Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of Kim Stallwood's ARZone Guest Chat of 19 June 2010

Transcript of Kim Stallwood's Guest Chat

19 June 2010 at:
  6pm US Eastern Time
11pm UKTime
 and 20 June 2010 at:
8am Australian Eastern Standard Time




Carolyn Bailey:

Today in ARZone we welcome Kim Stallwood as our guest. Kim is an independent author, scholar and advisor on animal welfare and related matters, who became a vegetarian in 1974 when, as a student, he worked in a chicken slaughterhouse. Kim has been a vegan since 1976.

Kim is a veteran animal advocate who has held leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost animal welfare organisations, including Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) and The Animals’ Agenda, ASI.

Kim then merged IAS with the Society and Animals Forum to create the Animals and Society Institute (ASI) in 2005.

Kim is a frequently featured speaker at statewide and national conferences, as well as being a media spokesperson. Kim gave a presentation, “The Animal Rights Challenge,” at the Minding Animals Conference in London on December 5, 2008. The talk is serialised in five parts and may be found at http://www.kimstallwood.com/animal-rights-challenge/ The objective of Kim's presentation was to make the case that the animal rights challenge is to establish the moral and legal status of animals as a public policy issue.

Kim has been advocating for animals for more than 30 years. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Kim to ARZone today. Please say hello to Kim Stallwood.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Welcome, Kim!

 

Jason Ward:

Hi, Kim

 

Roger Yates:

Hi, Kim

 

Victoria Nichols:

Hello, Kim

 

Dwayne Young:

Hey,Kim

 

Kim Stallwood:

Hello everyone. I'd like to thank Carolyn for her patience and thank you all for being here.

Carolyn Bailey:

Before we begin, I’d like to ask all members to please refrain from interrupting, and reserve your comments and questions until the formal chat has concluded, at which time everyone will be invited to engage Kim. I’d now like to ask Kim a question on behalf of Tammy McLeod.

Tammy’s question: How did you get started in animal rights? What was your motivation?

 

Kim Stallwood:

I worked in a chicken slaughterhouse which prompted me to become a vegetarian in 1974 and a vegan in 1976. I am motivated by wanting to see an end to animal cruelty and exploitation.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

You recently gave your approval for a move by the Tasmanian Government in Australia, in which they announced sow stalls will be phased out by 2017.

I’m wondering how you perceive this to be a victory when this announcement does nothing to improve conditions for Tasmanian pigs for the next seven years, yet it makes humans feel more comfortable about consuming pig flesh, which facilitates continued and greater consumption.


Kim Stallwood:

Clearly, if I were making decisions as the Tasmanian Government I would not have made this one!

Nonetheless, when people or institutions make decisions to help animals they deserve to be encouraged – and not discouraged – so that they go on to do more. 

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Kim. I'd like to follow-up on this question in the open chat section if I may. Next question is from Christina Brewer, Christina?

 

Christina Brewer:

How do you think humans will look back on the way we have treated nonhumans, in, say, 100 years time?"

 

Kim Stallwood:

Sadly, not that much different from how it is viewed today.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Kim. I'd like to ask another question on behalf of Tammy McLeod.

In regards to your "Animal Rights Challenge", how do you think it was received? What has been the feedback?


Kim Stallwood:

The principal point to the animal rights challenge is to understand the moral and legal status of animals as a public policy issue; however, for the vast majority of animal advocates animal rights is seen as a personal lifestyle choice. This is because that is how they became involved. That is to say they had a personal transformative moment – as I did when I worked in a chicken slaughterhouse – which enabled them to see what happens to animals. This experience is so profound it is embedded into our understanding of what it means to be an animal advocate. This is why so much of what is done for animal rights is about making people see what it is hitherto invisible and urging them to go vegan.

So, when I make the case that the moral and legal status of animals is public policy, many activists have to rethink how they understand the issue. When this happens some “get it” and others don’t. Generally, the animal movement is apolitical and politically naïve. This is a major problem and an impediment to us achieving the institutional change we want to see.

 

Roger Yates:

Carolyn, may I ask a follow-up question?

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Sure, Roger.

 

Roger Yates:

Kim, many animal advocates are politically aware - aware enough to know that politicians are followers and not leaders, we need cultural change in terms of animal rights because all politicians can deliver is weak animal welfarism...do you agree?


Kim Stallwood:

I have a similarly jaded view on politics; however, we can't ignore the political arena if we want legal rights for animals.


Roger Yates:

Legal rights are the encoding of moral rights - again pointing to the need to alter the structure - the culture.

Anyway, let's move on.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Roger.

Next question will be from Jason Ward, Jay?


Jason Ward:

Do you feel the struggle for animal liberation is being fought successfully by welfare organisations such as PeTA, or even in general? Do you see many signs of hope for a future where animal exploitation is not considered “normal?”

 

Kim Stallwood:

Whereas there has been significant progress during my lifetime in educating some people, the public’s response to animal rights is primarily understood as an optional personal cruelty-free lifestyle choice.

This regrettable situation is the responsibility of the animal movement which is, essentially, apolitical or politically naïve.  Significant progress will not be made until the moral and legal status of animals is a mainstream political issue. animals is primarily a public policy issue.

And with respect to Roger's point about structure/culture...I don't see it as an either/or but simultaneous.

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Kim.

Next Q is from Carolyn (who likes the sound of her own keyboard folks!)....C!!!



Carolyn Bailey:

Gee, thanks, Roger!

What are the short-term and long-term goals of the Institute for Animals and Society?


Kim Stallwood:

ASI is an independent research and educational organization that advances the status of animals in public policy and promotes the study of human-animal relationships.

 

Jason Ward:

Thanks, Kim. Roger Yates would like to ask the next question, take it away, Rog!

 

Roger Yates:

Hi Kim, to what extent do you expect the internet to change how social movements operate? Is this the death knell of the large organisations, staffed by redundant careerists? Is there anything they can do that people banding together on the web are not capable of - and more relevant to their own location?

 

Kim Stallwood:

Provocative question!

The Internet is an empowering tool for individuals who want to work on their own or as part of a larger group or both simultaneously. This enabling power is such that with creative thinking the Internet can help us, to a greater or lesser extent; do whatever it is we want to do. 

Whenever people group together in any organization, including universities, there are always careerists, which isn’t always a bad thing.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks Kim

Jason Ward is going to ask a question on behalf of Thomas Janak who couldn't be here today, Jay?

 

Jason Ward:

What was your worst experience working in a chicken slaughterhouse back in the day?

 

Kim Stallwood:

I worked on the post-slaughter part of the production line. I saw live chickens unloaded and hung upside down onto the conveyor belt that would eventually lead them to their deaths. I could not bring myself to watch the chickens being killed. Nonetheless, I worked there for one summer when I was a student. Although I was uncomfortable with this I knew it was only going to be for six or so weeks.

 

Christina Brewer:

I am so sorry to hear that Kim it must have been hard for you to see that.

 

Kim Stallwood:

The worst experience is thinking about what I was responsible for – although it did help me to discover veganism and animal rights – but also knowing that for many people these are the only places where they can get work.

I can't ever know for sure but I believe it's important to remember that people travel great distance in their minds in how they think about animals.

 

Jason Ward:

The next question is from Ali Hirst and will be asked by Carolyn

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Jay. Ali is transcribing for us today, so I'll ask this on Ali's behalf.

With melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and all the other devastating consequences resulting from animal agriculture, what will it take for humans to wake up and change when even in this late hour this information is put on the back burner as evidenced time and time again by our “leaders.”

 

Kim Stallwood:

If only I knew the answer to this question!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks Kim, Roger Yates would like to ask another question now, Rog?

 

Roger Yates:

Kim, you seem not to distinguish between animal welfarism and animal rights, either philosophically or as a practical matter.

You describe yourself as an animal welfarist and correctly recognise groups like PeTA as welfarist and yet you sprinkle your writings with the phrase "animal rights." You even claim that the British Labour government has "achieved a great deal for animal rights" whereas they themselves couch everything in terms of animal welfare.

Can you help clear up this apparent confusion of language: is it just another manifestation of movement sloppiness, or does it simply highlight the fact that most animal advocates do not stand for animal rights above the rhetorical use of the phrase?

 

Kim Stallwood:

I guess I’m guilty, as charged, of movement sloppiness! I am an animal rights advocate and never been an apologist – either personally or professionally – for animal cruelty and exploitation. Language is, of course, important. And, of course, I take your point but …

BTW: I don’t describe myself as an animal welfarist; however, in the UK I use both welfare and rights because welfare is the most familiar term here although I clearly prefer rights.

 

Jason Ward:

Carolyn Bailey has another question she'd like to ask - Carolyn?

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Do you believe animal welfare will eventually lead to abolition? If so, how will this be achieved and do you characterise animal rights (abolition) as utopian?

 

Kim Stallwood:

Yes to the first question. Abolition of animal exploitation will be achieved when the moral and legal status of animals is a mainstream political issue. Yes, animal rights are utopian as is human rights.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Do you not believe the continued use of animals, regardless of their treatment, encourages the continued use of animals?


Kim Stallwood:

Yes.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Hah, thanks, Kim

Jeff Perz has a question for you next, which will complete the registered questions. Jay will ask Jeff's question for him. It's quite long, so please be patient. Jay?

 

Jason Ward:

Hi Kim, I am sorry I could not debate you today due to personal commitments. Thank you in advance for reading and carefully considering my detailed question.

In your paper “The Animal Rights Challenge,” you talk about the five stages of social movements. In order to even begin at stage 1 (education), we must have clear and consistent subject matter. Otherwise, we will either have nothing to teach the public, or we will be sending mixed messages with disastrous results for the lives of animals. Before stage 1 (education) begins, how should the subject matter be chosen?

This theory concludes that (a) animals have the right not to be property, (b) all animal use must be abolished, (c) not only is regulating the treatment of animals seriously immoral, but it is also profoundly ineffective and: (d) at this point in history, it is impossible to move beyond stage 1(education) because --largely -- stage 1 has not even begun. 

Let me say a couple of things about that.

Regulation is “ineffective” because it does not lead to abolition and also because it does not reduce animal suffering in the short term. Education has hardly begun because there has been exceedingly little education about the right of animals not to be property -- i.e. the right not to be used as a “thing.” If I said that the property status of animals must be abolished but I was not vegan, then I would be living a contradiction; I would be hypocritical and confused. There has been very little vegan education conducted by animal advocates. The small amount of vegan education that has been done has not been rooted in the view/subject matter. Stage 1 will finish when a critical mass of the population is vegan and believes that animals have the right not to be used for any purpose whatsoever. Until then, moving to the other stages is impossible.

You mention the U.K.’s Hunting Act as an example of successfully moving from stage 1 to 5. But the Hunting Act (if you look at all the animals involved and what happens to them, the wording of the law and how it operates in society) fails to reduce the suffering of animals. The Act only serves to make it even more likely that animals will always be used (and consequently suffer horrendously) so long as the methods of use and extent of the suffering is not economically wasteful. This is what every animal law does; they are all counterproductive to the goals of ending animal use in the long term and reducing suffering in the short term. This rigid structure of animal laws cannot change until the property status of animals is first abolished. Abolition will not happen until a critical mass of the public supports it. We’re still at the very beginning of stage 1.

Francione has remarked that, had the countless hours of labor and hundreds of millions of dollars spent by animal advocates since the 1980s not been used in campaigns to regulate animal use, and had these massive resources instead been invested in vegan education and abolitionist education, then there would likely be hundreds of thousands of more vegans than there are today. Of course not everyone would go vegan. Those hundreds of thousands of people who did go vegan, however, would constitute the beginning of the political and economic base required to move from stage 1 to stage 2.

Veganism is not a diet. Veganism is not a lifestyle. People who abandon their 100% plant-based lifestyles do so because they were not rooted in ethical arguments for the abolition of all animal use. Veganism is a political stance that rejects all violence and animal use.

I have raised many points. I suspect you disagree with all of them because we have each begun from different starting points: different subject matter for the education in stage 1. That is, I advocate abolition whereas you “use animal rights … to mean all pro-animal advocacy ideological positions.” You “define the animal rights movement as a social movement whose constituent organizations range in their ideological perspectives.” That is the problem. That is why I say the U.K.’s Hunting Act does not help, but actively harms, animals.

For what reasons do you disagree with each of the points I have raised?

 

Kim Stallwood:

You are wrong to assume the Hunting Act is not working as well as it could because of the property status of animals. It is because the legislation is not being treated sufficiently seriously by law enforcement. This is because of social and political reasons related to the economic class of those who hunt or support it as part of their heritage.

Although, I share your view of veganism as a “political stance that rejects all violence and animal use,” not everyone who is vegan sees it that way. My approach to veganism is to understand it as a journey and not as a destination.

I do not view veganism as some magical status which automatically causes whatever we may want to believe should happen, to occur.

 

Jason Ward:

Thank you Kim

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Kim. That concludes the formal chat section for today. I'd like to thank everyone who participated very sincerely. With that, I'd like to open up the chat to anyone who'd like to participate and ask Kim any further questions.

 

Victoria Nicols:

When are your two new books going to be available?

 

Kim Stallwood:

Thank you for the question. If only I knew the answer! Hopefully, the first next year and the second the year thereafter.

 

Victoria Nicols:

How are the baby birds, you are photographing?

 

Kim Stallwood:

These are three baby Herring gulls nesting on a nearby roof. They're growing quickly. The wings are flapping madly but there's no lift off. I hope to photograph them leaving the roof by an inch or two soon

 

Carolyn Bailey:

If no-one else has any questions, I'd like to ask Kim a little more about the sow stalls in Tasmania if I could. I see this decision by the Tas. Govt. as a disaster for AR and a disaster for these pigs, as I can only see it promoting more comfort for consumers, and more consumption by consumers. The very small improvements in conditions for these pigs will not come into effect for 7 years; I don’t understand how it can be classed as a victory, or a step in the right direction, as far as the rights of these pigs are concerned. Should we not be fighting for freedom for these pigs instead?

 

Kim Stallwood:

This is a very reasonable question. I understand it completely. I guess my position is that I don't see it as an either / or.

 

Victoria Nicols:

Shouldn't we address ALL pigs, as well as these pigs? Therefore, public policy?

 

Kim Stallwood:

That is to say as a movement we can and should campaign simultaneously for veganism and the elimination of cages. I know this is heresay and contradictory for some. Nonetheless, I believe the most effective strategy at this time is to implement strategies which balance utopian visions with pragmatic politics.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

I do find it confusing to be honest. If we are asking for the complete elimination of nonhuman animal use, yet applauding the fact that we can now eat them guilt free, that simply doesn't make sense to me.

I agree, Victoria, I'm just using these particular pigs as an example because this decision has been applauded by all AW orgs in Australia as a huge victory recently

 

Kim Stallwood:

Yes, it doesn't make sense from our perspective as vegans. But everyone doesn't think as we do. So, to help those who are ready to go vegan, well, let's help them.

 

Kim Stallwood:

And for those who can't or won't stop eating meat, let's make sure that those animals get the toughest regulations and laws possible.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

I'm all for helping people, I just don't see how this is a way of doing so, quite the contrary. But we could discuss this for ever I guess, are there other questions for Kim?

 

Victoria Nichols:

I do

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Please go ahead, Victoria.

 

Victoria Nichols:

For those of us trying to create voting bloc for animal protection in the US, do you have any words of wisdom?

 

Kim Stallwood:

Yes. Get involved locally in the political party of your choice. Work from within to educate them on animal issues and strengthen their policies.

 

Victoria Nichols:

Thanks

 

Kim Stallwood:

Run for public office. And so on. But don't allow yourself to be compartmentalized as someone who only cares about animals

 

Victoria Nichols:

Thanks again.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

At this point I'd like to sincerely thank Kim for giving us his time to discuss some important issues, it's very much appreciated, Kim!

 

Kim Stallwood:

You’re very welcome

I invite anyone to email me privately if they have any questions or if I can be of any assistance.kim@kimstallwood.com

 

Carolyn Bailey:

That's very generous, Kim, 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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