Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Transcript of Shaun Monson’s ARZone Guest Chat
6 November 2010 at:
3pm US Pacific Time
6pm US Eastern Time
11pm UK Time and
7 November 2010 at:
8am Australian Eastern Standard Time
comments you have.I’d now like to ask Brooke Cameron to ask Shaun his first question, please go ahead, Brooke.
animals”, but they’re OK with eating cows, chickens and pigs. There’s a separation between animals they
“love” and those they consider property to meet their “needs”.
Thanks again, Shaun. Nath has a question for you next, all yours, Nath.
animals. The distributors said EARTHLINGS would never see the light of day and to sweep it under the rug.
advocacy movement with those who took part in the Boston Tea Party and the Suffragette movement.
Shaun Monson:Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of PETA, made an interesting statement once. She said, “We asked
of PETA, by the way, than it is a reflection on humanity. You have to take a stand in this world for anyone to notice you. You have to provoke. That’s why Michael Moore’s films did so well. They provoked. They shocked. Direct action can be non-violent or violent. I never advocate violence. But direct action gets an issue noticed.I’m not sure if there is any particular line that can be drawn between protecting animals and forwarding the cause because it’s up to the individual. One individual might be extremely aggressive in their approach,
while another writes books. Both can raise awareness.
abstract. But this was the inspiration, as you said. Before making EARTHLINGS,
the inspiration for that film nagged at me incessantly. I would lie awake at night thinking, you’ve
got to show it all. You’ve got to somehow get footage of all the primary ways in which we use animals and expose it all, raw, uncut; just lay it out there in the sun and don’t hold back. After all, the documentary film is the non-fiction film. And so that’s what I did, come what may.
family, the village, the tribe, or the nation) but then have an attitude of aggression or apathy on the other hand for other expressions of life, or the "out-group." This is not unity, despite what their religions or books or prophets or civil rights leaders are saying. This is duality.
we are the same, meaning we are expressions of life ... and life is multitudinous in its expression. Just
look at it ... Life is expressed as mold, as bacteria, as fish, or as lions and tigers and lambs.
humans and ants.... All our other words divide: human, animal, male, female, etc. But earthlings encompasses us all. Unity, as a word, also encompasses all. There is no separation. But humanity LOOOOOOOOVES to separate! So this film is about our perceptions.
Carolyn Bailey:Thanks very much, Shaun. It sounds very exciting! Flor De Oro Cabrera has a question for you next which Roger will ask, thanks, Rog!
Roger Yates:Shaun, I would like to show your documentary in the area where I live (Jacksonville,NC), probably in an auditorium or library, I would have to place an ad probably in the Awakenings magazine to let people
know of the showing. Do I need your authorization for it? Thank you
Shaun Monson:Yes, please. But we’ll give it to you. Go to www.earthlings.com and send us your request in an email. Shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Carolyn Bailey:Thanks again, Shaun. Next up Jason Ward will ask a question for Belinda Morris, thanks, Jay.
Jason Ward:Thanks Carolyn. Hello Shaun. Earthlings - and, presumably, its sequel, Unity - form part of a trilogy that focuses on humankind's relationships, particularly to animal life. Yet within the greater animal advocacy movement, factionalism, contention and strife often predominate - especially re principles, missions, and strategies.
Do you regard these groups/organizations as therefore working at cross-purposes and what, if anything, would you advocate that would promote a greater co-operation and unity of purpose amongst the various animal
rights, and welfare, proponents? Thank you.
it’s a brand. And they are attached to their brand, meaning they don’t always like or approve of the way other animal rights groups, or "brands," are operating. And conflict ensues. But that is more of an ego issue (a human issue) than it is an animal issue.
activists, I think, “Man, the movement needs UNITY just as much as the world does.” Ha!
like how can an animal be beneficial to another, or something else, like us humans. In which case, there are several answers. In America we don’t really eat sheep, but in the Middle East they eat a lot of sheep. So to us, sheep are not productive for food, but to them they are. (You’ll have to forgive me, I’m not sure if I understood your question properly or not.)
becomes the butterfly, and the human being becomes enlightened.” I also became rather fascinated with astronomy while making UNITY and you will see more of that in the third film as well.
silly it is for us to conquer one another and murder each other and have dominion over each other for the short time we’re here. Humanity has been at war for 97% of recorded civilization. A shocking statistic, isn't it? One
wonders what all this killing and ego is really for? What does it achieve? Ask all the Alexanders and all the Napoleons and all the Hitlers what becomes of the conqueror? Where are their empires now? Their vast and glorious empires?
They don’t exist anymore except in books.
perspective And we desperately need wider perspective.. So in the third film we want to expand beyond just loving animals (as we address in EARTHLINGS), and beyond just loving one another (as we show in UNITY) into compassion for everything and anything essentially anything that is in-being. Basically, anything that Is Isness.
soda bottle. You pop the top off and where do all these bubbles come from? The void. And where are they going? Who knows? But there they are, coming and going. So these are the ideas of the third film.
protection, for example, a group gives the public the impression that whales are special and more worthy than other animals. You speak out against speciesism, can you talk about whether these kinds of focused campaigns help or hurt all animals?
true. However, I can’t say that exposure to one issue, say whaling, hurts other animals that otherwise wouldn’t be hurt. After all, humanity is unspeakably cruel. We don't need any inspiration
from activists to make us more cruel, that's for sure. Saving whales doesn’t make us crueler to pigs. We are, what I call, "deviantly brilliant." For instance: A lion takes down a zebra and kills him. But a lion would never
think of capturing the zebra and feeding him an iron-deficient liquid diet for a few months in a crate so that his meat would turn soft and pink so that he could have veal. That's an exclusively human form of cruelty. And so I don’t think any campaign that raises awareness about this animal or that, is subsequently hurting other animals even more. In short, humanity is awfully stubborn. And so we have to celebrate every victory. But I do understand your point, and I do agree that favoring one species is speciesism.
Thank you Shaun
Did I bore you all to tears?
not at all
oh god no you don’t
Hah, nahh, I think they're just waiting for open chat to address you personally.
Thanks again, Shaun, Nath would like to ask another question, please go ahead, Nath
Hey Shaun, Earthlings contains some graphic footage of animal cruelty for example the footage of circus animals being beaten. Were any of the people featured torturing and killing animals ever charged or sent to
Not to my knowledge, sadly. And if they were, the fine was light and the sentence brief. But the film was not part of an investigation anywhere. The footage I obtained was from animal groups who had already tried
to punish these individuals and the business they worked for. So you might say I obtained all this footage
after the fact.
OK, next we have a question from Gemma Elsworthy - go ahead Gemma when you are ready
How can you change peoples’ opinion about eating “meat” when they have eaten meat for a lifetime, especially hunters, and people that think animals have no feelings, how do you change their view without getting into an
argument with them? Also do you think petitions actually work as I’ve been
signing and writing letters for years and they are still clubbing seals and
skinning animals for fur etc. And, your hair is great hahah
You can’t change their view, you can only suggest. .. You can only indicate.
When it comes to feeling pain, however, there are a few points you can mention that might plant a seed for them. After all, most of these animals are vertebrae, meaning they have a spinal column just like us.
This means they also have nervous systems. So ask them this: Did nature imbue
these animals with sensitivity in order that they should NOT feel? That will
stump them. Then listen to what answer they try to conjure up. One more thought. There is also something called “Expression of Preference” which means that even though animals can’t communicate to us what they are thinking or feeling, their body language will indicate preference. They flee from predators, meaning they prefer to not be killed. Or they prefer certain grass to eat. We open the new film UNITY with a
four-minute uncut shot of 2 cows at a state slaughterhouse in France. You don’t see them being killed. You just see them waiting outside before they are killed. Then the first one goes in and the door closes. The other one remains outside. After a few seconds we hear the shot of the captive bolt gun and the second cow
flinches. It frightens him, clearly. And he begins to back up, and
to try to find a way out. This is called “Expression of Preference.” And anyone with cerebral function (which may not include your hunter friends, by the way) can clearly see that this animal is scared and doesn’t want to die.
Gemma Elsworthy:Thank you. You said that so well!
Carolyn Bailey:Thanks again, Shaun. Jamie Rivet has a question for you next, which Roger will ask for him, thanks Roger.
Roger Yates:Hello, Shaun, how can we expect to accomplish anything in terms of animal lib while capitalism and the notion of animals as property
Shaun Monson:Don’t worry about capitalism, and here’s why I say that. Ask yourself, honestly, “What can
you can make phone calls and sign petitions, but what else can you really,
really, REALLY do to change things? And that answer is: Nothing.
You could make EARTHLINGS though.
Politicians have a hard enough time changing things and they work in Washington. But what you can change is how you spend a dollar. Every time you spend a dollar you cast a vote. So just don’t buy what they’re hawking and you’ll be fine. If everyone did that, it would change the industry. Just say to yourself, "hey man,
I'm not buying your Nikes." It's that simple
and we go. As Buckminster Fuller said, punning the famous line from the Bible, “And it came to pass, not to stay.” This world is a transition zone for all of us. How else are we supposed to evolve from evil monsters into loving beings unless we have a transition zone to do it in?
signal. And others will follow.
Next we have Ben Hornby asking the final pre-registered question before moving on to the 'open chat'- go for it Ben!
Thank you, Shaun! What’s your reaction to those who say “Don’t show me”, “I can’t watch”, “I don’t want to know”?
I always wondered what it is about human beings that makes us NOT want to look at stuff. So what I usually do is reverse psychology. I agree with them and say, “Of course, who would ever want to look at this? Who wants to watch animals suffering?” And then I tell them how all the distributors told us the same thing. In fact, they
told us that we could NOT release this film. And that people cannot and should not see it under any circumstances. That’s how it is in China, by the way. The government controls everything. E V E R Y T H I N
G! So I start to create this mystique around it, and suddenly they get curious. They say, “Well, what’s so bad about it? Why don’t they want you to release it?” And I just keep using reverse psychology. Basically, I tell them they can’t watch it, and that they’d have to seek it out to find it. So instead of imposing it on them, I kind of take it from them. Now the reason I do this is because one thing Americans don’t like to be told is that they can’t do stuff.
Thanks again, Shaun, for some really insightful responses to some great questions.
Valaentine Vance:Absolutely wonderful!
Carolyn Bailey:Please feel free to send a private chat message to me, Roger Yates or Jason Ward if you wish to address Shaun.
Gemma Elsworthy:You are brilliant
Carolyn Bailey:Kelly Carson has a question for Shaun first, but had to leave, so Roger will ask on her behalf, thanks again, Rog.
Roger Yates:Shaun, thank you so much for being here. The single-issue debate is a relatively new subject. I've had to put a few projects on the back
Yes, I suppose. But I wouldn't be too worried about labels. The rabbits need help and you're helping them. They intersected in your
life. Good on you, mate.
Petitions, do they work?
Shall I answer Gemma's question?
If you could, thanks, Shaun
Yes, they work ... to a degree. And I'll take any degree we can get. So absolutely.
Me too but I don’t really know if it helps, or they’re just left in cyberspace
Not at all!!! I dont think
Every little bit helps :-)
And it doesn't hurt to sign them.
Maybe he wil say.. right.
Nath, please go ahead with your question
Hi Shaun again, What do you think of the idea and belief by some in the animal movement that factory farmed animals, where they live a life or torture and hell and then end up being brutally killed, are perfectly ok to
feed to companion animals?
That's a tough one, isn't it?
It really brings up the question of having companion animals. Dogs can eat vegetarian, no problem. Cats sometimes have a bit trouble with this
animals are carnivores ... it's a tough one
Thanks Shaun - next up is Ines ARA - go ahead...
While we were chatting here, my father called me and I told him I was busy chatting here, he said thank Shaun for what he is doing and for helping you becoming a vegetarian, but I could never make myself watch movies
such as EARTHLINGS; so what do you tell people who agree that being vegan or vegetarian is great but they are just not willing to give up tasty rotten flesh of animals?
I don't blame you. They're not ready for it yet ... Let me explain ... Sometimes, when we are so stubborn, life has a funny way of breaking us down. If we refuse to grow, then the universe seems to lend a progressive hand, either through disease, or suffering, or pain, that snaps us out of our stubbornness. I use the term "progressive" intentionally. So those people will continue eating meat until they get sick. Or some such ailment. You don't have to worry. The universe or the law of karma, or whatsoever term you prefer, will balance things out again.
i hope you are right
Keeping trying, in the meantime. But again, you can't do it for them.
Thanks, Shaun. Daniel Manahan would like to ask you a question now, thanks, Daniel, go ahead.
Shaun, do you believe in Big Bang or Intelligent Design? With regards to the creation of the universe miracle? What do you believe is our reward after death for such compassion and awareness?
Well, that's a loaded question. Holy crap, I better answer this one right ... :-D
Bill Maher style
Ok, here goes ... First of all, I'm an idiot. I don't know anything. The only thing I believe to be true is compassion and gratitude. I have no idea how this universe started, if it started at all. "Started" is a time word. Funnily enough, this is how UNITY begins. So I will answer you with a piece of dialogue from the beginning of the film. (I haven't disclosed this to anyone yet, by the way)
Maybe I shouldn't ?
Yeah, go for it, Shaun! :-)
no please do it lol
Kidding, here goes ... The following is the actual narration to the beginning of UNITY ...
Reverse psychology - don't tell us Shaun...
Think of now what the universe is ...
Ros) But the point is that worlds come into being and worlds go out of being. Just like life. Whether a god created this universe, or a big bang, it really doesn't matter Raising our consciousness is all that matters. One last thought on this. The reason there is so much suffering in this world is because we are
so discordant of love. Love is the highest possible attainment for humanity. It is the top rung of the ladder and I suspect that love is actually the lowest rung of the ladder for God, or the infinite, or the divine. Therefore, for us
to just love each other more, is to merely touch the feet of god. Sorry if that sounds a bit religious.
I'm not religious, as it turns out. But there you go.
Thank you again for your insightful answers Shaun. We really appreciate it here today- Dennis Dougherty has the next question for you Shaun - Go ahead Dennis.
Hi Shaun. We have a strategic focus group (SFG) that scans the environment to see what we need to address as a company to stay in business and to be beneficial to the planet. SFG meets monthly. We shared Earthlings in the SFG group. And that group shared the video with other people in the company. They held small lunch meetings to watch the movie. That inspired people to have vegetarian offerings at several company events, large annual meetings, picnics, and small group meetings etc. Earthlings provokes, as you mentioned earlier, yet, I think the solution side needs development to balance provocation and solutions are not there yet, examples
being how to prepare delicious vegetarian meals or provide local vegetarian restaurants in the community. I think solutions or change-resources need to be considered in provocative awareness building or people fall back to old behaviors.
Shaun, your thoughts?
Excellent point. Here's the rub though. First of all, I agree with you wholeheartedly. However, we can't police people. See, no one has to police you guys. You are self luminating vegans. You are like the sun that shines of its own accord. But a lot of people are like the moon, who only reflect light, and they go round and round in these cycles, like the moon, of dark and light, dark and light, but each of you here, who were also moons at one point, somehow made the jump to the sun. So again, you can encourage and support these people in their attempts, but ultimately they must make the leap of their own accord.
Then be happy to plant seeds... Thanks Shaun
Thanks, Shaun, Outi Aromies would like to address you, go ahead, Outi
Hi from Finland!
Is there anything we can do to help strays in eastern Europe? The conditions in their so called municipal shelters are horrible, they are torturing dogs to death. I have adopted my dog from Romania and there are so many left, suffering, abused, starved ,poisoned, tortured. Thanks.
Man, I wish I was Superman so that I could fly around the world at supersonic speed to help all these poor little creatures ... Sigh ...
Not only Eastern Europe. Greece, Italy, Spain too.
Well, is there any footage of these conditions? I'm a footage guy. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'd start by getting footage, cutting something together, and getting it out there. You know, educating.
Yes, there are many.
yes I have a whole movie about stray dog condition in Bosnia
Can you send any to me?I'm always looking for footage
Outi Aromies:I have friends in Romania who would love to send them to you Shaun!
Ines ARA:The guy who made this movie would love people to see it so I am pretty sure he would agree
Shaun Monson:Email Melissa at earthlings.com, tell her we spoke on this interview, and she'll get you an address to send it Thanks!!! firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Yates:The last question comes from Thomas Janak.
Thomas Janak:With the anti-whaling day happening in many cities in many continents more or less simultaneously, I believe that energetically good
be shown everywhere simultaneously?
Energy? Absolutely!!!! Showing Earthlings everywhere? Yes to that too!!!
I'd like to thank Shaun for being incredibly generous with his time today and answering some great questions with insightful and helpful responses.
Yes, thank you, Shaun
Namaste Shaun :-)
Thanks Shaun you rock!!!
Very much so
Thank you so much, Shaun, that was amazing.
ARZone sincerely appreciate you being here today, Shaun. You really have been awesome!
thanks Shaun - you're a legend! total inspiration :-)
Does anyone know or have heard about the crush videos??
Thanks to all of you!!!
Thank you so much
Valentine, did an interview bout that see www.wildtimeonline.blogspot.com
Love you Shaun, your my Hero
send me a private message valentine
Thank you Shaun, I learned a lot!
In gratitude express i the delight and say Many Thanks
Thanks so much, Shaun
Carolyn Bailey:We'd also like to thank all members for contributing to Shaun's chat, thanks everyone!
Dennis Dougherty:Thanks for Earthlings!!!!!
Ines ARA:nvm ill do it thank you Shaun
Valentine Vance:I got ya. Thank you again!
Kate Go Vegan:Many many thanks Shaun. You're such an inspiration.
Roger Yates:ARZone exists to promote rational discussion about our relations with other animals and about issues within the animal advocacy
discussion or by making a point under a transcript.
Animal Rights Zone on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Rights_Zone_%28ARZone%29
Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) is a voluntary, grassroots, abolitionist animal rights social network created in December 2009 with the aim of encouraging rational dialogue in the animal protection movement through
forum and blog posts.
Hey thank you too Carolyn, Jason & Roger - this has been outstanding for me as a 'first timer' here with you all - such a cool eye opener to know there are so many wicked people around the world who share this
common outlook on life. :-)
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