Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of Mark Jordan's Live ARZone Guest Chat

Transcript of Mark Jordan's LIve ARZone Guest Chat

7 January 2012

5pm US Eastern Time

10pm UK Time

8 January 2012

8am Australian Eastern Standard Time  



Carolyn Bailey:

ARZone would like to welcome Mark Jordan, as today’s Live Chat Guest.

 

Mark stopped knowingly purchasing and/or consuming products derived from other animals in 1995. He rapidly thereafter transitioned into living vegan. Mark also first became involved in environmental/animal activism in 1995, and his participation in it since has ranged from 24/7 to the related burnout.

 

In 2011, he co-founded a new animal rights group, Respecting Animals, which focuses primarily on outreach, but also engages in anti-speciesism protesting.

 

Mark’s varied past also includes: two years as a Peace Corps volunteer; six months working with Haitians in refugee camps in Cuba; canvassing and doing public outreach for several environmental groups; and many years as a swimming coach.

 

Mark has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia, a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Lewis and Clark Law School. In law school, Mark acquired certificates in both Animal Law (within the Environmental Law program) and Criminal Law, as well as holding board positions on Animal Law Review and the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.

 

Mark is active in the National Lawyers Guild, through which he has been a legal observer coordinator for Portland, Oregon and has legal observed for countless protests, marches, etc. (approximately half of which have been animal-related). Mark currently works as an attorney in Eugene, Oregon.

 

Mark welcomes the opportunity to engage ARZone members today on these topics and more. Would you please join with me in welcoming Mark to ARZone today?

 

Welcome, Mark!

 

Roger Yates:

Hi Mark, Welcome to ARZone.

 

Lara Benson:

Hi Mark, thanks for being here today!

 

Tim Gier:

hi Mark!!

 

Sky:

Hello Mark.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Hello Mark!

 

Will:

hiya

 

Brooke Cameron:

Hi Mark, great to see you here!

 

Pauline Mcguigan:

:-)

 

Jason Ward:

Welcome to ARZone Mark!!!

 

Carol Hughes:

Hi Mark!!  :-)

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Everyone! Thank you for being here. I am pleased to be here and be part of the discussion. While I am a strong believer in action, all movements for social justice have important internal discussions and debates on philosophy/approach.

 

Mangus O'Shales:

hello Mark!

 

Mark Jordan:

Here’s to having discussion, and possibly debate, and moving forward for the animals!

:-)

 

Peter Keller:

Welcome Mark!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Mark will be responding to his pre-registered questions first, and then we’ll open the chat up for all members to engage him. Please refrain from interrupting Mark during the first session, and feel free to send a private message to an admin if you wish to address him at any time. This can be done by clicking on their names and selecting “Private Chat”.

I’d now like to ask Jesse Newman to begin, by asking Mark his first question, thanks, Jesse.

 

Jesse Newman:

Thank you Carolyn! Hi Mark, and welcome to ARZone! Could you please tell us how your group, Respecting Animals was started, and what your mission and goals are?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Jesse, and thank you for the question. Respecting Animals was formed when the other co-founder, Imber, and I decided to put a name to some of the activism we were already doing (regular outreach at the Farmers Market and some protesting).

 

We felt this would:

 

(1) make it easier for others to get involved,

(2) give us an identity to the people we were talking with, and,

(3) probably most importantly, give us the opportunity to create our own literature and protest signs that had the message we were felt was most effective and were looking for – a clear anti-speciesist abolitionist message.

 

While you don’t need a group or a name to do these things, and we had been doing most of them for a while without (and have done a lot of it with other groups and other groups’ literature), it definitely helps and makes even more sense in some situations, like securing and running a table at the VegFest we did shortly after forming, where over 4,000 people saw our table, many of whom stopped to take a flyer, watch the animal slideshow, and/or talk to us about the issues.

 

It also gave us an opportunity to form a website (www.respectinganimals.org). Our mission is to be a factor in ending speciesism, and our goal is to do it as fast as possible.   More specifically, as stated on our website: “Respecting Animals works to end all exploitation of animals by humans. We believe that all animals are individuals and have the right to exist free from domination and that this right can only be fully realized by letting animals live their lives according to their desires, not the desires of humans. We believe the end of animal exploitation by humans will be achieved primarily through public outreach and education on:

(1) what true respect for animals means,

(2) what true respect for animals requires from humans: living vegan, and

(3) the existence, and realities, of all forms of exploitation.

 

We work to bring the underlying issue of all animal use -speciesism- to the public’s attention in every situation that it exists.” The Work of Respecting Animals involves:

 

(1) Regular vegan outreach;

(2)  Protesting sites of animal exploitation with non-speciesist messages and literature to: expose the truth, call for the end of the exploitation, and educate on the vegan solution;

(3)  Supporting the rights of activists to educate the public and protest animal exploitation;

(4)  Supporting animal sanctuaries caring for the victims of speciesism that fully respect all the individuals in their care and do not participate in, or support, speciesist activities, campaigns, or messages;

(5)  Maintaining a Vegan Guide for Portland featuring only establishments that do not exploit animals (100% vegan).

 

Jesse Newman:

Thank you, can i ask a quick follow up please?

 

Mark Jordan:

Yes, of course

 

Jesse Newman:

Great. You said that you had 4000 people come to a table at VegFest? Where and why was that? I don't think I've ever seen 400 people at an event like that, it would be cool to see something that big.

 

Mark Jordan:

We tabled for a weekend at the Portland, Oregon VegFest. Despite the "Veg" in the name, the fest was 100% vegan. We were a little concerned, not having any experience at it, that it might be "preaching to the choir" so to speak.

 

We were blown away by the response to our table and materials! An endless stream of people came by the table asking questions about, "What about Free-Range?", and also a lot of vegetarians that hadn't contemplated the speciesism and underlying issues of a vegetarian diet versus a vegan lifestyle. We thought we had enough literature for the weekend, and we were out by early afternoon on Sat.! (so we re-stocked!) It was a great experience and we feel a great lesson on going places where you think it might just be the choir! :-)

 

Jesse Newman:

Thats awesome, thank you!

 

Mark Jordan:

Thank You. :-)

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks for that, Mark! Dian Hardy has the next question, which will be asked on her behalf by Jason Ward. Thanks, Jay, giv'er.

 

Jason Ward:

Thanks Carolyn. Hi Mark, you have a very interesting background, combining civil and social rights with animal rights!  I came to animal rights through the human rights movements of the '80s and '90s and have wondered pretty much incessantly how to bring these two seemingly disparate movements closer together. Surely we are natural allies!  Why are so few AR folks involved in human rights based issues and why has the left never taken up the other animals and their fates in serious discussion and what can we do to bring these issues closer?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Dian, and thank you for the question. Wow, I sure wish I knew the answers to these important questions! I am fortunate enough to know many animal advocates that are also involved in human advocacy, standing up to injustice to animals and to humans. However, I think a lot of people are concerned about many areas of injustice, yet focus most of their time, energy, and money on just one, or a few.

 

In some ways, this makes sense to me – a particular cause seems to call to someone particularly strongly, and they jump in and fight for it for a long time, if not a lifetime. It also makes sense to me that people don’t have the time or energy to “do it all” and activism burnout is a very real issue we all need to watch out for, so limiting your causes may be a form of self-preservation.

 

That said, I think we could use a lot more coalition building and solidarity with people fighting against the other many injustices that exist. However, I think it would be naïve to not acknowledge that there are some very clear and substantial hurdles that make this coalition building difficult. I think that a lot of advocates for humans are speciesist, which plays out in two common ways:

 

(1) they don’t believe animals have inherent rights or are necessarily suffering injustice, or

(2) they might think the animals are suffering injustice, but that human injustice takes precedence; both of which result in them not advocating for animals presently.

 

The hurdles exist in both directions. Believing that animals have inherent rights to exist free from human domination and use can make other advocacy a monumental exercise in patience, tolerance, stomaching horrors, and even moral-compromising.

 

I know in my life I have struggled with “environmental”, womyn-rights, civil liberties, and every other type of group having a meeting, event, or protest while animal-derived product are being served, eaten, or worn. I have also run into hurdles desiring to cook food and serve it to the hungry; people bring animal-derived products that get prepared and served (even with Food Not Bombs which I used to believe was supposed to be vegan (and understand some Food Not Bombs do still abide by this respect to animals)).

 

However, there are still many protests and actions we can, and should take, against these other injustices that don’t involve compromising our respect for animals. It can be a fine line and a tricky issue trying to ensure you are not perpetuating speciesism by your participation in other campaigns.

 

To bring these issues closer, I think a step back for all fighting injustice to realize that there are many commonalities and relationships. There are big corporations and powerful people in them that are destroying the earth and the ecosystems upon which all humans and animals rely on for food, air, water, sustenance. These corporations have a grip on our governments that are “regulating” the destruction of the earth, the animals, and humans. Our civilization and our societal values of consumption, power, and “other-izing” people and animals are at the root. I think education and action with this in mind is extremely important.

 

Jason Ward:

Thanks Mark for your reply - next up with a question is Lara Benson - please Lara when you are ready.

 

Lara Benson:

Thank you, Jason! Thank you for taking my question, Mark. :-)

In “In Natures Interests?: Interests, Animal Rights, and Environmental Ethics,” Gary Varner writes, “most environmental philosophers believe that animal rights views are not compatible with sound environmental policy.” Given the growing environmental crisis, what do you think are the consequences of such views?  Thank you!

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Lara, and thank you for your question. I think I covered some of my most central thoughts on this in the last question, which means I can keep this one shorter:

 

There is no such thing as a non-vegan environmentalist. It is an oxymoron. Worldwatch Institute now estimates over 50% of greenhouse gases are a result of “animal agribusiness”. The U.N. has released previously estimates that are lower, but still clearly acknowledge the disastrous effect human speciesism is having on *every* aspect of the environment. If every human believed in animal rights every human would be vegan. If every human were vegan, the environment would be infinitely better off. Yes, we would still have a lot of other work to do about consumerism and letting corporations control environmental and other governmental policies to give the environment a fighting chance, but a world full of vegan humans would be an amazing start.

 

I think that if everyone in the world was educated on, and considered how their actions affected animals, and put respect for animals as the highest priority, the environment would be in amazing shape! I honestly struggle with wrapping my head around how someone with even just a basic understanding of the environment coupled with the reality of the many ways that speciesism negatively affects it, could reach another conclusion. I can understand their viewpoint on the micro level, on an issue such as “non-native species” where they feel the appropriate response to protect the environment is to kill the non-natives and someone respecting an individual’s right to live over “native” status would feel the killing inappropriate. To me these micro issue and conflicts are relatively inconsequential compared to the macro benefits associated with consideration of all life and the associated human veganism. To preserve the environment, we need to live vegan and stop the corporations and governments from plundering.

 

Lara Benson:    

Thank you, Mark

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for asking. :-)

 

Jason Ward:

Thanks Mark  - next Carolyn is up - go ahead Carolyn

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Jay! Hi Mark, there is some controversy in regard to abolishing the property status of other animals and how effective this would be in regard to ending the exploitation and commodification of other animals, and according other animals the respect and justice they deserve. Some argue that abolishing the property status should be our absolute priority, while others believe that until we are able to change the basic opinions most humans hold toward other animals, pursuing changes through the legal system is both a waste of time, and impossible. Particularly while less than 1% of the human population would be likely to be supportive of such changes. As someone experienced in animal law, could you please elaborate on how you feel about this?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Carolyn, and thank you for your question. First, abolishing the property status of animals in the law would be huge for animals, considering this action put them in the other major category, “person”.

 

While certainly some animals are “special property” under the law: for example anti-“cruelty” laws mean you cannot legally beat the dog in your family repeatedly with a baseball bat, but you can do it to your heart’s delight to your car. However, the dog in your family is still property and you can kill them anytime you want, as long as you don’t do it “cruelly”.

 

Of course, most animals don’t even have the minimal legal protections that dogs have and exist as essentially property. If animals were persons under the law, killing them would be murder, hitting them would be battery, imprisoning them against their will (absent suspicion of a crime) would be against the law, etc. I think we would all likely agree that society, and therefore courts and legislators, are currently far from making this switch.

 

Second, law is very seldom, if ever, the engine for social change, rather social change is the engine for legal change. Laws are, ideally, a reflection of societal values. Realistically, the law is usually playing catch-up to societal values. Because 99% of the public is not vegan and thus appears to consider speciesism as acceptable, I think we have a long way to go before we will see meaningful legal change for animals. I do not see the law as a hope for substantive change for animals until a much larger percentage of people are vegan. Sure, many will continue to tinker with the methods of slavery, killing, and other exploitations of animals, but this is merely regulating the atrocities and of no substantive value, rather likely entrenching the problems.

 

We have got to figure out what is successful at getting people to adopt a lifestyle that respects animals (veganism) and what keeps them living this way. Once we get a sizable percentage of vegans, and it is going to have to be very sizable to outdo the money and power of those invested in speciesism, then we can look to the law to codify the values of the public.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Mark. I agree with all of that! Next up with a question is Tim Gier, thanks Tim.

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for asking! :-)

 

Tim Gier:

Hi Mark! Thanks for being here and taking my questions :-)

What do you think of the argument that says that, since legal challenges to the property status of other animals are almost certain to brought in cases involving one or a few particular species (great apes, for example), that such legal moves reinforce speciesism by affirming the hierarchy that values human-like cognitive abilities first and foremost?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Tim, thank you for being here and asking! :-) I think it is speciesist, and therefore reinforces speciesism, to say one species of animal deserves legal protections and that another does not.

 

Saying some animals deserve the right to life and freedom from domination by humans and others don’t, based on human-centric and/or human-contrived notions of cognitive value or worth is problematic. Every individual is unique and deserves full respect from all of us, legally or extra-legally. I feel that just like working for bigger cages, bigger barns, sharper knives, nicer handlers, climate-controlled transportation, etc. entrench speciesism with the notion of “do it right” instead of “it is not right”, this type of hierarchical inclusionary plan perpetuates other-ness between species and suggests “include the right ones, the ones most like us” and prevents people from opening their hearts and minds to the idea that an individual inherent right to freedom has nothing to do with humans or human qualities.

 

Besides entrenching human-ness as the ultimate and the standard, I don’t see this line of thinking ever including mouses, snakes, spiders, chickens, goats, cows, etc. Because I believe we are all equals deserving equal respect, I think campaigns including only some are counterproductive to justice to all.

 

Tim Gier:

May I ask a follow up?

 

Mark Jordan:

Yes, of course.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks. The argument that Steven Wise and others might make is that once any other-than-human being gets legal recognition, the "species barrier" comes down and then bigger changes will be easier. Would you disagree?

 

Mark Jordan:

Yes, I would disagree. I have read Steven Wise's books, taken his course on Animal Law Jurisprudence, and had several nice conversations with him. I understand his, and other's, thinking on this - but don't agree. I think while it might be breaching this initial wall, it builds the interior walls higher and we will never get to the castle.

 

Meaning, as I stated above, I think that this human-centric view leaves many left out. I am against building walls separating some from the respect and protection they deserve higher, so I can't subscribe to this idea. I have thought long and hard about this theory, and this is ultimately where I come down. Also, I won't subscribe to the view that "chickens, snakes, and rabbits are *never* going to get the freedom they deserve, so why not give it to Chimpanzees, etc. I believe all will be free, and that we have to attack the castle with this in mind; mindfull of what we are doing to the other walls.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Mark, I disagree with the logic of your reasoning, but I appreciate your response. Next up is Brooke Cameron, please go ahead when you're ready Brooke....

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks, and agree to disagree. :-)

 

Brooke Cameron:

Mark, you used to live in Portland, Oregon, which I’ve heard referred to as the vegan capital of the world. I can only imagine how easy it must have been for you to eat out and find the products that many of us struggle to find.

 

In my town, there are no vegan or even vegetarian restaurants or suppliers. I can order products online, but that is not always practical given the often high cost of delivery and availability of products.

 

I believe you are against people who eat at establishments that are not fully vegan. The only choice available to me is to either never eat out, or to eat out in, and therefore support with my dollars, establishments that also serve food derived from other animals. What would be your recommendation in this situation?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Brooke, and thank you for your question. First, I think it is important to clarify that I am not against people for doing it, but rather that I think, as animal advocates trying to do our best for animals, we should not patronize non-vegan restaurants. After all, not relatively long ago, I ate at non-vegan restaurants, and I try to never be against a former version of myself! 

 

Second, I don’t live in Portland anymore and still feel this way. The decision to permanently boycott non-vegan restaurants was, for me an actualization of a feeling concerning what was right to do for animals I had had ever since going vegan so many years ago. It was the result of wanting to divest myself more from supporting speciesism and speciesist businesses. It was not a product of living in Portland, Oregon.

 

Remember how good it felt to go vegan? To me, doing this has felt a bit like that, really good! It is a permanent decision, one which will exist even in the many places I will probably live that will be no Portland.

 

I’m going to touch on the restaurant v. grocery store discussion issue first:

 

Eating out is luxury – giving profit to the business for every step of the process: ordering, transporting, preparing, serving, creating ambiance, and cleaning up after a patron. Patrons are giving restaurants a premium for all these things, whereas they give a grocery store a lot less profit because of the fewer services provided. Shopping for food is not a luxury, it is necessary.

 

For discussion sake, let’s take away the significantly extra amount of profit a patron is giving to a restaurant, and consider a non-vegan restaurant and non-vegan grocer as equal evils because they both sell non-vegan items. The result, in my mind, is the same. One can easily be avoided by me, and everyone else, right now - eating at a non-vegan restaurant. I don’t have to change anything about my life situation or circumstance. Everyone can do it – it even saves them money (which they can use for the animals!). The other, shopping where animal flesh and animal-derived products are sold, however, is impossible for me, and most people, to avoid.

 

One day, I hope to live on a veganic commune with enough land and people to grow our own food and never give another cent to anyone promoting speciesism and killing animals – but I am not there yet. To me, veganism is about doing what I can to avoid supporting speciesism. I was always uneasy about giving my money to a non-vegan establishment and felt selfish and felt as though I was compromising my beliefs and my monetary activism – to go out. However, it took me about 13 years as a vegan to finally make the commitment to withdraw any and all support from those killing animals to satisfy my desire to “go out”. And I have to tell you, it feels *wonderful*. I get a great feeling every time I feel I have withdrawn myself even more from speciesism and giving my money to those killing animals.

 

Am I perfect, meaning none of my money goes to a corporation that is speciesist and/or involved in selling animal-derived  “products”? No. Have I removed myself and my money more form these corporations by not going to non-vegan restaurants? Yes. Would they have used my $ to continue, or even expand, their non-vegan business? Yes. Have I saved money to spend on animals or at vegan businesses (online or otherwise)? Yes. Lots of wins in this.

 

For me, it was also about getting rid of inconsistency. Consider how animal groups put out boycotts on companies that test on animals, etc. – “Don’t give your $ to those animal killers!” (even if the company does sell some vegan products (weren’t tested on animals, no animal-derived ingredients). Consider that not only is the company that someone patronizes when they go to a non-vegan restaurant committing the same atrocities to animals (and quite likely to many more animals), the atrocities are being committed and served up at the table next to you – and the person perused past them all on the menu looking for the usually very small % of items that are vegan (or can be made vegan). I find that quite inconsistent, which is one reason why it always bothered me.

 

As an illustration of the irony and inconsistency we tend to have concerning non-vegan restaurants, consider protestors going to the protest/march against animal testing or fur or whatever, complete with calling out the corporations names in disgust and urging boycotts (even though the university does a lot of vegan things and the store sells lots of vegan coats), and then going into a non-vegan restaurant for a bite afterward. To me, this holds true for outreach - spending time talking with people about divesting themselves from speciesism, then going and investing in speciesism for a luxurious bite to eat after. What is the difference from the animals’ perspective, or the animal rights perspective, in the corporation that was just being protested and chanted against, and the one the advocate is now gladly handing over their money to for a luxury service? I think how we spend our money is possibly our only “vote” that has much meaning.

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, Mark. The commune idea sounds good to me too! It's difficult when vegan restaurants are owned by non-vegans and even the profits from those restaurants go to supporting animal exploitation. Thanks for your reply

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for asking.

 

Jason Ward:

Thanks Mark for your insightful answers next up is up is Carolyn Bailey

Go ahead C!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Jay! Hi Mark, you’ve been quite critical about the video footage from Mercy for Animals (MFA) of a turkey factory in North Carolina called Butterball. After the MFA footage was made public, headlines such as “Video shows turkey abuse” and “Butterball turkey facility searched for abuse of birds” were quite common on the internet and elsewhere. At the end of the MFA video, they also asked viewers to go vegetarian. Do you think that all undercover footage is problematic, or is there something specific to this campaign and the claims being made that you find particularly disturbing?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Carolyn, and thank you for the question. I don’t see video footage of the truth as being problematic at all; quite the opposite – I think video footage and images can be, and are, very effective in educating people and being the impetus for change. However, I feel the way the truth is presented and discussed is crucial to creating the changes.

 

Animal Equality (www.animalequality.net),for example, do all sorts of truth videos and make it very clear that while the footage is from *one* facility, it is *every slaughterhouse*, *every facility*, *every corporation*, not some rogue naughty corporation that needs to be better regulated and brought into legal compliance; and they take the time and energy to make it clear that the issue is speciesism and clear that the solution is veganism.

 

Contrast the Animal Equality approach with what we see from virtually every other group, and the latest MFA video you mention, in which "abuse" is defined in the details of how the victims of speciesism are imprisoned and slaughtered, not *that* they are imprisoned and slaughtered.

 

These videos and campaigns take truthful footage and couple it with a message that perpetuates the lie that “animal abuse” *begins* at facilities imprisoning and killing animals when the workers treat the animals especially rough and/or the facility is out of compliance with law concerning methods used.

 

The focus of these videos is on the conditions the slaves are kept/transported/killed in, or on the size of the operation, instead of focusing on the underlying moral wrong that does not change based on the method/size. Conditions/methods/size can be, and are, excused away through public relations. Marketing can - and does - take care of those concerns, esp. for those that want them to.

 

Conditions are not the issue. Moral wrong is the issue. Sentience/life is the issue. Speciesism is the issue. The videos expose truth, but at the same time are helping to take the focus off of the underlying moral wrong, speciesism, and focusing energy and attention on “doing it right” instead of “it is not right”.

 

These messages feed the humane myth, which is co-opting the movement for animal rights, and contributing to the associated continued speciesism. As for an animal group promoting vegetarianism as a solution to the horrors that are being inflicted on countless individuals every day: I feel it is very harmful to people understanding the full truth of animal-derived foods and the speciesism and unkindness to animals that exists outside a vegan diet/lifestyle. You can’t fight speciesism with speciesist campaigns.

 

I could go on, but Humane Myth (www.humanemyth.org), and Peaceful Prairie (www.peacefulprairie.org) have a wealth of videos, essays, and news stories discussing and illustrating the importance of the messages we give to people about animals when our goal is to end speciesism, and the problems that occur when we focus on “doing it right” instead of “it is not right”. I can't recommend these sites enough. I encourage people to compare the way in which Animal Equality (www.animalequality.net) exposes and discusses the truth versus virtually all of what we see from all the others and consider the different result these differences are likely to have on the viewer.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Mark. So the problem is more in the claims making of the orgs who are responsible for these videos, and not in the videos themselves?

 

Mark Jordan:

I guess "claims making" could be the term with what the problem is, I am more comfortable with "focus on methods" or "approach" or "solution offered" to describe the problems with them. "Lack of anti-speciesist message" pretty much sums it up, along with "reinforcement of speciesism by focusing on methods, etc."

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Mark! Next up is Tim Gier, thanks, Tim.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks!! Are you familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment and, if so, do you see any parallels between the behavior of the student “prison guards” and that of those people who work in slaughterhouses and other institutions that routinely subjugate and exploit other animals? (http://www.prisonexp.org/ , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment)

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Tim, and thank you for the question. I had vaguely heard of this, and some other similar experiments in human psychology, etc. that are quite extraordinary. I certainly see parallels between them and the numbing effect of working in slaughterhouses and other places where animals are treated as objects instead of the sentient individuals they are. I think the reach of this “horrible as routine” extends much further than the places where animals are killed and/or carved up and think this numbing effect is in our society everywhere: advertisements, restaurants, stores, holidays, etc.

 

The indoctrination into speciesism-as-normal in our society is massive. Relatedly, I think this question touches on something I have thought about often: I think vegans can romanticize that speciesism is naturally offensive to the adults working in these places and that they are enduring something similar to what we would be enduring were it us in their boots.

 

While I think it is most likely true that we are born with an affinity with animals and are indoctrinated into seeing them as others, food, clothing, entertainment, etc. (the old ‘put a rabbit and an apple next to a baby, and if they try to eat the rabbit and play with the apple we are natural speciesists’), I think we need to face that what we, as vegans, see as horrific and unthinkable, others don’t have a problem with. It is most likely due to years of indoctrination, learned suppression of natural instincts, and denial.

 

But for whatever reasons, most humans feel they are superior to animals and therefore animals are for us to enslave, milk, breed, kill, whatever – so seeing something we feel is horrific once a week, once a day, or seeing it 100 times a minute doesn’t matter to someone who does not feel the action itself is a wrong.

 

Certainly there are wonderful stories of people like Harold Brown, Howard Lyman, and others that have been involved in killing and something in them switched, snapped them out of it, and they overcame the indoctrination. However, I think we have to be realistic that this is the effect it has on a very small % of people.

 

If they are speciesist – it is not wrong – even if it can be hard to watch. I used to believe the adage that if slaughterhouses had glass walls (and were downtown!) the (human) world would be vegetarian. First, a vegetarian world is still a very speciesist world with billions of animals enslaved and killed every year. Second, I have met enough (and are aware of the numbers of) people that kill animals themselves for “sport”, or can basically perform the actions of a slaughterhouse themselves and have no problem with it.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Mark, next up is Prof. Dr. Roger Yates, Ph. D, please go ahead sir.....

 

Roger Yates:

From the little I know of environmental law (EL), it seems intensely human-centred, apparently incorporating anthropocentric notions such as a “common concern for humanity,” “common heritage,” and “intergenerational equity.” Given this apparent focus, what tensions were created by your anti-speciesist perspective while studying EL, or is it the case that consideration for other animals is integrated into EL beyond regard them as “human resources”?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Roger, and thank you for the question. Having an anti-speciesist perspective created a lot of conflicts and tension for me

 

(1) in the study of environmental law, and

(2) in the study of animal law.

In environmentalism, the perceived health of the environment is given top priority and animals as individuals often lose out in this equation. As I discussed above, I think there are flaws in this approach to the environment and that an anti-speciesist approach would do wonders for the health of the environment. The general thought in the environmental world is that endangered species are more valuable individuals than non-endangered species, “non-native” animals are to be eradicated, wildlife management (an oxymoron) focuses on the right amount of animals that can be killed for sport (or for their killing cows or sheeps), the right amount of toxic waste that can be dumped in the homes of others, and on and on.

 

The overwhelming majority of animal law focuses on regulating speciesist atrocities. Interestingly, the intersection of environmental law and animal law is where something more akin to animal rights can be found, in the protection of home (habitat) and autonomy of animals living free, or relatively free, from human domination. Unfortunately, as you might predict, there is little focus on this area in law schools, graduate schools, and university programs – and even less work. Currently, the focus is on regulating ecocide and regulating speciesism. I hope we can turn this around! And fast!

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks, Mark. Tensions indeed! Next up is Prof. Tim Gier. Tim..... 

 

Tim Gier:

Given your experience as a legal observer involved in protests and demonstrations, what’s your view on the use of the word “terrorist” to describe activists who support an animal rights agenda? Do you see this rhetoric as part of a more general move to marginalize and criminalize unpopular advocacy?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Tim and thank you for your questions. I think you have a good answer imbedded in your second question. I feel the use of the word, and the labeling, is clearly part of the rhetoric to marginalize advocacy (that may be popular, just not among the corporations killing the planet and killing animals).

 

The use of the word “terrorist” is worse than absurd when describing activism that has been constitutionally protected. It is still absurd when used to describe almost everything else covered under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) or  state-level equivalents.

 

Whatever a person’s definition of violence is, labeling and prosecuting such actions as “terrorism” clearly goes beyond the common definition of terrorism and the prior legal understanding of the word.

 

When you look at the punishment for the basic crimes and then look at what people can, and are, being sentenced to for the same crime but done in the name of the environment or animals, the absurdity grows. Comparing the actions and the possible, and actual, sentences under the AETA to the actions of others acting in the name of their beliefs, and purposefully harming and killing, makes the absurdity greater.

 

Concerning my role as a legal observer, I am confident my presence as a law student or attorney representing the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) encourages more protesters to attend events and hopefully realize that, while our civil liberties are being eroded and industry has had success in lobbying for laws that stifle activism, we still have some very basic rights and there will be lawyers there supporting your exercising of them and/or doing their best for you if they are not respected.

 

I encourage activists to get in touch with their local NLG and request legal observers. Please don’t let things like this stop your activism. If you do, they have won, and the animals and the environment have lost.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks for that Mark, that's important advice for advocates! Next up is Barbara DeGrande, please go ahead when you're ready Ms. Barb.... 

        

Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you, Tim!

Mark, some comments you made on an Opposing Views article written by Gary Francione [http://www.opposingviews.com/i/violence-never-the-answer-for-advanc...] sounded as though you believe single issue campaigns are not problematic. Could you state exactly how you see them assisting nonhumans in gaining liberation?

Mark Jordan:

Hi Barbara and thank you for your question!

I feel that non-speciesist campaigns can, and do, help. I feel when someone says that you cannot have a “break-through” moment with someone (or may be an important step in what, for many, requires repetition)  at a circus or other seemingly “single issue” protest, has either not attended many such protests nor had good conversations with people at them.

 

I don’t think that going to one protest, like at a circus, sends a message that you feel those animals are more important. I could make several analogies illustrating why we don’t at all subscribe to this type of thinking in our fights against other injustices (womyn’s rights, racism, etc.) but will leave those out for now. I feel the manner in which you protest is the key to the effect on the listener, not the location.

 

I feel holding an “Elephants suffer in zoos/circus” sign is very problematic and sends the wrong message – it sets some animals apart from others and implicitly states that other animals in the same situation are not of equal concern, that there are some animals “better suited” for the horrors of speciesism. You can’t fight speciesism with a speciesist campaign. Additionally, I think there is a false notion that it is one or the other. An advocate can do vegan outreach on Saturday at a crowded market and protest a circus on Sunday when the market is closed.

 

Heck – an advocate can do both on Saturday! (outreach in the morning and the protest in the afternoon).

 

 I find it unrealistic to think that people that may be open to anti-speciesism ride their bike by a circus protest and say, “Oh, I guess those people only believe animals in circuses deserve my respect and it is o.k. to eat animals.”

 

If you have an anti-speciesist message, does it really matter where or when you bring it? I think it helps animals to bring a clear anti-speciesist message to as many locations as you can.

 

Anytime and Any place is the right time to strike up an anti-speciesism conversation!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thanks for your perspective on this question, Mark.

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for asking it.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Roger Yates will now ask the last of our pre-registered questions for today. We encourage our members to ask questions of Mark. If you have a question, please message Barbara DeGrande Carolyn Bailey, Tim Gier, Jason Ward, or Roger Yates and one of us will introduce you so that you are able to ask it in the open session which will follow. Please go ahead Roger!

 

Roger Yates:

As a grassroots advocate, do you share the frustration that most of the movement’s money - that is, the animals’ money - is tied up in large organisations that often duplicate each other’s work (as well as duplicating huge wages)? In the age of the internet, isn’t it time that we rethought the structure of the animal movement?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Roger, and thank you for your question. I think a large group with lots of money could do a lot of good, but only if their message is clearly anti-speciesist. I think we might have trouble envisioning this because we have no examples of “big” groups with large assets campaigning in such a manner.

 

I can, and do, dream of all the progress that could be realized if the few organizations that could truly be called “animal rights” (anti-speciesist) (Animal Equality, Humane Myth, Peaceful Prairie) had a decent fraction of the money of those perpetuating the humane myth and that cruelty begins with the treatment of animals by workers, the size of the cage/prison, location of slaughterhouse, etc. but yes, the fact that a very small percentage of the small percentage of people that are vegan are anti-speciesist means this reality is probably a good distance into the future.

 

However, with the growing popularity of Animal Equality that are clear in their anti-specieist message and their vegan solution, I have hope that a large group with large assets would not necessarily be a bad thing, but rather could be a huge positive for the animals!

 

Roger Yates:

A follow-up, please?

 

Mark Jordan:

Yes, of course.

 

Roger Yates:

Your last comment mentioned a group in the singular - and we also have the anti-speciesist direction but even with anti-speciesism as the norm, is there still not a case to do something about the duplication esp. duplication of wages thus, freeing up more of the animals' money for the grassroots?

 

Mark Jordan:

I hear you and think that things would have to be well coordinated, and everyone would have to get along reasonably well, to prevent multiple groups with the same message duplicating others. However, I think that the problem of duplicating clear anti-speciesist campaigns will be a great day! :-) But, I can't discount the notion that bigger groups may be able to do things that smaller groups can't - organize massive protests, etc.

 

Yes, no one likes to see duplication of time, money, or effort. And I think in the current situation, we are definitely better off working at the grass roots level, not only because of many of the issues discussed here today concerning the message and focus of most existing groups, but because I think too many are waiting for leaders, when they can go out and *do*! (unless you live in Spain and think Animal Equality is "big" - then I would hook up with them whenever possible to supplement your grassroots work!) 

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Mark.

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for asking.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Mark! That concludes the pre-registered questions for today, and I'd like to thank you for your comprehensive and insightful responses, Mark! I'd like to ask Honesti to begin the open session with the first question. Thanks, Honesti.

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks!

 

Honesti:

Thank you Carolyn! Hi Mark, thank you so much for this opportunity and for taking my question - which is, what do you find has worked best for you to balance your energy to use towards activism - and, with the world being what it is - staying hopeful and energetic towards your purpose?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Honesti and thank you for your question. I think we need to be open and honest about how depressing and sad advocating for animals, the environment, whatever, can be.

 

As my bio for this chat mentioned, I used to work on advocacy 24/7 and suffered from burnout. No surprise, I got severely depressed and burned out. I think it is very important we take time away from our work to relax and enjoy the good things in life, whether that is, family, a park, a movie, etc. If we don't take care of ourselves we will shut down and be no good to our cause.

 

I think animal advocates have to watch out for doing animal things as the get away - which it is not - walking the dogs at the local shelter is not a mental break from animal activism. My recommendation is to pace yourself and monitor yourself. It is a marathon, not a sprint. I have found my down time in hiking and spending time with my family. Find a hobby that has nothing to do with animal rights, and make sure you do it! You need the time away!

 

Honesti:

Thank you so much, Mark! Great insight. May I please ask one more question?

 

Mark Jordan:

Yes, of course.

 

Honesti:

Thank you, and also thank you for bringing up the subject of non-vegan restaurants earlier. Speaking of time away from work to relax, I have been having a much more difficult time dealing with family members [from my very small family] whose main source of 'family time' is to go out to eat to, of course, non-vegan restaurants even if I try to make other suggestions. Any suggestions on how to balance the whole ordeal?

 

Mark Jordan:

Oh wow, this issue is a five hour chat in and of itself! :-)  Family/work - related restaurant/food time is very difficult for all of us, I would imagine. I think people need to find what works for them.

 

For me, when I was first vegan I enjoyed having my awesome dish of vegan food at the holiday table and watching everyone's interest and desire to try it (and approval, and realization that I wasn't just eating grass and soil). However, the rest of the ordeal was very difficult.

 

After a few years the questions and novelty wore off - they could see it was for good, etc. But to be honest, I avoid these situations the best I can now.

 

But that is my response. I figure I wouldn't be sitting around silently if everyone was making racist or sexist or whatever jokes - serving up animals and products-derived from animals feels the same. But, I haven't been successful in avoiding them all together. I think we have to do the best we can, try to educate and explain why we think it is wrong - awkward, right? but I don't believe in silence (compliance) and long ago stopped saying, or implying, "It is o.k." when I was apologized to for their speciesism and consumption - I am not o.k. with it, so I don't say it, or act like it.

 

Honesti:

"They could see it was for good" - after my being vegan for 5 yrs now it's exactly my dilemma as the 'novelty has worn off' for them. :-)   Thank you again Mark for your insight! It's very helpful. I, too, dream of the vegan commune :-)

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Great advice, thanks, Mark! Up next with a question is Sky. Thanks, Sky.

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for being here.

 

Sky:

Thanks, Hi Mark. :-) Im dedicating my Q to my lovely Willy Wonker!! After a bad experience recently, Im certain that there are infiltrators in this movement. Do you think that's true and what can we do about it?

 

Will:

soppy bleeder ;-)

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Sky and thanks for the question.

 

Sky:

:-)

 

Mark Jordan:

I am certain there are infiltrators, but I think they tend to be more in the form of F.B.I. and other such agencies. I am certain because it comes out in the courts. That said, I think some people may have the effect of infiltrators even though that is not their intent. I think, just like managing burnout, we need to manage our time with those that are distracting us from our work. Like I said at the top, discussion, debate, etc. are important - but to a point. Not that I haven't been guilty of spending too much time in an internet argument that would have been better served doing outreach - but I am trying to stay away from those mistakes.

 

Sky:

Thanks!! :-) I think Dr.Roger thinks that bit about the effect of infiltrators as well. Thanks!!! done!!!

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for asking.

 

Sky:

:-D

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you Sky and Mark. Next up is Carolyn Bailey. Carolyn, please proceed.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Mark, you and I have both been critical of the Australian “Ban Live Export” campaign, as well as of Animals Australia, in general. Would you please share your thoughts on what you see as the problem with campaigns such as these, that ask for sharper knives to be used and for slaughter to occur “at home”, rather than asking for exploitation to cease altogether.

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Carolyn, thanks for the question. I think that we need to be open and clear about the problems we are working on. Campaigns such as these are not anti-speciesist.

 

The sharpness of the blade, the location of the slaughterhouse, the size of the barn, the Temple Grandin-ness of the design, are not the issue to an anti-speciesist. To work effectivley against speciesism I find it problematic to be shouting "Do it right!" at the same time you say you think it is not right.

 

From years of doing vegan outreach, I can tell you this is having a huge effect that is not positive on fighting speciesism.

 

More and more people in the public are saying things like "I don't need to talk to you folks - I am eating "Whole Foods Level 5 Humane Standard Cow flesh", "free-range", etc. These campaigns reinforce speciesism by saying, either implicitly or explicitly, that there is a way to do it right.

 

Also, more and more stories (and personal interactions) are showing that this is not only perpetuating speciesism and preventing people from realizing the truth about animal-derived products, but also creating "ex-vegans" and others moving further away from veganism, not closer. I hear this during outreach, etc. firsthand all the time. Also, Humane Myth (www.humanemyth.org) has archived lots of the newspaper, etc. articles on this, and I encourage everyone to check it out.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Mark! I couldn't possibly agree with you more! Tim Gier has the next question, thanks Tim.

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks... In a comment you made on Facebook, [https://www.facebook.com/Carolyn2602/posts/197732076984248?notif_t=...]

you said that veganism and anti-speciesism result in tangible benefits for other animals (as compared to “welfare reforms” that you oppose). Leaving aside anti-speciesism, would you please explain what tangible benefits veganism provides, and which other animals benefit from veganism?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Tim, thanks for the question. I think every person that adopts a vegan lifestyle brings us one more step to animal liberation and the ending of speciesism. I understand that there are subsidies and large numbers of animal-derived products that are thrown into landfills each year and other confounding variables that perhaps make the “numbers of animals saved per vegan per year” figures  of 198, 100, etc. too high.

 

However, I doubt that any amount of overestimation is so great that it results in the number being lowered to no animals being saved by adopting veganism.

 

If no one was vegan we would have a number slightly higher than we have now of animals being killed, if everyone was vegan it would be zero. Surely, then, every person is a step toward zero and has some number that could reasonably be attached to their decision.

 

Additionally, there are several ways each person helps– as far as society and law goes – if you believe in majority rule or a population large enough to counter the corporations profiting off speciesism, every person is a number towards that goal.

 

So, while assigning a specific and accurate number to a vegan of lives saved is a hard thing to do, they are certainly moving us in the right direction and are a contributor of some number of animals lives' saved by being a part of bringing us from 100s of billions to a hopeful 0.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Mark, when you say that other animals are "saved" you're not suggesting that cows or pigs who are headed for slaughter don't go to slaughter are you? All the existing other animals are still going to be killed, right?

 

Mark Jordan:

Well, if someone adopts a vegan lifestyle, they are not hunting for or fishing for animals that are in existence now (or paying others to kill them), so some animals currently in existence certainly benefit. Considering animals that enslaved and killed for food, I think that there is a lag time in "saving" animals. However, I think restaurants and grocers, because they are all about profit, monitor the demand closely to provide the correct supply, so the lag time might not be that long, when taken in the aggregate But, also to your point, the animals "saved" are mostly those that are "saved" from being bred into existence to be enslaved and killed, so "saving" future lives from being disrespected and dominated.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Mark

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for asking.

 

Jason Ward:

Thanks Mark - Maynard is up with a question next= please when you are ready Maynard

 

Maynard S. Clark:

Mark, thank you for your clarity this evening, for your lucid phrasing - and for taking my question.   I concur about abolitionism.How do you feel about Ron Paul?  I don't think he's said or done anything about AETA? For those participants not IN the USA, Ron Paul is a Republican US Presidential candidate (debating this evening on TV - in ~1 hour) and is a libertarian.  He voted against the Patriot Act, but we don't know if he's EVER said anything about AETA. One vegan woman in Asheville NC wrote this blog entry in favor of him.  I know a number of my macrobiotic AND vegan friends are working for him.http://www.vegangirl.com/a-vegans-case-for-ron-paul.html I'd like more 'mental clarity' on this issue. Ron Paul has introduced the Health Freedom Protection Act, HR 2117, which leaves the choice of what to eat and how to take care of our health in the hands of the individual, not the federal government. He also opposed Homeland Security Bill, H.R. 5005, which authorizes forced vaccinations of American citizens against small pox. thank you.

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Maynard, and thank you for your question.

 

Maynard S. Clark:

Yeah, it's a long one.  :-(

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for your kind words. I can't speak specifically off the top of my head about Ron Paul, I do know that I have heard some very disturbing things about his policies concerning justice issues outside of animals, and know that I have seen enough to not be a supporter. But more importantly, perhaps, is that i think the sooner we stop putting our trust in politicians and the government to stop the atrocities against animals and stop ecocide, the better off we will be, the animals will be, and the environment will be.

 

There is immense power and money protecting the ecocide and the animal killers. As I discussed earlier in the chat, the sooner we are honest and face reality about who is pulling the strings and who is allowing it to happen (or more accurately, helping it happen) the sooner we can focus on effective strategies. I think our hope is reaching people and gathering enough momentum to change the paradigm, change the laws, etc. I don't think anyone who is a candidate for President is going to change the course of this ship. We have to change it.

 

Maynard S. Clark:

Thank you very much, Mark, and I'll process this when asked by his supporters who are my friends why I'm not on the same page with them.  I wholeheartedly concur with your vision and emphasis here.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, again, Mark! Carol Hughes would like to address you next. Thanks, Carol!

 

Carol Hughes:

Hey Mark! :-) I think I saw that you wrote "mouses" rather than "mice" in this chat.  How critical do you think our use of language is?

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Carol, and thanks for your question. I think language is crucial to social change. Language is very effective in perpetuating speciesism and other social problems. I can't recommend Joan Dunayer's books, Speciesism, and Animal Equality, enough on these points.

 

The "other-izing" in our language is quite extensive in terms of animals (as it was, and still is, in different "other"-izing) I think as advocates speaking to the public on veganism, etc. - our words and our overall message are very important.

 

Not that this should intimidate us from going out there and giving it our best shot! Using non-speciesist language is one way to fight for the respect animals deserve. Referring to animals as "it", for example, is deeply indoctrinated into us. Animals are not "its" they are individuals. Indoctrination like this is hard to shake off, but I think the effort we put into it is well worth it. It helps and it also makes others pause and/or think and/or question your language usage - which can start a great conversation! :-)

 

Carol Hughes:

Thanks so much, Mark.  I agree completely. :-)

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks for asking...

 

Carol Hughes:

:-)

 

Mark Jordan:

and believe me, I am not perfect and after many years of veganism, am still trying to rid speciesism from my language! Ugh.

 

Carol Hughes:

:-D

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Mark. Jason Ward would like to ask you your last question for today next. Thanks, Jay. You rock!

 

Jason Ward:

Thanks Carolyn -hi again Mark. What is your opinion on those who have been labeled as “celebrity vegans”, such as Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton and others. Mike Tyson still races pigeons, and Bill Clinton, as far as I’m aware, simply eats a plant based diet.

 

Mark Jordan:

Hi Jason. Thanks for asking.

 

Jason Ward:

my pleasure

 

Mark Jordan:

Well, this kind of ties in nicely with the last question! I think that we should only call vegans "vegan". I think that someone who is speciesist and sees pigeons as theirs to dominate, or someone who is speciesist and still consumes animal-derived products is not vegan. I think that is fairly clear.

 

So then we are left with why do we celebrate these people and call them "vegan"? I don't know. I am not against saying they are going in the right direction and every animal they leave off dominating is a step in the right direction...just like vegetarianism...but I don't think celebrating people as vegan who are not helps with the message or the credibility or integrity of our movement.

 

There is something strange going on here about wanting validity from "celebrities" or high-profile people that I don't understand. In sum, I think that we should only celebrate non-speciesism and veganism And I am wary of celeberating any of the recently vegan celebrities, for fear of what they might say or do next, which reflects on the entire movement (and especially wary of the not-vegan recent "vegan" celebrities)

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Mark. This has been a wonderful chat and I can't thank you enough for being so clear and insightful in your responses.

 

Mark Jordan:

Thank you for having me

 

Maynard S. Clark:

Thumbs UP! to Mark!!  Thank you V-E-R-Y much.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

It was my pleasure! :-)

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Mark

 

Suzanne Barker:

Thank you, Mark.

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Mark

 

Richard McMahan:

Thank you Mark!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you for your thoughtful replies, Mark!

 

Mark Jordan:

I have really enjoyed the questions and discussion. Thank You for having me.

 

Carol Hughes:

Thanks Mark!  Great chat! :-D

 

Will:

see you :-)

 

Tim Gier:

I appreciate all your time and thoughtful responses

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks for being a real voice for all others, Mark!

 

Mangus O'Shales:

thanks Mark

 

Mark Jordan:

Thanks Everyone! All my best in your work to end speciesism! :-)

 

Lara Benson:

Thanks Mark, excellent responses.

 

Jesse Newman:

Thank you very much Mark

 

Mark Jordan:

My pleasure and thank you all for working for change!

 

 

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 Mark Jordan on July 3, 2012 at 2:07

Tim, I understand you disagree with my reasoning and beliefs on some of the issues. I agree with my reasoning and beliefs on these issues. I find them neither silly, nor ridiculous, nor obviously flawed. At any rate, there is no denying that AE has significantly changed their approach and message recently. I find the changes extremely disheartening. Have a nice day. 

Comment by Tim Gier on July 3, 2012 at 0:40

Mark, are you suggesting that, during the Jim Crow era in the United States no civil rights advocates worked to ensure the enforcement of then existing laws, however flawed the laws may have been?  I'll not bother to do a study of the matter because, if that is what you are suggesting, your suggestion is ridiculous.  Of course people who advocate for the rights of the oppressed advocate for the enforcement of existing and flawed laws.  

Are there any perfect laws?  Is it the case that every protection now available to the oppressed goes far enough?  The answer to both questions is obviously No.  Whatever laws and regulations there are about anything, in any free and pluralistic society anywhere, are almost always and necessarily going to be laws that reflect comprise between vested stakeholders - laws will always fall short of the ideal.  Vegans who expect Utopia will not only always be frustrated and dissatisfied, they will always be working at cross-purposes to those who are willing to do the messy business of creating positive change in the actual world.  Animal Equality is obviously an example of the latter sort and their work is to be commended, even if moral absolutists such as yourself will always be able to find fault with it.

Regarding "vegan restaurants" -- If it satisfies you to believe that there is a real and moral difference between eating at a restaurant that serves an allegedly "strictly vegan menu" and eating at a restaurant that serves some vegan options along with non-vegan ones, that's entirely up to you.  However, it shouldn't require a tremendous effort on the part of others to see the flaw in your reasoning.  Since it is the case that any money you spend eating at a "100% vegan restaurant" necessarily goes on to support individuals and businesses that are not vegan, then your support of a "100% vegan restaurant" isn't different in kind to someone else's support of a non-vegan restaurant, it is only different by degree.  You may want to claim that recognizing that reality requires a focus on minutiae, but since you are the one claiming some sort of moral high ground, then you at least ought to have an argument that passes muster.  You don't.  You have no principled ground to stand on to object to someone eating a vegan option at a non-vegan restaurant when your own actions contribute to financial gains of non-vegans as well.  

Comment by red dog on July 2, 2012 at 14:54

Thanks for sharing your ideas, Mark. I'll have to follow those links and consider this matter more carefully, soon. I agree with parts of what you say but not everything.

Comment by Mark Jordan on July 2, 2012 at 14:11

I have been watching Animal Equality closely for about four years now, and until this relatively recent and major change in approach/message, I was a big supporter (as is evidenced by my comments in this chat). All my claims are indeed facts and easily found on their facebook and website. As on all issues of animal rights, I don’t make such statements lightly. I will try to briefly touch on your concerns/disagreement with my observations and feelings on these important matters:

1)      You can send a “Do it right” message or you can send an “It is not right!” message – you cannot do both. Brief analogies: Did Civil Rights advocates call for prosecution of businesses because their “Black Only” drinking fountains weren’t up to cleanliness standards?; Do people calling for the abolition of the death penalty call for prosecution of a prisons violations of last meal rights?; Would advocates for women’s rights call for prosecution of businesses that pay women $.77 to the man’s $1.00 *because* the women get their paycheck in cash instead of a check?; Do people who are against abortion focus on prosecution of doctors for botched abortions? The answer to all of these questions is: No, Of course not – these arguments distract from, and are detrimental to, the foundational moral issue, the moral wrong the group of people feel is the heart of the issue. We (I hope) are not trying to make speciesism better regulated and “nicer” for the animals, we are trying to end speciesism. [To make your analogy accurate – human rights advocates would be, for example, campaigning that people kidnapping girls/boys and selling them in the sex trade be prosecuted because the workers were too rough with their captors (even kicking them as they kidnapped them; by letting them be used by too many customers in a night; for not giving them enough water on their kidnapping transport).]

 

In the U.S., for example, the HMSA (Humane Methods of Slaughter Act) sanctions and regulates mass murder and The AWA (Animal Welfare Act) regulates and sanctions mass torture and mass murder. Laws like these perpetuate speciesism because their foundational principles are that imprisoning and killing others is o.k., but it must be done correctly. Calling for enforcement of speciesist law legitimizes their speciesist roots, legitimizes speciesism.

 

2)      #1 (above) is wrong when AE does it, when HSUS does it, when MFA does it, when PeTA does it. AE used to say this was wrong, too. Now, unfortunately, they do it.

 

3)      The linking to HSUS I was referring to was:
http://www.animalequality.net/news/396/shocking-animal-cruelty-tyso...

 

The article on AE’s page is an extremely good example of issue #1 (above) in that it focuses on the conditions of animal slavery and murder (but does, at the very end, speak of veganism). The HSUS video on the AE site states that this is “factory” farming and, as is usual for HSUS, is all about conditions, conditions, conditions – not the underlying moral wrong (because, as they candidly admit, they don’t see it as a moral wrong), and links to an HSUS webpage all about #1 (above) with no vegan solution (because, as they candidly admit, they do not see veganism as a viable solution). A couple years ago, AE supporting, promoting, or linking to anything as speciesist as an HSUS campaign was unthinkable.

 

4)      AE linked to this article, http://www.sourcewire.com/news/71740/vegan-fish-on-the-menu-at-lead... . This article praises a restaurant, and so does AE by promotion/posting it. This restaurant sells the flesh and other “products” of many individuals (pigs, ducks, tunas (who, incidentally, AE have a campaign for), salmons, octopuses, squids, prawns, chickens, cows, etc.) every day. Not a business that would be promoted or praised by an anti-speciesist group.

 

5)      Animal Rights is a serious issue that doesn’t need nakedness to get press or people’s attention. Unfortunately, AE has done PeTA-esque campaigns recently other than food trays. Here is one example, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150499069899077&set=a... . AE used to post articles asking PeTA to stay out of Spain and to stop demeaning important issues with nakedness. Imagine the analogies in #1 (above), using nakedness to get press/attention.

 

6)      I think there is such a thing as a vegan restaurant, just like there is such a thing as a vegan person, a vegan meal, and a vegan wardrobe. I suppose one could argue down to a level of minutia that none of these things is “truly vegan” (an argument often heard from people defending their cheeseburgers or leather shoes), but to me that is irrelevant and doesn’t recognize the core baseline of veganism, to borrow from the Vegan Society: “Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, *as far as possible and practicable*, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose.” To me, it seems obvious that someone for the rights of animals doesn’t support/promote businesses that are in the business of enslaving and killing animals, despite their “vegan options.” While I feel this is, by itself, true, a level of even more absurdity is added when the non-vegan restaurant promoted is in a city with five vegan restaurants.

To reiterate, for about four years now I have been watching AE with interest and, until relatively recently, strong support. I am deeply saddened to see what was once an anti-speciesist group add speciesist campaigns and messages to their persona. I hope they find their way back to their roots: a clear anti-speciesist message.

Comment by red dog on July 2, 2012 at 12:18

Those are very serious accusations against Animal Equality. As Tim pointed out, in one instance Mark appears to have taken AE's words completely out of context. If you're going to make those kinds of accusations I think you should provide links to support what you're saying.

Comment by Tim Gier on July 2, 2012 at 9:36

Hi Mark, 

I have a few observations regarding your claims about Animal Equality.  It would have been helpful for others to assess your claims had you provided links to the original sources that allegedly support those claims; it would have added some credibility to your comments as well.  Be that as it may, I am familiar enough with AE's work to offer the following thoughts.

1) You appear to be suggesting that groups who work for veganism and the abolition of exploitation should turn a blind eye when existing laws and regulations are violated.  If that is what you are suggesting, then I believe your suggestion is seriously misguided, if not downright silly.  Please let me explain by way of an analogous example in the arena of human rights.  We can suppose that a human rights organization would insist that some oppressive regime adhere to existing yet inadequate laws even while they advocate fiercely for more and better protections of human rights.  That is, no oppressor who thwarts existing laws ought to go unpunished just because existing laws may fail to fully protect the rights of humans.  Anyone concerned with human rights ought to call attention to any other who violates human rights under existing law.  To act differently just in case the ones who are oppressed happen to be other animals would be speciesist.

2) If it's not wrong to press for the vigorous enforcement of current laws (and it isn't) then it can't be wrong for AE to notice when other groups such as Mercy for Animals do it.

3) The article on AE's website that links to the HSUS reports is called "Reforming Slavery as a Means of Perpetuating it: The Case of Calf F..." and in it AE says "Just like humans, other animals are neither property nor objects to be utilised and, as such, it is a mistake to support modifications on how they are going to be used. We don’t want another form of oppression for them. Just as with human slavery, justice requires the eradication of this institution and not the reform of it. We need to finish with this injustice here and now, starting with ourselves." It's true that AE links to reports that HSUS has produced, but AE only links to those reports to support AE's claim that groups such as HSUS and PeTA have shown that certain welfare reforms could be good for the bottom line of the animal exploiters; AE is not promoting HSUS or "their tactics" - they are expressly objecting to them.  I find it incredible that any fair-minded person reading the article would mistake AE's intentions.

4) I'd have to see the article you're referring that supposedly praises some restaurant.  The only article I recall on that AE linked to seemed to even-handed on the subject of the restaurant itself and, if I recall correctly, was more concerned with praising the entirely separate company that produces the vegan foods. But again, I don't know which article you are referring to.

5) AE volunteers appear naked on giant plastic-wrapped "food trays", simulating the sorts of packaging that the body parts of other animals are sold in.  From what I have seen (and what I have been told by Jose Valle and Sharon Nunez, two of the founders of AE), any of AE's demonstrations involving naked bodies are decidedly not sexualized or sensationalized in any way.  You make it sound like AE is engaging in PeTA-esque "I'd rather be naked than wear fur" campaigns, which they aren't and haven't ever, to my knowledge. 

6) There is no such thing as a vegan restaurant -- every business that buys and sells products on the open market is supporting, and supported by, at least some non-vegan interests in some way to some degree.  To refuse to recognize any restaurant as it begins to offer vegan options is to remove any incentive there is for companies to bring vegan options to the public.  

Given that your own view (if I am correct in #1 above) is speciesist, and given that you appear to have painted Animal Equality in the worst possible light in each of the remaining items you cite, I hope that you'll forgive me as I ignore your addendum.  Animal Equality and Igualdad Animal are doing tremendous work throughout Europe and, it appears to me, making a tremendous impact in the lives of other animals.  Your criticisms of them are misplaced.

Comment by Mark Jordan on July 1, 2012 at 4:48

An addendum:

Since my chat, Animal Equality has changed their approach to one of regulation and enforcement and no longer only promotes and runs anti-speciesist campaigns. They have unfortunately been quite strikingly adding many speciesist campaigns and promotion of speciesism to their work. Recent examples:

(1) Repeated calls for prosecution of businesses and workers out of compliance with laws and standards for enslaving/killing animals;

(2) Praising and promoting groups like Mercy for Animals and other groups for doing #1 (above);

(3) Linking to and promoting HSUS tactics and reports from their website;

(4) Posting an article about how great ("ethical") a restaurant is that has "sustainable" fish (and other flesh and animal products);

(5) Demeaning serious issues with naked, or almost-naked, protests; and

(6) Promotion of non-vegan restaurants.

Having them change their approach from anti-speciesist to speciesist is a serious tragedy to the Animal Rights movement. I hope they come back to their original anti-speciesist stance and campaigns. But at this time, I have to seriously retract from my praise of them in this chat.

Sincerely and Sadly,

Mark

Comment by red dog on January 11, 2012 at 22:33

Thanks for another great chat. Mark is very persuasive.

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