Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Keith Mann's ARZone Live Chat Transcript of 8 May 2010

Transcript of Keith Mann's Live Guest Chat

8 May 2010 at: 

6pm US Eastern Time 

11pm UK Time 

and 9 May 2010 at: 

8am Australian Eastern Standard Time



Carolyn Bailey:

Keith Mann is a British animal rights campaigner and writer, alleged by police in 2005 to be at the top of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) pyramid. Keith was raised in Rochdale, England, where, as a child, his goal was to play soccer for England. His first job was on a dairy farm while on a youth training scheme at school. He writes in From Dusk 'Til Dawn that his lasting memory of the job is the cows crying out all day searching for the calves that had been removed from them. 

Keith first became aware of animal rights in 1982 when he came across a group of local hunt saboteurs distributing leaflets in the main street; Keith was inspired by what he recalled as their selflessness, particularly towards nonhuman animals that were unable to speak for themselves. His first removal of an animal from captivity was when he took a rabbit from a hutch that he used to walk past every day, after having asked the owner for weeks to do something about the rabbit's situation. He writes that this incident changed his view of "theft" forever, and that thereafter; he viewed himself as a "proud ALF activist." 

Keith first came to widespread public attention in 1994, after being sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for setting meat lorries on fire, one of the longest sentences to be handed down to an animal rights activist. Keith said in 2005: "I would prefer that we could change things using legitimate methods that are there for changing the world. but the government have taken away their right to protest and driven people to the kind of tactics that are more productive. All that is left now is to turn to extremism.” 

He is the author of From Dusk 'til Dawn: An Insider's View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement (2007); A story which documents the struggles of the ALF. He writes that his involvement with the Animal Liberation Front has led to the happiest and saddest times of his life, as well as to danger and trauma. 

In January 2008, SPEAK Political (since renamed The Animal Protection Party) was set up to speak on behalf of animals, and announced that Keith would be standing as an electoral candidate, as well as acting as a spokesperson for the party. Keith stood in Oxford West and Abingdon against Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris in the recent general election where he received 0.3 percent of the vote and Evan Harris lost his seat. 

Since those early days when Keith’s dream was to play football for England, upon reflection, Keith has stated “I can’t imagine that winning ten World Cup competitions would give me anything like the same satisfaction I feel after convincing someone to stop encouraging slaughterhouses and factory farms or by placing a neglected animal in a safe, loving home for the rest of its life on Earth". 

Would you please welcome Keith Mann to ARZone.

 

Jason Ward:
Hello Keith

 

Carolyn Bailey:
Welcome, Keith!

 

Lisa Liberation NOw:
Way to go Keith!

 

Keith Mann:
aye

 

Richard Redmore:
Hi Keith :-)

 

Jody Sidote:
Welcome!

 

Stacey Rakic:
Hi, Keith.

 

Dwayne Young:
Truly an honour to have you Keith!

 

Caroline
An honour indeed

 

Carolyn Bailey:
Before we begin, Keith will be responding to most of his questions spontaneously, therefore, we ask that you please refrain from interrupting as Keith is typing and reserve all comments until the conclusion of the formal chat section, at which time everyone will be invited to engage Keith. I’d now like to introduce Jason to ask Tammy McLeod’s first question to Keith, Jay?


Jason Ward:
Thanks Carolyn Hey Keith! You mentioned in your speech for the World Day for Animals in Laboratories of ’09 that the aim of pharmaceutical companies was to inflict illness on the general public, by administering poisons in vaccinations. Could you please elaborate on this?

 

Keith Mann:
The drug companies are in the business of making money from their products and of course the more they sell the more money they make. Many of these products go on to do the customer harm and this often leads to more sales for the drug companies. This is wonderful if you are into this kind of thing. Since the fall of the patents on the bigger pushers pill products more attention has gone onto inventing vaccines. It’s easy to see the broader take up of this liquid poison and if you can be... bothered to digest the bizarre ingredients before you let them inject it into you it becomes clear how likely it is you will compromise your health as a consequence. 

Vaccines often contain aluminium and mercury as well as formaldehyde and a mind boggling concoction of other undesirables such as animal tissues, pig blood, horse blood, rabbit brain, dog kidney, monkey kidney, chick embryo, chicken egg, duck egg calf serum foetal bovine serum and monosodium glutamate, a neurotoxin. And they have plans for much more of the same.

 

Jason Ward:
Thanks Next up is Richard Redmore. Take it away Rich!

 

Richard Redmore:
Hey Keith! Given the view of ALF in the media and Animal Rights in general being thought of as "radical" or "extreme", what have you found is the best way to get your message across and change perceptions within the media or with the public?

 

Keith Mann:
There isn’t a simple answer to this but persistence and honesty help drive home the message.

Teaching people something they didn’t know is a way in and having a good understanding of what you are talking about. I have seen many good activists burn themselves out trying the same approach year in and year out and not really breaking ground. When someone stops listening to the horror that beagles are going through I find that informing them of the equally sad damage that the same perpetrators are doing to children can create an opening but some people feel this is somehow letting the animals down.

It’s also important that we realise what the media is. It is the voice of the enemy and it cannot be softened up to embrace our agenda. We must go directly to the people with the truth and not hope for the media to do it for us.

 

Richard Redmore:
Thanks :-)

 

Jason Ward:
Ok next up is Carolyn Bailey with the next question

 

Carolyn Bailey: 
Thanks very much Jay.  Keith, my question is: animal exploitation and all of the misery associated with it are symptoms of the disease of speciesism as a cultural prejudice against nonhuman animals. Does MDA reduce or eliminate speciesism? If so, how does this happen?


Keith Mann:

It may depend on whether the DA is publicised, heard and explained to an audience. DA is a useful route into the consciousness as it can create a platform.

Sadly we have a situation in the AR movement whereby people queue to add their voice to the media driven condemnation while few are prepared to face an assault of anger for trying to offer some explanation.

 

Jason Ward:
Thanks for that Keith next up will be Dwayne Young with the next question Take it away Dwayne!

 

Dwayne Young:
Hiya, Keith..As someone who is relatively new to the Animal rights movement and trying desperately to develop effective new strategies to wake up and inspire those people who don't make the connection between their actions and their consequences.the one's who are content in just blaming the government, big business, their boss, the system. 'Just don't blame me' the droves of animal consumers that believe that because they are living as 'law abiding' citizens -- there is somehow moral justification for their actions. The people oblivious to logic. For all of your encounters with these types of people over the years -- could you kindly offer me a few words of advice as to the methods you personally have found most effective for dealing with them- and or recommend some specific literature that might help me in promoting our message[s] apologize for the technical issues:-)

 

Keith Mann:
I can help you with the best literature cos I wrote it, From Dusk til Dawn. Or try showing them Behind The Mask, which is comparatively easy on the eyes for the uninitiated. Earthlings is even better if they will suffer it. How you get your own ... message across is surely for you to realise. Each of us has our own skills and should develop them to the full.

 

Dwayne Young:
excellent. thank you.

 

Jason Ward:
Thanks again Keith. Carolyn Bailey would like to ask the next question.

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Keith. Behind the Mask is an excellent film. 

Could you please explain how the Animal Protection Party was formed and what the main aims and expectations have been, and if those expectations were achieved in the recent elections?

 

Keith Mann:
The APP is a grassroots AR political party with a simple policy statement. We have no manifesto and no desire for power within this system. We sit candidates with a view to unseat negative elements and to educate. We placed four candidates this week in our first election campaign and got our message out to hundreds of thousands of people and we achieved something quite remarkable in our key target area by unseating Evan Harris who is a front man for vivisection/Big Pharma and so much else we must oppose. A few years ago this man had a safe majority and no one expected he would be unseated except us! He says he is very disappointed and has called our campaign dirty and expressed hopes that our political campaigns won’t in future be like this. What he means is honest and of course they will! We have proven a serious point in Oxford, a major establishment/vivisection hotspot and there is nothing to stop us if we work together.

 

Carolyn Bailey:
Congratulations on this week's results, Keith! Jason Ward has another question for you, Jay?

 

Jason Ward:
Thanks Carolyn. If violence against an animal experimenter is morally permissible, then isn't violence against my next door neighbour or any confirmed non-vegan also permissible? And if not, where do we draw a line on who is "fair game" for our infliction of violence? And why is the line drawn there instead of somewhere else?

 

Keith Mann:
It is not my decision to make for anyone else. It is for each individual and their conscience to decide what is morally acceptable.

 

Jason Ward:
Thank you Keith. The next question is from Kate who is busy transcribing the chat so I'll ask for her.

Keith, you have been involved in arson. Animal activists have defended the use of arson saying e.g. that they were able to clear buildings of all animals. This is clearly untrue. Since every building is home to countless very small animals, e.g. insects, who could not be evacuated to safety and who would therefore be murdered. Do you still support the use of fire or have you had second thoughts?

 

Keith Mann:
Clearly untrue? Again it is for the individual to decide on the most appropriate tactics to employ in their campaigns. It could be argued that by gathering large crowds of people together for a peaceful protest a great many insects will die as a result (perhaps the odd mammal or some birds?), as however those people arrive they will inevitably leave a trail of carnage in their wake. I would not spend much time and energy trying to restrict either activity.

 

Jason Ward:
Thanks Keith. The next question is from Lisa Blundell - since she's not here - I will ask it for her What is your view of animal welfare reforms? Do animal welfare reforms lead to abolition, or do they reinforce and further legitimize the system of exploitation and make people more comfortable about exploiting animals?

 

Keith Mann:
Improving the way animals are killed is not the way forward. We create work for those who come after us by polishing over the cruelty we have before us. It is a change in attitudes that leads to abolition and people’s attitudes don’t tend to... change if they are led to believe that the animals are comfortable in their carpeted cages.

 

Jason Ward:
Thanks for that Keith Next question will be from Dwayne Young Go ahead when you are ready Dwayne

 

Dwayne Young: 
Do you still find yourself defending, and answering the question "Isn't the extremist- direct action approach doing more harm than good to the animal rights movement?" the same way you did - say 2 years ago?

 

Keith Mann:
I think I understand the question. My views are as they long have been and yes I am asked it, or more often attacked over it but I think my position on this is well documented and the evidence of the achievements of those among us engaged in DA is overwhelming!

 

Dwayne Young:
Indeed. thank you.

 

Jason Ward:
The next is another question from Carolyn Bailey but Carolyn is having technical issues - so I'll ask her question for her.

Keith, you spent an enormous and unacceptable amount of time in prison when you were younger. I can’t begin to imagine how this may have affected you. If you were given your time again, is there anything you’d change or do differently in hindsight? If so, why?

 

Keith Mann:
My time is now! Those episodes slowed me down a little and gave me time to consider my approach. I would have tried harder to avoid getting caught and not sought to fill all rolls (media work and ALF work) but I made sure nothing but good came out of it.

 

Jason Ward:
Thank you again Keith. The next question is from Thomas Janak - who isn't here - so I'll ask it for him Hi Keith; could you please tell us where we can find your wife’s wildlife documentaries?

 

Keith Mann:
I’m not sure myself! Is there something I need to know? She’s sat across the room looking confused too so if you do come across them please let me know!

 

Jason Ward:
HAHA nice. Next question is mine. Could you outline your vision of the future - what do you want - how do you see us moving towards it?

 

Keith Mann:
I could do with a glass of wine and a good kip but animal liberation would do instead. As well? I see a few more MP’s rocking in anticipation, I see mink running from broken cages and I can see a tiny spider inside the screen of my computer. The latter alone causes me some angst. How the hell do I get it out? Sorry for my delay I change computer and switched that one off. From the darkness comes light and I see it shining bright. I see many good people working toward that light trampling on the shills and trolls and left brain halfwits as they go and I love it all! Onwards and upwards!

 

Jason Ward:
I like your vision poor spider Next question will be from Dwayne

 

Dwayne Young
Thanx Jason.

 

Jason Ward:
You're welcome

 

Dwayne Young: 
Keith you were once quoted as saying - "I would prefer that we could change things using legitimate methods that are there for changing the world. But the government have taken away their right to protest and driven people to the kind of tactics that are more productive. It is more useful to sabotage property All that is left now is to turn to extremism." My question is do you still feel every bit as much connected to that sentiment as you were back when you made it initially?

 

Keith Mann:
Of course, I would still prefer it done via a legitimate route but the system is not designed for that to happen. we have to adapt our tactics to fit the world around us in order to change the world around us.

 

Jason Ward:
Thanks again Keith

 

Dwayne Young:
Thank you.

 

Jason Ward:
Next question will be Richard Redmore's

 

Richard Redmore:
Thanks Jason As someone interested in getting more involved in Animal Rights but living in a city were I've had little luck finding any active vegans/animal rights activists, from your experience what's the best way to find and attract people to the cause within an area? Or in your experience has it been a case in convincing people as you went along rather then rooting people out. Apart fromthe internet ofc :-)

Keith Mann:

When I was alone in the water I set up my stall on the street alone with my leaflets. The more urban you are the better this works! I used an ironing board once and let those who fit in with me come to me. From there on things could only get better. You will draw to you those you need to enable you to thrive,

 

Richard Redmore:
Thanks Keith,


Jason Ward:
Next question will be Carolyn Bailey's

 

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks, Keith, I'd like to ask one more question and then we can move to open chat I firmly believe that vegan education should be the main aim of any animal advocate. As you’ve been an inspirational vegan educator for decades, and obviously believe vegan education has an important role to play in animal liberation, do you feel MDA harms the perception the general public have towards advocates and the ability of vegan education to be effective? 

Keith Mann:
The media is at fault for harming perceptions. Taking action is not something to be condemned, ridiculed or belittled. It is of more benefit to educate about why someone has acted to effect change rather than to side with the enemy and condemn it. When we take the positive over the negative from every situation we will sooner reach our goals. Vegan campaigning is vital. However this is not to say there are no failings in this approach. I have experienced one group giving away food on the streets and I have heard it said this is the way forward. I have also tasted this food and given the choice between encouraging that and a less media friendly form of direct action I would almost inevitably choose something the media can get hysterical about than potentially put ting someone off for life by feeding them soggy cardboard passed off as vegan nourishment!

 

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks Keith. At this time I'd like to firstly, thank Keith for his patience and insightful responses I'd like to open the floor up to anyone who would like to directly speak to Keith, but I ask that you PM either Jay or myself so we can keep it orderly

 

Keith Mann:
When was orderly ever a good idea!

 

Dwayne Young: 
Ha!

 

xARMx 
Touche

'

Carolyn Bailey:
Ok, lets just go for it then. Bombard Keith with questions :-)

 

Mateja Presern
Hi Keith. Austria and the paragraph 278a. Any views on the matter and on the fact that your name is coming up in the indictments?

 

Keith Mann:
It's how it is!

 

Mateja Presern
Thanks. Can I ask another? 

GlaxoSmithKline recently divided several million pounds between some UK Universities - in return they will promote vivisection in schools. Comments? Actions we can take besides protesting? The Uni I am with does animal testing and the students I talk to come accross almost as if they were programmed by their lecturers that this is the only right way. Best thing I can do? Any Advice? Thanks.

 

Keith Mann:
No. Yes. Follow your instincts, study the subject, act. Act.

 

Dwayne Young: 
Hey, Keith. My gf and I are both currently racing to finish your book! Brilliant read btw. Have you any plans to pen another?

 

Keith Mann:
Fuck off that one took 15 years!

 

Dwayne Young:
LOL!

 

Keith Mann:
DONE

 

Dwayne Young:
So is that a maybe?

 

Keith Mann:
YES

 

xARMx 
rotfl

 

Keith Mann:
Have I just been done?

 

Dwayne Young:
Excellent

.

Keith Mann:
DONE

 

Jason Ward:
Hey Keith - if they were to make a movie of your life - who would you most like to see play you on the silver screen?

 

Keith Mann:
Me

 

Dwayne Young: 
Yes!

 

Stacey Rakic:
Perfect!

 

Jason Ward:
:-)

 

Igor 
Hi Keith, what are your plans regarding recent success at the polls (btw congrats!) ?

 

Keith Mann:
To let as many people know about it as possible. We have achieved something significant here. we are already looking to the next elections and at a lot of other ideas too for getting across to people that we are a force and have serious issues, keep an eye on our site www.fromdusktildawn.org.uk and you'll see these develop.

 

Igor 
Great! :-) THX!

 

Carolyn Bailey:
Will you aim to win a seat next time, Keith?

 

xARMx 
Thank you for the link. I wish the usa would be as politically progressive, as far as our parties to choose from.

 

Mateja Presern
Keith, someone said that you said that people who buy soy milk in shops are being monitored as they could potentially be criminals (as animal activists). Can this be?

 

Keith Mann:
Nooooo. There is no future in politics. Politics is a game controlled by a few evil fuckers who despise us all. We have to think laterally. The APP has no desire to play the game. We aim to lose target politicians their seats.

 

Keith Mann: 
Mateja. Not me. No idea.

 

Mateja Presern
(apologies if this Q was way too silly)

 

Jody Sidote: 
Hey Keith, NJ is planning a Trophy Hunt for Black Bear soon, and will be having an open forum Tuesday those for and against are being allowed to speak, and the time limit is down to 2 minutes...my question to you is what would be the most vital point to make to have the most impact besides the obvious cruelty aspect in such a short time span allowed? I ask because I am sure many will be voicing the cruelty involved and I'd like to have another just as important approach if any? Thank You

 

Keith Mann:
I don’t know enough to give useful comment. If they are religious ask what their god would make of blasting away his creation. Good luck.:-)

 

Igor 
:-)

 

Jody Sidote:
Thanks!

 

Jason Ward:
What do you think of Single Issue Campaigns - do you think they are effective or do you think that they merely reinforce other forms of exploitation/ speciesism?

 

Keith Mann:
The weight of opposition to the cruelty will one day speak all it needs NOW IM

 

Jason Ward:
oops – sorry

 

Keith Mann:
It depends Jason. Nothing should be categorised or dismissed.

 

Jason Ward:
Fair enough

 

Carolyn Bailey:
Do we have any more questions for Keith?

 

Mateja Presern
3 days ago there was an article in The Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7116158.ece ).
Researchers from Leeds university determined the yield from organic fields was 55 per cent lower than from conventional fields. Organic farms account for 4.3 per cent of all British agricultural land. The Times concludes that, to meet future demands of food production, we will need to keep farming our most productive areas in the most intensive way we can. I emailed the researcher named in the article to point to how negligible would be the increase in crops if those 4.3% of British organic farms became non-organic. Why not stop farming meat instead and thus gain an incomparable amount of arable land. He replied: "Yes, the easy way to reduce demand is to encourage people to be vegetarian. However, in the post-imperialist world, it is not easy to tell people (or countries) to reduce their carbon footprint by not eating (or eating less) meat... If only there was a magic wand..."Haven't written back to him yet. Any suggestions? I was gong to ask if they (as researchers) can also at least mention that the animal farms are the biggest culprits in land use.

 

Keith Mann:
I wouldn't personally use the carbon footprint argument to persuade anyone to stop eating meat but that's for another night.

 

Mateja Presern
Thanks!

 

Keith Mann:
DONE

 

Carolyn Bailey: 
Hey, thanks so very much for giving us your time Keith, we sincerely appreciate it! You've been a great sport and ARZone sincerely appreciates it!

 

Jason Ward:
Thanks Keith - I enjoyed the interview immensely! Take care!

 

Keith Mann:
Pleasure. Laters

 

Igor 
Thanks Keith! Keep the good work!

 

Stacey Rakic:
Thank you so much, Keith!

 

LoVegan 
Thank you Keith

 

xARMx 
TY

 

Jason Ward:
Thank you!! :-)

 

 

 

ARZone exists to promote rational discussion about our relations with other animals and about issues within the animal advocacy movement. Please continue the debate after “chats” by starting a forum discussion or making a point under a transcript.



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Comment by Diane Avenell on May 9, 2010 at 18:41
Welcome Keith and its an honour to have you with us.
Comment by Carolyn Bailey on May 9, 2010 at 15:09
You rock, Jay!

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