Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of Roger Yates' ARZone Guest Chat of 5/6 June 2010

Transcript of Dr. Roger Yates' Guest Chat

5 June 2010 at: 

3pm US Pacific Time
6pm US Eastern Time 

11pm UK Time
and 6 June 2010 at:

8am Australian Eastern Standard Time



Carolyn Bailey

Roger has been involved with the animal advocacy movement for more than 30 years.

In 1977, Roger joined the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) in Lincolnshire, but was unable to find fellow “sabs” in his area In 1979, Roger moved to Essex and became fully involved in the grassroots animal movement as a vegan animal rights advocate.


Roger made the decision to live as a vegan in 1979, when people such as Compassion in World Farming, began handing him leaflets about "veal calves" and "poultry," He could not see the sense of vegetarianism so went vegan straight away.


Roger’s early activism is remarkable and extensive, and includes associations with Sea Shepherd, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), co-founding the Fur Action Group, a position with the Animal Liberation Front Supporter’s Group (ALF SG), the aforementioned Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA), the Edelson Action Group, the Northern Animal Liberation League (NALL) and was a main organiser of the Merseyside Animal Rights Committee. Roger also initiated showings of videos such as Victor Schonfeld’s “The Animals Film”, and opened and ran the first "Animal Rights Shop" in Liverpool City centre, selling merchandise from a range of national animal protection organisations.


After moving to Yorkshire, he started the Hazleton Action Group in Harrogate (Hazleton (now Covance) was one of the world's largest vivisection labs in the world). Roger helped to co-ordinate a series of daylight 'actions' there and activists managed to find records of experiments on rabbits, details from which ended up in Robert Sharpe's book, The Cruel Deception.


In 1983, the co-founder and national press liaison officer of the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group, Ronnie Lee, persuaded Roger to act as the organisation's northern press officer; during which time Roger founded the Rescued Animals Sanctuary Fund, as a means of providing a sanctuary for animals rescued by ALF actions.


In February 1987, Roger, along with 11 associates, was convicted after police raided a house in Sheffield where they found evidence that incendiary devices were being created. Roger was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiracy to cause criminal damage, Ronnie received 10 yrs


Roger absconded during his trial, as the only defendant with a young family, and whilst on the run, helped to launch the Federation of Local Animal Rights Groups and was involved in grassroots campaigns in North Wales including work alongside the Earth First! Environmental group active there at the time.


Roger was released in 1990 and began his academic studies in animal protectionism and social movements, obtaining his PhD from the University of Wales, Bangor in 2005 on the subject of human/non-human relations.


Roger now lives in Ireland and is the co-founder of Vegan Ireland and a representative of the Irish Animal Education Trust, founded by Paul Vogel in 2009.


Roger unwittingly acts as an inspiration, a mentor, an advisor and an educator to a great many people. He's a highly respected member of the animal advocacy movement, and has done an enormous amount in the past 30 years to educate and liberate.


It’s with great pleasure I ask you to please welcome Rog as a guest to ARZone. Welcome, Rog!


Barbara Graham:

Woooooooooooohoooooooooooooooo, hi Roger, I've waited a long time for this. Thank you!!!

Carol Hughes:

Welcome, Roger!!!

Roger Yates:
Hi everyone

William Paul:

Welcome Roger! :-D

Michaela Osterlund:

Welcome

Jason Ward

Hello Dr Yates.

Roger Yates

Hands up all those who think Ronnie didn't get enough

Carolyn Bailey

Before we begin, I ask that people refrain from interrupting Roger during the formal chat section, and utilise the open chat for any questions or comments you have. ARZ 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.


Ronnie Lee:

Enough hair is that?

Carolyn Bailey

I’d now like to ask Rog his first question on behalf of Tammy McLeod who isn’t here today.

Hi, Roger! I have read that you received 4000 pounds from the Police in compensation. What was this for and can we all get some?


Roger Yates
This was an ironic episode in my life to say the least. I have been on numerous demos as an activist but on this occasion, when I was between my MA and PhD, I genuinely attended as “an academic” in order to do some networking and make contacts.

 

At one stage there was a police charge and all the people in front of me were swept away leaving me right up against a wall of riot shields. We were trying to move back but not quickly enough for the filth it seems. Next thing I know the shields part a little and I was hit with a baton on the temple. The main thing I remember was a noise like an explosion. When I got up, I gingerly felt my face and one side was all sunken in – the police officer had smashed my cheekbone in 4 places.


I sued – and even got the courts to demand the police surveillance footage – and the police settled out of court in the end (which is pretty standard). Everyone can get such compensation providing they are prepared to put their head in the way of a police baton!


Carolyn Bailey

Thanks, Rog. That explains a lot. Next question is from Ronnie Lee, who is filling in as admin today in your place, and doing a wonderful job too, Ronnie?


Ronnie Lee:

We all want ordinary people to change their attitudes and behaviour towards animals, so that our fellow creatures are no longer persecuted by humans. To what extent does talking to the public about "animal rights" help with this though, when most people don't even think in terms of human rights when they voice opposition to the ill treatment of humans. For instance, overwhelmingly the public hate paedophiles and are opposed to their abuse of children, but hardly anyone goes through the mental process of thinking that children have rights and that paedophilia is a "rights violation" in order to arrive at this position. 


Roger Yates

Thanks Ronnie – first I’d like to state that I understand and have written about the fact that you do not look at human-nonhuman relations from a rights-based perspective. Famously, of course, you are associated with the idea of the liberation of nonhuman animals.


As a general matter, I also accept that most people in the animal advocacy movement do not take a rights-based approach either: not an approach based on the philosophical writing of animal rights theorists and, of course, I am referring to Francione and Regan in the main. Most animal advocates use the word “rights” rhetorically – or in a philosophically empty fashion – as Peter Singer and PeTA do.


I do suggest that most people would agree that children are rights bearers, and I think the fundamental understanding they have about child abusers is that the wrong they do, the harm that they perpetrate, etc., is not acceptable because they have no right to use children in the way that they do, and that children have a right to be protected from such abuse.


I do accept that you are correct to point out that people generally do not articulate themselves in that manner – while I’m sure that human rights advocates would prefer that they would.


I subscribe to Vegan Society co-founder Donald Watson’s notion that people have to be “ripened” to new ideas – just as they had to be “ripened” to the new idea of veganism. I therefore believe that people are quite capable to taking on board the idea that nonhuman animals are rightholders. The fact that people may be rather befuddled by the terms “animals rights” and “animal rights violations” merely suggests to me that we have not used that language nearly enough, and we are failing in our “ripening” duties.


For those people who do not believe in a rights-based approach informed by animal rights theory, I respectfully suggest that they do what you do in the main, Ronnie, not use the term “animal rights” which is best used by people who actually believe that animals have rights.


Jason Ward

That was a great reply! Dr Yates, could you please tell us what a normal week as Roger Yates entails? What’s your AR diary for this week?

Roger Yates

oooooooo

OK – I was warned that there would be a question about my ‘AR week,’ so let me consult my notes…


All week – I worked at the vegan no-dig allotment as needed.


Sun/Mon – work with Paul Vogel, the founder of the Irish Animal Education Trust: Paul produced an information pack in the form of a powerpoint and we’re physically taking it to schools. Emails do not seem to work! We are also putting in a grant in order to produce hard copy info packs in the manner of those done by Animal Aid and VIVA! education depts.  We prefer electronic communication though but emails seem to get lost in school inboxes. The Trust is going well, btw – and the kids, so far, seem really open to exploring ideas about our relations with other animals. Of course we’ve had the expected issues of children not knowing the connection between a picture of cows and a picture of a hamburger. On the other hand, even kids as young as 5 and 6 seem to have a good grasp of what veganism means.


Tues – information stall at “Volunteer Day” in Temple Bar, Dublin. We designed Trust leaflets based on the slogan, “Are You a Teacher? Do You know one?” Our leaflets deliberately feature nonhuman animals who are not what historian Keith Thomas calls “privileged species.” We have 4, featuring a mouse, an insect, fishes, and a chicken. The event was poorly attended in the end, so we took the leaflets to all the health and whole food stores and Dublin city centre libraries.


Wed – Physically delivered some Trust powerpoint presentations to schools. There is a new anarcho-cafe in Dublin serving vegan food on Wednesday evenings. We have been supporting that – a three course vegan meal for 5 Euros! Yum.


Thurs – tried to keep today 4 Vegan Ireland work. I had been given the task of telling the Vegan Society in Britain of our existence, so I finally got that sorted out. This week one of the local activists arranged to show Earthlings at the above-mentioned café and I gave a (very) short talk beforehand.


Fri – I’m giving a talk to a criminology conference in July so I began to update a research paper I co-wrote in 2001 on so-called “horse ripping.”


Sat (today) – Helped organise filming for Vegan Ireland. We are producing a launch video using the slogan, “Go! Vegan Ireland” and “Go Vegan, Ireland.” Visited the ALiberation table in Dublin to get the Vegan Ireland “speech bubble” for the video. Picture provided! Checked out Thomas Janak’s session at the Point market in Dublin and prepared myself for a terrible ordeal.


Jason Ward

Wow- busy man, thanks


Roger Yates

and now my football diary...

JOKE!


Ronnie Lee:

Great stuff, Rog. And you had time to play soccer too! Now a question from Carolyn.

Carolyn Bailey

Thanks, Ronnie. Hey Rog, could you please elaborate on some of your memories of taking part in Sea Shepherd activities?

Roger Yates

Yes, let’s see. I was mates with the late Dave McColl, the Glasgow-based European director of Sea Shepherd. We were both on the BUAV committee in 1982. They had a contract with this cruelty-free firm called Caurnie Soaps and we sold their toiletries etc. in the Liverpool animal rights shop.


One year the Scottish Office announced that they were allowing 6000 grey seals to be killed in the Orkney Islands (north of Scotland). Greenpeace sent the Rainbow Warrior to protest this and the British hunt saboteurs got involved too. The government backed down and announced that they would stop the 6000 “cull” and only allow the usual 2000 seals to be killed. Greenpeace broke out the champagne and buggered off, leaving the sabs to try to stop the killing. From that time onwards, Sea Shepherd stepped in and I was involved through Merseyside SS led by a guy called Kevin Lee.


The year I was in the Orkneys the seal killers sabotaged our Searider semi-inflatable boat by pouring sea water into the petrol tanks. We conked out at sea and luckily were able to row to an small island. However, when we arrived it was dark and we could not land due to jagged rocks and nursing seal mums. I was one of two left holding the boat out from the shore as the others went off to get help (there was a SS camp on the other side of the island). However the guy with me developed hyperthermia and I managed to get him into the Searider and tried to warm him up by cuddling him. We then drifted back out to sea, because no-one was holding the boat. I can’t remember ever being more scared. I could tell by the stars that we had moved but it was pitch black at this stage. I took a gamble and pushed the boat toward the calling seals and luckily found land again.The other guy was in a really bad state when the others got back but we managed to get him to the camp when it was light enough to see and secure the boat.


The other thing I remember most was that we had to hire a big boat (a US journalist called Mary Bloom paid I think) because we were told a major storm was due. We got to this second island to “rescue” the activists, and they told us to piss off because sealers were due the next morning and they would take their chances. The storm hit as we returned and we just made it back to port, being thrown all over the place on this boat. By this time I had been wearing (my sister’s) wet suit for 30 hours and my legs were pouring with blood from the backs of my knees (we also had to urinate into our wet suits to keep warm but that’s another story!) If anyone knows my sister, Lynne, a vegan since the early 1980s and once secretary of the Campaign Against Angling, please don’t tell her that. 

 

Carolyn Bailey

Thanks Rog, they're incredible memories! Ronnie has another question for you now, Ronnie?

Ronnie Lee:

Are the rumours true that your hair and beard were once arrested for violent disorder and you had to go to jail as well, because you were attached to them?

 

Roger Yates

I see…

Yes, but my hair absconded from court and I had to go without it. However, I got early parole because the prison quota for ‘baldies’ was already filled by the likes of well, by people naturally with no hair – bleeding little caps everywhere there was!

Ronnie Lee:

Thanks, Rog. I did have hair once. Before we shared a cell.

 

Roger Yates

True

 

Carolyn Bailey

Thanks again, Rog! Thomas Janak has a question but isn't here, so Jay will ask it for him, Jay?

 

Jason Ward

Thanks Carolyn, How many people could your community garden support, once fully up and running?

 

Roger Yates

That's from Thomas?

Jason Ward

indeed

Roger Yates

OK Thanks Jason – and Thomas. We’re not sure, especially since the whole enterprise is rather experimental. At the moment we have about a third of the growing boxes we’ll eventually have. The weather has been a problem this year. Our harvest has been rocket and radish so far! However, all sorts of veggies are bursting forth as we speak. We may organise a vegan pot luck at the site in about a month, so if you play your cards right, Thomas, you may get an invite.


Jason Ward

Thanks, Ronnie Lee has a question for you


Ronnie Lee:

What practical steps do you think animal protection campaigners should be taking in order to better persuade members of the public to become vegan?

Roger Yates

really?

Oops, that was in response to Ronnie having another Q!


On a very practical level, I was always impressed by Neil Lea’s “Vegan Buddies” initiative.
[for those unfamiliar with neil see - http://human-nonhuman.blogspot.com/2007/07/thanks-neil-rip.html]


The idea is to put new vegans in touch with existing ones for advice, guidance, or just supportive contact. The downside of that is if someone ends up with a so-called junk food vegan who might not provide the best model for veganism. Some vegans may be ill-equipped to help, say, a new vegan family in a rural location. In Vegan Ireland, therefore, we’ve got an electronic version of Vegan Buddies. This is an invite-only web site for new Irish vegans who can interact with various vegans in Ireland. It is a ning site like ARZ, so I guess we’ll have to be moving soon too.


Your question taps into the issue of how easy or hard it is to live vegan. Being vegan now is a piece of cake compare to when we when vegan, Ronnie, in the 1970s but I think there are factors that can still make the idea rather daunting for some individuals. These may be related to peer group pressure, social class, family relations, geographical location, and so on. I guess existing vegans need to be sensitive to such issues and I think it is a mistake for those who went vegan easily to simply assume that everyone can have the same trouble-free experience.


On the other hand, I dislike it intensely when animal advocates suggest that veganism is rather extreme or even fanatical, or that vegans are somehow special people due to their ability to live vegan. It also helps a great deal in my view that veganism is becoming established as the moral baseline of an animal rights movement. I think that helps to focus attention on veganism as a philosophy and not a diet and gets people to regard moves towards veganism as integral to animal advocacy as opposed to some future and possibly unattainable goal. I have known several people who appear to have gotten “stuck” in vegetarianism and it seems to be that we should not even advocate that option as some step or “gateway” to help animals. A dairy-free meat eater is probably doing more for animals than a dairy-heavy vegetarian. This is not a condemnation of vegetarians just a rethinking of traditional ideas about assumptions made about “a path” to veganism requiring a vegetarian phase.


I think establishing veganism as the moral baseline – and abandoning the “vegetarian or vegan” routine, and the hateful term “veg*n” – can be persuasive as part of our claims-making precisely because it sets a consistent ethical benchmark that is in harmony with animal rights theory.

 

Ronnie Lee:

Thanks, Rog. That's great. And now here's Carolyn again.

Carolyn Bailey 

Thanks, Ronnie, and great answer, Rog. I couldn't agree more!

 

You have been involved in a number of organisations who, at the time of your involvement, were involved in militant direct action. I assume, at that time, you were a supporter of this action. Since being released from prison and embarking on an academic career, you appear to have changed your attitude somewhat on this, and are now an advocate for nonviolent vegan education. Could you please share why you feel militant direct action is not the best approach when aiming for the abolition of animal use and abuse, and what specifically led to your change in attitude.

 

Roger Yates

This is an involved question – I will do my best to answer it. My views have altered somewhat but not as much as some people suggest and not necessarily about MDA in particular. However, we need to define terms a little. I do not think militancy itself is wrong. I do not think that breaking unjust rules or laws is wrong (as we saw this very day with an Irish attempt to break the Gazza blockade). I’m fine with MDA if it is non-violent and contains a substantial educational element. I feel that direct rescues of nonhuman animals can have a strong educational impact depending on the circumstances.


However, I was never fully in tune with all MDA. For example, Ronnie may remember that I met with him before agreeing to be Northern Press Officer because I was worried about the mass release of minks. He encouraged me to research the issue and I discovered that the releasing of minks is not as ecologically problematic as the countermovement people suggest. However, it is a controversial thing to do, so that may impact on the ability to educate – and education was important within the ALFSG – why else have a press office! Minks are territorial animals and disperse widely after release (although we should note that many simply remain near the fur farm and are recaptured). Minks also eat a wide variety of other animals, so their impact on other species is not so great – if one prey species becomes low in number, they pursue others. Ironically, otters are much more specialist feeders. Also, we have to recognise that the released minks will kill other animals – but they were being fed killed animals AT THE FARM in the first place. When fur farmers suggest they are concerned about animals the minks will eat, they are bullshitting. However, I’m sure that there are certain places and times when a mink release can impact negatively on localised fauna. A case-by-case approach, as ever, would be necessary.


I have changed by opinion on the use of arson. I believe it is impossible to burn down a building or even a vehicle without killing. There is a spider living in a wing mirror of my car, for example. For as long as I remember, animal advocates – including supporters of MDA – and activists themselves – have debated the legitimacy of using fire. I am now persuaded that it cannot be used without murdering someone.


The question suggests that NOW I advocate nonviolent vegan education. I thought I was doing that also when I was a press officer for the ALFSG. In those days, as now I believe, the ALF had a policy of not harming life, nonhuman or human, in their actions. I admit that I’ve made mistakes and been naïve at times. We all look back with some regrets I’m sure. However, I’m not ashamed of my ALF days, and some of the activists I met then were the nicest, gentlest, and greatest people I have ever met in my life. It is deeply ironic to me that many who criticise my position today, suggesting this and that, and often lying, are using iconic pictures of masked ALF activists from the 1980s who were my close friends in some cases.


In terms of what I definitely would ~not~ do again is waste all the time I did on single-issue campaigning.

 

Carolyn Bailey

I appreciate your response, Rog. Thanks for that! Paul Vogel would like to ask you a question, but it will be asked on behalf of Paul by Jay. Go for it, Jay!

Jason Ward

Thanks Carolyn. If you slide so good with bones so fair and you've got the universe reclining in your hair what happens when you go bald.  Do you become, 

1. A unicorn. 
2. A Child of the revolution. 
3. A futuristic dragon. 
4. A Metal guru. 
5. A Dandie in the underworld. 
7. A 20th century boy. 
8. Mark Feld. 
9. All of the above. 

 

Roger Yates

riiiight!!!!

I’m tempted to go for option 6 of course.


Jason Ward

Heheh

Roger Yates

It is also “Dandy” (written in firm lecturer style). “But you won’t fool the children of the revolution” – I fear Marc was wrong about that.

Carolyn Bailey

Oh, that was quick

Roger Yates

that's me

Carolyn Bailey

Ronnie has another question for you now, Rog.

Ronnie Lee:

So I've heard!

Roger Yates

You are a nasty man, Ronnie Lee!

Ronnie Lee:

I'll take that as a compliment, Rog. Now here's the question, What are some of your strongest memories of being the press officer for the ALF? 

Roger Yates

ok - this will be my tantric answer then, matey!

A strong memory is of course the trial and prison sentence and putting my kids through the stressful ordeal of calling their dad Dave but the most memorable thing was when I was taken to a secret “holding unit” used by the Merseyside ALF. I was taken there in a manner which ensured I did not know where I was. It was a basement which led out to a walled lawn. Once there I met some baby rabbits who had just been liberated from a “farm” supplying the fur and vivisection industries. They had been raised in bare wire cages, of course, and I was lucky enough to witness them touching the earth for the first time in their lives. At first they just sank down as they experienced feeling grass for the first time, then they stretched their arms out spreading their toes. They has a look of pure pleasure on their faces and were soon walking around and playing on the grass. I will never ever forget seeing that. DONE. never EVER!


Jason Ward

Next question is from Stan Thompson and I'll ask it. Could you please explain the definition of “new welfarism” and why you feel this approach is harmful to animals that are currently being held in factory farms, vivisection labs etc? Would it not be more humane to improve conditions for these animals as much as possible during their lives, which surely will bring awareness to the general public and lead to abolition in the future?


Roger Yates

ok

A Gary Francione question strategically located after an ALF one. You devil Carolyn!


First, I think it is true to say that the animals currently in the places of use you mention are lost to their fate - unless the ALF gets them out. There is a lot of talk about people and groups helping animals “NOW” but no-one can help most of the billions of animals currently deliberately breed for exploitation and alive today.

 

Painful realities here, folks... Right NOW, they are all in labs or breeding colonies, or on the way to slaughterhouses, or being artificially inseminated, or a million other hateful things. For them it is too late. If you see that some fur farm is closing down in a few years or some fast food business is going to use gas chambers in 7 years time, none of that will save animals NOW and arguable will not save any in the future either. There is no better thing ~EVER~ than getting someone to live as a vegan for animal rights reasons because vegans fight animal persecution 24/7. They don’t eat animals or drink their juices or watch them perform or buy them as pets. If we are looking to do something NOW, what better than to talk to people about veganism for the animals’ sake?


The concept of new welfarism was explored by Francione in his 1996 book “Rain Without Thunder.” He has developed the idea of NW further in the introductory chap of “Animals as Persons.” It is certain to get mentioned in the new book co-written with Professor Robert Garner.


In my PhD, I was critical of this concept – not because it does not make sense or is misapplied – but on the grounds that it was bound to be met negatively within the animal advocacy movement made up, often, of people who think of themselves as cutting edge and radical. I did not think they would take kindly to be called welfarists when they associate the term with the likes of the RSPCA and HSUS.


Francione claims that there are a least 3 version of NW, all of which are problematic…


  • The idea that regulation will lead to abolition.

  • Peter Singer’s version.

  • A version embedded into the feminist critique and rejection of animal rights (see the Carol Adams chat transcript here on ARZone).


For Francione there are theoretical and practical problems with NWist ideas. Francione tackles the trust of your question head on, arguing that, “New welfarism presents a false dichotomy: (I'm on p. 16 of Animals as Persons here) even if we embrace abolition as the ultimate goal, we have no choice but to pursue welfarist regulation in the short tierm because that is the only realistic strategy that we can pursue, given that animal use will not be abolished anytime soon.”


He states that welfarist regulation does not do what is says on the tin – it does not significantly protect animals in the short term. It does not lead to abolition in the long term, having no challenge within it to the property status of nonhuman animals. It facilitates “social comfort” because people begin – many vegetarians btw – to buy “happy meat” and other produce they think is “humanely” produced, thereby thinking they have done their bit “for the animals.”


How many are going to consume chickens’ flesh at KFC Canada because they think the KFC/PeTA partnership means that flesh from gassed chickens is all fine and dandy?


Francione, moreover, says that all of this NW nonsense is neglecting other campaigning choices – namely vegan education – even though vegan education is consistent with animal rights theory. Clearly gassing millions of chickens is not! – (but then, those who want to gas them are not animal rights advocates).


Promoting veganism should not be seen as some act of individual choice but the enactment of a consistent vision of justice we owe to all sentient rights bearers.


Carolyn Bailey

Thanks Rog, great response! Ronnie has another question for you now, Ronnie?

Ronnie Lee:

To what extent does "animal rights" philosophy really help in terms of bringing an end to animal persecution? Isn't it really the case that people feel compassion (or lack of it) towards animals and then adopt a philosophy to suit those feelings, rather than the other way around? My view is that people who philosophise in favour of animal exploitation are just animal haters seeking to intellectually justify the persecution of animals and that they equally deserve to be put up against the wall (lawfully, of course) along with the vivisectors, hunters and other animal abusers. What is your opinion on this?

 

Roger Yates

The people who defend our use of nonhuman animals are fully socialised members of societies – remember, we are the vegan freaks!

 

Society is deeply speciesist.Society is saturated in the norms and values of speciesist ideology. Last Thursday about 12 people turned up to watch Earthlings in a major capital city. However, watching the news only 5 hours ago, I see that thousands of people attended Epsom, England, for the slave racing. Then the news turns to the sheep shearing championships in Portlaoise, Ireland,http://www.sheepshearing.ie/ which attracted more thousands. Apparently the professionals can shear a sheep in 50 seconds but a judge warned that they take marks off for “flesh cuts,” especially “deep” ones. The dangers for the sheep did not prevent beauty queen finalists being invited on stage to have a go – speciesism married with sexism as ever, PeTA would be proud.


At the same time, I’ve been reading Rod Preece’s 2008 book, “Sins of the Flesh: A History iof Ethical Vegetarian Thought.” Preece cites William Alcott from 1848 who suggests that “reflecting individuals” – provided that they are not devoid of ordinary sensibilities - will react to knowledge about cruelty to animals.

 

So that’s the scene – deep speciesism but a society that hopefully has enough members in it who will react positively and reflexively to animal rights claims. We have to hope that Martin Balluch is overdoing it when he stresses that most people are much more social than they are rational. If we are EVER to see fundamental changes in cultural speciesism we have to believe that people are capable of responding to animal rights claims making. If we, in the end, cannot persuade sufficient numbers of the case for animal rights, then we will be forever doomed to making baby steps whenever and wherever possible.


Ultimately I feel that this often boils down to whether we are pessimistic or optimistic about human beings and their ability to change.


Ronnie Lee:

Thanks, Rog. And now Carolyn is asking a question on behalf of her two children, Hayden and Ezra. Maam.

Carolyn Bailey

Why do you sound like the Queen of England? And what position do you play in soccer? AND, why don’t you pull your shirt up over your head when you score a goal?

Roger Yates

Maam! what century are you in Ron!

I think the Queen would object to that suggestion! I’m not sure I’m happy being associated with something as parasitical as “£Royalty£” either.


Ronnie Lee:

They still call the Queen that in this century, Rog. I would call her something different however.....

Roger Yates

I bet! back to the questions….


Ronnie Lee:

You shouldn't mate. The bookies always win.

Roger Yates

But the reason is that I’m related to her. All we British types are - just as you will be related to some dastardly convict transported in shame and defeat from the Green and Pleasant Land to the God-forsaken backside of the world.


Ronnie Lee:

I thought the Queen was German.

Roger Yates

As for footie, I used to play central defender (older people like Ronnie will know that as centre half) in 11-a-side games. I still play 5-a-side soccer a couple of times a week.


Carolyn Bailey

Oh yeah, how's the weather in that paradise of yours, Rog?

Roger Yates:

Ja wol. There we play beautiful, flowing, total football, so there are no positions as such – unless panting at the side of the pitch absolutely knackered is one.


Ronnie Lee:

Two world wars and one world cup doodaa

Roger Yates

control your people C! Plus, I never raise my shirt.


Carolyn Bailey

He's admin, I can't!

Roger Yates

It is just something – as royalty – one does not do. Thanks for the questions – even though we were not amused by them. DONE and dusted


Ronnie Lee:

It wouldn't get past your hair!

Carolyn Bailey

Ok, thanks, Sir!

Roger Yates

jealousy is a terrible thing

 

Ronnie Lee:

So's your hair

Carolyn Bailey

Last question before we open up for open chat is from Paul Vogel and will again be asked by Jay, Jay?

 

Jason Ward

If the animal rights movement is a movement for compassion why are so many of its advocates so interested in violence. Verbal violence, violence towards the other members of the movement and violence towards the rest of society? 

Roger Yates

Oh, case of the easy ones first, huh?


As a general matter, I do not think ~many~ animal advocates are interested in violence. I think we all fall foul of it when we are feeling low – but even then it rarely goes beyond TALK about wanting to – let’s say – “put people up against the wall”!

 

I have this phrase from my Yorkshire origins – ‘you’re all mouth and trousers’ – and that sums up IMV most people who are always talking about the use of violence against “the enemy” in a “war” we are fighting. We ~are~ fighting cultural speciesism and it is hard to be violent towards an unfeeling institutionalised ideology. Therefore, I think there is a temptation to strike out without much thought of societal context when a suitable target emerges.


There has been a lot of praise of a guy at the centre of the recent Ohio dairy expose being violently attacked in prison by other inmates. Seems interesting that animal advocates praise meat and dairy consumers for attacking him. Seems to be another manifestation of animal welfarism since this event has been described by FB posters at least as the “worst cruelty case ever.” Of course, that is far from the case and Martha Rosenberg notes that, “the “bad apple” theory wears thin in light of the fact that every farm MFA has randomly selected for investigation has had grisly abuses.”


Give me a tick


http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/06/04/dairy-gothic-cows-st...


To borrow an Irish phrase, the reality is that rights violations are routine and standard in speciesist societies. Had we cameras anywhere in the world we would film such terrible things. Human rights violations result in the same general disregard. Victims of human trafficking are routinely raped and beaten to “break them in.” But what of the consumers? I vividly remember a TV interview in which a 15 year old said she burst into tears every time a new “client” came into the room she was locked into in a brothel. She begged each one to help rescue her. Instead they all order her to adopt the particular sex position they were interested in and had paid for.


Verbal violence towards other members of “the movement” is an interesting one, albeit that many will be critical of the notion that we are all in the same movement. Cool rational discourse is not prevalent I’m sorry to say and I’m glad that ARZone is trying to do something about that. Exchanges of ideas are crucial within social movements – but the power relations that exist within them tend to block and silence some voices. The internet has altered that largely, although there are downsides of the web which ARZone has also experienced. The internet may mean that we will be able to gather together a genuine rights-based animal rights movement to challenge the dominance of the people who use the term “animal rights” rhetorically. cop out alert!


The last part of the question is as complex as the rest I fear. On the one hand, many animal advocates seem to display a general hatred of humankind as if they are determined to play out some stereotype the countermovements ascribe to all of us. But, on the other, “society” as such is often let off the hook as people seek out enemies and targets to attack rather than audiences to educate. This is a common issue within (critical) criminology – blame the victim/blame society. The former is generally associated with right wing thinking, the latter with the Left.


Of all the many excellent questions today – especially those related to soccer – which is really "football" I feel that this question is the least able to be adequately dealt with during a single ‘chat’ session. It is of such importance, however, that I hope ARZ members will continue the discussion after the transcript is posted (which is usually within a few hours of the end of a chat).

 

Carolyn Bailey

Thanks so much, Roger, for your incredible responses to some great questions! You've been fantastic!

Roger Yates

Blush

Ronnie Lee:

Yes, thanks Rog. Really interesting chat.

Jason Ward

Yes Roger - Great interview glad you could make it!

Roger Yates

Pleasure

Carolyn Bailey

This concludes the formal chat section today, I'd now like to open up the chat to anyone who'd like to ask Roger a question, and I'd like to start with Tejas.

Tejas?

 

Roger Yates

Groovy


Tejas:

Hi Roger ... I have question about animal "rights", which abolitionists are stuggle(ing) for. As per my understanding welfarists are ok as far as killing is done without pain or torture abolitionists on the other hand are not ok with any kind of killing irrespective of whether pain is involved or not ...for it violates one's right to life then would abolitionists also not object of killing of plants for food (BTW I am vegan for 7+ years and vegetarian since birth, its just I find myself hanging betwen these two groups) ? ..Done


Roger Yates

The animal rights case is based on sentience. There may be moral principles that include attitudes to plants but since plants are not sentient, they are outside of the remit of animal rights theory. We could argue that we just don't know yet that plants can feel. That would indeed be a problem! However, the standard answer then is that the vegan lifestyle uses less plants than putting them through nonhuman animals first. I believe that nonhuman animals have future plans. This is controversial of course, but more and more evidence points this way. Killing them curtails such plans. Our understanding of plants is that they have no such consciousness.


Jason Ward

Ok - we'll do Evlin Lakes' question first then Michaela is next after.. to ask a question please PM Carolyn or myself

Tejas:

Thanks Roger! :-)

Roger Yates

welcome Tejas - take care!

 

Evlin Lake:

Thank you Roger! I have a question if you don't mind. Any advice on how you would make the Worst Cruelty Conklin case page on fb page better? What has been done wrong and can it be fixed? The title was a shock factor to wake people up. Thanks!

 

Roger Yates

I am not familiar with that page. I worry about the suggestion that this case is somehow different from what goes on everywhere. For example, I took part in a slaughterhouse "visit" in the 1980s. we found chickens having their eyes superglued together. and they were being stuck to posts. Wherever speciesism is the norm, we'll find these things. I doubt that answers your question - does it? I meant that people had presented it as that. I did not know there was a page saying it - sorry for the confusion. ok - go ALF!

 

Evlin Lake:

:-) I thought you had mentioned the page when you had said Worst Cruelty Ever. Thanks!


Jason Ward

Okay - Michaela - you're up next

Michaela Osterlund:

Hi Roger. I have a few questions about the ALF.

 

Michaela Osterlund:

Do the ALF ever rescue big animals like cows and pigs, or do they stick to the furry cute ones? If they only stick to cute animals, isn't that speciesist? Are the ALF interested in ending speciesism? And what about the minks that were let out? The ones that got run over by cars? Did the ALF care about them? I have also heard of animals being killed in ALF rescue attempts. Doesn't that go against their policy?


Roger Yates

Pigs yes, piglets I guess. Cows less likely. I met a pig who was ALF rescued once - he was called "rasher" postmodern irony I suppose. The ALF were very practical as I recall. Often they would rescue 53 chickens because that's the number of homes they had. They wanted to rescue 53,000 of course. Large animals would be a major problem but I'm sure they would have rescued them if able. I do not think it was ever anything to do with cute. What do you think Ronnie?


Ronnie Lee:

There were occasions when animals like goats and horses were rescued.

Roger Yates

As for those actually released, there were risks to them... not least because many were institutionalised.

Ronnie Lee:

It was nothing to do with animals being cute, in terms of what the public think, because chickens and rats and mice were often rescued too.

Roger Yates

Activists argued that, were we so imprisoned - and escape was risky - would we still take the opportunity. We probably would - but I accept that there is an element that the ALF forced release on animals. As I said before, my understanding is that most released minks stayed near the fur farm. As ever, we are in Andrew Linzey's notion that there is no pure land.

 

Michaela Osterlund:

Thank you Roger, and Ronnie for your answers

Roger Yates

No problem

Ronnie Lee:

No problem Michaela

Roger Yates

No problem Ronnie


Ronnie Lee:

Yes, Roger

Evlin Lake:

Thanks Roger and sorry to confuse you!!! :-P

Roger Yates

Ha ha

 

Jason Ward
ok - next up is Matjaz

Matjaz Kovske:

Whom would you like to see as invited speakers at AR conferences? Do you know of any such event in the future taking place in Europe? How important do you find international cooperation between AR communities?


Roger Yates

I would like to see people who actually believe in animal rights as speakers at AR conferences. There is an abolitionist vegan event in Paris in November. It is on FB - but I do not have the details to hand. I think internationalism is essential - and, again, the interweb should help there.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

This concludes Roger’s chat for today and on behalf of ARZone, I’d like to sincerely thank Roger for being an amazing guest today. I think we have all learnt from you today, Roger. We really do appreciate it!

 

Roger Yates:

Thank you to everyone for being here!

 

 

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 a chat by starting a forum discussion or by making a point under a transcript.

 

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