Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
It seems like Rob Johnson just can’t let go of his obsession with ARZone.
On Brandon Becker's Facebook page, Rob Johnson said a number of things that are all equally banal, but I’d like to focus on just this:
Similarly the latest ARZone blog, which I am told Yates was promoting yesterday, is on the fact that they deem ARZone to be successful and so they deem the AR movement to be successful as ARZone supports open debate. There's a famous Chomsky quote that goes “”The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”.
What Chomsky is referring to is the way the state and dominant institutions keep lively debate going as a way to keep people's focus almost wholly away from the problems of the institutions themselves. Well, guess what, ARZone are open to debate on everything except ARZone. It is just assumed they are doing right. And when people like myself have written articles in criticism, we do not receive substantive replies, rather they spread lies about me. (all grammatical errors in the original)
I guess Johnson didn't actually read the post on ARZone he's referring to because in it, ARZone specifically says, in answer to the question "Is ARZone making a difference for other animals" that "This is a difficult question to answer" and that it "cannot say" what impact it has had. ARZone does suggest that we might ask the more than 29,000 unique visitors to the ARZone website in 2011 whether ARZone has been successful, but ARZone makes no claims about whether it has been successful. ARZone certainly makes no claims that the AR movement has been successful, indeed, ARZone understands all too well how much work remains to be done on behalf of other animals before anyone can talk about success.
Moving on to what Johnson reads into Chomsky, we should think instead about what Chomsky actually means. Chomsky says, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum..." How is it that ARZone is supposed to be doing this? How is ARZone constraining the spectrum of acceptable opinion? We have and will welcome all viewpoints from within the AR community, in fact, this forms the basis of the fundamentalists' criticism of ARZone, what they call ARZone's "anything goes attitude". Contrast this to what happens on The Abolitionist Approach forum, Vegan:UK and LiveVegan, where by any objective appraisal the spectrum of acceptable opinion is severely constrained. On those forums, one is free to engage in lively debate, but only insofar as that debate is within the context of an "Abolitionist Approach". Perhaps they should read Chomsky.
Let us read some more of him now. Chomsky says, "That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate." Does Rob Johnson not see that this quote applies to him and his actions, and Gary Francione and his fundamentalist supporters more so than it does to anyone else? Isn’t it the case that the three abolitionist sites I’ve mentioned limit the range of debate allowed to that designed to inculcate their members with an abolitionist approach to animal rights? Indeed, most of Francione's followers routinely claim that the only books on animal rights one needs to read are those written by Francione. It boggles the mind that Johnson complains about ARZone based on Chomsky's quote. I guessed earlier that Johnson doesn't read the things he comments about, now I doubt that he even understands the things he quotes.
ARZone invited Gary Francione to debate Gene Baur in ARZone and Francione refused. Prior to that, Francione was an active member in ARZone before he got his feelings hurt and left. So, if there's any lack of an "Abolitionist Approach" in ARZone, one should ask Francione why that is. ARZone doesn't boot or ban people who have opposing views, the opposite is the case. ARZone specifically seeks out opposing views. In fact, that's why Francione, Johnson, Wrenn and others criticize ARZone. To their mind, ARZone ought to focus almost exclusively on those advocates who already agree with Francione. It's odd then for Johnson to be critical of ARZone for limiting the spectrum of acceptable opinion, when the same people making that charge claim that we don’t limit opinion enough.
In any case, one can see that ARZone encourages its members to think for themselves and to challenge what ARZone is about. ARZone has hosted 10 member forums, including one called "Is ARZone saying what its members want to hear?" I suppose that Rob would say that we ought not to ask them what they want to hear, but only to tell them what they need to know - perhaps like noted Francionist Dan Cudahy, Johnson thinks people ought to be indoctrinated rather than educated. But then, we would be limiting the spectrum of acceptable opinion, wouldn't we? Whichever way we look at it, it seems that Rob Johnson doesn't understand Chomsky's meaning.
As far as Rob Johnson receiving replies to his criticism of ARZone, I have written two long blog posts challenging Johnson's criticisms of ARZone (here and here), wherein I posted the entirety of each of two things Johnson had written, and then responded paragraph by paragraph. I guess quoting Johnson word-for-word and responding point-by-point isn't good enough for Rob, but I'm not in the business of trying to please Rob Johnson. Additionally, Rob can think that the stuff he writes on his blog and elsewhere is important enough that I would bother to continue to read and criticize it, but if I were to spend my time reading and responding to all the poorly written and poorly reasoned stuff on the internet, I wouldn't have time to breathe.
Rob Johnson, and others like him such as Corey Wrenn who are obsessed with ARZone, really ought to move on and do whatever it is they think is best for other animals. For them to continue to write uniformed and grade-school level attacks on the work ARZone is doing is just silly. To complain about the supposed limited spectrum of acceptable opinion in ARZone borders on the delusional. The spectrum of views expressed in ARZone is wider and shows a greater respect for a diversity of "acceptable opinions" than Rob Johnson and Vegan:UK ever could.
I understand that there’s a “clown’s corner” of vegans somewhere on the internet. Perhaps Mr. Johnson would feel at home there. At least there the other clowns would be laughing with him instead of laughing at him.
Add a Comment