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On Steve Best and YOU

There’s a deafening silence over here at Animal Person regarding yesterday’s post, and I’m thinking two things:

  1. "Mary, how on earth can you expect anyone to read a daily blog and then post something so long? Do a recap and I’ll think about reading it."  (And by the way I am making a concerted effort to write shorter posts.)
  2. "That was inflammatory infighting and it’s bad for ‘the movement’ and I can’t believe you even posted such rubbish!"

There’s a discussion about the essay developing at Cyrano’s Journal (Thomas Paine’s Corner), and a couple of comments at the Institute for Critical Animal Studies Blog, but bupkis over here. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • I don’t think I have to address the idea that the HSUS collaborates with animal exploitation industries or that they are well-funded and their allocation of funds doesn’t include much direct helping of animals (but to be fair, that kind of work is not their mission). I also don’t think anyone questions that no-kill isn’t a priority of theirs. And even I wrote about Pacelle’s stand on Michael Vick’s dogs.
  • Here’s what strikes me (and it’s with regards to the killing of healthy cats and dogs):

"When you needlessly take life; when you refuse to seriously pursue alternatives to killing; when you condemn cats and dogs to die with contemptuous complacency; when you lie to the media, the public, your donors, and to the animals; and when you bullshit your way through the whole goddamn bloody process of killing homeless cats and dogs, this is not ‘humane destruction,’ it’s just murder, pure and simple. And Pacelle, you have the gall to call SHAC and the ALF violent?"

That last sentence is an important one for me. A couple of weeks ago Will Potter asked what we all thought about the HSUS offering "2,500 to the ‘eco-terrorism’ witch hunt in California." What I think is that the HSUS’ actions demonstrate they’re fine with violence as long as it suits them and is legal and falls within cultural norms. The answer to Potter’s question, for me, has to do with (cringe) infighting.

  • Best on infighting: 

"Whether the dirty tactics Greenpeace used against Watson
and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society or the constant opprobrium
HSUS has heaped upon SHAC and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF),
corporate bureaucracies seek to dominate their cause, promote their own
interests, and block anyone who threatens their hegemony, viewing them
as competitors rather than allies fighting the same cause."

I’ve written about this recently ("On Infighting and Asceticism"),
and my thought is that the HSUS (in fact, particularly the HSUS as their
mission is animal welfare, regardless of the veganism of Pacelle) isn’t fighting
the same cause as PETA, SHAC, the ALF or Sea Shepherd. And as a large
corporation its job is to make its investors (in this case, donors)
happy, and the majority of its donors are people who love cats and dogs
and want "food animals" to be treated as well as possible before they
are killed. And I would imagine that the vast majority of HSUS
supporters would disapprove of the ALF, SHAC and Sea Shepherd. So the
decision to help fund the "witch hunt" makes perfect sense to me. The HSUS
is about increasing its already behemoth market share, and is going
after the dollars of the average person as there are far more of them
than us. I’m appalled that the HSUS offered the cash, but I’m certainly not

  • Regarding PETA and HSUS:

"For those like Gary Francione who throw HSUS and PETA into
the same boiling pot of damnation, the difference here could be not
clearer: PETA supports animal rights political prisoners, while HSUS
seeks to create more of them, and Pacelle would probably be delighted
–as would peaceniks like Francione and Hall — if the FBI rounded up
every SHACtivist and ALF member and locked them away in Guantanamo Bay
forever. Whereas PETA criticizes the corporate-states use of ‘terrorism’ discourse for the biased and repressive framework that it
is, HSUS uncritically and pompously employs it toward the same ends of
the Bush administration and state – to demonize those individuals and
groups it doesn’t like. But both HSUS and PETA, as well as countless
other animal organizations, need to get out of the 17th century
paradigm and enter the 21st century world moving toward the realization
of no-kill shelters."

I do agree that there are clear differences between the HSUS and PETA.
However, for my purposes as a potential donor, they are indeed lumped
together under "unacceptable," for reasons they share (e.g.,
collaborating with "the enemy"), and reasons they don’t (e.g., PETA’s
claim to be an animal rights organization and its tactics). There are
far too many big compromises that would have to be made to support them
that I don’t even get to the smaller ones (and you can, of course, disagree with what I think is big or small).

What do you think of any of this, or any other points Best makes?

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