START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
May 11, 2007
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Visit - in person
Location: New York, United States
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Thursday, June 21st, 2007 - 6.30pm

"Animals are my friends - and I don't eat my friends."
- George Bernard Shaw, a Nobel Prize winner and a Socialist


AJ Muste Institute
339 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor - New York City
(Take #6 train to Bleecker St., F/V/B/D to Broadway/Lafayette, or N/R
to Prince St.)

Join us for a free screening of the award-winning film EARTHLINGS (95
min.) and stay for the discussion. We'll address questions including:
- Why are animal rights part of the Socialist Party Platform?
- What does buying organic / local / "free range" / fair trade really
- How are worker's rights, environmentalism, world health and hunger
related to animal rights?
- Is capitalism a driving force behind animal exploitation?
- Is veganism more than just a diet?
- What is speciesism, and why are capitalists such big fans of it?
- Can you go vegan without giving up the tastes and textures you love?
- How are the consumption of eggs and milk feminist issues?
- Is veganism really just a "personal choice"?
- Should the fight for animal rights take a back seat to the fight
for human rights?
- Is veganism only for people who can afford to shop at pricey health
food stores?
- What's going on right now in the animal rights movement?
- What's going on around these issues in NYC?

"This is the single most powerful and informative movie about
society's treatment of animals! A must-see film for anyone who cares
enough to know."
- Woody Harrelson

EARTHLINGS is a feature-length award-winning documentary about
humans' exploitation of other animals. With an in-depth study into
pet stores, puppy mills and animals shelters, as well as factory
farms, the leather and fur trades, sports and entertainment
industries, and finally the medical and scientific profession,
EARTHLINGS uses hidden cameras and never before seen footage to
chronicle the day-to-day practices of some of the largest industries
in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.
Powerful, informative and thought-provoking, EARTHLINGS is by far the
most comprehensive documentary ever produced on the correlation
between nature, animals, and human economic interests. Produced by
Nation Earth. Music by Moby. Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix.

About "Earthlings":
About veganism:

Co-sponsored by Socialist Party of New York City and Shirari Industries.
About Socialist Party of New York City:
About Shirari Industries:

"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not
made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or
women for men." - Alice Walker
Why vegan? - - Tel. 347.255.4502
73 Jefferson St. #1L, Brooklyn, NY 11206
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Posted: May 11, 2007 9:19pm
Apr 16, 2007
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Think About
Location: United States

everyone check this out and pass on
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Posted: Apr 16, 2007 9:46am
Apr 1, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Think About
Location: United States
From Abortion Rights to Social Justice

Because Hampshire hosts the ‘From Abortion Rights to Social Justice’ conference I went to a couple of the workshops this weekend. ONe of the ones I went to was called Environmental Activism which ‘addresses the environmental justice issues, including how poor communities of color are disproportionately impacted by pollution and toxic wastes, and how people are organizing to fight back to create cleaner and healthier environments.’

The talk consisted of a panel of three different women talking about their various experiences with environmental justice issues and particular groups they had worked with around this. One Hampshire Alum from Alaska talked about the reproductive implications of the pollutants left on abandoned military bases in Alaska, and how they were causing cancer and miscarriages among the people in those areas. We talked about reproductive rights being about a lot more than just the right to birth control or abortion- it includes the right to fertility, to having a safe and healthy world to bring children into, and the sort of community there is for a child to grow up in.

What ws interesting about the Alaskan example was that the speaker pointed out that a lot of environmental activism that takes place in terms of Alaska has to do with the idea of preserving the wilderness. However such a campaign fails to address the very intense environmental struggles of people (largely indigenous and poor) who live in toxic places. Greenpeace was mentioned as a group that used animals in its campaigns while ignoring the issues of Alaskan people. It did seem that Greenpeace was unintentionally failing to work with the people of Alaska on their environmental problems. The speaker mentioned that some groups do not work together because they see themselves as strictly environmental, versus other groups that deal more with social justice issues (which certainly includes environmental). Speciesism is about drawing connections between movements in some ways- that seem like they would help strengthen protection for the people and land in Alaska, together.

While the topic was not directly addressed it became clear that speciesism was integral to environmental issues in Alaska. THe traditional hunting/fishing practices of indigenous people were skimmed over in the discussion. It was pointed out that when groups like Greenpeace come into a situation and begin talking about ’saving the whales’ or whatever, they are seen as ignoring the social implications of such a campaign. Dialogue between environmental groups and other groups is necessary to make cohesive claims. This is a point that Carol Adams makes- that social justice issues are interconnected and to strengthen one movement often means needed to join with other movements. Greenpeace is likely doing itself a disservice by not listening to the people who hunt those animals. I say this agreeing that hunting whales and seals etc. is not only environmentally detrimental but extremely cruel. I do not ever believe that tradition or culture justify immoral, unjust, or cruel behavior.

An interesting side part of this discussion was also the mentioning that the people who hunt animals in Alaska are consuming the fatty parts of the animals, which are also where a lot of toxic pollutants like to hang out, and thus eating meat and fish causes more disease and death. I can see this being skewed into an argument that pollution is worse for cutlures heavily dependent on fish and meat, but mostly I see it as another connection between all of thses movements. Could the argument be made with a straightface that eating animals should be avoided because it is going to kill you thanks to the pollutants in it? I don’t know that this is a productive path to head down, but I also do not think that the toxic meat issue should be ignored.

SOmething else interesting I noticed during the ‘Women in Prisons’ workshop was that one young woman who had been incarcerated in Ludlow for 2 years described the way the prisoners were treated as being ‘treated like DOGS’. I could not help but thinking how things might be different if it wasn’t even okay to treat dogs in such ways- then maybe prisoners would not be allowed to be treated that way either.

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Posted: Apr 1, 2007 3:38am
Dec 4, 2006
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Think About
Location: United States
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Posted: Dec 4, 2006 7:49am
Nov 30, 2006
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

10 Reasons for Animal Rights and Their Explanation



1. The philosophy of animal rights is rational
Explanation: It is not rational to discriminate arbitrarily. And discrimination against nonhuman animals is arbitrary. It is wrong to treat weaker human beings, especially those who are lacking in normal human intelligence, as "tools" or "renewable resources" or "models" or "commodities." It cannot be right, therefore, to treat other animals as if they were "tools," "models and the like, if their psychology is as rich as (or richer than) these humans. To think otherwise is irrational.

"To describe an animal as a physico-chemical system of extreme complexity is no doubt perfectly correct, except that it misses out on the 'animalness' of the animal."

-- E.F. Schumacher

The philosophy of animal rights is scientific
Explanation: The philosophy of animal rights is respectful of our best science in general and evolutionary biology in particular. The latter teaches that, in Darwin's words, humans differ from many other animals "in degree," not in kind." Questions of line drawing to one side, it is obvious that the animals used in laboratories, raised for food, and hunted for pleasure or trapped for profit, for example, are our psychological kin. This is no fantasy, this is fact, proven by our best science.

"There is no fundamental difference between humans and the higher mammals in their mental faculties"

-- Charles Darwin

3. The philosophy of animal rights is unprejudiced
Explanation: Racists are people who think that the members of their race are superior to the members of other races simply because the former belong to their (the "superior") race. Sexists believe that the members of their sex are superior to the members of the opposite sex simply because the former belong to their (the "superior") sex. Both racism and sexism are paradigms of unsupportable bigotry. There is no "superior" or "inferior" sex or race. Racial and sexual differences are biological, not moral, differences.
The same is true of speciesism -- the view that members of the species Homo sapiens are superior to members of every other species simply because human beings belong to one's own (the "superior") species. For there is no "superior" species. To think otherwise is to be no less predjudiced than racists or sexists.

"If you can justify killing to eat meat, you can justify the conditions of the ghetto. I cannot justify either one."

-- Dick Gregory

4. The philosophy of animal rights is just
Explanation: Justice is the highest principle of ethics. We are not to commit or permit injustice so that good may come, not to violate the rights of the few so that the many might benefit. Slavery allowed this. Child labor allowed this. Most examples of social injustice allow this. But not the philosophy of animal rights, whose highest principle is that of justice: No one has a right to benefit as a result of violating another's rights, whether that "other" is a human being or some other animal.

"The reasons for legal intervention in favor of children apply not less strongly to the case of those unfortunate slaves -- the (other) animals"

- John Stuart Mill

5. The philosophy of animal rights is compassionate
Explanation: A full human life demands feelings of empathy and sympathy -- in a word, compassion -- for the victims of injustice -- whether the victims are humans or other animals. The philosophy of animal rights calls for, and its acceptance fosters the growth of, the virtue of compassion. This philosophy is, in Lincoln's workds, "the way of a whole human being."

"Compassion in action may be the glorious possibility that could protect our crowded, polluted planet ..."

-- Victoria Moran

6. The philosophy of animal rights is unselfish
Explanation: The philosophy of animal rights demands a commitment to serve those who are weak and vulnerable -- those who, whether they are humans or other animals, lack the ability to speak for or defend themselves, and who are in need of protection against human greed and callousness. This philosophy requires this commitment, not because it is in our self-interest to give it, but because it is right to do so. This philosophy therefore calls for, and its acceptance fosters the growth of, unselfish service.

"We need a moral philosophy in which the concept of love, so rarely mentioned now by philosophers, can once again be made central."

-- Iris Murdoch

7. The philosophy of animal rights is individually fulfilling
Explanation: All the great traditions in ethics, both secular and religious, emphasize the importance of four things: knowledge, justice, compassion, and autonomy. The philosophy of animal rights is no exception. This philosophy teaches that our choices should be based on knowledge, should be expressive of compassion and justice, and should be freely made. It is not easy to achieve these virtues, or to control the human inclinations toward greed and indifference. But a whole human life is imposssible without them. The philosophy of animal rights both calls for, and its acceptance fosters the growth of, individual self-fulfillment.

"Humaneness is not a dead external precept, but a living impulse from within; not self-sacrifice, but self-fulfillment."

-- Henry Salt

8. The philosophy of animal rights is socially progressive.
Explanation: The greatest impediment to the flourishing of human society is the exploitation of other animals at human hands. This is true in the case of unhealthy diets, of the habitual reliance on the "whole animal model" in science, and of the many other forms animal exploitation takes. And it is no less true of education and advertising, for example, which help deaden the human psyche to the demands of reason, impartiality, compassion, and justice. In all these ways (and more), nations remain profoundly backward because they fail to serve the true interests of their citizens.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way its animals are treated."

-- Mahatma Gandhi

9. The philosophy of animal rights is environmentally wise.
Explanation: The major cause of environmental degradation, including the greenhouse effect, water pollution, and the loss both of arable land and top soil, for example, can be traced to the exploitation of animals. This same pattern exists throughout the broad range of environmental problems, from acid rain and ocean dumping of toxic wastes, to air pollution and the destruction of natural habitat. In all these cases, to act to protect the affected animals (who are, after all, the first to suffer and die from these environmental ills), is to act to protect the earth.

"Until we establish a felt sense of kinship between our own species and those fellow mortals who share with us the sun and shadow of life on this agonized planet, there is no hope for other species, there is no hope for the environment, and there is no hope for ourselves."

-- Jon Wynne-Tyson

10. The philosophy of animal rights is peace-loving.
Explanation: The fundamental demand of the philosophy of animal rights is to treat humans and other animals with respect. To do this requires that we not harm anyone just so that we ourselves or others might benefit. This philosophy therefore is totally opposed to military aggression. It is a philosophy of peace. But it is a philosophy that extends the demand for peace beyond the boundaries of our species. For there is a war being waged, every day, against countless millions of nonhuman animals. To stand truly for peace is to stand firmly against speciesism. It is wishful thinking to believe that there can be "peace in the world" if we fail to bring peace to our dealings with other animals.

"If by some miracle in all our struggle the earth is spared from nuclear holocaust, only justice to every living thing will save humankind."

-- Alice Walker


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Posted: Nov 30, 2006 8:25am
Nov 13, 2006
Hi Friends,

I have just read and signed the petition: "PLEASE! HELP THE SCANIAN PEOPLE CLAIMING MINORITY RIGHTS!!"

Please take a moment to read about this exteremely important issue - the right of the Scanian minority people in Sweden to their own language, culture and history. It takes just 30 seconds to sign, but it can truly make a difference! Please sign here:


Imported from external blog

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Posted: Nov 13, 2006 8:43am
Oct 23, 2006
Focus: Education
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

A new Grade 12 course on social justice must include animal rights because oppression and exploitation affect more than just humans, an animal activist told an exclusive meeting of educators and social-justice experts recently.

Lesley Fox of the Vancouver Humane Society told the group that "speciesism" is a prejudice like racism and sexism and deserves inclusion in the ground-breaking Social Justice 12 course.

The course is being developed as part of a deal the provincial government signed last spring with gay activists Murray and Peter Corren to settle a human-rights complaint.

Speciesism is a relatively new term that Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, says involves assigning values or rights to beings on the basis of their species. An example, according to Fox, is the special status given to dogs and cats in North America but not to cows, pigs and chickens.

"We aren't trying to make [Social Justice 12] into an animal-rights course," Fox explained Sunday. "[But] it is my opinion that if we are going to discuss social justice concepts such as oppression and exploitation, animals should be included."

Fox was a surprise guest at the invitation-only three-day meeting last week organized by the B.C. Education Ministry to brainstorm about the new course.

Other invited parties included the B.C. Teachers' Federation, the B.C. School Trustees' Association, the B.C. Principals' and Vice-Principals' Association, the Aboriginal Education Association, the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C., Educators Against Racism, the RCMP and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

In keeping with the deal, the Correns were also invited, as were representatives of the Gay and Lesbian Educators of B.C. The deal calls for development of the optional Social Justice 12 course and a curriculum review intended to make schools more inclusive and gay-friendly.

Fox, who was in the news last year after persuading the Vancouver school board to become the first major school district in Canada to develop a policy allowing students to opt out of animal dissections in science class, said she was thrilled to be invited to such a high-level education meeting and to speak for animals in curriculum development.

She said she was also anxious that her presentation to the group not be perceived as an attempt to dilute the experiences of people who have suffered discrimination.

"It isn't that humans are better than animals, or animals are better than humans," she said in an interview. "When we talk about oppression, we need to look at it as a whole and how it is interlinked. How we treat animals says a lot about how we treat one another."

Brian Roodnick, spokesman for Concerned Citizens of B.C., the group that has been most critical of the Corren deal, said he was surprised but pleased to hear the Education Ministry is considering animal rights as part of the new course.

But he questioned why no one was invited to the meeting to talk about religious discrimination, such as anti-Semitism or prejudices against Muslims, or discrimination based on mental or physical disabilities.

He said lessons about social justice should be based on the equality guarantees in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which prohibit discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. Discrimination of sexual orientation is also prohibited.

This story can be heard online after 10:30 a.m. today at
Other link:

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Posted: Oct 23, 2006 9:29am
Oct 23, 2006
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Think About
Location: United States

Feinstein pushes tough penalties for animal rights violence

(09-09) 04:00 PDT Washington
-- Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California proposed legislation Friday to crack down on animal rights activists who make threats or commit violence against people engaged in research using animals.

The bill, which the Democrat introduced with Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, would toughen federal criminal penalties for causing physical harm to people or making threats to researchers or their families. It would also boost penalties for causing economic harm to companies or universities engaged in research using animals that are frequently destroyed in the course of lab work.

Proposed penalties in the bill, which is a modification of legislation Inhofe had previously offered, include life in prison for incidents in which someone is killed.

It's unlikely the measure will reach the Senate floor this year, with just about a month left before Congress expects to recess for the fall campaign.

The killing of animals for research, along with nonlethal practices that activists say amount to animal torture, has spurred some to violence, including an August 2003 bombing outside the Emeryville laboratories of Chiron Corp., another bombing a month later at Shaklee Corp. in Pleasanton, ongoing threats against UCSF researchers and the firebombing this year of the home of a UCLA researcher.

"The deplorable actions of these eco-terrorists threaten to impede important medical progress in California and across the country,'' Feinstein said in a statement Friday.

Her staff said the senator got involved in the issue after Californians targeted by animal rights groups contacted her office.

Inhofe has held hearings into the issue, one of which in October 2005 featured an exchange with Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a Southern California trauma surgeon who is a leader of the North American Animal Liberation Front.

The senator asked Vlasak if he stood by his earlier statement about animal researchers that "I don't think you'd have to kill, assassinate too many. I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million or 10 million nonhuman lives.''

"You're advocating the murder of individuals, isn't that correct?'' Inhofe asked.

"I made that statement, and I stand by that statement,'' Vlasak said, saying animal researchers are engaged in "speciesism."

"These animals are being terrorized, murdered and killed by the millions every day,'' he added.

E-mail Edward Epstein at
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Posted: Oct 23, 2006 9:12am
Jun 9, 2006
Focus: Death Penalty
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

June 7 - Australian rural industry groups have warned extreme animal rights activists that the public is finally seeing through their antics.

Referring to a recent UK survey, executive director of the Cattle Council of Australia, David Inall, says the British public is seeing through the tactics of extremists and their cheap tricks.

The survey, published in Britain's Daily Telegraph, reveals public revulsion at the extreme tactics of animal rights activists is damaging their cause.

It follows the jailing of four animal rights activists for the 'granny theft' - the grave robbing of the deceased mother-in-law of a farmer supplying animals for research.

Public debate on extremist activity has been so intense in the UK that British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has made the unprecedented move of signing his name to a petition in favour of medical research on animals, and authoring an opinion piece in favour of this research.

"In Australia we view animal rights activities against agriculture as very serious and destructive, but they are an extreme minority with an agenda to stop the farming of all animals," Mr Inall says.

"We applaud Mr Blair for standing up for British industries, just as we expect our politicians to stand up for Australian farmers."

Recently the Australian Farmers' Fighting Fund announced the successful conclusion of a South Australian egg farmer's long running legal battle against Animal Liberation SA over a raid of his farm in August 2000.

"Millions of farmers work hard to provide the public with food and clothing, and these activists who are hell-bent on shutting down farming should take note of what is happening in the UK - the public is seeing through the facade," Mr Inall says.

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Posted: Jun 9, 2006 11:49am
Jun 7, 2006
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Think About
Location: United States

The Animal Rights Movement: Time for a Major Shift

Backfire: the movement’s mistakes have failed nonhuman animals

A recent poll has shown that the public is much more supportive of the use of nonhuman animals now than it used to be in the past (the survey was carried out by YouGov for the Daily Telegraph). Around 70% of those questioned claimed that testing new medical treatments on nonhumans before they were tested on humans is acceptable. This shows a shift on the view that the public used to have on this issue, since past polls had shown much closer to 50-50 results on the issue.

In light of these results, Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, has claimed that this was clearly showing what he called “a radical shift” in the British public opinion, and that, accordingly, “the tide has turned". The media have reported this with headings such as “Animal activist campaign backfires”, “Animal rights: backlash”, “Are animal rights activists terrorists?” and other similar ones.

What we are witnessing now, for the first time since the movement started in the sixties and seventies, is that the movement isn't advancing but going backwards.

This is the most worrying news that the movement could have received. But the saddest part of the story is that this poll’s results are not due to the movement being vigorously attacked from outside. Rather, the upsetting true is that it is due to ourselves, to animal rights activists, that we have ended up reaching a situation such as this. It is because of the strategies and campaigns that the animal rights movement has followed that we have got to this ruinous point.

How can this be so? We can point at two important reasons for it:

1) The animal rights movement has been trying to further its case by means that society strongly rejects.

2) The animal rights movement has not taken efforts in trying to explain to the public the arguments that ground its position.

The reason has not been, then, that animal right activists have not been properly devoted to their cause. Animal rights campaigners have worked hard and full heartedly, giving the best of themselves to the cause. In order to succeed we must nevertheless analyse the results of our actions.

Why violent actions have put the public against the movement

The poll results have been also conclusive in another point. 77% of the interviewed defended that it is correct to term animal right activists ‘terrorists’, and only 15% said it was not. This is not strange, according to the kind of activities that have been carried out in the name of the movement.

Most of the public condemn the use of violence, even when it’s carried out in support of causes that they will otherwise support. And, by violence, the public do not only understand the infliction of physical harm to individuals, but also things such as threatening attitudes or destruction of property. Maybe we can question such a view, perhaps we can certainly engage on philosophical discussions about what is or is not violence, but that isn’t the question at all. The problem is that, regardless of whether we consider that such attitudes are violent or not, the public do consider them violent, and do oppose it. It’s not that they have a certain dislike for them: rather they very firmly oppose them and consider them absolutely unacceptable. The poll has also shown this. Most of the people (93%) defended the right to hold peaceful demonstrations, but also the overwhelming majority opposed damaging property (95%) and harassing those who work in labs by calling them abusers (81%).

So we can understand how is it that by carrying out activities that are considered violent we are generating a profound opposition against the movement among the public. The numbers are clear as they could be: the majority see animal rights activists as terrorists. This is an extremely serious problem, since in today's climate being considered a terrorist is one of the worst things one can be if one would wish to have the slightest influence on society.

It could be claimed that this is due to a campaign aimed at criminalising animal rights activism. We can maybe try to blame “the media” or some other forces that support the use of animals for having spread such a view of animal rights activists. But it’s quite obvious that it hasn’t been difficult for them to do so. The kind of activism that has been carried out (involving threats, aggressions, destruction of facilities and the lot) is the kind of activism that many among the public would label as vandalism to say the least and terrorism if continued in an organised manner. So no wonder the media has depicted this kind of activism with such terms.

There has been no explanation to the public of the arguments against speciesism

Britain along with Sweden and maybe some other country, is possibly the place where activism for nonhumans is more developed. In spite of that, most of the public ignore the very reasons why we should reject discrimination against those who are not member of the human species. The very word speciesism is unknown to most of the public. This is startling, to say the least. How can it be that a movement that is so well known in the UK has not been able to explain its case?

Animal rights propaganda very seldom includes any explanation of why all those who are able to feel suffering and joy should have their interest equally considered. No reason is given as to why discrimination against someone based on mere group membership is wrong. The result of this is that the public don’t know these arguments. They often think that we defend nonhumans because we find them cute or because we are sentimental. So whenever animal rights claims mean that any human interest is set back (as it happens with the interest in wearing certain kind of clothes, tasting certain “foods”, and the like) this is seen as outlandish. It wouldn’t be so if they understood the basis for equality among all sentient beings.

Why we should focus on convincing the public

Sometimes public opinion is dismissed by some activists. The argument for doing so is that we should focus on winning a ‘war’ against ‘animal abusers’. This entails a deep confusion. Such assumption is based on the idea that there’s a small group of people (those who breed, experiment on or kill nonhumans themselves) who are abusing them because the rest of the society let them do so. And this is the most mistaken view of the problem that could be imagined. The actual truth is completely different from this.

Those who directly, physically harm the animals (those who work or own a farm, slaughterhouse, circus or animal experimentation lab) do so simple because the public demands that this is done. People eat the flesh of nonhuman animals, wear their skins, like watching shows in which they perform, and so on. The wants of the public means that some people are required to exploit nonhumans so that these wants can be met. If all the companies that use nonhuman animals were closed down by activists then new ones would be set up because the public want them to exist. Moreover, when we write “the public” we can read the overwhelming majority of humanity. So it’s most of humanity that, whether directly or indirectly, is to blame for the use of nonhumans. Those who buy meat or leather are those responsible for the exploitation of nonhuman animals. If no one bought these products then no animals would be killed for such purposes. So what trying to run a ‘war’ against ‘animal abusers’ would really imply is nothing short than running a war against the overwhelming majority of humanity. Such a war is obviously impossible to win. If we want to help nonhuman animals we need to convince people not to use them. Most of those who use nonhumans have never really reflected on whether they have a justification to discriminate against nonhumans. –one example of this can be found in the case of philosopher Tom Regan, a man well known for defending the recognition of rights for nonhumans, who previously and unquestioningly ate meat, went fishing and worked as a butcher–.

According to this, we can easily infer what goes on in the specific case of so-called “animal experimentation” (i.e., experimentation on nonhuman animals but not on human animals). Those who perform experiments on nonhumans do so because we live in a society in which there is a demand for such experimentation. The paradigm in current biomedicine research is based on such experiments and there are laws requiring it. The underlying idea is, as it has been said before by those who oppose speciesism, that we live in a society that discriminates against nonhumans simply because they aren’t members of the same species we are. This is why the claim that those who perform experiments on nonhuman animals are evil, sadistic people can’t be taken seriously by the public. The reason is simple: it’s not just a simplistic vision, it’s plain wrong. Those who perform ‘animal experimentation’ don’t do so because they are ‘sadistic animal abusers’: they do it because the public want them to do it. So if we want to bring an end to experiments of this sort we need, therefore, to convince people to oppose them. Unfortunately, there’s no other way. There are no shortcuts. The survey results have been crystal clear: violent tactics not only don’t further the cause: they make it much more difficult to defend. An example of all this can be found in another news item that has appeared in the media recently:

Blair’s support of experimentation on nonhumans

In a move without precedence, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has signed a manifesto in favour of animal experimentation. Nothing of the like had taken place before. It could be said that this means that a public representative, who is meant to stand on behalf of all the citizens of his nation, instead of being impartial gives his support to a particular position (the one defending animal experimentation). We must in any case reflect on what this is showing to us. Mr. Blair wouldn’t have given his support to animal experimentation if he wasn’t confident that this was a political stance worth taking. If animal experimentation was publicly questioned in a significant way, or if those who denounce it had the sympathies of the public, Blair would never have supported it. If he has done so, it’s because he has considered that the political costs that he would get from it are certainly less that the advantages he would get (especially in a situation such as the present one, in which his popularity has dropped to the minimum). As the poll we already commented on shows, this is the case, whether we like it or not. Certainly many of us will strongly reject a position such as Blair’s. But many among the public will not. The sad thing with this is that it could have been otherwise if they hadn’t been driven to see those opposing animal experiments as violent fanatics and instead they had been informed about the arguments opposing speciesism.

An antispeciesist, vegan movement is needed

The defence of nonhumans could have been carried out in a very different way. There are two areas in which there is a lot still to be done. One has been already commented upon: the arguments against speciesism should be communicated to the public, it’s necessary to create a public debate about them. The other has to do with what the public can more directly do against the use of nonhumans: veganism. Although the way in which people can more directly oppose the use of nonhumans is by stopping taking part in it, campaigns aimed at changing public minds regarding this have been substituted by those trying to introduce new ‘animal welfare’ laws or closing down certain companies. These do not mean a reduction in the number of nonhumans that are being used, but only some small changes concerning how they are treated or where they are exploited –if a lab is closed down, then the experiments that it performed will be done elsewhere–.

Veganism should occupy a central place in our agenda. And veganism can be promoted by many means which don’t imply putting the public against us.

This should affect in particular the practice that, by far kills more animals, which is, without any doubt, fishing. Not so-called “sport fishing”, or angling, but commercial fishing. The number of nonhumans that are used for ‘animal experimentation’ is certainly huge, but it’s rendered little if compared with the number of animals that are killed in slaughterhouses. But even the number of animals who die in slaughterhouses is also rendered little if compared with the number of those who die because they are fished for being eaten –we must remember that the number of, say, sardines or cods that are needed for getting the same amount of flesh to be eaten that can be obtained by killing, say, a cow, is certainly significant–. In contrast with this, very little has been done to convince the public to give up fish-eating, especially if compared with the efforts that have been spent to oppose other areas of animal slavery, such as, for instance, animal experimentation. All this, in spite of the clear figures brought by a comparison of the number of the animals that die due to both practices.

As we have commented, the movement is now in a very worrying situation not because we have been unlucky or because we have been strongly countered, but rather because of the kind of actions we’ve been doing ourselves. According to this, the good news is that we can change this situation by making a shift on the kind of activism that is carried out. An antispeciesist and strongly pro-veganism movement is necessary. We can make a change. And we need to do it. To be more exact: nonhuman animals need that we do it.

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Posted: Jun 7, 2006 12:45am


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