On Clarity Regarding Nonviolent Direct Action
Well it looks like I’ve found my niche in the world of animal bloggers: annoying people by writing about things they don’t want to think about.
Who knew that a piecemeal discussion of Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? would cause so much ire? I feel the need to clarify a handful of issues that are sounding like they’ve gone through the telephone game I played as a child (where you tell a story to someone and they tell it to someone else, and four people later the story is very different from when it started).
- At no point have I advocated the use of violence against anyone. I don’t even believe in the death penalty, as I think it’s barbaric (and sends a ridiculously hypocritical message).
- There are groups working against animal exploitation that do NOT claim to be nonviolent. The ALF is not one of them. The ALF is a nonviolent group.
- My hope is that readers of Animal Person think about their own definition of nonviolence. Does it include property damage? Does it include sabotage? Does it include arson? And if it includes arson, what about the very real possibility that a sentient nonhuman or a human (like maybe a firefighter) is injured?
- The idea that if you really supported something you’d do it yourself doesn’t make sense to me. I support lots of things I’m not going to do because I don’t have the time, the skill or the inclination. I have supported candidates running for political office, which is something I have no interest in doing myself, but if someone represents my beliefs and is going to do a good job fighting the good fight, I’ll give them money and maybe support them in other ways, as well. But I’m fairly certain there’s no way I’m ever running for office.
- No one has ever said that nonviolent direct action is a substitute for vegan education. It’s not one or the other. Vegan education is a given and the foundation, however many people feel it is not enough and they want to do more.
- No one has ever said that property damage is always necessary. Those who believe in nonviolent direct action see a range of tactics that put varying degrees or types of force on exploiters. They believe every situation is different and warrants its own strategic plan.
- If you think that property damage is unacceptable, as is breaking the law, what about open rescue? I have yet to hear from someone who disagrees with open rescue. What’s going on there?
- Those against nonviolent direct action, such as breaking into a lab and rescuing some animals, often say that those animals are a drop in the bucket, and rescuing them doesn’t help our cause. I understand that thinking. However, it’s usually coming from people who are NOT utilitarians, and that seems like a very utilitarian notion to me. Aren’t abolitionists doing what they do because of the utmost respect they have for individual sentient beings? Why is it that that respect doesn’t come into play when breaking into a lab to rescue a couple of animals? Why is the individual suddenly not so important?
Finally, there’s an awful lot of Truth being flung around. Just as an example (i.e., not to pick on anyone), the most recent comment, by Scott, includes:
The only thing that will bring us closer to abolition is education. . . . Every incident of property damage and sabotage takes us further from the goal of abolition.
I’m not agreeing or disagreeing because I don’t know that’s true. How does anyone know that’s true? (And by the way, Scott does include language such as "I believe" and "I think" in his comment.)
I’m not the go-to-theorist person. I’m not the bearer of The Truth. I don’t claim to have all the answers. It’s more like have all the questions. As I’ve written before, I don’t want to tell anyone what to think. I just want them to think.