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Please Share “Silencing the Lambs”

Thanks, once again, to James LaVeck and Jenny Stein of Tribe of Heart for kindly and carefully bringing attention to what should be a stunningly-obvious moment of hypocrisy by groups that exist to advocate for and save animals.

I understand how someone who supports the Humane Society of the United States might think an event celebrating "humane" farms would be a good idea, as HSUS isn't an animal rights organization. What I fail to understand, however, is how advocates whose life's work revolves around justice for animals we use for food would ever–ever–sponsor or benefit from an event that puts those same animals on a plate.

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. mct #

    This grotesque betrayal of nonhuman animals by their so-called "protectors" is a classic example of M. Scott Peck's ("People of the Lie") astute definition of evil as "militant ignorance".

    It leaves me speechless, profoundly saddened, disheartened, and as determined as ever.

    "Silencing the Lambs" is yet another excellent advocacy tool for abolition by Tribe of Heart.

    Thank you!

    July 25, 2010
  2. What a terrible disappointment to see so many so called "animal advocate" groups and "sanctuaries" on this list. Some were no surprise. But with others, I had to replay the video 3 times over to insure that my eyes were truly seeing what I was reading. I continue to shake my head in utter disbelief. What's the saying? With friends like these – Who needs enemies.

    Poor animals betrayed yet again. It's sickening.

    July 25, 2010
  3. Saw this yesterday and was stunned. I have shared it on FB, and plan to add it to my blog as well. In addition, I have written to a few of the groups mentioned asking for an explanation. (As though there could be one.)
    This is the "humane myth" in action. Truly sickening.

    July 26, 2010
  4. Olivia #

    Yesterday a guy I know who kindly feeds seed to birds and squirrels at the track told me that he "loves a good steak." After I said that maybe someday he would no longer want to divide species that way, he didn't argue, but later slipped into the conversation the old saw that liberals are "preachy."

    It occurs to me that James is probably perceived as "preachy" by those who refuse to acknowledge the evil ("militant ignorance") of betraying the very animals they pretend to defend. And yet nothing could be further from sermonizing than his quietly eloquent plea for sanity among welfarists.

    I guess the "preachy" putdown trips off the tongue of anyone who's squirming uncomfortably under the magnifying glass of truth.

    July 26, 2010
  5. Allen #

    What is truly tragic about this video is that it is so very misleading and will have the effect of hurting more animals by encouraging people to remove their support from some of the best animal advocacy groups in the country.

    James LaVeck is using guilt by association to condemn groups that promote veganism and animal rights. It's like if I went to my local dog and cat shelter to help walk dogs and then later that shelter held a beef BBQ. Am I now a supporter of "humane meat" because I associated myself with this dog and cat shelter?

    I mean seriously, LaVeck goes into great detail about how Farm Sanctuary openly states it does not promote "humane meat" and instead encourages a vegan lifestyle, yet because it allied itself with a group of dozens of other organizations (of which it has no control) to help end some of the worst abuses to farmed animals in Ohio, LaVeck has the nerve to say Farm Sanctuary promotes "humane meat." This is dishonest and despicable.

    Instead of forwarding this video around so that others will also stop supporting groups that actually do a lot to help animals, why not give Farm Sanctuary and others the benefit of the doubt and ask them for their position on this. Why not ask them about it before putting out this dribble? I did. Here is what they said:

    From Farm Sanctuary: "Farm Sanctuary would never promote or serve any animal products at an event that we organized. Our events have always been and always will be vegan. The event referenced by James LaVeck in his video was not attended, organized or sponsored by Farm Sanctuary. It’s unfair and misguided to characterize Farm Sanctuary as he has. LaVeck never once contacted us for clarification or to express any concerns about this event, nor is he willing to meet to discuss his ongoing criticisms of Farm Sanctuary despite several requests on our part. Instead, he’s taken a course aimed at creating divisiveness within our broader movement to end animal exploitation…. Despite Tribe of Heart’s assertions, Farm Sanctuary never has and never will endorse the consumption of meat. You need look no further than the content of our website, our public position statements, our print materials and our action alerts to know where we stand within this movement. We have always been open and honest about who we are and what we stand for, and to be mischaracterized like this is frustrating to say the least. It is fine to disagree with our approach, but to deliberately mischaracterize our values and make us appear to be something that we are not is unfair, and it wastes valuable resources that could be spent saving and helping animals."

    From HSUS: “It was a fundraiser for Ohioans for Humane Farms, which is a big coalition consisting of family farmers, chefs, animal groups, environmentalists and others. HSUS urged its supporters to come to the event, which had plenty of vegan options. All HSUS events are vegan — this was not an HSUS event. But to win in a state like Ohio, we must get beyond our base and reach non-traditional supporters. I'll work with just about anybody to get the job done for animals. Of course, we did not pay for any of the food at the event, including the few meat items that were there. The owner of the restaurant is an anti-factory farming advocate and he hosted the event.”

    July 26, 2010
  6. David #

    Thank you Allen. I agree wholeheartedly. In its ridiculous allegations that every group involved in the larger Ohio campaign to stop cruel confinement systems endorsed serving meat by association, this video is shoddy reporting at best, and intentionally divisive behavior that hurts animals at worst.

    July 26, 2010
  7. Hey Allen,

    Did you cut and paste verbatim from Matt Rice on Facebook or vice versa? He gives the exact same reply to M Butterflies Katz.

    July 26, 2010
  8. I wrote to Farm Sanctuary regarding this video and here is their response:

    Dear Jo,

    I understand that you are upset by the video as I am also upset that animal products were served at this event, just as I am when they are served at ANY animal/environmental event. However, Farm Sanctuary did not in any way organize, plan, sponsor, or participate in this event. Nobody from Farm Sanctuary attended the event and we did not even know it had occurred until the video came out. The allegation that Farm Sanctuary is responsible for serving meat at an event that we had nothing to do with is the worst kind of witch hunt and represents horrendous guilt by association. Farm Sanctuary never has and never will serve animal products or condone serving animal products at any event that we participate in. Below is our official statement on the matter. Thank you for taking the time to read this and please let me know if you have any questions.

    Official statement:

    Farm Sanctuary has recently been criticized for its involvement in a broad coalition in Ohio – called Ohioans for Humane Farms – which was formed to initiate a landmark campaign to end some of the most egregious abuses on factory farms in the state. Farm Sanctuary signed onto this campaign because we believed in the specific objectives established to end extreme confinement, the slaughter of downed cattle and calves and the inhumane euthanasia of animals on farms. These three specific objectives are near-term reforms intended to improve the lives of animals on farms and drive a spike in the cog of factory farming.

    Many individuals, organizations and businesses signed onto this broad coalition with the same goals in mind. They do not necessarily hold the same values as Farm Sanctuary, but on these specific issues, we found common ground. When building and joining coalitions, this is typically the case. Coalitions are created to concentrate efforts and resources around one central objective to build the groundswell of support needed to achieve a successful outcome.

    Farm Sanctuary would never promote or serve any animal products at an event that we organized. Our events have always been and always will be vegan. The event referenced by James LaVeck in his video was not attended, organized or sponsored by Farm Sanctuary. It’s unfair and misguided to characterize Farm Sanctuary as he has. LaVeck never once contacted us for clarification or to express any concerns about this event, nor is he willing to meet to discuss his ongoing criticisms of Farm Sanctuary despite several requests on our part. Instead, he’s taken a course aimed at creating divisiveness within our broader movement to end animal exploitation.

    Farm Sanctuary has always had the short- and long-term in mind when advocating on behalf of farm animals. We directly rescue farm animals from abuse and provide them with urgent care and lifelong homes. We educate people about the benefits of a plant-based diet and encourage a compassionate vegan lifestyle. We also advocate for institutional reform through legislation, ballot initiatives and the like to address farm animals currently suffering within animal agriculture. We employ many strategies to end the suffering of farm animals.

    We stand by our efforts to advocate for incremental reform at the institutional level. We wish the world would turn vegan tomorrow, but we also know that social movements throughout history have taken time and required both personal and institutional reform. We would be doing an injustice to farm animals being abused and exploited every day to ignore their suffering.

    We see our movement to end animal exploitation on a continuum and various organizations and individuals work at all points along this continuum. We engage in vegan outreach and education just as we engage in welfare reforms that improve the quality of lives of animals suffering on farms. We don’t see our work, and the work of other organizations in this movement, as either welfare or abolitionist and we believe this characterization of the movement is unhelpful and inaccurate. Farm Sanctuary always has and always will strive to meet people where they are at, and we organize various campaigns and activities that appeal to people at every point along this continuum that encourage kind and compassionate choices and force institutional change.

    Farm Sanctuary’s involvement in Ohioans for Humane Farms was consistent with our values as an organization. We chose to participate in those activities within this campaign that correlated with our values. Had we held a fundraising event in association with this campaign, it would have been vegan.

    We thank you for your support for however long you have been with us, and we hope you will continue to support us moving forward, as we work at every opportunity to end the slaughter and exploitation of farm animals.

    July 27, 2010
  9. While I am a huge fan of the work done on the Humane Myth website, I am troubled by the misleading "truthiness" of this video. It unfortunately causes me to now consider all content produced by LaVeck with a grain of salt…
    🙁

    July 27, 2010
  10. mary martin #

    Here's how I see it:
    HSUS at no point has said we shouldn't be using animals. I don't think that the menu in any way contradicts their mission. However, they do have a policy of not serving animals at their events. But this event isn't theirs, it's for Ohioans for Humane Meat. This is a tough one, as HSUS sent out the invitation (and believe in "humane meat"), so they are clearly very involved. But I have to return to their mission, which is not that we shouldn't use animals. Also, HSUS and I will never agree on the definition of "humane" and how it's impossible to take someone's life when they'd rather live and call that "humane."

    As you probably know, when it comes to fundraising as well as advocacy, lending your name to an event sends a message. Sometimes you do nothing to help organize or fund the event, but you merely have your name added to a list of people or organizations that support the message. Some people will attend an event or otherwise support it because of the other people and organizations on the event committee (or whatever other list of supporters is given). Publicity for an event is often based on that same list.

    If you allow yourself to be associated with an event, those who attend or criticize it may all assume that you support what's occurring at the event. Also, in a "movement" as sensitive as animal rights, I think it's your responsibility to ask at least the most obvious questions (such as about the menu or whether humane meat is an idea that is supported) if you're going to be associated with an event or a coalition.

    Coalitions are indeed not optimal for every member and sometimes not even *any* one member. Often, everyone is compromising in some way. Some opt out because of that; others opt in because of that. But if you opt in, you then by membership in the coalition might be associated with ideas you don't support, thereby sending the public a message that you support those ideas when in fact you don't.

    Finally, there's the ever-controversial notion that you can be a vegan and promote veganism while also promoting reforms. And, just as when I started blogging over 4 years ago, that discussion is still occurring, with the word "divisive" used against those vegans who don't believe that reform will lead to us not using animals.

    July 27, 2010
  11. John #

    Part of what I received from Farm Sanctuary…

    If we were to follow LaVeck’s logic in his video, then his organization would be culpable for endorsing welfare measures. After all, his first installment of “Peaceable Kingdom” featured Farm Sanctuary and showcased our efforts with a glowing endorsement. Our very first rescue of Hilda from a dead pile at a stockyard was the seed that launched our No Downers campaign, which is a welfare reform campaign. So by Tribe of Heart’s association with us during that first installment of Peaceable Kingdom, then they must endorse our welfare-based campaigns. Does this guilt by association logic make sense to you?

    July 27, 2010
  12. mary martin #

    John,
    I've seen this and I think that the "guilt by association" *does* make sense. At the time of the original Peaceable Kingdom, you could associate the two organizations (Tribe of Heart and Farm Sanctuary) and say that Tribe of Heart would likely (not must, though, must is a bit too much) endorse FS' welfare-based campaigns.

    And I think that the message, choice of featured individuals and vignettes in "Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home" speak for themselves and send a different message than the original film.

    July 27, 2010
  13. John #

    It's a fine line I think. Kind of like, should I support a greyhound rescue group who wants to ban dog racing, yet will serve up hot dogs at their annual gathering? I most likely still would, and if I were at the event I'd be passing out vegan literature to open up(hopefully) some eyes.

    July 28, 2010
  14. mary martin #

    Yes, John, it is a fine line. But I wouldn't equate your example with joining a coalition. The main point I got out of all of this is that no one should be surprised when others make assumptions based on membership in a coalition (because of something the coalition does). There are other points, obviously, but when I look at the defense mounted by those in the coalition, I come back to that issue.

    Now, do you associate only with abolitionist vegans then? And if so, who are you educating? Obviously, the lesson is to make your position clear, choose your coalitions wisely, and be prepared to explain yourself if those you're associated with do something not aligned with your beliefs. That's education, too! Look at all of the clarification (or backpeddling, depending on how you look at it) by those who feel misrepresented. I think that discussion is productive.

    July 28, 2010
  15. All Means Justifiable #

    I think it is definitely FS's responsibility.

    To crucify LaVeck is just absurd.

    LaVeck's response is here:
    http://www.humanemyth.org/silencingthelambsresponse.htm

    July 31, 2010
  16. I encourage everyone to read James LaVeck's response to criticism of the video: http://www.humanemyth.org/silencingthelambsresponse.htm

    August 1, 2010
  17. If you care about the protection of farmed animals today and for future generations of countless animals who will be targeted for hyper exploitation and condemned to death for no reason other than to perpetuate the tradition of meat-eating then this call to action is for you.

    James LaVeck, producer of "The Witness" and "Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home", offers a poignantly simple and seminal message concerning the disturbing trend of collaboration between businesses that kill animals and animal organizations that claim to protect the very same animals that are being killed by those businesses. To get a better understanding of this pernicious alliance, please watch this important video “Silencing The Lambs.” – http://vimeo.com/13613159.

    In Silencing the Lambs, we learn about a coalition called Ohioans For Humane Farms (OFHF). Clicking on the red LEARN MORE banner on the OFHF site ( http://www.ohiohumane.com ) will bring you to the page of endorsers. This list includes the likes of businesses such as Wood County Citizens Opposed to Factory Farms and Farm Forward (animal exploiting advocacy groups), Fox Hollow Farm and Grassland Graze ( smaller scale farms where animals are readied for the kill ), and Fire, Food, & Drink and Chipotle (restaurants serving meat and animal products) that have teamed up alongside HSUS and other animal advocacy / protection organizations. What this unabashed collaboration serves to do is reinforce the notion that so long as animals are exploited less cruelly that it is morally acceptable to eat them. Tragically this is precisely the message that is being fed to the public. Farm Sanctuary is a notable endorser of OFHF’s disturbing, implied message to buy from humane farms. A farmed animal sanctuary signing on to promote or endorse ‘humane’ animal killing and meat eating makes me think, what's next on the humane farming menu…sanctuary meat? Perhaps?

    The endorsements made by animal protection organizations of “humane” farming practices are by-and-large a boon to animal agribusiness as evidenced in http://www.HumaneMyth.com. Even Wayne Pacelle in the OFHF campaign video ( http://vodpod.com/watch/3211297-ohioans-for-humane-farms ) ironically acknowledges the economic benefits to animal farms when he says: “We have a great opportunity to turn the situation around. By giving animals more space we will enhance food safety, level the playing field for farmers, especially family farmers, and protect the environment.” Also In the same video Mr. Pacelle chillingly describes the horrors of factory farming as the viewer is presented with tear jerking video images of animals on farms in the background – yet he never once decried that killing animals is wrong..

    I feel that there is no better time than now to speak the truth and ask for what we know to be just, compassionate, morally right, and in the best interest of the animals. There is no time to beat around the bush or to be overly concerned about offending those who make a living by killing innocent animals. We are being asked to support ‘humane’ farming (a true oxymoron) campaigns and initiatives, all of which appear to be helpful to the animals, but when dissected are revealed to be little more than a fundraising construct. These husbandry reform campaigns do little more than to:
    1. divide many of those individuals who are trying to find in a movement a resolute leadership with a cohesive message of opposition to all forms of unnecessary violence, and
    2. distract from the more important duty of working to shift public perception of animals as mere commodities by entrenching us in a time and resource black hole by focusing exclusively or primarily on the modulation of husbandry (exploitation) practices.

    Ultimately this path will kill more animals because people, including notable numbers of vegetarians and vegans, are led to believe that consuming animal products adorned with bucolic looking labels that are stamped with one of the numerous seals of approval like the Humane Certified Raised and Handled seal is an ethically responsible dietary choice.

    Finally, it should be clear by now that I condemn campaigns (and initiatives) by animal protection organizations which endorse or promote in one fashion or another the ‘humane’ exploitation and killing of animals as they are ill-conceived, counter-productive, cause confusion and divisiveness amongst activists, and are harmful to countless generations of farmed animals. Similarly, I would condemn campaigns promoting ‘humane’ cosmetics testing on animals, ‘humane’ fur farming, ‘humane’ bull fighting, and the ‘humane’ crushing of animals for the production of crush videos. Wouldn’t you?

    Please join me and others in speaking up right now by exercising our activist hearts and minds to question authority and at the same time to spread the message that if people want a truly humane and compassionate alternative to consuming meat and animal products derived from factory farms to consider instead choosing to not consume meat and animal products.

    Thank you for your time and consideration of my views.

    August 1, 2010
  18. Mary, I am sure you have read this presentation, but perhaps some of your readers have not. Norm Phelps eloquently addressed some of the issues that are now being debated: His presentation can be read at: http://www.tlov.org/tlov2009/norm-phelps-nw.html

    August 3, 2010
  19. veganelder, the tagline of your blog says "Observations and thoughts re earth and her species …from a vegan abolitionist perspective"

    If that is the case, why are you promoting regulationist essays from Norm Phelps? Phelps is one of the staunchest defenders of the corporate "animal protection" groups who collaborate with industry and betray nonhuman animals.

    We need to promote veganism, oppose speciesism, and advocate animal rights. Justice demands abolition!

    August 6, 2010
  20. Wow Brandon, I didn't know reading an essay constituted "promoting" it. Mr. Phelps has written a thoughtful piece, one that argues both for abolition and the alleviation of suffering where possible. If your version of how it ought to be includes not reading certain things….hmmmm. If what you mean by abolition includes avoiding the alleviation of suffering whenever possible, then perhaps we can agree to disagree.

    August 14, 2010

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