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Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach

As I’ve previously written, there is really no such thing as animal rights in the US. Animals don’t have any rights. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, people who do believe in animal rights aren’t agitating for the right to vote for their Labrador or their Siamese’s right to own a gun. There is only one right in question: the right to not be owned by another. The right not to be property.

That theory is actually at cross purposes with the theory of animal welfare, which states that we can own/use/exploit/eat/train/experiment on animals, as long as we do what we can do minimize their suffering. Animals-as-property is an intrinsic part of animal welfare.

Professor Gary Francione of Rutgers University School of Law-Newark, whom I’ve mentioned several times, has revamped his site for the Animal Rights Law Project. Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach, is now the go-to site for those interested in a workable, logical theory of Animal Rights: Abolition.

I urge everyone to go to Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach  ( and read carefully through its pages and stunning flash presentations. Be prepared to encounter Professor Francione’s empirically incontrovertible discussion about how the current focus on animal welfare functions to encourage animal exploitation. There’s no way around that fact, and it’s probably the most important one for anyone interested in animal rights.

Professor Francione breaks his theory down into four main topics:

  1. Theory of Animal Rights
  2. Animals as Property
  3. Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare
  4. Animal Law

I recommend spending one day on each of the topics. It’s a lot of information, but it’s presented with flawless logic and its connections are seamless. And again, I also recommend Professor Francione’s Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? (Temple UP 2000). I have just ordered another of his books, Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement, and I’ll let you know how it is after I read it.

If we are going to end the suffering of animals, we must unapologetically denounce their use. And sometimes we experience that clear line as a fuzzy one.

For example:

  • When I write about Greyhound racing, do I ask you all to campaign for better treatment of the dogs? No. That wouldn’t achieve the goal of the end of racing.
  • Do I ask you to support Grey2K USA with your non-tax-deductible contributions (remember, they lobby)? Yes. Because Grey2K USA wants to abolish Greyhound racing.
  • When I asked you to write to Jeb Bush and urge that he not subsidize a Greyhound race track (and he didn’t), that was an abolitionist position. Take their money away and they go out of business.
  • When I ask you to boycott racing, that is an abolitionist position. Take their business away.
  • Now, and stay with me here, Grey2K USA also works toward more severe punishments for people who abuse the dogs, and the reporting of injuries. They want to "protect" the dogs, and that’s an animal welfare position. Do you see the difference? Do you see how having more "humane" standards for the tracks only makes people feel better about racing? Do you see how humane standards could revive an otherwise dying industry?
  • By adopting Violet Rays and Charles Hobson Booger, III, I have supported the Greyhound racing industry, because I am helping to clean up the mess they have made. Please don’t write to alert me of this inconsistency; I know all about it. I weighed the pros of walking around the neighborhood with a diabetic, half-blind, magnificent creature, educating people about racing and getting them to boycott it, against the con of supporting the industry by having "ownership" of her transferred to me.

Please take your time at Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach. If your heart and mind inform you that animals are not ours to use, exploit, eat, wear, or own, align your actions with that belief.


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