On Intellectual Honesty, and the Francione/Marcus Debate
When I heard that Erik Marcus was going to debate Gary Francione, all I could think of was: Never, ever debate an attorney unless you absolutely have to. And because I’ve read Francione’s and Marcus’ books (and they haven’t read each other’s by the way, which I think should be a prerequisite for a debate), I would add: Never, ever debate Gary Francione on the issues he has so well researched and documented.
What I’m most interested in is something Francione said that most people don’t say out loud (and I used to be one of those people). The strategy of the (new) welfarist is to get people to become mythical "conscientious omnivores:" to convince them to eat eggs from battery-free hens and humanely-raised beef, etc… However, the goal of most vegans and abolitionists (correct me if I’m wrong) is abolition. We really don’t want people to keep using and abusing animals; we want them to eliminate the use and abuse. We want them to stop. And if they can’t stop entirely, we don’t want them to abuse the animals less–we want them to abuse fewer of them.
For me, the primary difference between welfare and rights is that abolitionists (rights people, as I understand it) don’t focus on decreasing suffering and don’t spend their time on campaigns designed to aid people in continuing to use/eat animals. Telling people to eat a different kind of egg is telling them you think it’s okay to eat eggs. A certain kind of eggs.
As I’ve written prior, it was only a year ago that I thought legislation was our best hope, and that buying grass-fed, free-range beef represented a significant step in the right direction. But my experience is that when I suggested people do that, I felt dishonest. And I should have, because I wasn’t telling the truth. A significant step in the right direction would be to cut animal consumption 25% at a time, or cut out one type (chicken, for instance) and replace it with more plant-based food rather than more flesh of another animal. This decreases the quantity of use, abuse, and suffering.
Cognitive dissonance is never a fun experience, and I try to avoid/prevent it whenever possible. Here’s a tip for the proactive: Be honest about your goal. Few people will embrace it and become vegans, and you certainly can’t demand that they do anything (unless they’re your kids). But a lot of people will be willing to decrease their consumption and not replace it with other animal products. And as we decrease the demand for animal products, the supply will naturally decrease with it.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s not a perfect world.