SVĚT JE VEGANSKEJ! Když to chceš. (Czech banners)

Banners in Czech.

DE WERELD IS VEGANIST! Als jij dat wilt. (Dutch banners)

Banners in Dutch. Thanks to Elizabeth Collins and one of her colleagues for the translation.

LE MONDE EST VEGAN! Si vous le voulez. (French banners)

Banners in French.

IL MONDO E VEGAN! Se si desidera. (Italian banners)

Banners in Italian.

DIE WELT IST VEGAN! Wenn Du es willst. (German Banners)

Banners in German. I want to thank Mesiu for help with the translation.

The World is Vegan! If you want it (and you are willing to work for it).

I believe that love is a material force in the universe. I believe that there was love in the world before I was born. I believe it will be here after I die. And, as often as it may seem otherwise, my blogs are often written from a position of love. There are, of course, plenty of days when I wonder how many animal advocates would have to piss on a third rail or fall down a flight of stairs before anyone would even notice. The world might ask itself: "where's all that shrill shrieking gone to?" or "what happened to all that mouth breathing and muttering?" But it hurts me to think so.

As much difference as there may be between all of us who are sincerely concerned about how to help other animals about how to do so, many of us are united in our sincere moral concern for them no matter how misguided the expression of that concern. It's not because people hate nonhuman animals that they might not miss animal advocates; it's because they are confused about what they owe nonhuman animals. And it is because, rather than educate them about the morality necessity and the practical ease of going vegan, most advocates instead alienate the public, either on one hand with lukewarm and confusing messages about why it's fine to keep using nonhuman animals or on the other hand with a lot of mouth-breathing posturing about violence.

As an advocate, I've read a million cliches passed off as 'critical and individual thinking': not everyone will change; not everything is black and white; animals are dying; we have to help animals now; veganism is hardcore; veganism is absolutist; all vegans are angry; we'll never have a vegan world; I just believe in two track activism: regulating animal use now and ending it in the future (read here: never); we have to hurt the oppressor economically; we have to work with industry to promote change. These are all various formulas that accept failure on their face, whether the speaker understands that or not. They are meant to excuse the speaker (intentionally or not) from the hard work of promoting veganism and the rights of other animals. They also reflect a kind of uncritical unwillingness to show the courage and determination required to reshape the world into a more just and more compassionate vision.

We cannot meaningfully help nonhuman animals get free so long as we promote their regulated use. We cannot meaningfully work to achieve a nonviolent society through violent means. Promoting justice, compassion, love, nonviolence, creativity and equality makes us all vulnerable. I am not saying, at all, that it is easy to be an advocate. I'm saying that courage is among the most important virtues that any advocate should cultivate, and that each of us can be brave with practice (so, get out there and practice!).

But for all this talk about change, I haven't seen much. The animal welfare advocacy movement (in both it's militant and nonmilitant strains) is even more sterile, less organized, less passionate, more opportunistic and less disciplined than the environmental movement (hard to believe when you look at Al Gore, but I believe it's true). Oh, yeah, I left out clumsier. More important, I still have yet to read one substantive argument against a principled, disciplined, creative and nonviolent movement organized strategically and tactically around the abolition of animal slavery through vegan education and the restoration of nonhuman animal personhood with the abolition of the property status.

Not one.

I have read, however, a lot of poorly reasoned catch phrases about the nature of change that are meant to shut down discussion that wouldn't get a passing mark in a first year philosophy, sociology or history class, much less in an adult social justice movement. Bullying other advocates with silly and irrational rhetorics as so many of the self-appointed mouthpieces of 'the movement' do is not a kind of activism. It's a way of hiding (but also revealing) just how small and broken they really are as human beings while they trade off the slavery of nonhuman animals. Now, I'm not blaming anyone for being broken. But is this the kind of stuff that helps nonhuman animals? Is that the best we can do?

We could be a movement that not only proposes but makes social change on a level that's unmatched in human history. A right not to be used as someone else's property summons not only an immediate, unequivocal and unconditional end to animal slavery, it pushes us in the direction of environmental change, economic change, anti-sexism, anti-heterosexism, ant-racism and all of the other social transformations that we must make if we wish to earn our survival as a species. Instead, many of us content ourselves with games, name-calling, silly rhetorical flourishes, threats of violence and other forms of posturing. It's sad.

Even as your "colleague", much less a member of the public, how am I supposed to take seriously someone who's afraid to promote veganism tirelessly? How am I supposed to take seriously someone who's afraid to say what they mean clearly? I can't take someone seriously if they've already given up before they've even gotten started, and I can't take someone seriously if they're always in the process of taking back what they say and saying one thing, and then another. If advocates want to talk trash in between sucks of their thumbs, it's unfortunate. I am not saying that people shouldn't defend themselves then their views are misrepresented. But no one who is unwilling to stand up for the rights of all sentient beings unequivocally, human or non, should expect more than the sand I shake off my shoes.

I don't care whether rhetorical games are meant to be funny, sarcastic, ironic, satirical or any of the other words we use to avoid saying what we mean. I have a sense of humor, but I'm completely humorless when it comes to my work on behalf of nonhuman animals. They call me to be serious, not juvenile. And the sad, not funny, truth is the I couldn't refer to the "violent wing" and the “indirect wing” of the animal advocacy movement as clowns without being threatened with a defamation lawsuit by the American Clown Lobby (no offense to clowns or their lobby).

Mostly, the leadership of the advocacy movement seems to consist of a bunch of over-privileged babies with diaper rash (and their propaganda machines and flunkies) who know little about even less than little, least of all organized, socially transformative political work. I'm not trying to insullt anyone, just capture reality in an appropriate metaphor. They either fail to understand the arguments of abolition, or they appropriate them in an effort to turn them back into the same watered down welfarism we've had for decades now, or they actively misrepresent them as straw arguments because that's all they can deal with. Perhaps that was too harsh; in the interests of full disclosure, I don't meant to disparage babies nearly as much as that comparison implies (I'm even more afraid of their lobby than the Clown Lobby).

Frankly, I think it's a shame that so many apologists have passed themselves off as John Browns in our movement. There's a sense among vegans that taking turns kissing the ass of welfare reform (for years and years and years) and cashing in on a public that knows it needs change but also wants to continue using nonhuman animals, while promoting a rhetoric of hysterical confrontation to move poorly written books, blogs and Web sites is radical. It's anything but radical. Too many of the movement's figureheads live in the house (and not just in the house, but in plush offices of the house) and call it the field. But they shouldn't think that the grassroots of the movement haven't noticed.

I'm not angry, nor am I surprised. I'm not even disappointed because I never had any serious expectations on anyone except for myself and other abolitionists. But I hope someday many, if not all, of our movements 'leaders' and their devotees will figure these things out, stop stewing in their diapers and take up some real work. Solidarity work is not an academic exercise, a trip to the mall, an apologia, a t-shirt or a text-messaged death threat before you pop into KFC. It's hard work, good faith and sincerity guided by sound principles and discipline. It's a debt we pay to the living and the dead, and we'll spend the rest of our lives paying it.

As an activist, I may run either hot or cold depending on the mood in which you catch me, but I'll never be lukewarm. I believe that animals have a right not to be used as property, and I'm vegan because that's the minimum of what I owe them. I pay what I owe. I'm not afraid to say that I'm vegan. I suppose people play games when that's what they have to do, but the rest of us have work to do, change to make, history to form, nonhuman animals to save and a social transformation to nurture. We'll keep busy without you. I'm not about to shrink from a clear and sincere expression of my views or the work that my views entail. As a vegan and an animal rights advocate, violence is inimical to me, but so is complicity.

What will be sad for me is that at least some of my readers won't even know that this letter was written to them out of love. While others may have written you off your entire lives, I still believe in you. If I let you content yourselves with being less than the best that you can be for nonhuman animals without saying anything at all, I'd be selling you and them short.

Our activism could be more than pranks to pass the time or ways to grab attention for yourselves or for poseurs. I hope someday we'll all put away these childish things and that we can build something together. Until then, I have to keep my eye on the prize. I hope some of you will give sincere thought to what I've written and decide to focus on creative nonviolent vegan education as the basis for building the mass movement we'll need to make change for nonhuman animals. And if not, may peace still be upon you.

The world is vegan if you want it and you're willing to work for it. If you are not vegan yet, you can start by going today. Be a movement unto yourself. If you are vegan but not an abolitionist, you can lear more about the approach at

Jonathan who? What's all this fuss about Foer?

"I'm sorry for my inability to let unimportant things go, for my inability to hold on to the important things." --Jonathan Safran Foer
I read an interesting blog article over at My Face is On Fire about a recent interview with Jonathan Foer. I tried to listen to this interview. But in all honestly, and I am not saying this to be snarky, at all for a change, and I mean that seriously, but I find it really difficult to understand what Erik Marcus is saying with so much of the agribusiness industry's ass in his mouth. Honestly. I'm really not sure what to think of these 'animal advocates' who think that we can sabotage the boots of the oppressor with our tongues.

In the Twitterverse (a phrase I don't like but will use anyhow), I’ve been surprised by some of the jackbooted demands of movement figures that vegans should all gush over Jonathan Foer’s book (Eating Animals -- I can say already that I don't like the title). Criticism is sloughed off with ridiculously silly rhetorical claims or not responded to at all. It's a shame to see prominent advocates bully high school and college students who have thoughtful questions, but that's what goes these days.

But, back to Foer. I don’t have any personal feelings about Foer, haven't read his books, don’t know him, etc. Yes, I live in a cave. I just know that Foer doesn’t endorse veganism, and so, I don’t endorse Foer. Those who have defended Foer have argued a standard line: that he raises consciousness about factory farming. There are several problems to this view. First, if he raises consciousness and then tells people to do the wrong thing (continue eating and enslaving animals) that’s probably even worse than if he said nothing.

Certainly, Foer's not telling anyone anything particularly new insofar as he proposes that we can resolve our moral duties to nonhuman animals by continuing to use and kill them, just do so more 'gently'. For decades, the regulated use movement has promoted better treatment. It hasn't worked, which is why, desperately, some advocates are praising Foer's work as a potential break through. it won't be.

Second, insofar as the regulationist movement proposes ‘consciousness raising’ about how we treat animals to be critically important, this seems to be predicated on a sense that nonvegans don’t know that they are using animal products when they use animal products. Of course they do. They see the bodies of the dead, sanguine and dismembered, every time they go to the grocery store in the extensive meat section. They just don’t see the moral problem with animal use; neither does Jonathan Foer, and neither does most of the animal advocacy movement.

Furthermore, “they treated me like an animal!” is a melodramatic cliché in the English language entirely because the way we treat animals (horribly) is so well known and understood that it is a colloquialism. The Humane Society of the United States takes in hundreds of millions of dollars every year on the pretext of fighting cruelty to nonhuman animals. And if that weren't enough, the “humane” animal products movement is an industry that involves hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars every year and promoted actively and aggressively by agribusinesses and animal welfare businesses like HSUS and the RSPCA alike.

If violence towards animals is a secret, then it’s the worst-kept secret in human history.

Let’s pull the thumb of wishful thinking out of our mouths and accept some unpleasant realities, shall we? Let’s do it for animals. We claim to take them seriously, and if we do, let’s think about what’s good for them. Animal use is not a secret; that we treat many of the animals we use horribly is not a secret. There is no need to raise consciousness of those facts. People may not fully comprehend just exactly what it is that nonhuman animals suffer on factory farms, but lots of people watch Earthlings and other films and just keep right on using animals. And even if there were a need to raise consciousness about those facts, that doesn't mean we should endorse nonveganism in doing so. A trip to a slaughterhouse might also drive some people vegan, but it doesn't follow from this that vegans should endorse slaughterhouses. What is necessary is to educate people about the moral need to go vegan and why that is important.

So, for animals, Jonathan Foer’s book is not good news at all. Insofar as Foer advocates killing and eating animals, he’s not helping animals, he’s making their lives worse and continuing to affirm that they are our slaves. Those who promote Foer are not helping animals. Veganism is straightforward and simple, and if there is any consciousness that requires raising, it is about this fact.

Let’s start with a definition, the Vegan Association’s historical definition of veganism. Vegan lifestyles are: “ways of living that seek to exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” Not an especially complicated proposal, and there are hundreds and hundreds of plant-based alternatives for food, clothing and entertainment these days.

But many advocates who promote regulated animal use who call themselves “vegan” have a tremendous inability to determine what vegans should and shouldn’t do. In general, the regulationist movement is deeply confused. What do they want? Liberation or slavery? You cannot work to continue slavery by regulating use and to further emancipation simultaneously. What do we want? I can’t blame Foer entirely for his views, since most “vegans” are falling all over him to tell him how awesome he is. I can blame him even less considering just how deluded many regulationists are. Some examples:

The (in)Humane Society of the United States: half a billion dollars in revenues, not a penny on abolition (but about $20 million in 2008 on fundraising). Wayne Pacelle leads an organization that has drawn in approximately half a billion dollars in revenues since 2005 ostensibly to help nonhuman animals. Yet, Pacelle has agreed on Agritalk that it's not his or HSUS' intent to shut down the livestock industry, and that he's not in favor of the rights of animals. Pacelle further claims that “No one can reasonably claim that our work is moving in the direction of eliminating animal agriculture." Now there are accusations floating around about lying and deceit in HSUS fundraising appeals. The animals thank you for that, Wayne.

Peta has killed 17,000 adoptable nonhuman animals since 1998 according to Newsweek. Ingrid Newkirk has described euthanasia "as the kindest gift to a dog or cat unwanted and unloved.” Replace dog or cat with boy or girl and you’ll get a sense of just how deeply, deeply disturbing this kind of proposal is. Newkirk has also proposed eating road kill and eating whales. Promoting whale meat and road kill undoubtedly contributes to animal suffering and exploitation. This doesn’t include the sexism, racism and classism and speciesism of PeTA’s campaigns, many of which harm animal interests (human and non).

Erik Marcus, an enthusiastic support of the BK Vegggie. In 2004, Erik Marcus declared that he "had been an enthusiastic supporter of the BK Veggie since its launch in March of 2002," even though the product contained “dairy products.” Marcus seems to think that products with animal ingredients are vegan. I guess he's the kind of guy who never got hooked on phonics and never bothered to look up the word 'vegan' to see what it mean before using it. In fairness to Erik, he did eventually stop promoting the BK Veggie, but he still continues to praise and promote aggressive exploiters of nonhuman animals and their product offerings. Vegans do not use dairy products and promoting nonvegan products contributes to animal suffering and exploitation. Marcus has also recently praised Chipotle’s new veg*n menu item, saying “if you’re not excited, you must not have a pulse.” I’m not excited. I’m sickened on behalf of nonhuman animals by this kind of pathetic sycophancy.

Finally, Matt Ball and Jack Norris of “Vegan” Outreach don't seem to know that bees are animals. On VO's Web site, they ask: "So is honey vegan? Our best answer is ‘We don’t know.’” So, bees have brains. They have a memory. They live in remarkably complex social order. They're animals, and they're the particular animals who make honey (honey doesn't make itself). Hunh. A puzzler, eh! (Here’s a hint: bees are animals, honey is an animal product, vegans don't use animal products, and so, vegans don't use honey; it doesn’t depend on your definition of “vegan” it depends on knowing what the definition of "vegan" actually is). This doesn’t even include their active promotion of nonveganism, if it reduces suffering. Strange for a group that claims to focus on veganism to promote nonveganism, but that's the animal regulationist movement.

If we take the definition of veganism seriously, as avoiding what contributes to animal suffering and exploitation, what do their actions say about these “vegans”? So long as there is money on the table, opponents of the rights of nonhuman animals will delude themselves into whatever intellectually and morally anemic rationalization is required that allows them to profit by blathering just about anything about animal ethics. It's not clear that they care if what they say is truthful, accurate, thoughtful, or if it helps or harms other animals. I'm sure it's just dumb luck that these ravings coincide with a growing market of people who want to ease their consciences about animal use while continuing to use nonhuman animals.

So, I can’t blame Foer all that much when he doesn’t promote veganism (he should, though, and he should go vegan himself). So much of the animal advocacy movement is willing to throw veganism under the bus to advance their careers or because they’ve been taken in by some cultish nonsense. I’m glad to say that I’m vegan, and I’m opposed to the use of animals. Call me absolutist. Say I take an all or nothing approach. I feel the same way about pedophilia, pogroms, and lynching -- I'm against them all, no matter how 'gentle'. And I am uncompromisingly opposed to slavery (human and non), to anti-Semitism, to sexism, to heterosexism, to racism and to other forms of irrational and violent behaviour.

Thankfully, if you want to take animals seriously, it’s simple and straightforward: go vegan. If you’re not vegan yet, go vegan today. If you’re not an abolitionist, but are interested in the approach, you can read my other articles or visit

O MUNDO E VEGANO! Se você quiser. (Portuguese banners)

Banners in Portuguese. I want to thank Vera Cristofani for help with the translation.

El mundo es vegano! Si lo quieres (Spanish banners)

Banners in Spanish. I want to thank Pao Aldana for help with the translation.

The World Is Vegan! if you want it Banners

A few people have asked for HTML and what not to post these to their blogs. Codes follow the image. For Blogger and WordPress, you just want to add an HTML widget (vertical images for a sidebar widget or horizontal ones for a top or bottom banner widget). Select and copy the HTML code, create the widget and then past the code into the widget. But you should be able add these to any Web site or blog that allows you to add simple HTML to your pages.

Enjoy! It's unlikely that I'll be able to answer technical questions, but if I have time, I may.

Translated banners in other languages:

Czech | Dutch | French | German |Italian | Portuguese | Spanish

Dear University of Arizona: I'd like a PhD in Philosophy just like Jean Kazez, please

Dear University of Arizona,

I understand that you granted Dr. Jean Kazez a PhD in 1991. I realize that you cannot be responsible for what happens to your students after they graduate: whether they do well, or do ill, whether they improve or whether they lose intellectual ground the way a popped balloon loses air. University of Arizona, I'm not blaming you. I know it's tough to graduate students these days and ensure that they understand what it is that they profess. For all I know, University of Arizona, Dr. Kazez may have lashed out at you unprovoked the way she did at Gary Francione. If that's the case, you have my sympathies.

I just have trouble believing that Jean Kazez seems to have worsened so tremendously since graduation that she doesn't understand basic reasoning, doesn't understand the difference between the major moral frameworks and doesn't understand the difference between rhetorical posturing and substantive argument. I imagine it happens. Someone who seems to idolize slaughterhouse designers like Temple Grandin seems to me to be very misguided on a number of matters. But on the very off chance that you are just giving away PhDs in philosophy to anyone who asks, I would like one. I am not judging. I am not claiming you are, I am just saying that if you are, I would also like one, please.

Before you say no, please, let me make my case:

1a) It seems clear that Dr. Kazez' reasoning skills are as shaky as my buttocks would be if I were performing in a hip-hop video. First, it's not clear that she understands basic historical fallacies. I still do not know what Dr. Kazez' actual position is (analogies don't always tell us exactly what's being argued), but historical analogies are often fraught with opportunities for error.

For example, reasoning that because W did X in the past (the amelioration of the conditions of human slavery) that Y should do Z today because it seems analogically similar does not follow of necessity. It may follow. It may be good. It may be right. The point is, we have to form an argument to establish that. As I argued in a previous post, for example, it does not follow that because W did X 150 years ago to solve one type of social justice problem then Y should do Z 150 years later to solve another, potentially very different social justice problem. In short, whether or not anyone attempted to ameliorate the awful conditions of human slavery in nineteenth century American South, it does not, of necessity, follow that campaigns to regulate animal use that continue nonhuman animal slavery are a good, useful or right thing to do today.

The reasoning here would be problematic on multiple levels. It does not follow that what W did resulted in X. It does not follow that, even if what W did did result in X, that W was doing something that yielded positive consequences at the time. Nor does it follow that if the consequences were positive, that W was doing something right. It does not even follow that if W and Y are in the same social justice movement (e.g., class struggle) that the what was justifiable 150 years ago makes much sense today. All of these claims needs to be established with a substantive argument, not just rhetorical questions and pseudo-historical analyses that we pull from out of our asses.

For example, let's say I claim Frederick Douglass gave a simply amazing speech and then the Civil War happened. It would not follow that, if I gave an amazing speech today, it would result in a new Civil War. That is, historically contiguous events do not necessary have a causal nature. Further, it would not necessarily follow that it was right for Frederick Douglass to have given that speech. It would also not necessarily follow that it achieved positive consequences, and so on. But even if it were right for him to do so at the time, it would not necessarily follow analogically that I would be right to do the same today. The work of history is in elaborating these arguments in a way that is reasonably sound and well-evidenced. The work of moral, political and sociological theory is to guide us today in light of what happened historically -- if history provides us with meaningful guidance.

In short, there are multiple opportunities for misguided thinking when we attempt to string any (let alone all) of these kinds of assumptions together in a single analogy. When we mobilize historical analogies, it should be to clarify a rational argument, not draw a sloppy and misguided comparison that occludes the need for justification. Now, let's go back and assume that Douglass didn't really give the speech that I claimed he did, and yet I continue to insist my argument follows analogically. It is only a statement of the obvious to say that my argument would be unfounded.

This kind of argumentation would reflect a deeply misguided understanding of history in general, a lack of knowledge with regard to the specifics of the history of slavery in the Southern United States, as well as how to reason with respect to both. Francione's work, in contrast, relies on contemporary historical data, sound moral theory, a sound understanding of political economy and sociology, as well as analogies to make his claims. Although I am no expert, this seems to be a good way to form moral judgements to me.

1b) Related: analogical reasoning is one of the weaker types of argumentation. Most of Dr. Kazez' argument to defend amelioration (improving the conditions of slaves in the short run) seems predicated on an analogy (which has already seems to be poorly reasoned and historically inaccurate). Leaving aside the specific problems with how Dr. Kazez may be reasoning with respect to this analogy, surely the University of Arizona only graduates students who know that there are a plethora of other ways to argue outside of analogy?

I wonder how someone completes a PhD in philosophy only to turn around and make an argument about the life, death and well-being of another sentient person and pin it on what looks to be flawed reasoning about a flawed and historically problematic analogy. I suppose it is what it is, but it is still disappointing. To be clear, I'm not claiming that Dr. Kazez can't reason. I don't know for sure one way or another based on the evidence so far. It would be a bad inference to assume that Dr. Kazez can't reason just because she's not reasoning well in this case (like, if I may be permitted an apt analogy, assuming that all swans are black because all of the swans I've seen so far are black). But if she can reason effectively, I wonder why she doesn't seem to be trying very hard.

2a) It's not clear that Dr. Kazez takes philsophy very seriously.

In her blog, she writes:
A fairly offhand remark I made about Gary Francione in the comments to my last post apparently caused offense, so I need to expand, explain, etc, especially because Gary tells me he plans on using me as a poster child for the “welfarist” (i.e. utilitarian) stance in a planned podcast. My forthcoming book is actually steadfastly non-utilitarian, so this doesn’t make much sense.
First, what Dr. Kazez should do is just apologize and reread Francione's work. That's pretty simple. She got Francione's position wrong. She got "reasoning" wrong. She got the history of the slave trade wrong. Then she got "philosophy" wrong. She lashed out at Francione (by her own admission) because another commenter, in an effort to be helpful, posted some comments to her blog, citing Francione to source his argument. In that sense, she got her duties as a professional wrong and typical human etiquette wrong. But spinning it as an off-hand remark gets things even more wrong, in the same way that suggesting Glenn Beck's accusation that Obama hates white people were just off-hand remarks would get a great deal wrong.

In good faith, though, let's take that claim seriously, that this remark was, indeed, off-hand. The reasonable implication to this kind of statement is that she considers her professional responsibility not to misrepresent the positions of other thinkers to be relatively unimportant, her basic human responsibility not to lash out at others unprovoked to be relatively unimportant, animal slavery to be relatively unimportant and even the ideas she herself expresses to be relatively unimportant. All of this is a shame, of course, but I think Dr. Kazez may be onto something with the last point.

The confusion here is reality TV-esque. I am not making light of anyone's emotional and intellectual fragility when I say that, given the amount of plagiarism and groupthink in the animal welfare advocacy community, I think it was only responsible for another advocate to cite Francione if he was discussing Francione's ideas. I don't know why that would be a source of Internet rage. But turning back to point, it seems very unclear from her statement whether Dr. Kazez understands Francione's argument with respect to new welfarism or she doesn't understand utilitarianism or she doesn't understand both. She does claim to teach Francione's work, but that doesn't make me feel any better because:

2b) It's also not clear that she understands the differences between moral frameworks (and it's still not clear whether she understands what "wants" means). David Tong touches on this a bit in his piece here and I want to expand on what he has written:

Why is Dr. Kazez's misunderstanding of the relationship between welfare and utilitarian positions problematic? First, anyone can take a new welfare position without being a utilitarian. In fact, many new welfarists claim to be in favor of the rights of animals but working on addressing their well-being in the short term. Some welfarists also take the position that it is fine to continue using nonhuman animals (and violating their rights) because nonhuman animals do not have an interest in continuing their lives, and so, do not have a moral right to have that interest protected. Both positions are possible without taking a utilitarian view. In some sense, insofar as new welfarists claim to take animal rights seriously, it's likely that they're taking a position at least partly informed by deontology (or at least rule utility, even if they are confused about what actions the rights of others call us to take).

Further, utility is just one consequentialist position within a broader continuum of positions, and even within utility there are multiple strands that propose that we should form moral judgements using different formulas -- as I understand it; I am the first to admit that I am not a philosopher. But the idea that new welfarism is somehow synonymous with utilitarianism reflects a lack of understanding around these words and the ideas they reflect.

To be a new welfarist who takes animal well-being seriously because of a utilitarian view may be a common position, but it is not required that anyone take all three positions together. To lump these positions together as mutually required involves a kind of reasoning that is also problematic. It is like reasoning backwards to the conclusion that, if I want to make voters happy by lowering taxes, I must be a Republican. Of course, there are probably plenty of Republicans who would agree that lowering taxes and making voters happy are good and related. But it does not follow from this that I have to be a Republican to "want" to lower taxes, or that I have to "want" to make voters happy, or that I necessarily want to either lower taxes or make voters happy if I identify as a Republican. And so on.

In short, it is a mistake to conflate positions that, although they may be commonly related in practice, are not mutually required. Being a utilitarian and a new welfarist are not synonymous. I can understand why the polysyllabic richesse involved might confuse someone, but taking our time to sort through ideas helps. In general, I have no doubt that many new welfarists (who argue that we are simultaneously working toward abolition animal use while we work toward regulating animal use) are confused about what they owe nonhuman animals. What troubles me, though, is that I am not sure whether Dr. Kazez understands the basics of philosophy, the basics of Francione's position, or how these ideas are related.

Again, I am not claiming in absolute terms that Dr. Kazez has managed to go through several years of graduate study and almost two decades of post-graduate professional life without understanding even basic philosophical terminology and how to use it. I just wonder why she seems intent on keeping her knowledge of the basics entirely to herself and, seemingly, intentionally misrepresenting these ideas on which she professes to have some authority.

3a) Dr. Kazez seems to prefer silly rhetorical questions and polemics to substantive discussion. Francione's offered to have her on his podcast a couple of times now. She's dismissed my plea for her to take animals seriously and go vegan (that makes me sad). I think it's a shame when someone is willing to go to all the effort to write a book about animal ethics but can't be troubled to read a few labels, make a few basic changes to eating habits, buy some new clothes as expense allows, change some household items, etc. Going vegan, typically, is trivially easy for most people.

I also think it reflects a kind of bad faith when we're reluctant to engage others in a serious dialogue about their ideas and instead rely on rhetorical grandstanding and summary dismissals. She has so far refused to apologize to Francione for a ridiculous misrepresentation of his position. Personally, I think that evinces a serious lack of professionalism on her part, but I guess I'm old-fashioned about these things. More worrisome, I imagine that she'd refuse to give the students she has "taught" over the years their money back (she should really consider it). Most worrisome, she is not giving other animals what she owes them, and that's veganism and the abolition of their slavery.

I'm sorry that Dr. Kazez found my encouraging her to take nonhuman animals seriously and to go vegan offensive. I wasn't denigrating her or her vegetarianism, although as a matter of reality, vegetarianism involves animal use and harm. In fact, I was assuming in good faith that she was a relatively decent and moral personal capable of understanding the arguments when they were presented to her. I'm sorry she misunderstood the gesture, even if I find it strange and troubling when people take offense at good faith. Nevertheless, I still don't have any personal ill will for her, even if she's insistent on proving that I mistook her and her capabilities.

3b) But, and here I pause theatrically to add some studious emphasis to what I am about to write, it does not follow from this that she should not go vegan. Again, we're still just talking about basic reasoning here. If I were doing something racist (or sexist, or heterosexist, or speciesist, etc.), if someone took the time to help correct me, I wouldn't be off the hook because I was offended by the correction. This goes back to the difference between explaining behaviour and justifying it. We cannot excuse ourselves from doing what is right just because anyone's attempts to correct us offends us.

Children use this type of reasoning a lot, but in an adult, it's surprising. So and so was doing X to me and so I shouldn't have to do Y or should be allowed to do Z! Yes, it's troubling behaviour, but everyone loses his, her or zir temper every once in a while. Even academics (loose use of the term here) are people. What's more troubling, though, is the basic misunderstanding of moral reasoning that this kind of insistent claim reflects in someone with a PhD in philosophy.

So, I still think Dr. Kazez should go vegan and should apologize to Gary Francione. Of course, it is entirely her prerogative, but I think both would be the right thing to do. I also think Dr. Kazez should take her academic responsibilities more seriously and that she should brush up on her basic knowledge of history, sociology and reasoning skills. It's never too late! But if she can only go vegan, that's really the most important thing for her to do.

That's not just true for Dr. Kazez; it's true for everyone. If you are not yet vegan, you should go vegan today. If you want to learn more about abolition, read my previous articles or learn more about the approach at And University of Arizona, please let me know if I should be expecting my diploma soon!

Erik Marcus: Bullying others is sexy! No, not really

The number of regulationists using social media to engage in silly personal attacks seems never-ending the last few weeks. Now, Erik Marcus joins in. On Twitter, he writes:
"Bashing activists and groups behind protected tweets is completely cowardly. @garylfrancione"
I have to say though, I think it's really cool when someone uses the Internet to reinforce silly masculinist stereotypes about bravado with tough-guy posturing. No, I'm only joking (seriously). I think this kind of show-boating and preening for the camera makes someone look like a passive-aggressive buffoon (no offense to buffoons), and I find that kind of bravado to be really unnecessary and unhelpful. Seriously, why not just challenge Francione to a professional wrestling match?

With Twitter, there's no need to add the @ part of the response to the end of the statement. Normally, when replying, the @ comes at the beginning. This is a common social media technique to make sure that everyone on your follower list sees the statement. In this case, it would have ensured that everyone following Erik will see him attack Francione publicly and personally.
To be clear, I am not saying Erik is a buffoon, but I am saying this kind of act doesn't help anyone or anything (except for Erik's hurt feelings, I guess).

What's wrong with this kind of behaviour? First, it's disingenuous. Anyone can request to follow Francione (and anyone else on Twitter for that matter). Since I used the "secretly guarded magic" of following Francione, because I wanted to learn his "deep and highly secret thoughts", I can say that Francione was not bashing activists and groups. Having read Francione's tweets (along with the 800+ other people who follow Francione), the tweets were mostly innocuous, with some criticism, and a little infrequent ribbing here and there. I know people often take offense when someone makes a funny at their expense, but really, let's all grow up a little (no offense to actual children). There's a lot more at stake in animal slavery that the vanity of activists.

I know it hurts my feelings when people disagree with me, but critical disagreement and bashing are not the same thing. Attempts to bully other advocates into silence, whether it's by bravado, or rhetorical questions meant to silence with shame, or simply acting crazy is not helpful to nonhuman animals who rely on us to act like professional advocates. That means behaving like adults, and sometimes that means taking criticism and an even the occasional witticism.

Does this kind of behaviour help nonhuman animals in any way or does it make Erik Marcus feel better? Now, don't get me wrong. I think it's awesome that Erik managed to get his tongue out of KFC, BK and Chipotle's asses long enough to find his voice and say something directly. And I'm not saying he is not entitled to his feelings. When we're criticized, it's only normal to be miffed. But I think it is important, as an advocate, to show some moral character and restraint rather than just lashing out at people with this kind of machismo. It makes the lasher look foolish (and by extension, the movement look foolish). Instead, we should at least try to sincerely engage people. When someone offends me, I start by just asking for an apology and try to pursue whatever dialogue comes from that.

I know a lot of you will probably think, well, this is just the nature of our community. There's some truth here, and I am not trying to single Erik out for irrational and problematic behaviour towards other advocates. If I addressed everyone who behaves badly in our community as an individual, I'd be here all day, everyday. But when someone who has appointed himself to a leadership position in our community behaves this way, it's very problematic.

Why is this kind of bravado wrong? Well, it creates an atmosphere in which bullying other advocates is the way to address disagreement. It also reinforces (intentionally or not), heteronormative and sexist stereotypes of masculine bravado. It relies on a coded language to imply that Francione is somehow less manly because he's not willing to subject himself to the vicissitudes of everyone who wants to accuse and abuse him on Twitter. With this kind of tantrum, who can blame him?

But so long as we put up with this kind of behaviour, we'll have to put up with this kind of behaviour.

If someone doesn't like personal attacks, if someone doesn't feel they raise the level of discussion in our community, it raises a serious question about the beliefs they claim when they engage in behaviour that is the direct opposite of what they claim they value. That is, if someone really doesn't like personal attacks, then they really shouldn't engage in them. Regulationist advocates wilfully ignore things like reality, evidence and how regulation and an indirect approach leaves nonhuman animals in slavery all the time. But I guess when someone waters their inner child, parched and destitute, by showing them a little bit of attention, it's hard to pass up some retaliation.

Honestly, I think Erik is pretty confused about his beliefs in general. He claims to be vegan and yet actively promotes nonvegan food and businesses. He recently nearly whizzed himself (metaphorically speaking) in order to publicly praise a veg*n menu offering from Chipotle's, writing that “If you're not excited, you might not have a pulse.” In fact, of the BK Veggie, he said in 2002: "The Burger King Veggie Burger represents an unprecedented opportunity in the vegetarian movement's history but if the burger flops, it might set the growth of the movement back ten years." Yeah, not a hint of hyperbole there.

Further, in 2004, when BK added some egg white to the patty, he wrote: "Until now, if ordered without mayonnaise, the BK Veggie was essentially a vegan product. Although the bun contains a speck of dairy products..." Vegans don't eat dairy, Erik. But then, he keeps going, "But the inclusion of egg whites as a key ingredient in the patty has forced me to withdraw my support from the BK Veggie." So, dairy, in a completely unnecessary and trivial to avoid product, is fine for vegans, but egg whites, in a completely unnecessary and trivial to avoid product, is not? That's not confusing at all. It misrepresents veganism, which, by definition, involves not contributing to animal suffering and exploitation when it's possible and practical to do so.

Some advocates respond to criticisms of this kind of willy-nilly nonveganism with "it's not about personal purity!", but eating animal products and contributing to animal exploiters is hardly a matter of personal purity. First, animals have a right not to be used. When we fall all over ourselves to use them unnecessarily, we're doing something wrong. Second, it provides a poor role model for virtuous behaviour when advocates cheat (sorry, Tiger Woods) and it's even worse when advocates actively promote cheating. Finally, where do they think the money goes? It goes to a business whose entire lifeblood is predicated on exploiting more nonhuman animals.

But yeah, about the idea that it might set the movement back a decade if a vegetarian product from BK were to fail: 1) the BK Veggie did flop, 2) it didn't set the movement back ten years and 3) insofar as it drew people into subsidizing the marketing department of one of the world's most prominent exploiters of nonhuman animals, it subsidized a gross amount of animal use (and the attending suffering that stems from use). Nice work.

When I die, I'm going to donate my savings to a library for animal advocates populated with books on basic logic, basic sociology and basic political economy. Whether telling people that a nonvegan product is vegan, and encouraging them to rush out to subsidize a business whose sole purpose is to exploit no human animals for profit is the kind of thing that sets the movement back is an exercise I'll leave to the reader (hint: if it doesn't set the movement back, it's a very lucky accident and testimony that people have the good sense not to take Erik Marcus very seriously).

As a general matter, Erik also defends an 'indirect' approach that involves taking pains to not directly educate people about veganism or the moral necessity of abolition. While I do not favor being confrontational generally, that's not the same thing as a refusal to educate people directly. What's surprising and disappointing is that when someone let's him know that another advocate has disagreed with him somewhere on the Internet, he's all over it directly getting in there and directly personally attacking.

I don't know what this says about Erik's priorities. I only wish he showed the same SIMMERING PASSION (albeit, restrained, principled and rationally guided) for the justice we owe nonhuman animals.

In closing, it may seem like a certain propensity for tantrums and misguidedness is required to be vegan, but I can assure you all that that's not the case. It doesn't matter how larger your virtual biceps are, and it doesn't require a lot of heavy breathing and pouting when someone disagrees. It only requires you to take the rights of nonhuman animals seriously and act accordingly (and that means not using them, and that means going and staying vegan and promoting the abolition of their slavery). If you are not vegan, you should go vegan today. If you are already vegan, but want to learn more about the abolitionist approach, you can do so from my other articles or visit Gary Francione's Web site:

Regulating slavery: why the regulationist approach is morally and intellectually backwards even if personal adoption is the right thing to do

It is an ad hominem that is one part common and one part simple-minded to suggest that abolitionists want to leave nonhuman animals in the worst possible conditions in order to make their case. I have read it several times over the years in various, equally boring and misguided expressions. But it is often the way of those who cannot address arguments correctly and substantively to engage in misrepresentations and 'faux' analyses predicated on creative semantics and concocted straw. One thing about straw, though, it almost always involves a fair amount of shit, even if the percentage varies. The most obvious example of why this claim is ridiculous lies in the promotion of abolition itself; and second, in the promotion of personal adoption by many abolitionists.

In short, though, because we may be able to improve successfully the well-being of individual animals privately with adoption, it does not follow from this that we should waste time and effort trying to improve the well-being of nonhuman animals with campaigns that are 1) unlikely to succeed, 2) if they do succeed, are unlikely to ever come into effect, 3) if they do come into effect, will be skirted, 4) if they are not skirted, would still not result in promoting veganism or abolition and instead may confuse people about the moral necessity of both, and 5) still would not help nonhuman animals in serious ways. For example, let's say a campaign proposes an extra quarter inch of cage space. It may not pass, it may never come into effect, it may be skirted, and even if all of that does not come to pass, all it yields is an extra quarter inch of cage space and may further confuse people about the moral need to go vegan and to stop using animals. Anyone who would consider that campaign meaningful to the well-being of a nonhuman animal doesn't know much about nonhuman animals.

Similarly, to hide Anne Frank from the Nazis in a cupboard makes sense. To engage in a campaign to compel the Nazis to pack fewer people into each cattle car to Auschwitz or to add a little violin music for the ride would be a very, very deeply misguided use of time; anyone who would claim that the latter is a seriously expression of human rights activism would seriously fail to comprehend what is at stake.

Of course, there are many good reasons for abolitionist advocates not to propose, not to endorse, and not to devote time and resources to campaigns that propose to regulate the use of nonhuman animals rather than abolishing that use.
Analogically, these campaigns are the moral equivalent to asking rapists to wear condoms and murderer’s to use a sharper knife since these may reduce the gross amount of suffering rape and murder cause. In that sense, they are deeply morally problematic. Moreover, even a basic understanding of political economy helps us to determine that these campaign would never achieve much for nonhuman animals. They would still remain in slavery. As Francione argues in Rain Without Thunder and elsewhere, many reforms improve efficiencies (and therefore, profits) of agribusiness and helps the industry continue. Moreover, because a regulation may harm a smaller producer, it does not follow that this will harm the industry or that, indeed, it would not help a larger producer, and so on. Regardless, it does not follow from any of this that advocates should not adopt or should not promote personal adoption as a way to improve the well-being of nonhuman animals in the here and now.

An abolitionist refuses campaigns to regulate animal use for the same reason that feminists refuse campaigns that propose to regulate gang rape by encouraging rapists to wear condoms: because it is morally wrong, intellectually wrong and a waste of resources. It would not follow from this that feminists are in favor of gang rape or that they would want it continue in order to make their case. To suggest as much would be misguided -- indeed, suggestive of a moral and intellectual ineptitude that borders on clownish (no offense to actual clowns). Moreover, the painful emotional appeals dotted by melodramatic rhetorical questions (often pleas for attention) that tend to saturate these kinds of claims only evince the naiveté, the ignorance, and as a general matter, the thoughtless of the questioner. These reflect a rhetorical flourish that veils thinly an attempt to shut down critical discourse through shaming.

Sadly, the regulationist movement hierarchy is populated by bobble-headed mouthpieces who have decided to cash in the slavery of nonhuman animals long enough to shout and bluster that abolitionists are doing something wrong by doing what is best for nonhuman animals. The sycophants of the movement have created a winning business model; it combines the ingratiation of their own sadly deformed emotional needs, by turns confused, angry, oafish, and abusive towards other advocates with confusing a nonvegan public with its mutually exclusive hopes both to do right and to keep eating nonhuman animals products.

Of course, that’s entirely shameful, but still, it is not often clear why abolitionists support one type of activity related to the well-being of a nonhuman animal (personal adoption) and another type of activity, nominally related to the well-being of a nonhuman animal (welfare reform). This article will clarify some of this issues. Let’s address the rather pathetically anaemic complaint that abolitionists want animals to remain in poor conditions. That this is contrafactual is evidenced in a number of ways.

First, to promote abolition, rather than regulation, proposes to end outright the conditions in which animals are held as slaves. Whether they are tortured, or humanely murdered does not matter to the abolitionist insofar as abolitionists believe that animal use is wrong as a moral matter regardless of the treatment involved. Instead, welfare advocacy focuses almost entirely on saying: “we should change these horrible conditions!” without addressing the root of that condition in substantive ways (through abolitionist vegan outreach). It seems only reasonable to suggest that someone who wants to alleviate the suffering of animals but does not advocate and work toward an immediate end to their slavery (as the root of that suffering) is either very misguided, is selling something, or both.

Second, were this not the case, any abolitionist who promotes the personal adoption of nonhuman animals obviously concerns him or herself with the well-being of at least the animals they personally adopt or the animals whose adoption they promote. Regulationist advocacy, in contrast, often expresses itself ambivalently toward animal adoption, with some groups promoting it as a part of their fundraising, some groups (like PeTA) collecting and killing animals (17,000 since 1998 according to Newsweek), and some groups simply shrugging it off as an activity that is not worthwhile. The motivations for these positions varies, but certainly, no proper abolitionist is ambivalent about the morally pressing need for personal animal adoption.

But what makes personal adoption helpful and working on welfare unhelpful from an abolitionist standpoint? Sometimes, confused advocates do not understand why abolitionists promote personal adoption but not regulated animal use when both claim to improve the well-being of animals. It is not because abolitionists are opposed to well-being. It’s because, as Francione argues, promoting the regulated use of nonhuman animals is, at best, a zero sum game. This is not the case with personal adoption for several reasons.

First, addressing the well-being of a nonhuman animal through personal adoption is not as constrained by their property status as legal reforms are. I can adopt an individual nonhuman animal and treat him or her as a person in my home, and foster his or her well-being accordingly. Regulationist advocacy typically proposes nothing serious to help nonhuman animals, is constrained by the legal property status of nonhuman animals. Regulationist reforms often amount to fussing with the wallpaper rather than to addressing the walls of animal slavery.

Second, adopting nonhuman animals is very unlikely to confuse anyone about whether or not adoption affirms the view that animals are our property, any more than pushing a 2 year old child out of the way of an oncoming car is likely to suggest that pushing 2 year old children as a general matter is morally acceptable. Space aliens perhaps could not figure out the difference, but most people understand that adoption is an act taken with the intent of benefiting the well-being of the adoptee. Moreover, even if this were not the case, we may still have a duty to individual animals, and we should put what we owe others ahead of what others may imagine in response; there is no similar moral duty to promote animal use as morally acceptable the way that regulationist campaigns do.

Third, personal adoption does not incipiently pose the nonhuman animals adopted as instruments for human use the way regulationist campaigning often does. Regulationist campaigns frequently promote welfare measures as harmful to agribusiness. This suggests strongly that nonhuman animals are merely economic units whose well-being can be turned into an economic expense for agribusinesses. It is often unclear whether regulationists would prefer to hurt agribusinesses more or help nonhuman animals more. Regardless, this kind of authoritarian and self-serving calculation often reflects serious confusion about what we other other animals. Suffice it to say, abolitionists do not promote personal adoption out of a sense of ‘movement gain’ the way that many regulationist advocacy groups promote legal reforms. If we take nonhuman animals seriously, then obviously, we should not regard them as our instruments in any regard, even as props for our political theater to help us move the movement forward.

Finally, personal adoption is often the right thing to do for an individual animal should we wish to act in a way that is most in accord with their rights. To be clear, adoption is not an absolute moral requirement to be an abolitionist or even to be vegan. But it does not follow from this that abolitionists and vegans should not adopt nonhuman animals.

As an abolitionist vegan, for example, I consider many of my decisions from a comprehensive moral standpoint. I use all the tools at my disposal to make the best decision. For example, I do not use nonhuman animals for food, clothing and entertainment because they have the moral right not to be used. But I also do my best not to harm spiders accidentally because I believe it is virtuous to act beyond the moral baseline that the rights of others calls me to observed, if the opportunity for them to do so is there to do so. Finally, I avoid contributing financially to agribusinesses with my purchasing power to avoid the consequence of enriching these businesses and to avoid leaving others with the impression that we can buy our way to social transformation.

Of course, it is important to understand that our duty to respect the rights of nonhuman animals is what is most important.
Nevertheless, when we consider what it is to do what is good for an individual animal (human and non), it is unwise to confuse the moral baseline with all of what we might do, just as it reflects a kind of moral and intellectual sickliness to propose that we can marry our interests with those we choose to exploit through the act of exploitation. Still, what we owe another rights-holder is certainly the most important point, and the point that should guide our thinking primarily, but it is a moral baseline.

As advocates for other animals, it is best to ensure that how we organize our political work for nonhuman animals as an aggregate of rights-holders, complements our political work for nonhuman animals as individual rights-holders. The maximal way to take the rights of individual animals seriously and the rights of animals as an aggregate of individuals seriously is with vegan outreach, abolitionist education and personal adoption. In contrast, regulationist advocacy achieves nothing substantive for nonhuman animals either as an aggregate or as individuals, even if it may temporarily medicate the self-esteem of advocates.

So long as nonhuman animals are property, even the well-being of individual companions are under threat; pit bull bans being the most obvious example. And so, abolitionists promote legal and moral personhood and an end to property status even for companion animals who may already be well-cared for. It would be a bad inference, ignorance or simple misrepresentation to suggest that it is the abolitionist position that we wish to leave nonhuman animals in any kind of slavery or that it is necessary to our position.

To learn more about why those who advocate abolition rather than regulation, and why regulation is completely inimical to abolition, these articles may also be helpful.

The problem with happy meat:

Why welfare reform is not a viable approach if we take animal well-being seriously:

Why vegetarianism is morally problematic:

There are, of course, some moral complexities to personal adoption, but because there are rational questions, it does not follow that there are no rational answers. If we wish take nonhuman animals seriously, as Francione argues, the most important thing any of us can do is go vegan. If you are not vegan today, you should go vegan today. If you want to learn more about abolition, visit to learn more about the approach.

Kim Jong Il, Tiger Woods, Glenn Beck, and Jean Kazez: anger and interpretations, oh my!

It's troubling to read bits like the following from another 'animal advocate', 'academic' and 'moral person':
"I probably lashed out at you a bit just out of annoyance with your follower Alex Chernavsky. It was annoying to me to have him trash my NYT letter and immediately follow up with yet another of his links to your website (which I am tired of). I probably should have aimed my ire exclusively at him."
From what I understand, this is a comment from an email that Dr. Kazez sent Mr. Gary Francione recently. Francione did not send this to me. It's semi-publicly available. I don't know much about the situation except what is publicly available. I am not sure whether or not I qualify as a follower of Francione or not. I agree with many of his positions. I agree also with many of Marx' positions. I am not sure whether or not I would describe myself as a follower of Marx, although I do consider myself a Marxist.

if I were being ungenerous, my interpretation of this snippet would be: "'Yes, I was absusive to you, and I probably owe you an apology, but that would be difficult to give because I would lose face. It wasn't my fault, though; that Chernavsky guy made me do it. He criticized my article and I didn't have a reply. I'm tired of being corrected. I SHOULD HAVE PROBABLY JUST BEEN ABUSIVE TO CHERNAVSKY INSTEAD.'

Interpretations. I should say, I don't know Francione or Chernavsky personally. I have read Francione's books and have participated in some public discussion with him here and there over the years (some of which has been agreement, some of which has involved debate). I met him once in Philadelphia at a semi-public event, and I have to say, he was amiable and positive. Since I didn't know he would be attending, I didn't bring my copy of Rain Without Thunder, though, and I couldn't get it signed, and it made me very sad. It's a very well-reasoned, well-argued and well-evidenced book, and that's an increasing rarity in academic life.

All that considered, of course, none of this is especially relevant. It is every blogger's prerogative whether or not to encourage comments by providing the capability through his or her blog, as well as whether or not to publish any given comment. I am not saying that Dr. Kazez, in allowing her anger to get the better of her, was being abusive. I would point out, however, that this is the kind of explanation that abusive men offer for battering their spouses. That is, there is a difference between an explanation of behavior and a justification for behavior. Having read Chernavsky's comment, I can say it was fairly innocuous by any reasonable standard. Even if it weren't, I am not sure that any lashing was justified.

Further, I think that when we interpret the work of others, we can do so in good faith (seeing/hearing what we think is honestly meant) or in bad faith (seeing/hearing what we are inclined to). Either way, there is a serious difference between just giving an explanation of bad behaviour and providing serious justification for it. Further, the solution proposed, I would assume seriously, is to direct ire at other advocates for disagreeing. That's still fairly morally and intellectually problematic.

Of course, with some work and good faith, it's not impossible to reimagine a statement like "[Francione] wants to keep animals in the worst possible condition" as a failed attempt to articulate an interpretation as an interpretation. But from this, it doesn't follow that as an nterpretation, a statement is, by magic, intellectually correct or morally defensible (that pesky logic again). In this case, Dr. Kazez' 'interpretation' is neither. Again, I am not a philosopher, but I've always understood "he wants" to be a statement about what someone wants. But let's give Dr. Kazez the benefit of the doubt and see if there is some wiggle in the word "wants".'s definition of wants: feel a need or a desire for; wish for: to want one's dinner; always wanting something new. wish, need, crave, demand, or desire (often fol. by an infinitive): I want to see you. She wants to be notified. be without or be deficient in: to want judgment; to want knowledge.

There are actually 10 definitions offered, and anyone who wishes to edify him, her or zirself may look it up. They are all inapplicable to Francione, a man who has dedicated much of his life and work to promoting the rights and well-being of animals (human and non). At the risk of repeating myself:
First, Francione's argument is not predicated on leaving any animals in any condition. Abolition is predicated on the view that nonhuman animals have the right not to be used as property -- period. If every chicken were kept in a guilded chicken coop out back and forced to produce eggs, it would still be wrong based on Francione's views. No one needs to take my word for it:
The problem with happy meat:

Why welfare reform is not a viable approach if we take animal well-being seriously:
I'll add another piece by Francione on vegetarianism.

To be clear, I am not saying that we should always consider a dictionary to be an absolute authority on the use of a given word in every possible context. I am saying that there is no other way to understand the use of the term "wants" in the context in which Dr. Kazez has used it except to describe what Francione personally, supposedly wants, feels is lacking, has desires for, needs, and so on. I addressed this is as a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of his work in my previous entry.

But it's this particular choice of phrase, 'he wants', that draws Dr. Kazez into making a demonstrably false (and rather silly) statement about both Francione personally and his position professionally. First, advocates should be careful of these kinds of statements. Second, this leaves the reader with two ways to read what Dr. Kazez has written: either she doesn't understand what "wants" means (easily forgivable) or that she was actively trying to misrepresent Francione's position, because she was lashing out, because she was angry that someone disagreed with her and he cited his source in doing so. Still forgivable, but neither's good.

I am not piddling over word choice here. Dr. Kazez is a doctor of philosophy, and so, I would assume she often responds to her colleagues professionally but critically. If Dr. Kazez had written "His position suggests, or the consequences of his position are, or....", certainly, that would be an analysis/interpretation of Francione's position. She would still be wrong about Francione's position, and we would still have the task of correcting her misconceptions. But that's not what she wrote. What she wrote was: "he wants," and that's what makes this kind of tthing so strangely reminiscient of the whole Glenn Beck thing in which Beck described Obama on one hand as "a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" only to turn around and say: "I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem."

'Francione wants X', but wants does not mean wants, it means something else, and it is just 'my interpretation' and all interpretations are equally good and sound, and that makes lashing out at another advocate and misrepresenting their views when they disagree justifiable.


To be clear, I am not saying that this is Dr. Kazez' position. I would say however, that anyone who would take this position is very deeply confused in a number of ways. I am, of course, also not saying that Dr. Kazez is a political pundit out to market herself by making controversial statements, who, in an interview, made some very unfortunate, illogical and untrue remarks. But I am wondering what meaningful difference it makes to insist that a statement was not an attribution but rather an interpretation, if the statement is intellectually and morally problematic one to make -- or whether lashing out at a colleague in this way is justifiable -- or whether it is helpful to blame others when we ourselves behave badly. This all seems misguided to me.

While Dr. Kazez's statement sounds like an admission that she misrepresented Francione's position, and that she did so out of anger with someone else, let's imagine (contractually according to what she has written) that it was just a sincere attempt to address Francione's position. Let's assume (contrafactually according to what she has written) that she was not "lashing out." Let's assume that his was motivated by a sincere ideological disagreement and that there were no personal issues involved. The news for philosophy students at SMU (and animals living in slavery) is still very bad.

Both possible understandings of 'he wants' make it seem unlikely that she has read Francione's work, yet feels fine commenting on both it and on him, echoing one of the most unoriginal and insubstantial ad hominems floating around against abolitionists: that we want animals to remain in the worst possible conditions, and so, the abolitionist critique of welfare advocacy as counterproductive is unfounded. Further, it suggests that rather than respond substantively to the disagreements of others, she may instead lash out. It would be a bad inference to assume that she lashes out at everyone equally, but it still raises questions about why she lashed out at Francione for someone else's comment, or why she felt the need to lash out in general over a difference of views.

Finally, the latter option (that she was just interpreting) makes it seems not only unlikely that Dr. Kazez has read Francione's work, but that she reasons so poorly and understands her professional obligations as a member of the academy so vaguely that her understanding of "analyses" includes personal attacks that verge on defamations. And not against just anyone. Against an advocate who has given 25+ years of his life to help lift the wretched of the earth, to borrow a turn of phrase from Fanon, up out of their slavery. If Dr. Kazez is 'an ally' of those who take animal slavery serious (and of animals themselves) as she claims in her letter to the Times, perhaps these kinds of statements are not helpful.

More important, though, insofar as welfare advocacy regulates the property status of nonhuman animals, it continues their slavery. There is no value for nonhuman animals to have a sonata on the way to the slaughterhouse or an extra quarter inch of space -- and that's if a reform is commercially viable to industry and palatable to the public enough to pass.

That's bad, surely, but she's still not hearing the criticism of her colleagues as legitimate (to the substance of which she seems to agree largely). Helping someone to clarify a misunderstanding of theirs is not a campaign against them. I realize that the animal welfare movement makes very liberal use of the term 'campaign', and does not take disagreement (of any kind) well, but a couple of comments on a blog and a blog article or two in an honest effort to correct someone is not really a campaign, it's not really personal, and it's not something for which one should lash out against other advocates who disagree.

Creating an "Axis of Evil", travelling to the Sudan, preparing to give testimony at the UN, taking out some billboard advertising space, or even writing a letter to the editor of a mass publication, and so on -- these might all justify the use of the word "campaign". But I feel we've started to move from Glenn Beck territory to Kim Jong Il. To be clear, I am not calling Dr. Kazez angry, paranoid or delusional. Again, I'm still just wondering aloud why she hasn't apologized yet and, more important, why she hasn't gone vegan yet. This seems like both the rational and the right thing to do.

But let's get to Tiger Woods, someone who, even without a PhD in philosophy, has nevertheless done something wrong, admitted and apologized for it. Yes, he's apologized publicly to Nike, Gatorade and other sponsors, but I would assume that he's also apologized to his wife privately. I suspect he probably owes her one. But in apologizing, he's acknowledged wrongdoing and taken responsibility. He hasn't blamed others. He hasn't implied he's going to continue wrongdoing if his wife makes him angry enough again or anything of the sort. He's understood the moral problem he caused and has asked for forgiveness in light of the harm that he's done. In a society that encourages a very loose sense of what we owe others, Tiger Woods has at least admitted that he's done something wrong.

I never thought I'd write this, but I think it's wonderful when a sports icon can teach a professor of philosophy a moral lesson in how to act virtuously. I said it in my last article, and I'll say it again: Dr. Kazez, I think you should apologize and that definitely, you should go vegan!

But finally, and most importantly, none of this changes the facts of the situation. Vegetarians still continue to use animal products, which is morally wrong in and of itself. They still contribute in finanicially substantive ways to the exploitation and suffering of nonhuman animals. Moreover, there is no "right" way to exploit another sentient being for his, her, or zir labor, products or personhood. Use is wrong, whether the rapist goes to lengths to "pleasure" the victim or if the murderer arranges violin music while slashing the victim's throat.

It may be better to do less harm than to do more harm, but it does not follow from this that we are justified to do harm when we can avoid it, or that those who support lynching fewer African Americans are allies of those who opposed it outright. To do what is 'less wrong' is not to do 'no wrong' and it is not to do what is right. Nor does it follow that if we cannot avoid all harm, that we are necessarily justified in any and every harm. Finally, it does not follow that, emotional appeals and faux-rhetorical questions aside, we should focus on reducing suffering while allowing the primarily social and legal drivers of that suffering to remain intact or making them more entrenched.

Slavery is unjust; should we wish to act morally rather than conveniently, fashionably, passively, emotionally and/or subjectively, we should oppose it. Abolitionists are moral, objective, and active agent of change who focus on the work most likely to emancipate animals, and that is promoting veganism and abolition.

In closing, I believe that any of us can act virtuously. Any of us can do right. We can all change. No donation is required. No PhD is needed. We can all be agents of change. To be vegan, you just need virtues like honesty, creativity, humility, benevolence, courage, but most of all, a sense of justice. If you want to act virtuously, one of the most important thing you can do is to take the rights of nonhuman animals seriously and go vegan. If you want to help a nonhuman animal directly, please adopt. Shelters are overflowing with animals who need care.

If you are not vegan now, you should go vegan today (and that includes Dr. Kazez). If you are already vegan, and not an abolitionist, feel free to read my other articles or head to to learn more about the approach.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...