More animal rights/go vegan stickers

For those who are into stickers, another batch. These are all designed for the 1.5" circle size, except for the obvious 3x5 one. Feel free to download, print and distribute. More materials (e.g., posters, fliers, etc.) are available here:

http://www.box.net/shared/o2trrjs7b0














Nonviolence as the basis of personal and systemic social change

This week, at Opposing Views, many animal advocates raised their voices in a clear and spirited defense of other animals and nonviolence. It reminded me how important it is to other animals that we must each be bold and courageous in the struggle against pessimism about our capacity to change the world nonviolently; we must each be clear and steadfast in a positive approach that emphasizes moral dialogue as the basis for ending the slavery and respecting the moral personhood of other animals.

I am, of course, not talking about self-defense or the rule of law. I am talking about how North Americans (as some of the most privileged people on earth) choose to advocate for other animals as a rule. Our ends and our means will be most effective when they are complementary. Our objectives of personal and systemic change will be more effective when they flow from the same strategy and the same tactics: personal and systemic nonviolence, organization and education.

Many of the comments encouraged me to think more about how I could make nonviolence a more central part of my life. If I would not intentionally harm a ladybug (which I would not, because as many of my more regular readers know, I take other animals seriously, wherever they live, just because they are sentient), then it only seems reasonable to oppose all violence, all intimidation, all actions that harm others (and all actions that call me to be both less than myself and to be a less effective advocate for all other animals), when it is simple for me to do so. If I wish to be clear for the ladybug and her rights and her personhood, then I must be clear for the rights and personhood of all (and that includes human beings, even when I very strongly disagree with their views and actions).

I encourage all advocates to consider this more thoroughly and to devote some time to considering how they may incorporate nonviolence more thoroughly into their daily lives. Some thoughts maybe be just plain wrong, but thinking by itself never really hurt anybody. Anyhow, some wonderful and articulate examples that I wanted to share with those of you who are not interested in the often acrimonious debates about violence in the advocacy movement from the discussion at Opposing Views:

“I use an approach that doesn't compromise on the moral message, and I urge all advocates to do so, just as human rights advocates don't compromise on the moral message. Anything less by us is perpetuating speciesism, and as speciesism is the cause of the violence , perpetuating it is not the answer. So when I talk to people, I make sure to talk about our moral obligation to animals. […] I love tabling for abolition. I have fantastic results on the street using abolitionist education, focusing on non-violence and never, ever, compromising on the moral issue."
-Elizabeth Collins

“Putting aside the moral/spiritual aspects of violence, those who promote violence are deeply confused about the basic economics of animal exploitation. Institutional users engage in animal exploitation because the public demands it. Institutional users are, for the most part, indifferent to whether they are selling beef or bananas. They will put their capital wherever they’ll get the best return.”
-Gary L. Francione

“Violence can never work as a tactic. It is also unethical and inconsistent with veganism . We cannot expect to be taken seriously when we voice our opposition to the violence inflicted on animals every day if we ourselves are prepared to use violent means in order to achieve our goals. Using violence as a means to end violence is no different from the idea of the State condemning people to death in order to teach that killing is wrong.”
-KerryW

“Advocating for animal rights means rejecting violence . It is an affirmation of peace. The animal rights movement should be moving to end conflict between humans and nonhumans. Violence can never achieve this.”
-Carol Hughes

“Violence is nothing new. It's a dead end. It creates future enemies and strengthens public empathy for industry. Ultimately, those who engage in or support violence either spend their days supporting someone in prison or they wind up in prison themselves.”
-Trisha Roberts

“If a fast- food joint worker drops a hamburger patty on the floor, that doesn't mean that one less burger will be sold that day. As long as there is a customer waving a fistful of money at the cash register, another patty will be retrieved and thrown on the grill. If you remove one animal from the cycle, as long as there is a meat wholesaler waving a fistful of money at the producer (since he has someone on his own end waving a fistful of money at him, eager to sell the various body parts to his own individual customer--the consumer who drives the demand) another animal is dropped into the cycle.”
-Mylene Ouellet

“I'd like to add my small but earnest voice to those championing the necessity for nonviolence. Veganism, in the form that made itself indelibly clear to me, is at its core premised on the principle of nonviolence; it seems pretty obvious, and vitally important, to me that its praxis ought to match the theory. I believe that animal rights advocacy is coherent only when it fights for the rights of ALL animals -- and that includes human animals.”
-Nathan Gilmore

“We must work to assert the moral personhood of animals, and a call to moral action cannot be won by the immorality of violent force.”
-veganethos

“To focus on institutional exploiters doesn't make sense particularly because, for them, exploitation is what they make a living off (and more); that is, to them, there is a vested interest at stake in that their economic existence is being targeted, whereas for the consumers, there is not.”
-Karin Hilpisch

There were many other excellent and thoughtful comments (I also commented here and there myself).

Many of the comments exemplified the fact that abolitionist veganism stands for the emancipation of nonhuman animals, for the rights of animals (human and non) not to be used as property, and for the restoration of their moral personhood. If a group we're working with, or a book we're reading, or a figurehead we're following encourages us to focus on anything but the most creative, the most nonviolent, and the most effective change for other animals (and that's abolitionist vegan education), we should ask why.

No one should stop working, but we should all focus on what helps other animals most. Many figureheads and businesses are calling themselves abolitionists these days, but abolitionists have always stood for the unconditional end to the use of nonhuman animals as our property by the means most effective. That's talking to other people about veganism and the need to abolish the property status of nonhuman animals. I know talking to other people (unless it's on the Internet) terrifies many vegans, but talking to people about change is not only what's right, it's also what's effective.

If you are not yet vegan, today is the day to start. If you are not an abolitionist, but want to learn more about the approach, please read my previous articles or visit abolitionistapproach.com to learn more.

New AnimalEmancipation stickers in various sizes

The following are just small sizes (1.5" round stickers, 2x3s and 3x5s). AE has a number of larger pieces available for download and printing here (or available through the widget no the right):

http://www.box.net/shared/o2trrjs7b0


1.5" Round stickers







2x3 (Business card size) Stickers








3x5 Stickers



Family Guy and shifting public perceptions of animal use


Forget Victor Schonfeld's piece in the Guardian, forget Gary Steiner's piece in the New York Times, forget figure skaters like Johnny Weir: when Family Guy (an often remarkably reactionary show in a prime-time Sunday slot on FOX, an often remarkably reactionary network) addresses the issue of animal use, it's unquestionably a public phenomenon. Watch the video as a character on prime-time TV on one of the most popular networks discusses animal testing, veal and other issues:

http://www.eatmedaily.com/2009/11/family-guy-takes-on-animal-rights-video/

This is not a new clip, but one that appeared some time ago. It is not even the first time that animal use has ever been discussed on Family Guy. And yet advocates continue to convince themselves that we have to lift a public veil to convince people that when they use animals for food, clothing or entertainment that they are using animals for food clothing or entertainment.

Folks, no offense (seriously), but the secret is out. And even if it were not, the problem is not just how we treat other animals, or which other animals we use, it's getting people to care, to change their behaviours, to stop using all animals, not just to improve their treatment and keep using them. That's a problem that is best solved by vegan education and I think people are fundamentally misunderstanding the amount of work that it involves. Popular culture is already outstripping the antiquated tactics and positions of the animal advocacy movement. A lot of folks have done great work challenging the received (and too often copy-and-paste repeated) dogmas of single issue campaigning in the last couple of weeks.


Regardless of organizational affiliations, of labels, of how we may feel, or of how emotionally satisfied a single issue campaign may make us, the facts are on the ground: single issue campaigns that ban specific types of treatment do not free other animals from being property; and when a figure skater like Johnny Weir's highly public response to requests to not wear fur is that it's silly because he wears leather skates, these kinds of campaigns are not educating the public, they're making animal advocates look like they are remarkably out of touch with public awareness and understanding of the issues. More important, they are laying the groundwork for agribusiness and its much more organized and much better funded lobby to poke holes in our arguments that anyone who watches television can easily understand.

I am not saying we don't have to educate. I'm saying now more than ever, it is important for us to educate the public correctly, by making it clear: animals have a right not to be used as property and that veganism (as the practice of avoiding actions that contribute to the suffering or exploitation of all animals -- and here, all means all) is the moral baseline of that view.

I am not trying to offend anyone, but if the public gets the fact that single issue advocacy is problematic and confusing, why don't we? If people will use any excuse to avoid not using other animals and going vegan, why should we invest so much time and effort to hand them a series of excuses on a platter? As Francione argues, the problem is not treatment; it's use. The issue is not asking one guy to not wear fur to one occasion or insisting that he be a level-5 vegan over night or risk excommunication forever. This is a false choice.

Education is often a long, steady and involved process that should always be conducted with humility, sincerity, in good faith and without confrontation. Further, we can educate people about specific uses within a of veganism, abolition and solidarity at the same time. I still have yet to hear or read a reasonable justification of why every campaign that advocates engage in should not have at least some mention of the moral necessity of veganism and a call to abolish the property status of all animals.

The question we must ask ourselves as a community is: why aren't we doing this? And what does it cost us in terms of our credibility, our opportunities and what does it cost nonhuman animals when we refuse to do so? Whether we want to face the facts or not, the public is already moving forward on these issues without us. The happy meat industry is already well-established. The public is ready to hear an abolitionist vegan message, and it makes me wonder why animal advocates seem so reluctant to give them one.

There are certainly a wealth of abolitionist vegan materials available to anyone who wants them. And I have included one of AE's more popular pieces in this blog. I never ask anyone to stop working; just to focus on work that will make a serious difference to other animals and that's abolitionist vegan education and solidarity (whether it's personal adoption, shelter or sanctuary work). Animals living in slavery or waiting to be enslaved need their advocates to unite behind a consistent, coherent and tactically organized program that seeks their unequivocal, unconditional and immediate emancipation. If we want unity, fine. Why not unify around a consistent, clear and meaningful praxis that will make a serious difference for other animals and one that the writers at FOX won't be able to pick apart so easily?

If you are not already vegan, you should go vegan today. If you are not abolitionist, but want to learn more about the approach, you can do so by reading my previous articles or at www.abolitionistapproach.com.

Stop violence poster in grayscale


A couple of people have asked for a greyscale version of the Stop Violence poster. So, here it is in grayscale for legal sized (8.5" x 14") paper.

Stop violence and got nonviolence? posters

Joanne and I have designed a new poster that speaks more broadly to veganism, nonviolence and its relationship to other forms of oppression. One of the criticisms of the animal welfare movement is its too frequent focus on bourgeois politics and, just as often, it's reactionary take on sexism and racism. I certainly agree with that, and as an abolitionist and a vegan, I think all forms of irrational prejudice are a form of violence. I have also included an older poster that I did for Gary L. Francione, whose pioneering work has provided the basis for mine.

So, Joanne and I put together a poster that we hope speaks to some of those issues. The design is for US Legal sized paper, but if there is demand, we may produce for international paper sizes. A few people have asked about translations of our materials. Since we're in Canada, eh, we typically do French translations but it's Quebec French. We will translate into any language assuming that a translation can be provided.

I also want to thank people for the even more overwhelmingly positive response to our previous poster. Literally, a couple of dozen people commented positively and I'm glad so many of you like the work and are willing to help get the message out with retweets, Facebook shares, and in person. It's important to talk to as many people as we can about veganism and not all of us are equally experienced with doing so. Never be afraid to agree with other advocates when it is right to do so or to speak out with your own ideas when you don't agree.

Today, the world is organized around violence and nonviolence proposes the largest social transformation in human history. Oppressions are held in place by violent means. We must tell our opponents clearly and unequivocally that we will fight on our terms. We must tell them that we are not afraid. We must tell them that we will not accept violence from them. We must make it clear that public discussion and change is the only acceptable way that they can meet our demands for the unequivocal, unconditional and immediate freedom of other animals (human and non).

We do not need corporations, bureaucracies and figureheads who want to line their pockets with donations while paying their presidents and CEOs six figure salaries. We must fight for all and for each individual with veganism and solidarity work through anti-oppression, adoption, shelter or sanctuary work. Love is not a single issue; it is all issues addressed with the single most powerful word in any language. Don't let anyone tell you different, don't let yourself or another advocate be bullied, and don't let your voices be silenced.

If you are not vegan, you should go vegan today. If you are not an abolitionist, you can learn more about the approach at www.abolitionistapproach.com or by reading my previous articles.

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