On “Animal Activism”
I've used the term "animal activism" lately as an experiment. I'm trying to gauge people's receptivity to what I'm about to say. I notice that if I use "animal rights activist" or anything with the word "rights" in it, because it's loaded and misunderstood, my listener often has an immediate bias of some kind. People have a relationship, whether or not they are aware, to the term "animal rights." And that relationship usually has something to do with PeTA.
But I don't want to talk about PeTA. I want to talk about why we shouldn't be using animals and that it's infinitely easier to be a vegan than it was 20 years ago. If you believe your dog has a right to a life free of torture and slaughter for no reason, then you really ought to think about extending that right to mice, rats, chickens and fish.
A recent post by Sara Krupp ("Can Animal Activism Go Too Far?") unfortunately equates "animal activism" with PeTA, I noticed. All I could think about was: Does everything that has to do with an intention to help animals have to be equated with PeTA? They've hijacked enough already! Don't give them another term to co-opt!
But I'm sure that was not Krupp's intention, and she might not even know that animal rights has become such a problematic phrase.
The most telling part of Krupp's post, which addresses and questions the way women are used in PeTA campaigns has nothing to do with that controversial concept at all. Read on . . .
Weighing the Impact
At some level, PETA’s tactics have worked. With more than 2 million members across the globe, PETA is the largest animal advocacy group and comparable in size to the human rights organization, Amnesty International. Yet as effective as their guerilla tactics are at grabbing the passerby’s attention, they also make PETA seem ridiculous at times.
First, note that now PeTA is an "animal advocacy group." But that's not the telling item. We're "weighing the impact," and the "tactics have worked," right? So there are more vegans and fewer animals used by humans, right? I mean, the "tactics have worked," haven't they? But no. The tactics have made PeTA "the largest animal advocacy group" "with more than 2 million members across the globe." The tactics that have worked have worked for PeTA. And not necessarily for animals.
Part of the reason my interest in blogging daily has waned is because of the infighting and mean-spiritedness that can be read . . . daily, in the blogosphere. And though I think that it's necessary to help others think critically about what it is they are trying to do and why they would align themselves with certain groups and/or give of their wallets and time, I think that can be done without being nasty.
A long-ago banned commenter who enjoyed abusing me personally once wrote the hackneyed: "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." Heated discussions are fine, but hate-filled ones aren't interesting to me and I think they make us all look like fools.
And I don't see how they further our goal of getting humans to realize that nonhumans are not resources for them to exploit.
"Animal activism," to me, is listening to the person I'm speaking with and finding a way to have a discussion they're receptive to about what they believe and why, and how they might expand or otherwise adjust that thinking. It's not about making a gigantic group even bigger. Especially when that group doesn't appear to want us to stop using animals.
But it might have to involve addressing the gigantic group(s) briefly and moving on to the real message.