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Gary Francione on NZ Vegan Podcast 8/11

Something struck me after hearing this first part of the interview. This may seem like an attempt at a "gotcha", and I am playing devil's advocate a bit, but I thought I would put it out as something to discuss.

In the animal shelter world in the USA, there is a movement led by vegan author/advocate Nathan Winograd called No Kill Nation which has several steps for shelters and communities to end killing of healthy shelter animals and get them adopted instead. It's backed up by very inspirational and transformational success stories (empirical evidence).

I'm positing (as devil's advocate) that to promote pulling, trap-neuter-return, individual adoptions, etc. without a strong no-kill message is similar to Professor Francione's criticism of the actions of welfare advocates that either don't promote veganism, or present veganism as the most difficult of many choices to reduce suffering. It might be a closer analogy to compare Francione's criticism of open rescue with rescue without no-kill promotion, but open rescue wasn't mentioned in this part of the interview.

Granted, TNR and adopting is not making people feel better about euthanizing cats and dogs, the way that free-range eggs or "humane" raised meat apparently alleviates consumer's conscience, but aren't the two similar in the desire to help individual animals while working toward the ultimate goal of abolishing their killing (and not having the "proper" message being promoted as the solution)?

I'm curious to know what others think.  

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Comment by red dog on August 23, 2011 at 15:06

She obviously misstated herself ... anyway, I think the podcast wasn't planned very well and neither of the participants had a clear sense of their intended audience. I wouldn't read too much more into it.

Comment by Billy L on August 23, 2011 at 14:50
"[...] *all about* no kill. He makes very clear he supports and advocates these actions."

Agreed Tim, I don't think Francione made it clear at all, from what I heard on the podcast, and yes my point is just as you said, that anyone else doing nonviolent animal advocacy that didn't "make very clear" that they were abolitionist vegans, would hear from the strict adherents eventually.


"[...] no *clear equivocation* of the relationship between exploitation and Veganism!"


This was the little nugget that I found interesting, even though it's clear in my mind, just something about how it was worded.


Comment by Brooke Cameron on August 23, 2011 at 7:01

"The problem with Welfarist activism, if I understand Gary's position correctly, is [...]"


Cited a problem with something shouldn't be about understanding someone else's opinion correctly, it should be about forming one's own opinion as to why something is problematic.

Comment by Tim Gier on August 23, 2011 at 5:50
Billy, unless I am misunderstanding you (and I believe that I am not), then that comment shows that it's author has missed your point entirely.
Comment by Billy L on August 23, 2011 at 5:07

I find this comment interesting - from the NZ Vegan podcast page linked in the original post.


coolwater4animals said...

    Billy, your question, if I understand it correctly, is quite redundant. Professor Francione's position on pulling, TNR, adoption, rescue, and sanctuary of "companion animals" is *all about* no kill. He makes very clear he supports and advocates these actions. In my opinion, there isn't the slightest similarity to Welfarists not promoting Veganism, or suggesting it only as an "option to reduce suffering". The problem with Welfarist activism, if I understand Gary's position correctly, is not that they don't promote Veganism—in fact, some do—but precisely in the fact that there is no *clear equivocation* of the relationship between exploitation and Veganism! Their suggestion that incremental *treatment* improvements will bring people closer to Veganism is not only false but misleading and confusing.

    To be clear he also combines with his position on "companion animals", that the Institution of Pets must ultimately be abolished since the whole notion is based on manipulation and exploitation.
    August 22, 2011 7:45 AM

Comment by Tim Gier on August 23, 2011 at 3:35
red dog - I should have been more clear, please forgive me. My comments are not directed towards anything Francione may have said or not said. I was only making the point that if a person did, in one particular discussion of a topic as Billy suggested they might do, then they would be doing what Francione constantly admonishes against.

For example, Francione would say that if I were to talk about or engage in what he calls a single-issue campaign, I would have to do so in a way that explicitly makes clear my objection to all uses of all other animals. On his view, it wouldn't do simply for me to say, in effect, "everyone should know my position". That's Francione's view, not mine, and if Billy is correct in his description of the podcast, then people should draw their own conclusions about whether Francione is doing the same thing he constantly complains about when other do it. I have no opinion on the matter because, quite frankly, I care not at all what Francione says or does.
Comment by Billy L on August 22, 2011 at 22:22
Thanks for ranting red dog, this is an open blogpost and the more comments and opinions the better - I'm always looking for more perspective, and I haven't been studying this AR subject in such depth for very long, so there is so much to learn.
Comment by red dog on August 22, 2011 at 18:05

Now I'm the one who's rambling. :)


I just have one last point to make. Tyler, have you read Nathan Winograd's work? Because it doesn't sound as if you understand his vision for a no-kill society. I think he's working toward a safe shelter system so that IF an animal is abandoned or needs to be rehomed for some reason, the community will step up to help. There will be networks of foster homes in place. There will be fewer animals in that situation in the first place because low-cost spay-neuter programs will prevent births. People who don't know how to control an unruly overgrown puppy or retrain a cat with a litterbox problem will have better access to information and support so they can resolve the problem--so more animals keep their original homes. Shelters will be clean, welcoming, friendly places so they're more attractive to potential adopters--so more people will adopt an animal instead of purchasing one. He's not advocating letting stray dogs run loose in the streets. (He does support TNR for cats who have been in the wild all their lives and are afraid of humans.) Gary Francione seems to agree with all of this, as far as I can tell--but Francione has explicitly condemned breeding and I'm not sure if Winograd has or not.

Comment by red dog on August 22, 2011 at 17:52

They could have talked about what to feed a sick dog who won't eat. They could have talked about how to organize an abolitionist rescue group for homeless animals (if such a thing can be done). They could have talked about adoption screening procedures and how strict is strict enough. They could have talked about how (or if or when) an AR rescuer can work productively with other rescuers who don't support AR. There was tons of material they could have covered.


Tim, Francione has always been very open about the fact that he's anti-breeding. If he'd hedged on that to win support for rescue efforts, I'd agree with you. I think it's more interesting that he's expressed support for Nathan Winograd's CAPA despite the fact that it's clearly compromise legislation and would provide far less protection for animal lives than corresponding laws provide for human lives. It seems like a real departure from his usual absolute no-compromise, anti-legislation approach. I'm not saying he's wrong and I'm not saying "gotcha," but I think it would have been an appropriate discussion topic here and they could have addressed it in a lot more depth. Billy, is that related to your original comment? I'm not really sure if I'm following you.

Comment by red dog on August 22, 2011 at 17:21

First of all I think it's important to distinguish between Francione's ideas and Francione's conduct on the Internet ... I'm still interested in his ideas, but that does NOT mean I condone the way he's treated his own allies and supporters and I think his conduct toward the ARZone administrators in particular has been atrocious. I also dislike the way he runs his message board, but ... oh well. It's his message board.


I would have been very interested in hearing Gary Francione's views about homeless animal issues as part of a FOCUSED discussion. This conversation was totally unfocused, and both parties rambled on endlessly. Who were they talking to, and what was their point again? He could have taken the opportunity to explain the situation in NYC--what's happening there, why it's happening, who is working for change, and how ordinary people can help.  Instead they drifted off topic and tried to save the world and address every conceivable injustice in one podcast. One minute they were ranting about young people placing too much importance on their iPods. Then it was human trafficking, then it was vegan micro-loans. All of which are very interesting topics, but this was just a mishmash that really didn't amount to much.


Believe it or not I like listening to the NZ Vegan Podcast. I like Elizabeth Collins' rambling style but two extremely opinionated people rambling, jumping around from topic to topic, and perpetuating the myth that most AR supporters are against rescue and adoption (WTF!!!) when they were supposed to be teaching us something new was just too much to stomach. Rant over.


They've both done good work in the past. This was not their best work, IMO.


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