Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
I wonder what the point of many of these online communities is. The ones in which I have spent time don’t seem to be interested at all in “the marketplace of ideas” wherein varying and possibly contending viewpoints are allowed to be heard. Rather, they seem to be places
which survive on the supremacy of the “in-group”, dominated by the voices of a few vocal people who have an agenda and use the forum to promote that agenda. I can understand, obviously, that a group or an association of like-minded folks would want to have a place where they
might gather in a mutually supportive environment. What I can’t understand is why some would expect that publicly accessible forums, with open membership rules, would not be places where minority oropposing views would be aired. I especially don’t understand it when the
forum is set-up to include people who will be bound to have fundamental disagreements.
For example, despite the superficial similarities in their positions, vegans are perhaps more different in their beliefs from vegetarians than vegetarians are from omnivores. Vegetarians don’t usually like to hear or admit that, but it is, nonetheless, most probably true. It is odd, then, that a forum which presents itself as a Vegetarian/Vegan forum would not expect that vegans and vegetarians might disagree, and disagree about substantive ideas. In the same way, if the forum accepts
members who are supportive of the actual rights of nonhumans, meaning that they cannot condone, accept, support or promote those actions which deny animal beings the same rights to life and liberty recognized for human beings, it should not be a surprise that disagreements arise in
the forum with other members who either don’t support animal rights or, and this might be more troubling, misunderstand the concept altogether.
But, alas, this particular Vegetarian/Vegan Society decided that the forum category “Animal Rights” added nothing of value to their forum. That would be like a Socialism/Democracy Society deciding that the forum category “Human Rights” added nothing of value to their forum. I
know, it’s incredible.
So, it is with some frustration that I think about these types of online communities. I try, as best I can, to always be respectful of the opinions and beliefs of anyone I converse with, and although I often
fall short of my ideals, I do my best to only engage people on the substance of their arguments, and not on personal or petty grounds. I answer questions asked of me, and while others may consider it a flaw, I try to answer point-by-point, in a way that addresses the entirety of the questions, using enough words to do the answer justice. That approach seems to not appeal to many people in the forums I’ve visited.
Maybe it’s just me.
But, there is some good news. No matter the forum, no matter the controversy, there are always a few people who let me know that they have been watching, listening and learning. They are learning because an open, honest and rational discourse about contentious ideas will
always shed light on the issues, and it isn’t a matter of who is right, or who is wrong. It is a matter of bringing the issues into the forefront, and of trying to make sense of them as best we can. It is
only through such a discourse that we have any hope of making the world a better place, for all who live in it.
I am trying to understand the complex issues surrounding my relationship with the world all around me, and with all the beings, both human as well as animal beings, who share this world with me. I do not pretend to have all the answers. I don’t even think that I properly understand all the questions. But I will keep asking questions, and I will keep trying to provide the best answers I can find. That is all I can do.
Thanks for listening.
Tim Gier's original blog may be found here:
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