid. If you won, you might not be able to follow her explanation and might feel cheated.

Q: Hi, What a wonderful thing you are doing. I think cruelty to animals is truly horrible. I must say there has been a lot of questions already! I just finished reading through them & there are (some) valid points made on the ~non-animal lovers~ side. Personally I think that we should not consider animals to be more important than humans. I wonder how many staving people in our current world humanitarian crisis could be given LIFE by the efforts of volunteer's like yourself? Not to mention all the money and resources (+ time) that could be used to help desperate people. I feel that people should not be cruel to animals and I am very upset that (some) people are however you will never stop (merely slow) the cruelty of animals. I think that mother teresa could have really used you people on the mission fields and I personally would love to see you handing out food to starving children and giving first-aid to bomb victums or helping rescue people from earthquake rubble. Thanks.

A: Wow. Funny you should mention Mother Theresa. Some of Ms Newkirk's earliest memories are of this sainted woman. Ms Newkirk’s mother volunteered for Mother Theresa in India and St. Theresa's lessons of compassion and love for all were not lost on her or her daughter. It was probably while the young Ingrid was rolling bandages for lepers on school break (yes, she did that) or stuffing cloth dolls for the orphanage kids that her mother said to her, 'It doesn’t matter who suffers, but how.' Her mother also took in human and non-human waifs and strays, she didn't slam the door on anyone who was hungry or ill. It isn't necessary to rank either humans or animals as more important, any more than it's necessary to kick a stray dog while going to feed a homeless person, all are deserving of our care, love and consideration. PETA works to help animals. Other groups work to help human victims of violence, war and abuse. Some people do nothing of any good for anyone. You can support whichever groups you feel are working towards goals that you share. Thanks for keeping an open mind and for your own efforts for those in need.

Q: I'm all for PETA, what I want to know is if I hire her, will she smoke a joint with me (it will be within the bounds of my business to do so)?

A: Wow. Nice work if you can get it… Far out! We won't even ask what business you're in. Send us your pager number and what corner you'd like to meet on and we'll discuss it, but it would have to be legal in your jurisdiction – no, don't even tell us where you live.

Q: Hi - Good Luck raising money! Isn't it a shame about some of the really dumb questions you've had from the REALLY dumb rednecks (is it ok to call them that? i'm from UK not sure what's allowed). One question, my other half says eating fish is ok, coz they don't have any feeling and catching them doens't cause any pain or distress. What does the newest research and Ms Newkirk say about this? I take it Ms Newkirk doesn't eat fish or like fishing! How about auctioning a 5 minute phonecall from her to lecture the person of your choice? (Like my other half to tell him fishing IS a blood sport?)

A: Like the idea: thanks! Scientists have proven that fish are intelligent animals who feel pain just like all animals do. Fish learn from one another, have long term memories and can recognize one another. Fish gather information by eavesdropping and fish even use tools- which until recently was thought to be a uniquely human trait. To learn more about the amazing lives of fish, please visit (or get your other half to) - you can also read about the cruelty of the fishing industry, the health problems caused by eating fish and, of course, what you can do to help them! These days there are also many vegetarian faux fish products that would probably satisfy the other half. Oh, we don’t call them 'really dumb rednecks' – it’s redundant.

Q: I agree with parts of PETA but feel things have gotten way overboard in some of your views. Keep going after the cruel people but please leave the honest hunter and fisher alone. Best of luck with the auction.

A: Thanks. Sometimes our views might seem over the top to people who are kind and caring to most animals but still enjoy pursuits like hunting or fishing. It is true that hunters and fishers are more honest than those who pay someone else to do their killing, but they need to discipline themselves to not just be up front about it, but to stop it as we’re not survivalists any more. Check out and read our positions on hunting and fishing – you may be surprised to find you agree.

Q: I am dismayed that someone in a position of power has nothing better to do than sell their time away to the highest bidder. Maybe you should reconsider your position as the leader of a powerful organization, and take on a more profitable career.

A: Ms Newkirk replies: I gave up a profitable career a long time ago to do something that has its rewards, even when it comes to dealing with rude and critical people, because I see every day that more eyes and hearts and minds are being opened, even against such resistance to change.


The very first question from Q&A:

Question & Answer Answered On

Q: Is this for real? Seems an unusual item for ebay. Cheers

A: Hi. Perhaps it is a bit unusual but it is certainly for real. You can read PETA's media release here:
Visibility: Everyone
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Posted: Nov 14, 2005 11:44am


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