Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
In 2004, HRC (The Humane Research Council) conducted a comprehensive research study for the National Council for Animal Protection (NCAP), a coalition of U.S. animal protection groups. The research involved multiple phases including a large survey supplemented by eight focus groups and fifteen individual interviews. The goals of the study were to understand public awareness and opinions of animal protection activities, including the perceived image, credibility, and effectiveness of the animal advocacy movement in the United States. Now, for the first time, the NCAP research is generally available (upon approval) to advocates and scholars.
Some of you may recall, as recently as ten years ago, that animal advocates often used the terms “activists” and “animal rights” to describe themselves and their activities. The NCAP research found that these terms were off-putting to a large segment of U.S. adults, for various reasons, and suggested that it would be better to use the terms “advocate” instead of activist and “animal protection” instead of animal welfare or rights. Since the NCAP study was released to its members, which included most of the major national groups in the U.S., the language and tone of the animal protection movement has changed.
Please read the whole thing here:
What do you think?? Please leave a comment below.
Where I think this article falls down is which animals people are thinking about. Most people would I suspect think about animal welfare in terms of rescue, and that mainly companion animals or wildlife. People might get upset and feel good when they read about dogs and cats or wombats and kangaroo joeys being rescued, but there is a huge divide between that comprehension and including chickens and pigs and cows etc. To think about animals for food challenges these issues and we still haven't got very far in that respect. In Australia it is still about making sure animals are killed 'humanely' and some rather strange beliefs about what happens to animals going to slaughter. To a degree organisations like PETA have bought into that. Here we have Animal Liberation which do a lot of undercover work, and film some of the facilities like battery farms. The big hurdle is that very few people know that animal cruelty is enshrined in law, by exempting farmers from treating farm stock in a manner that you and I would consider acceptable. So there isn't the understanding of why some animal activists do commando style raids to expose cruelty and they are unlikely to then hear and watch what animal activists are showing them. People generally get very uncomfortable about terms like 'activists' because we live in a post 9/11 world where many issues are now tied up with terrorist style activities. I think people are tired of the daily carnage, and animals are way down the list of priorities. I wish it were otherwise.
The report on the survey lists this as the first "Unexpected Finding":
The public overall is neither very aware nor has well-formed beliefs about the animal protection movement, suggesting that AP (animal protection) issues are far from "top of mind" for the adult population.
So, in 2005 when the survey was done, most people aren't thinking very much or very very deeply about "animal issues" at all. That makes perfect sense to me. For most people, there isn't even something to think about.
Kerry Baker said:
Where I think this article falls down is which animals people are thinking about. Most people would I suspect think about animal welfare in terms of rescue, and that mainly companion animals or wildlife.
I'm assuming this study was a quantitative one, not qualitative. If this is the case it tells you very little except that we need to drill down further. I have to fess up here I'm not a big fan of quantitative research. Even so, without having seen the questions that were asked, if those in the AR movement agree there is so much confusion about what we are collectively about then how would a person in the street be expected to understand? Perhaps I'm doing the researchers a disservice here but I do think most people, at least the ones around me, do have a reasonable awareness of animals but their views are largely tainted by the attempts by governments and the meat and animal research industries to give them a false sense of confidence about what happens to the animals. Organisations such as the RSPCA for example routinely support cruelty by being used to make sure that battery caged hens are caged in accordance with regulations. When the 'protectors' have been hijacked, it really muddies the waters. It takes a lot of time as you know to be involved, and people place their trust in these government approved organisations. It is a highly complex problem.