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Posts Tagged ‘Justice’

Just a brief note to share, this was actually my response to an email from a friend who expressed some pride at how his congeniality resulted in a positive relation with a young stranger. Just one problem. Part of what enamoured him to the other man was an innocent and jovial imitation of another race… something of a racial “joke” if you will. I attempted to convey the enormous implications of making such a thing *commonplace* in our day to day lives:

“One of the reasons your remarks resonate with young(er) people is because racism, like sexism and all other forms of discrimination, are pervasive among many young people. They get passed on as easily as from one generational slip of the tongue to the next.
I hate to rain on your parade, because I absolutely know you don’t *mean* these impressions with hate, but just hear me out. For the victim, it’s always there whether overt or buried in the background. The vast majority of us are guilty of slurs, no matter how innocently they are intended. Since I awoke to Abolitionism, I’ve found myself trying to make the connection for people in comments and posts on threads on Twitter and Facebook because it relates directly to the speciesist discrimination we inflict on nonhuman animals. It’s this speciesist discrimination that enables and perpetuates their violent exploitation and consumption. And so it is with human on human violence as well.
If you ever start to read up on Abolitionist animal rights (Professor Francione’s books and website I’ve referred you to) you will find the message relating to nonviolence and justice and respect. It applies to all sentient beings—nonhumans and humans alike. I have now become very aware of the many ways we are taught to discriminate and thus exploit and I’m much more conscious of it today. Even a saying like, “I killed two birds with one stone” as an example, that we use to innocently describe the efficient execution of chores, carries with it an extremely violent history. Violence is pervasive in our lives. And so I encourage others to rid themselves of the same conditioning and behaviour in their own lives.
The more you think about justice and respect and nonviolence in your daily life, the more likely you will be to understand why Veganism is not just a diet. It’s a rejection of violence (including “violent speak”) and exploitation in how we think and act, in everything we do.
I hope you read this in the constructive spirit in which it is meant, instead of being offended and getting needlessly defensive.”
For those who are currently not Vegan, I hope this note sheds a positive perspective on the subject. Always consider the victim’s point of view. It is always horrific. Being Vegan is easy.

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I read the Manifesto of The Netherlands’ Party for the Animals recently. Marianne Thieme’s election victory last year, I think, was certainly exciting. And I do think it is crucial to change Governments’ behaviour toward nonhumans. But what really changed? I am skeptical about the value and effectiveness of an Animal/Environmental political party that does not clearly and unequivocally promote the rejection of *all* use of any sentient being—human or nonhuman. Unfortunately, change will not come as long as voter thinking does not change. And I am convinced voter thinking will not change without widespread grassroots Vegan educational efforts. As an example, just look at the membership rolls of any large animal advocacy organization or those who vote for any Green Party candidate. The sad truth is, I suspect, very few are actually Vegan. Voters need to hear a clear and unequivocal message that rejects the use of sentient beings. In order to get elected, if a “Green” political party must water down the animal use plank in their platform so much as to assure animals will continue to be enslaved or without any mention whatsoever, then for what change do they stand? For as long as we continue to use and exploit other species, we will *without question* continue to use and exploit each other.

I have several particular objections to the approaches of Animal/Environment parties—even my Green Party of Canada, whose platform seems entirely devoted to human interests. It’s all well and good to appeal to the public to give more consideration to the “interests of animals.” The most glaring failure in the Netherlands manifesto is to have confused this message with distinctly Welfarist language like “if we deem their use as necessary” or to “use sustainably.” As Professor Gary L. Francione has argued so eloquently, the one “right” that urgently needs to be accorded to nonhumans is the right not to be *property*. This simple right addresses the injustice of the commodification of sentient beings and all the misery that goes with it. At the same time, a Vegan moral view eliminates their use to the greatest possible degree.

As with almost all animal advocacy and “environmental” organizations, the Party for Animals suggests that some use might be acceptable if the user gives a greater degree of acknowledgement of the nonhuman’s “interests”. This is an extremely contradictory message to the one of “respect” since to use anyone requires a rejection of their interests.

In the Welfarist – Abolitionist debate, all Welfarist precepts come down on the side of ‘use is permissible’. That’s what 200+ years of Welfare regulations have been about. Welfare laws have *only* resulted in increasing the efficiency of our use. They’ve done nothing to release nonhumans from our domination. The key to understanding Abolition is to recognize that use—any use—must be rejected. Use *can be* rejected. It’s as easy as going Vegan. The crucial detail which the vast majority of organizations fail to recognize is that Veganism is a primary moral obligation of us all. And that requires Vegan education. And only a Vegan electorate will bring change to Government.

Thank you for considering my observations.

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