Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Ahimsa

Written by Tim Gier

 

Last year, on Jan 26, 2010, I wrote the post that would define not only what this blog would become, but that would define the second half of my life. (I count my days, and today is day number 18,501, leaving 18,023 until my one-hundredth birthday. I’m already planning the party.) 

The post was about what I realized were my obligations to other animals. (I told you because I know you won’t click the link, hardly anyone ever does.) Within days of writing it, I became vegan, and now you can’t shut me up. All I seem to talk about is animal rights and veganism. I’m sure that it must bore some of you. It’s my passion though, and more than that, I consider the struggle for animal rights as part of the larger struggle for liberty, freedom and respect for those who inhabit our little rock in space.

I used to sell cars, and when I was in that business, I worked with some of the most egotistical, self-absorbed, petty, vindictive and small minded people a man could have the dubious honor to know. It was a treat. So, when I found this new calling in my life, I was thrilled to think about how now I’d be interacting with kind, generous and selfless people, who’s only interest was in doing the right thing by those to whom we have done so much wrong. For the most part, those are the people I have found. By and large, the “rank and file” lesser known members of the animal advocacy community are wonderful people who I am proud to know. But, and there’s always a “but” (otherwise there’d be no post!), there are some people in this movement who make the car salesmen I worked with look like saints.

I’ll not bore you with naming names, were I to do that, my blog would be sure to be descended upon by the acolytes of one of these self-proclaimed “leaders” of the movement. I’d be charged once again as being violent, or of using the tactics of fascists and Nazi’s, or of having some kind of “faith-based mental virus” while all the while my accusers bemoan the use of “ad hominem attacks”. It’s true, these are the kinds of things which have been said about me and others who have the audacity to disagree with one of these pompous blowhards who fancies himself as the beginning, middle and end of the animal rights movement. The man himself is sure to call me “morally confused”, “delusional”, “not educable”, “obsessed”, “disturbed” and perhaps even that my writings are “insane”. He’s called many others those things, I know.

Whenever I need something to chuckle about, I think of what it must be like, to be ensconced in a professor’s study, constantly looking over an Enemies List, à la Richard Nixon, like some sophomoric re-enacting of the famous courtroom scene of the Caine Mutiny as the pathetic Captain Queeg descends into paranoia, convinced that the whole world is against him. What a sad and pitiful place to be.

I used to say, when I was in the car business, that I didn’t mind dealing with unscrupulous car salesmen (you’ll forgive my use of the gendered word, but in my experience, none of the female salespeople could sink to the level of the men). We had a name for them, we called them “snakes” and while I now know how speciesist of me that was, back then I’d say that I didn’t mind dealing with a snake, as long as I knew he was a snake. It’s easier to deal with a snake when you see him for what he is.

What’s tough in the animal advocacy movement is when the snake wraps himself in the robes of nonviolence and uses his public face to preach about the value of education. It’s tough when he proclaims to understand the need to move toward some kind of “divine consciousness” and liberation. Yet, all the while his contempt for others he considers his inferiors is palpable. And he considers everyone his inferior.

I’ll answer the comments now, the one’s I know I’ll get.

Why am I airing these views in public? Why am I trash-talking about the Great One who has done more for animals than even St. Francis of Assisi? Well, as counter-intuitive as this might sound, the man ought to shut up and go away. He ought leave his books as his legacy and take his mean-spirited and relentless attacks on EVERYBODY in the animal movement with him into retirement, preferably to a remote island without internet access.

No matter what his books say, the drama this character likes to stir up in everything he does isn’t helping the movement move forward one iota. He makes himself so easy to dislike that his critics can dismiss his arguments based solely on his toxic personality. People want to disagree with him, out of their sheer desire to see his smugness dealt with. He isn’t helping when no-one wants to listen to him.

No-one wants to listen to him? I’ve got to be kidding right? Of course people listen to him. Really? How many? How good is he at reaching out to those within the movement to make allies and change hearts and minds? If he can’t win over “animal people” what chance does he have with the rest of the world? No, he doesn’t win them over at all. What he does is antagonize them and mock them, driving a wedge between himself and everyone else. No-one else knows what he knows, or understands what he understands. The people who disagree with him aren’t good people trying to do good in the world, as he claims he is. No, those who disagree with him are doing it for the money, the power, the fame, to advance their careers, to become “players” in the animal advocacy movement or for any other reason he can think of with which to malign them. It could go without saying, of course, that he considers himself the only legitimate player.

He says that people don’t want to debate him because of the force of his arguments. It hasn’t occurred to him that people just can’t stand him, because of how he acts. Nobody likes a bully. Even little children know you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. I guess some people aren’t as smart as little children.

And don’t forget the dreaded “new-welfarist” label.

You can hear the venom nearly spitting from his lips when he makes that charge. And like the famous question, “So, when did you stop beating your wife, Mr. Jones?” to be accused of being a “new-welfarist” is all the proof he and his acolytes need to know the charge is true. Guilt is assumed, and there’s nothing that can be done to clear one’s name.

It must be nice to always be right, and to know for certain the thoughts and motivations of other people. It’s like some weird religion, where the seer knows all, better than anyone else knows even themselves.

Anyway…..

It’s been an interesting year. I’ve learned a lot, and have met some really nice people, some I am proud to call my friends, and others I am now happy not to.

And to anyone reading this who would defend their Guru, please don’t bother. Just follow his lead and block me from your life, as I hope to have finally blocked him from mine. I’ve seen more than enough evidence with my own eyes, I’ve heard enough bullshit with my own ears, I’ve lived through enough of this man’s garbage that you can’t defend him to me. What he says and does is indefensible. He treats people like things, and uses them for as long as it serves his purpose and then he discards them and maligns them in any way he can. So, please go on about your business, worshiping at his feet, hoping to forever be part of his ever shrinking inner circle. Keep your mind closed and take all your instructions from him, and wait until he tells you, so you’ll know what to think. It’s worked for you so far.

Am I being too mean, too petty, too vindictive, too egotistical? Perhaps, but I’m in the animal advocacy movement now, and I’ve learned from the best of them.

Ahimsa.

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Comment by Animal Rights Zone on August 7, 2017 at 9:09

This article was brought to my attention yesterday. In case anyone else comes across the article and demands "evidence" of the psychological abuse, verbal violence, bullying, misrepresentations, lies, defamation, ableism, racism and all round mean-spiritness of guru Francione, here are a few links. Of course, searching ARZone on Facebook will provide a whole lot more. 

https://www.facebook.com/ARZone.net/photos/a.112395452140884.5698.1...

https://www.facebook.com/ARZone.net/photos/a.112395452140884.5698.1...

https://www.facebook.com/ARZone.net/photos/a.112395452140884.5698.1...

https://www.facebook.com/ARZone.net/photos/a.112395452140884.5698.1...

https://www.facebook.com/ARZone.net/photos/a.112395452140884.5698.1...




Comment by Carolyn Bailey on February 24, 2011 at 12:49
I'm still not sure what offence you take to Tim's essay. I found Tim's essay to be refreshingly honest and open about a problem that seems to be increasingly more embarrassing to those of us who advocate for peaceful, nonviolent, creative vegan education. I am grateful to Tim for writing such a well written, thoughtful article.

In what way do you find Prof. Francione a "powerful advocate for the animals", Naomi?
Comment by Carolyn Bailey on February 24, 2011 at 12:48
Hi Naomi,
My sole comment on this topic was:

"Hi Naomi,
I'd be happy to hear your reasoning as to why Prof. Francione should be above criticism, and why you feel his body of work is important enough that the truth not be told about him.
Prof. Francione's work is not aimed at reducing "animal suffering", I'm surprised you would assume it was, considering you seem to be so familiar with his work."

I don't understand how you perceive, based on this singular comment, that I'm "full of hatred" for Prof. Francione, or anyone else. You asked Kate to name instances of Prof. Francione attacking individuals, I don't think it's appropriate for Kate, myself or anyone else to quote such examples.
On the subject of Prof. Francione's rejection of violence and acceptance of ahimsa, I fully support those ideals. I believe that to suggest there is an appropriateness in ending the violence inflicted on billions of other animals, by inflicting violence on others, is misguided and shows some confusion. I also believe that verbal violence can often be more harmful than physical violence. Calling people "stupid", "uneducable", "violent" etc, and blatantly lying and exaggerating about others, in order to hurt them, is possibly one of the most hurtful, vindictive, pre-meditated sources of violence I could think of. I strongly oppose these actions. So, your suggestion that I may somehow reject the position of non violence is also rather odd.

Prof. Francione is an advocate for ending all commodification of all animals. Changing the property status of other animals in order to give other animals rights, most importantly the right not to be treated as another's property, and ending speciesism are his goals. He doesn't advocate for less suffering, or reducing suffering, less cruelty or less harm.

I'm still not sure what offence you take to Tim's essay. I found Tim's essay to be refreshingly honest and open about a problem that seems to be increasingly more embarrassing to those of us who
Comment by Tim Gier on February 24, 2011 at 12:27

Hi Naomi,

 

I'll let others respond to your all of your subsequent comments, as they are not addressed to me, but please allow me to make an observation and a comment. You say that there is a place for all opinions in the AR movement, and then suggest that I zip my lips, so there is a contradiction at work here. I realize, of course, that the tone of my piece is both sarcastic and strident, but you will notice that I am not merely slagging on Prof. Francione, I am offering a critique of his methods and pointing out how I see those methods as detrimental within the movement. You are free to disagree with me of course, and I know many people who do, but it is my opinion, I am entitled to it, and I will continue to speak it.

Comment by naomi elias on February 24, 2011 at 8:35

that the authorities have come down heavily on AR activists (who are much more useful outside prison than they are inside).  It is now virtually impossible to breach the walls of laboratories or get through the expensive security of breeders.  And the number of animals being used and abused is increasing rather than decreasing.  I think that, before we take ANY action at all, we have to ask ourselves, "Is this going to help the animals"?.  Obviously, if it is a case of breaking in and rescuing, then the answer is yes.  However, even in this situation, if we rescue 100 mice, will they not be replaced with another hundred?  It's a tricky question.  

 

However, back to GF.  Whatever his failings, I believe he is still a powerful advocate for the animals and not deserving of such venomous hatred.

Comment by naomi elias on February 24, 2011 at 8:26

Hi, Carolyn

 

I don't think you have read what I said.  I asked you to point to the occasions where he viciously attacked individuals, as opposed to organisations.  As I have no heroes, I didn't say that he is above criticism;  in fact, I believe i said that I don't agree with every one of his views.

 

However, from where do you derive the view that his work is not aimed at reducing animal suffering?  In fact, he wants to eliminate their suffering by not "using" or exploiting them at all.  I have just been listening to a debate he had with Professor Gardener of Leicester University in which he claims that we are not entitled to use animals "in any situation at all", even if we would benefit from such use.  The philosophical arguments do tend to become reductio ad absurdum, such as, if I was on a desert island and would starve were I not to kill and eat an animal etc etc.  However, I have listened to many, many of his blogs and watched his videos, and it is undeniable that he wishes to eliminate all animal suffering.  Why do you claim otherwise?  And I ask again, why are you so full of hatred for him?  (Obviously I can only go by what I see and hear via the internet and through his books.  I don't know him personally.  I take it that you do?).

 

It has just occurred to me that your argument with him could be his advocacy of non-violence in all instances.  Actually, that is where I partially disagree with him, although I don't believe that using violence (even if one is itching to) against humans will help the animals' cause.  After all, the number of animals being used and abused is increasing, not decreasing.  In Britain, where AR people have managed to shut down animal abusers, they have done it noisily and sometimes quite aggressively, but without the use of violence.  Actually, it is because of increased successes against animal exploiters

Comment by Carolyn Bailey on February 24, 2011 at 7:47

Hi Naomi,

I'd be happy to hear your reasoning as to why Prof. Francione should be above criticism, and why you feel his body of work is important enough that the truth not be told about him.

 Prof. Francione's work is not aimed at reducing "animal suffering", I'm surprised you would assume it was, considering you seem to be so familiar with his work.

 

Comment by naomi elias on February 24, 2011 at 5:03

Hi, Kate

 

As someone who is concerned wholly with animal rights and veganism, I can only say that I agree with the criticisms I have read by GF.  I suppose I must be a "fundamentalist" on these issues as I don't think one can really compromise where animal suffering is concerned.  You either believe that animals are not property and have rights, or you don't.  You either believe that veganism is the basic moral stance, or it isn't. Therefore, could you please quote the instances where he has named, and viciously attacked, individuals.  I was, for many years, a left-wing activist in the British Labour Movement and it was quite sickening to see the splits and the venom from people who were all supposed to be on the same side.  When I "joined" the AR movement I naively thought, again, that we would all cuddle up together to defeat our enemies.  Unfortunately, AR people are people!  The reason the world is in the state it's in is because of people.  

 

I go along with the late-lamented Tony Banks MP, who moved a Motion in the House of Commons a number of years ago.  "This house...believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilized and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet, and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out, thus giving nature the opportunity to start again."   After all, what is the point of us if we can't pull together for the sake of the animals and the planet?  I cannot comprehend your hatred of GF.  As far as I'm concerned his love of, and advocacy for, animals, is good enough for me, as is the advocacy of Steve Best whom I also admire.  I have room in my heart for all true animal lovers.

Comment by Kate✯GO VEGAN+NOBODY GETS HURT Ⓥ on February 23, 2011 at 22:02

Hi naomi. I will assume you're one of the lucky ones who do not know that man as well as we do.

I think it's really important that Tim does not keep his lips zipped, especially as he has the courage and eloquence to say what many of us have personal experience of. I think that what Tim has written here is fair, well-balanced and actually quite restrained compared with what could have been said.

I think the best thing for animals and our movement would be if "Captain Queeg" were to -

"shut up and go away. He ought to leave his books as his legacy and take his mean-spirited and relentless attacks on EVERYBODY in the animal movement with him into retirement, preferably to a remote island without internet access".

 

Although personally I find little or no value in his books, other than as rather badly written, retrogressive historical documents.

 

Thanks Tim for the great job you're doing at speaking for the animals.

 

Antispeciesist greetings

Comment by naomi elias on February 23, 2011 at 20:38
I'm not an acolyte, nor do I agree with all he says.  However, I have never found him to be as nasty as Tim here.  There's a place for all opinions in the AR movement.  I disagree with some of the opinions and actions of some of my friends but I don't slag them off in this way.  From my experience of campaigning I feel that around 90% of the human population is shit and couldn't care less about the suffering of animals.  It is imperative, therefore, that those of us who do care stick together and support one another.  And if one or two, here and there, are a bit more big-headed than most (and I know some like that) - so what?  At least they are spending their lives speaking out for our precious brothers and sisters - and we desperately need their voices.  So, Tim, keep your lips zipped - unless you are speaking for the animals!

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