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08/20/2002 "Gary L. Francione challanges Animal Rights activists to be Consistent in their Analysis"

I have taken below the whole article from the Vegan Blog because I want to read it over and over. It is the finest critique of the animal rights philosophy I have seen in 15 years. Nevertheless, go to the Vegan blog: The Eco Logical Weblog and read some of the other entries. It is food for your brain and one of my favorite reads. The article below is an example of the challanging material on that Web Log.

Francione ( one of the people on this earth I most admire) Issues Challenge to AR Advocates Concerning Chronicle's Saunders: Engaged Debate is Crucial

Dear Animal Rights Advocates:

The San Francisco Chronicle has published a series of editorials written by Debra Saunders, who is critical of the animal protection movement. Her columns have been reprinted on various news and discussion lists with accompanying calls to animal advocates to write to the Chronicle in order to lodge complaints about Saunders, who is labeled on AR News as an "animal enemy."

When journalists oppose animal rights, we clearly disagree with them. At the same time, however, we ought to take notice when their criticisms identify some of the many inconsistencies that have plagued modern animal advocacy in the United States. Consider some of the questions that have come up in Saunders's editorials.

Do Animal Rights People Think It's Okay to Have Sex with Animals and Kill Babies?

In one of her editorials, Saunders condemned the essay "Heavy Petting," in which Peter Singer argued that we had to rid ourselves of our "taboos" and recognize that certain "mutually satisfying" sexual activities between humans and nonhumans might be morally acceptable if they do not involve "cruelty." Quite remarkably, most animal advocates did not condemn Singer's outrageous and offensive support for bestiality; indeed, there was an outpouring of support for Singer from the animal protection community.

Those animal advocates who did criticize Singer were reprimanded for being "divisive." Such a response is more indicative of a cult than a social movement. Saunders was dead right to call the movement on this issue.

Saunders also noted that Singer supports infanticide. She is correct. Singer has, for many years, advanced the idea that it is morally acceptable -- indeed, morally obligatory -- to kill disabled human infants whose lives are, in Singer's view, not worth living.

Again, those few animal advocates who have criticized Singer's support for infanticide have been labeled as "animal enemies" just as Saunders is now labeled, and the animal protection movement as a whole continues to regard Singer as a leading spokesperson and theorist. It is neither surprising nor inappropriate that the media would expose Singer's neo-Nazi views, given that most animal advocates did not.

Do Animal Rights People Support Humane Vivisection?

Saunders ridicules humane education bills that propose general "be kind to animals" language. Although we would probably disagree with Saunders on the bottom line, she is quite correct to point out that these "humane" initiatives are completely meaningless. As long as animals are our property, as long as we can buy them, sell them, kill them, and eat them, it does not matter whether we call ourselves "guardians" or how much we ramble on about "humane" treatment.

In reality we are still their masters, and they are our slaves. We have had "humane" laws for 200 years now and we are using more animals in more horrific ways than ever before. Animal welfare simply does not work.

What Do Rights Mean?

Saunders also derides advocates who argue that animals ought to have the civil rights that humans have. Again, Saunders raises a legitimate concern. When animal advocates talk about "animal rights," what do they mean? Many advocates maintain that animals ought to have all of the same rights that humans have. But that is silly.

Many rights that we have that would make no sense when extended to nonhumans. For example, we regard adult humans as having the right to travel where they please. Could we extend this same right to nonhumans and let all the dogs, cats, cows, chickens, and other domesticates wander at large? Of course not. To do so would create enormous safety hazards for them as well as for us. Recently, certain lawyers have argued that we should give legal rights to animals and allow animals to sue their owners in court.

Again, this is a silly idea that misses the point. As long as humans own animals, then animals will never have any meaningful legal recourse against humans -- just as human slaves had no meaningful legal recourse against their masters. It is our view that animals should not be brought under the control of human owners in the first place and that humans should stop producing domestic animals for human use.

In other words, we should take the position that it is wrong to have the lion in a zoo in the first place, and not that we ought to give the lion standing to sue the zookeeper for some reason or other.

In any event, Saunders's concern about the meaning of "animal rights" should cause us to stop for a moment and contemplate what we mean by a phrase that many of us throw around every day.

What Do Animal Rights People Really Want?

Saunders expresses suspicion about the real goals of animal advocates. She says that although "animal rights people like to argue that they only want to ensure that rats and mice are treated well," they really want the complete abolition of animal research. Once again, Saunders has -- perhaps unwittingly -- touched on a real inconsistency in the animal protection movement.

Some -- and it appears as though an increasing number of -- animal advocates really do want nothing more than the "humane" treatment of research animals. Indeed, the modern American animal rights movement has, for the most part, collapsed back into the animal welfare movement of the 1950s.

This "new" movement supports such insidious -- and ultimately counterproductive -- legislation as the CHIMP Act (see http://www.friendsofanimals.org/chimp.htm) and amendments to the wholly useless federal Animal Welfare Act. Some animal advocates ironically support "humane" behavioral research on chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates in order to show that they can communicate in English and deserve "rights."

On the other hand, some advocates really do support the abolition of vivisection. The problem is that many of those in this second group do not articulate their positions publicly for fear of offending others -- including those in the first group -- and this allows journalists like Saunders to observe correctly that at least some animal advocates are not straightforward about their views and goals.

There are important moral and scientific reasons why vivisection should be abolished. But we are never going to have that debate as long as one segment of the animal community thinks "humane" vivisection is a great idea and another segment disagrees but is reluctant to say so because its members do not want to be vilified by others who will label them as "animal enemies" for not supporting more "humane" vivisection.

Do They Want to Take Our Hamburgers Away?

Saunders's writing indirectly touches on yet another interesting inconsistency in the modern animal protection movement. For the most part, the focus of that movement for the past hundred years has been on vivisection and the movement has very much avoided, or relegated to a secondary or tertiary position, the matter of eating animals, which involves a much larger number of animals than does vivisection or any other animal use. The reason often given for this choice of emphasis is reluctance to offend people regarding matters of diet.

There is nothing offensive about asking people to think! We live in a culture that claims to embrace widely the principle that imposing "unnecessary" suffering on animals is morally wrong. Although we may disagree about what "necessity" means as a general matter, in this context it must surely exclude imposing suffering on animals merely for human amusement, pleasure, or convenience.

But we have no better justification for eating animal products than human amusement, pleasure, or convenience. It is 2002. No one maintains that it is necessary to eat animals or animal by-products to lead an optimally healthy life. Indeed, an increasing number of mainstream health care professionals are arguing that animal foods are detrimental to human health.

And it is hard to find an ecologist who will not agree that an animal-based agriculture is a disaster for the planet. In short, the only justification we have for continuing to eating meat -- and imposing the consequent suffering on animals -- is our pleasure.

Although we believe that vivisection should be abolished, there are some who claim that vivisection is "necessary" in that without the practice, certain data will be impossible to obtain. But no one can maintain that the numerically much more significant activity of eating animals is "necessary" in any sense.

So why hasn't the animal protection movement focused more on the meat issue?

The answer is simple -- and reveals yet another inconsistency. Many so-called "animal rights" advocates are not vegans.

Indeed, many of the "leaders" of animal protection organizations are not vegans. For example, the late Cleveland Amory of the Fund for Animals proclaimed that "animals have rights, too" while he ate his chicken. Jane Goodall, who is relentlessly promoted by animal advocates, serves meat at functions that she sponsors and has been a spokesperson for a dairy company.

Moreover, the failure to promote veganism as a baseline issue allows animal organizations to engage in endless fundraising campaigns to promote "pink veal," to regulate the "humane" treatment of "downed animals," and to praise fast-food chains for their more "humane" treatment of "food" animals or their adoption of a "veggie burger" (that is not even vegan).

The result is that the animal protection community has actually made an industry of making the general public feel better about eating meat.

Can we blame journalists for pointing out that animal advocates rant and rave about vivisection while they eat their chicken parmesan, bacon and eggs, fish fillets, or yogurt? Surely not.


Animals do not need people breaking "taboos" and seeing them as potential sex partners. They do not need to be able to communicate in a human language in order to be members of the moral community.

They do not need the meaningless gestures of laws that characterize animal owners as "guardians" or that require "humane" treatment.

All sentient beings -- irrespective of their particular mental characteristics -- need one right and only one right: the right not to be treated exclusively as means to human ends.

So instead of burying the San Francisco Chronicle under an avalanche of indignant letters, the most productive response to media critiques might well be to use them as starting-points for discussion, in order to develop a coherent and serious approach to animal rights.

Gary L. Francione, Professor of Law & Nicholas Katzenbach Distinguished Scholar of Law and Philosophy
Rutgers University School of Law

...and Ginny Rose says AMEN


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