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Wayne Pacelle: The Human Conundrum

When I saw Dan‘s comment on Thursday’s post that begins with "Wayne Pacelle is a hypocritical fraud who speaks out of both sides of his mouth" I thought: thems is fightin’ words. I don’t know Wayne personally, and I’ve always wondered whether he thinks we have the right to use animals. I would think his vegan standard for himself wouldn’t include a more-than-full-time job in conflict with veganism.

He’s a walking conundrum, with the root of the problem being his veganism (or so I thought). If he weren’t a vegan, I’d feel much, much better about his intentions and his actions. But the manifestation of his veganism baffles me.

As an exercise, I decided to examine some of his quotes to decide if I agreed with Dan, whose comment initially struck me as harsh. What I discovered, much to my chagrin, was that veganism isn’t the main issue. The issue is welfare and how little sense it makes to me.

In a Cattle Network interview, Wayne says that 1 in 30 Americans backs the HSUS, and what I want to know is: why? About the HSUS mission, Wayne says:

We confront . . . the worst abuses of factory farming such as confinement of animals in crates and cages; inhumane and unsporting hunting practices such as "canned hunts" of captive exotic animals; and the clubbing of baby seals and other animals for the commercial fur trade.

Welfare, then, as HSUS would never claim to be a rights group, says: You can use and abuse sentient nonhumans. You can slaughter them. You can hunt them. What we want is to curb some of the worst abuses, but we don’t want to get in the way of the other abuses that are inherent in the system as well as other abuses that aren’t inherent in it. Does 1 in every 30 Americans think that sounds like a worthwhile mission? Are they okay with all of the abuse and cruelty that HSUS doesn’t want to stop, like all other hunting and all other ways to kill animals for their fur, and everything else that occurs in order to turn a cow into meat?

When Wayne is asked about his veganism he basically calls it a
"dietary preference," which I suppose tells you why he can justify
being a vegan while working against veganism.

Perhaps most important, and the one thing I wish 1 in every 30 Americans would ponder for a moment is this:

. . . In cases of animal abuse in the meat and poultry industry, do you
believe it’s a problem confined to line employees or does it go further
up the management chain?

A: Workers have responsibilities, and they cannot just abuse animals.

is your definition of abuse, Wayne? What is your definition of abuse, 1
in 30 Americans? It seems to me that the job of those in the "meat and
poultry" industries is to abuse animals. It’s what they do all day
long. It’s their job description.

In a different interview he says:               

whole ‘rights’ thing is fraught with so much. I’m not sure I believe in
any natural right. It’s really about human behavior. … Animals for
the most part just need to be left alone.

he believe that humans have any natural rights, I wonder? Though he’s a
vegan, he doesn’t believe in animal rights, but "for the most part"
thinks animals need to be left alone. When you take his words and pit
them against his actions, I understand why Dan could say that he speaks
out of both sides of his mouth (and Dan also further explains himself in a subsequent comment).

Finally, Wayne’s girlfriend says this about him and her cat, Libby:

interesting with animals. He doesn’t want to bother them or invade
their space. He’s like ‘Hello, Libby.’" She imitated a formal,
masculine voice, then laughed. "I just want to swoop her up and bury my
head in her fur. He just lets her be. So, of course, she just crawls on
the counters and he lets her crawl up and sit on his chest. If he needs
to work, he’ll ask me to remove her."

That’s sweet,
but I’m back to the enigma that is a person who doesn’t want to bother
animals, and has chosen a career that depends on the institutionalized
"bothering" of animals.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. -me #

    Funny thing is…why would YOU yourself bother give him the time…to post (or should I say RE-post) links to his own words on YOUR blog? Is it not better to ignore him? To not have his own words repeated? Does any "good" come from it? Why bother debating what most vegans do not agree with. Do you think "Wayne" holds any influence with anyone other than "dog and cat" animal rescue people? With anyone that actually cares, or understands what "animal rights" are about? The HSUS (like many groups) is about dog and cat rescue….THAT is their bread and butter (un-vegan butter that is). I've done enough rescue work with those that help with adoptions of strays while they munch on Big Macs…. is it not THOSE people who actually give the money to pay his bloated salary?

    Why bother spreading his words here? Why debate ANYTHING the HSUS has to say? They have been, and always WILL be a group that pulls at the heart strings of those that only care about the rights of dogs and cats in our society. Not about ALL animals. Just the ones people "own" as "pets" and think of as being ones that SHOULD in fact have rights… You know that. I know you do.

    They will NEVER change from that point of view….they "make" too much money from it….

    July 26, 2008
  2. Angry much?

    This post originated with Dan's comment. My initial impulse was to say that Dan was being harsh, and I set out to prove myself right or wrong.

    I don't think it's better to ignore Wayne because not everyone is aware of his hypocrisy.

    I don't think this is some kind of PR piece for him, and spreading his words does him a disservice, as they can be used against him because of how contradictory they are.

    HSUS doesn't claim to care about the "rights" of cats or dogs, but does claim to care about the welfare of all animals. But welfare is sort of meaningless when it's capriciously doled out and the end is always the same.

    I "bother spreading" words that are interesting to me and help my with my thought process.

    If you think they're a waste of time, don't read them and then spend time ridiculing me for my transparency.

    July 26, 2008
  3. -me #

    You said: "If you think they're a waste of time, don't read them and then spend time ridiculing me for my transparency."

    Mary…perhaps you think "ridiculing" you was what I did…yet…no… I did not. Why so defensive to your post and my response?

    My point was that you need "not" spread his words.

    You said:
    "HSUS doesn't claim to care about the "rights" of cats or dogs, but does claim to care about the welfare of all animals."

    Regardless of what they "claim"… that is what they do. That is how they raise the cash the need to pay bloated salaries… You know that…I know you do….

    Funny thing is…

    I'm on YOUR side…yet YOU are the one that seems to want to argue this point. What has the HSUS done for the "rights" of "all" animals? My point was they that they make most of their cash…pay for his nice "cushy" office…his flights…his expense accounts… based upon the funds they raise for the rights of those which "most" consider to be pets.

    I believe we KNOW he (or the HSUS) is/are not one that has set his sights upon the rights of ALL animals…

    July 26, 2008
  4. I know we're on the same side, but when someone wants to know why I would "bother" to do something and asks if any "good" can come from it, that, in my mind is a direct request for me to defend what I did.

    The only reason I'm "arguing" this point is because you basically asked me why I'd bother to write what I wrote.

    July 26, 2008
  5. -me #

    Just keep this in mind… The HSUS is kinda like the NRA… lots of members… lots of money…have the ear of our government… yet…
    they do little for the very "rights" they preach about or try to defend….

    When it comes down to it, they always do more harm than good… (something I think we agree upon)…

    Think about it…

    July 26, 2008
  6. Dan #


    I’ve been away from the Net since I posted the harsh (but true) comments about WP. In light of this post (the human conundrum), I’d like to expand the observation made in the other post.

    I think the conundrum can be explained as follows: Wayne Pacelle is the personification of what is wrong with our society’s paradigm regarding nonhuman beings. Pacelle, aside from being the epitome of a sellout (with his obscene corporate salary), is ultimately a puppet controlled by what society and HSUS’s tens of millions of animal-consuming and sport hunting donors expect of someone in Pacelle’s role. The guy plays a role for a living. He is literally an actor. If Pacelle, or anyone in his position as the head of HSUS, were to take a legitimate stand for the rights of nonhumans and put forth anything other than the hypocritical nonsense that celebrates our society’s entrenched speciesism, he would be fired by the end of the week, if not the end of the day.

    Pacelle is a hypocritical fraud with regard to animal protection partly because our society is a hypocritical fraud with regard to animal protection (although Pacelle is a special case of the general phenomenon). We (i.e. our society) and HSUS are hypocritical because we harshly condemn and lock up guys like the dog fighting mogul Michael Vick (which we should) while intentionally chewing on grass-fed, free-range beef, drinking organic, free-range milk, and eating “happy eggs” (which we shouldn’t). How righteous we are!! We are fraudulent because we claim to care about animals as beings but, with FULL INTENTION, treat them as things and commodities to be abused, killed, tasted, digested, and eliminated out of our posteriors.

    More specifically, Pacelle and HSUS are fraudulent because they use the word “humane” in their name, soliciting hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of those of whom they fully support the *inhumane* exploitation by the BILLIONS. Pacelle, apparently a dietary “vegan”, rather than encouraging folks to go vegan like he supposedly is (it must not be that hard if YOU can do it, Wayne), actively discourages them by strongly suggesting that [reducing meat consumption]…is as a practical matter very difficult”. It is very difficult to distinguish much of what Pacelle says with what your average omnivore stuffing her face at McDonald’s would say. With “friends” like Pacelle and HSUS, animals don’t need enemies.

    I could go on and give many more specifics, but I do hope that helps explain the conundrum. To sum up, the explanation is: a sellout meets the general hypocrisy of society and gets paid big bucks to perpetuate the giant fraud that is called “animal protection.”

    July 28, 2008
  7. -me #

    DAN.. you said: "I think the conundrum can be explained as follows: Wayne Pacelle is the personification of what is wrong with our society’s paradigm regarding nonhuman beings".

    How "abolitionist" of you…

    I love the : "conundrum"…and the "paradigm"…

    How original to use those words…outside of the "abolitionist" world that a few vegans know of… those that have not already been put down before by others… other vegans that think they are in fact "super vegans" and look down upon others…

    Perhaps you should DO something about it Dan…

    What ARE you doing about it other than blasting people like Pacelle? What change in this world do "you" attempt? I'm not on his side. He never crosses my mind. I made my points up above. Yet besides sitting in your bedroom typing on the internet…perhaps you can tell me what you are doing to save lives and reach those that need to be reached…oh…other than the same 15 people that read "abolitionist" stuff…read these blogs…

    Those don't "change" or "save" anyone…

    They just make those that in fact "want" to learn…not want to read…

    or make contact…

    So Dan…

    tell me…

    What are YOU doing to make it (our world) any better than he?

    What are YOU doing when you step outside your bedroom away from your computer to make this a better world for all that breath? A blog publishing vegan essays?

    Does that turn those that chomp on meat into vegans? Does it?

    July 29, 2008
  8. "me"–what's with all of the quotes? I used the word conundrum. I was choosing between enigma and conundrum and thought also about quandary and was going to word it differently to accommodate. That didn't come from Dan.

    And what's up with paradigm? Though I didn't use it, I certainly have heard enough about paradigm shifts ever since grad school, and I'm not sure why you mock Dan for using the word.

    Is there some kind of inside joke here?

    I think the "abolitionist" reference might be about Gary Francione, but I'm not in that loop. That doesn't mean I don't want to understand, though.

    What's up?

    July 29, 2008
  9. Dan #


    One thing I’m NOT doing is making things worse by contributing to the false idea that veganism is “difficult” and encouraging people to go buy happy animal products. I’m also not acting as a long-term consultant for the animal product industry. Wayne Pacelle is doing all of these things rather than vegan advocacy.

    In fact, all I ask of anyone is that they stop intentionally harming by going vegan. I don’t ask for their money (Pacelle does). I don’t ask for their time or their vote (Pacelle does). I ask absolutely nothing more than that they go vegan (Pacelle does NOT). You ought to check out my latest blog entry that says exactly that:

    As far as what supererogatory action I take, all of which is volunteer – I don’t earn one cent from it (although I donate plenty of money): as a CPA firm partner, I oversee Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary’s accounting and compliance, write my blog, and educate people both in person and on the Internet. The most important point, however, is that I don’t need to do ANY of that to legitimately criticize Wayne Pacelle and HSUS. All one ought to be to criticize Pacelle and HSUS is simply to be vegan. Period. Why? Again, because Pacelle is doing harm by promoting “happy” animal products and not promoting vegan living (and actively discouraging it).

    Although I found you quite angry (as Mary did), I sympathized (and still do) with your comment about giving Pacelle any attention, good or bad. OTOH, Mary has a point in that Pacelle and HSUS are looming large anyway whether we like it or not and there are many people out there who don’t realize how hypocritical HSUS, et al, are. So, I see nothing wrong with posting about Pacelle and the nonsense he puts out, if only as another way to educate people about animal rights and what it looks like.

    Finally, it seems like you might want to voluntarily enroll in an anger management course. It seems like you are angry at everyone who breathes. I wish you the best in calming your nerves.

    July 29, 2008
  10. -me #

    ME mad? Maybe that's one of the things that made me become vegan in the first place… the anger. Yet at the same time… I BECAME vegan because of the peace and love for all things living inside of my heart. I think I'm just tired of all those that put many down…yet spend their lives blogging and posting about what is wrong with the world all day. That sit around blasting HSUS and PeTa while doing nothing to make an actual difference. That look in the mirror and see a vegan that is ABOVE all other vegans…smarter…faster…better looking (hehe)…kind of like "The Bionic Vegan"… Ones that are just better than all others. That do NOT in fact welcome other vegans with open arms and try to work together. Are we not a small enough group on this planet that we could all be much more effective if we all banned together? Worked side by side? I just don't see much of that happening. I see lots of judging of others and put downs…

    so yeah…

    Guess I'm an ANGRY "Un-Bionic Vegan"…one not as good, as fast as, or as smart as the others… but maybe slightly better looking…nah…just kidding…


    July 29, 2008
  11. Dan #


    I would be thrilled if vegans could get on the same page and work together instead of undermining the vegan message and even each other. However, as long as there are vegans (especially when those vegans are a majority of all vegans) who even claim, much less insist, that vegan living per se is “difficult” or heroic, supererogatory, or morally optional, and act as the marketing department for the “humane” animal product industry by promoting the consumption of animal products, we will not, *and should not* get along at all. I absolutely refuse to undermine genuine animal rights by watering it down to traditional animal welfarism that has gone on for 200 years while the numbers and severity of cruelty and exploitation has increased beyond the imagination.

    This movement desperately needs a moral backbone, and it needs more than just a few of us to make up and speak out for that backbone. When I refer to “backbone”, I am in no way whatsoever implying violence of any kind. By backbone, I mean a peaceful, unequivocal moral stand against the exploitation and slaughter of nonhuman beings, regardless of how unpopular that peaceful stand may currently be. The ONLY way we will get our society accustomed and habituated to this unequivocal moral stand is to insist on it and repeat it relentlessly, and the more vegans we have who do this, the sooner will come the day that we have a viable animal rights movement instead of a vague, wishy-washy, self-contradictory, and spineless “animal protection” (translation: animal welfare) movement.

    If all vegans put the money, time, and energy that they currently put into welfare reform efforts and happy animal product promotion into the promotion of vegan living (including the promotion of vegan food and the display of the cruelty and exploitation in animal agriculture, we would leverage an amazing amount of power for future generations to make some very serious and lasting changes. But as long as we dither and equivocate with welfare reforms and happy animal products, we will postpone serious change indefinitely.

    The bottom line is this: I would much rather fight with vegans tooth and nail (figuratively) to get us on the right trail than to march merrily (and stupidly) along down the wrong trail. I welcome you and all other vegans to join me in walking the genuine animal rights trail that leads to the glorious moral highlands of the Abolition Range.

    July 30, 2008
  12. the bunny #

    Excellent command of the English language, an arsenel of vocabulary words, and a propensity for cool calm logic is not a firewall that prevents a person (toward whom the critical and judgmental words are pointedly directed) from being directly insulted.

    One can be outwardly angry or hostile using simple honest words or one can exercise a passive aggressive approach, using fancy or sophisticated language and advanced thought — either approach can be used to beat the crap out of someone.

    Neither tactic includes empathy or compassion. The two most needed ingredients for opening the way for real lasting peace.

    Education geared toward the opposition is not terribly effective when it consists of tearing down a fellow human being. Pacelle may be "talking out of both sides of his mouth," but he's still a human being who can be persuaded to see the light. And imagine what inroads would take place if he were to be (persuaded). People can change. Look at Howard Lyman. I think humans' capacity to change is one of the most amazing things about us creatures. I know I've changed very much over the past two years since I've become vegan. Should I be condemned for not making the connection and becoming vegan ten years ago? What if I didn't become vegan for another ten years? Should I be condemned for that, too? Why and how did I make the connection when I did? I can tell you one thing, the connection certainly wasn't made through someone ripping me apart, that's for sure.

    July 31, 2008

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