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When Words Get in the Way

A couple of months ago I intentionally stopped using the word abolition for a while. It seemed like using it just invited argument. It’s a convenient word, but it also creates problems. Correction–people create problems when they see it. And new welfare? Wanna give yourself a headache? Write a post about new welfare and abolition.

The good things about those words and phrases quickly also become the bad things. I think they perfectly describe what I think they perfectly describe. But because words are, after all, just words, we all attribute meanings a bit differently, and no one owns the definition, so the words I thought were perfectly appropriate become exactly the opposite.

Who is to say that you can’t call yourself an abolitionist if you approve of welfare reforms? Gary Francione and Lee Hall? I happen to think it’s ridiculous to say you’re an abolitionist if you want to continue to use animals. I think it’s an insult to the word. But so what? There are millions of people who disagree and have co-opted the term. I hardly see that talking about this all day is helping our cause, although co-opting is a fascinating phenomenon and I do think it has a place in the discussion.

Ron suggested a new term and I’m all for that, although I’m terrible at such things. Many of my clients seem to think coming up with a title for their book is part of my job, and I have accidentally come up with a couple of good ones, but generally I can’t be trusted with titles that are anything but quirky and involve wordplay.

Amanda said we sounded like "retarded politicians" and told us to "grow up" and I’m offended by both of those (here’s a tip: never use the word retarded, even when you’re talking about slow development of growth or anything else. Just don’t. It rarely goes over well and makes you look, well, not good.). I don’t think this is a matter of growing up. This verbiage difficulty we’re experiencing has legitimate roots and many parts of the discussion must be had, at least when you first enter the arena.

The solution? I wish I had one for everyone. What I do have is a solution for myself. And here it is:

  • Try like hell to not use the word abolition (in an effort to get fewer headaches). If that means I have to say, as I often do, that I believe we shouldn’t be using animals, so be it.
  • Though I do find new welfare to be a spectacularly helpful and economical term, clearly it’s a major headache invitation and is viewed as hostile. I’m happy to not use it.
  • Heck, I might even ditch welfare while I’m at it.
  • Refrain, and this part of the plan has been in action for some time, from engaging in endless debates about, um, well, you know. I do often submit one comment about my beliefs and then leave, and if I continue to do that I will make a concerted effort to use language that is not perceived as antagonistic (to the extent that’s possible).

I would welcome the opportunity to help craft–or participate in–a study about veganism, particularly one that addresses activism and whether changes in the way we treat animals would make me more likely to return to using them or tell someone else to use them (boy, I wish I had a certain couple of words, here). In fact, if there is a need and a desire, I would create a page at Animal Person where I collect responses to a (less-informal than what I did) survey over, say a six-month period, if you all would help publicize it on boards and other sites so I could get at sample of a couple thousand people.

If anyone has other solutions to this dilemma that appears to be taking up a lot of some people’s time, please let us all know!

50 Comments Post a comment
  1. Not to hammer the point (okay, to hammer the point) but it is respectful to call a group what they call themselves and appreciate their central mission as they see it. Like welfarists.

    Francione invented the group of 'new welfarists' not just the name; I have yet to see any of the people he put in that box react well to it. It is a grouping ostensibly around the idea that welfare is a means to abolition–which doesn't exist. 'Hey, let's not pursue our goal and do something else in the delusion it will help' is not the rallying cry of any welfare group and the suggestion that is is *does* ruffle feathers.

    Welfare is an attempt to reduce suffering through improved care. That is its goal. It isn't 'aboltion lite' or 'abolition later' any more than animal rights is 'new anthropomorphism'. Although I am tempted to write a satire defining that group as if the category is valid and helpful. I predict that it's use would spread very quickly in some circles.


    October 19, 2007
  2. Ellie #

    I can't speak for Lee Hall or anyone else– in my view, this is not about calling yourself what you want. It's about having a goal and using rational measures to reach it.

    If we want to end speciesism, isn't it fair to criticize actions that work against that? If we want others to understand the meaning of animal rights, isn't it fair to criticize actions that are labeled "animal rights", but which are not? If feathers get ruffled, it's because egos are involved, and frankly, I don't care because this is not about us. No one has come up with a rational answer as to how modifying animal husbandry will facilitate animal rights.

    Also, I don't insist we speak of "abolition", but why should the term bother people? To me, abolition conveys freedom from slavery, and it's appropriate because non-human beings have indeed been enslaved. But whatever we call it, I think animal rights should speak for the personal interests of non-human animals, which go far beyond avoiding pain. If we say we're for animal rights, I think that– rather than our egos– should be the priority.

    October 19, 2007
  3. Cláudio Godoy #

    Why the word abolitionist is not suited for this context? If we want to abolish animal use by moral agents, why we can't call ourselves abolitionists? Is that so hard to understand? Are we speaking Chinese?

    Of course some neutral words can be used in a negative way. However, I don't mind using them even when they are distorted. I'm a proud fundamentalist, because I believe using sentient beings for any purpose without their consent is fundamentally wrong. I'm a proud extremist, because violating rights out of the context of self defense and state of necessity is a black and white issue. Being an absolutist is not a problem for me, because some actions can be absolutely wrong.

    October 19, 2007
  4. Dan #

    I have to say that the more we stand up for nonhuman beings, the more we will be lightning rods for conflict. If our words are useful for pointing our important differences, then to that extent we and our words will be lightning rods for conflict. If we can’t take the heat, we should probably retire from the kitchen and air out a little, even if only for a day, a week, or a month. Also, if we like our mental hygiene in decent shape, we should at least sometimes avoid a comment section in our blog. Personally, mental hygiene is why I don’t allow comments on my blog and probably never will. When I want to, I go to other places where free comment is welcome and post, but at least I don’t need to be hammered by other people’s intellectual rubbish on a daily basis, even if some of the comments are brilliant and uplifting (not that anyone would comment in my blog anyway).

    I will continue to use “abolitionist” and “new welfarist” and other similar terms, and hammer home the differences. When I’m tired of the fighting, I’ll retire from the kitchen for a day, week, or month. Conflict is an inevitable partner in social change. It is not pleasant, but it is unavoidable.

    October 19, 2007
  5. Dan #

    I just want to clarify that I wrote comment in my last post which says “(not that anyone would comment in my blog anyway)” because my blog is new and unfamiliar to most people, not because of any other particular reason. 🙂

    October 19, 2007
  6. Welfare: i dunno, is this term even remotely accurate either?

    Look it up. Is what the people we refer to as 'new welfarists' really *welfare*? How does that jump the species barrier to humans? Am i looking out for your *welfare* if i'm advocating a different, less cruel way for people to unjustly murder you?

    I don't think so.

    I prefer Lee Hall's descriptor: animal husbandry activists.

    Bring on the accuracy, and a *real* torrent of 'headache'. 😉

    An Honest News Flash:

    Animal husbandry group PETA stepped up their campaign to work with KFC in killing animals less cruelly. Animal activists, on the other hand, disagree with PETA's efforts. FoA Canadian Correspondent Dave Shishkoff said "this is ridiculous, how much more can PETA twist the 'ethical' in their name? I guess there's a reason it's lower-case in the logo."

    He continued "Will they be happy when each chicken is given a hug before being smothered to death by pillows? What in the world is their message, and their goal? To confuse and dismay?"

    More at eleven..

    October 19, 2007
  7. Disagreeing with welfarism is quite a separate issue to appropriating and distorting its identity to the point of making it a starw man. Of course a commited abolitionism often sees little in welfarism because it doesn't advance his or her goals. Some people are both abolitionsist and welfarists (i.e. don't use animals, but if you insist do so int he least horrible way). Some people are of course welfarist and not abolitionists, or neither.

    I think that, if anything, the idea of new welfarism muddled the waters by suggesting the two are *in any way the same thing or even closely related*.

    Look at it this way, the idea that welfare is an attempt to abolish animal use is as ridiculous as the reverse. The idea that you can be kind to animals by having most of them not exist at all and ingoring the rest is utterly ridiculous. The difference is I am not suggesting anyone believes this.

    October 19, 2007
  8. Dan #


    I like “animal husbandry activists”. I’ll use it and “new welfarist” interchangeably to mean the same thing.


    First, this dichotomy and the term “new welfarist” was created because of groups like PETA claiming to ultimately want abolition but doing the same things that traditional welfare groups like HSUS have been doing for 200 years. That is, focusing on treatment, not use; aiming to reform, not abolish; working and compromising with exploiters, not working against and outside of exploitation to question the legitimacy of exploitation in the first place. When groups do the former, they *necessarily* legitimize the exploitation in the first place.

    Second, the only “appropriating and distorting” that has occurred has been animal husbandry activists (like PETA) who explicitly reject genuine animal rights and abolitionist philosophy and philosophers (e.g. Tom Regan and Gary Francione in favor of Peter Singer) appropriating and distorting the terms “animal rights” and “abolitionist” as empty “battle cries” (Singer’s term) for the new welfare/ husbandry movement. Unfortunately, the media buys right into this and calls anyone, even traditional “dog and cat” humane societies, who says anything positive about animals, “animal rights groups.” Under the media’s idea of “animal rights”, I do believe Smithfield pork and Monfort meats could be called “animal rights groups.” We can thank Peter Singer, PETA, and HSUS for this kind of nonsense. The new welfarists themselves can take credit for creating the dichotomy by their behavior. Abolitionists are merely acknowledging its existence in plain English.

    October 19, 2007
  9. I think it is clear that PeTA and similar groups now exist in a rather muddy philosphical space. My best guess is that they found 'kindness' concerns are more populist and pleasing (and profitable), they require less of the public and–being emotional–are easy to manipulate. The desire to be popular can have an insidious effect on one's ethics.

    I have been accused at various times of being everything from a 'vivisector' to an 'animal rights bunny hugger'. But I think the answer may not be more sophic=sticated thinking and more specialised terms–but quite the opposite e.g.:

    *Core Positions*
    I oppose using animals
    I think we should be kind to the animals we use

    *Mix and Match Examples*
    I oppose using animals for food but support their use as companions
    I think we should be kind to domestic animals but dont care about vermin and wildlife


    October 19, 2007
  10. Ellie #

    Isn't there a difference between using animals, and caring for those who are dependent on us? I care for my dogs, for example, but I don't use them to breed, guard my house, for entertainment, or experiment on them. They are my friends, but needing friendship is not the reason I care for them.

    In caring for my dogs, I look after their welfare. And I wish this is how welfare were understood, rather than as a facet of speciesism. Beyond our personal relationships, dogs are used to accomodate us, and they're easily discarded when they fail to measure up to what we humans want.

    October 19, 2007
  11. Ellie #


    I think your website is great! Lots of food for thought there, and in your comments here.

    October 19, 2007
  12. Dan #

    Thank you, Ellie! I appreciate your kind words. 🙂

    October 19, 2007
  13. Ellie #


    I prefer animal husbandry activists too. Using and killing animals "humanely", or "ethically", or "compassionately" is not welfare. It's speciesism.

    October 19, 2007
  14. Ellie #

    You're welcome, Dan 🙂

    October 19, 2007
  15. Mary:

    Thank you for considering avoiding "abolitionist" and "welfarist" again. I think the terms as currently used have served mostly to obfuscate, cause bitterness, and exaggerate differences.

    Now let me make this heartfelt plea:

    Being in favor of welfare reforms absolutely does not equal wanting to continue to use animals. That's insulting.

    There seems to be a persistent tendency among anti-reformers to presume that if someone does not agree with their tactics, then they don't agree on the end goals. Please – stop that.

    You know how sometimes pro-reformers accuse anti-reformers of not caring about suffering? That's how it feels. It's wrong and divisive in the same way.

    I, and I know others, are in favor of welfare reforms – generally on a case-by-case basis – because we want to see animal use ended. You may disagree on whether welfare reforms are a good tactic, but you should not mischaracterize others' profound ideals and motivations.

    Ellie and others:

    "Animal husbandry" has a well-established connotation of being pro-animal agriculture. It could mean something like striving to acheive greater yield. Again, and for God's sake, please don't lump me and other vegan activists who favor reforms AND abolition in with pro-animal agriculture people. Vegan activists favor reforms to ease the suffering of current farmed animals and as a platform to get people caring about animals' interests and be receptive to further outreach. I can't speak for everyone but I know for many, including me, reform is ONLY used in the service of abolition.


    Accepting these fundamental premises – which may require giving more respect and credit to people who favor reforms to one degree or another – is, IMHO, a requirement for cordial and productive dialog among the different factions of the movement.

    (For the record, I don't automatically favor every reform measure, and rarely if ever do I uncritically accept them. I have spent many hours considering their pros and cons, and how they may be improved when applied. I don't rule them out, I think they have a place, and I think they can engender meaningful change that can be leveraged in abolition efforts. I also think vegan outreach is essential – I hope that's clear by now! – and that's overwhelmingly what I do.)

    October 20, 2007
  16. I've been wanting to comment on the ongoing discussions, but I have some problem with my computer where I can't comment on typepad blogs, but now I'm on my husband's computer.

    I seem to have recently fallen into a weird discussion where people were telling me it was rude, untrue, and divisive to use the term "new welfarist" while at the same time these same people said it was merely factual to refer to me as a "dogmatic fundamentalist." Hmmm. But I do agree the terms are problematic. I'm not sure I can accurately describe myself as an "abolitionist" because there are things I do and promote that don't fall under the strict interpretation of that word. So some hard core "abolitionists" have called me "a welfarist" as well.

    I actually don't really care all that much what people call me, I've certainly been called worse than either dogmatic or welfarist. Oh, the reason I'm "welfarist" is that 1) I still promote veganism as being healthy (not the primary reason, but I still do think it's true and important for people to know), 2) I still sometimes talk about vivisection from the "it doesn't work" standpoint–again I think it's totally unethical, but sometimes it's both unethical and entirely worthless, 3) I don't mind single issue campaigns, and 4) I can appreciate the work of some "new welfarists" so long as they continue to emphasize that all animal use is wrong–I might not sign up for those initiatives, but I'm not critical of it if that point is absolutely clear.

    Ok, and I love the term "dogmatic fundamentalist" so much that I'm going to buy a t-shirt, and start introducing myself "Hi, I'm Neva, I'm a dogmatic fundamentalist." Cute, no?

    Anyway I was getting to some kind of point somewhere in this–I'm not so much an abolitionist as I am someone who thinks that outreach on veganism, and spreading veganism, not just as a diet, but as an encompassing holistic life style (which does emphasize that animals own themselves rather than us owning them) should be our primary work right now. Um, I'm not an abolitionist, I'm a "veganist?"

    I hate putting labels on other grassroots activists, the folks who are trying to do their best to hand out leaflets after their day jobs, or the bloggers trying to get the message out during their spare time. But I still do sometimes catch myself using the "new welfarist" term to apply to entire organizations, and sometimes to high ranking people within those organizations. I realize that most of these people absolutely oppose all animal use, and I know that they have the best possible intentions. But I do think something weird can happen when people are working in these organizations that are more or less corporations at this point… I don't know how to explain it except to theorize on why I sometimes see messages coming out of these groups that seem actually damaging to the vegan cause.

    They might feel that they have to hide their actual goals from the general public, for example when HSUS proposed a dove-hunting ban, the materials for the ban seemed to encourage hunting other birds instead of doves. Someone at HSUS told me they didn't think the ban would pass if people felt they opposed all hunting. But to me, I can't see that much is accomplished if an equal number of birds are killed, just of a different type. I feel justified calling this action "new welfarist" because if they are trying to send a message to the general public that hunting is ok, I'm also in the general public and got the same message.

    Secondly the groups might be sending some messages of welfare and compromise to the animal exploiting industries while trying to send a more holistic vegan message to people who don't work in that industry. I understand the point, but as I've said many times, I find this approach confusing and I think it muddies the waters.

    Thirdly, sometimes materials might just go out without anyone really thinking too hard about what they say. I know I've had conversations with people from HSUS, PeTA, and COK about the wording of some appeals or letters to the editor. In some cases the author insists that the materials simply don't say what I think they say. But I do have fairly good reading comprehension skills (at least some of the time) and these things were sending an unintended message. It might be possible to be so close to something, and know what you mean to say, and therefore have trouble accurately seeing what's on the page. In the case of PeTA, when Bruce Friedrich saw the materials I was questioning, he did say it was a mistake and shouldn't read that way and he'd look into it. But there have been other times when I've been bothered by PeTA materials and I get the same "but we're PeTA, we're pro-vegan, so our materials would never say otherwise." Sometimes they simply do.

    Using the term "new welfarist" doesn't help us reach understanding or compromise. The leaders in the movement being called this are generally quite offended by it, and get incredibly defensive in response to the title. So if you were hoping to open up communications with them, then it's not a good idea to use it.

    However, for the most part I think that egos will prevent all communication anyway with anyone holding a titled position at a large wealthy non-profit, and even less wealthy ones like COK. I have no real confidence that much common ground can be found, between myself and the big moneyed groups at least. I can absolutely work with other activists who fall anywhere on the spectrum from pro-welfare reforms to abolitionist when we have common goals. To work with groups who collect donations and have a financial stake in the messages (so that messages which bring in money have more value than messages that wake people up and make them start questioning their way of life) is just problematic to me. Though I do know that many feel very differently about this than I do, and that's fine of course, nobody is required to agree with me.

    As for the question if those in favor of welfare reforms are for the continued use of animals, no most of the people behind those messages are not. Some actually are, depending on the person and the organization, but that's a different story–yes, most of the well-known figures promoting welfare reforms are not personally for the continued use and enslavement of animals. However, once the materials and the messages leave that person's desk, the messages have their own life, and must stand on their own merits. Some of the messages have promoted the continued use of animals, even if the authors personally feel otherwise. I don't think it's wrong to point out this type of problem.

    October 20, 2007
  17. Ellie #


    On another thread– not sure if you've seen it– I excluded well intentioned activists from the actions of groups. That is, I think leaders of reform groups know these measures will not lead to animal rights, but they use them to attract membership– under the guise that reforms will eventually end animal exploitation. None of these reforms make a substantial difference to animals, and no matter what they are, they can't be enforced.

    If well intentioned activists know this, and if they can see "humane" farming has increased animal consumption, why on earth do they insist reforms will end animal exploitation? It won't. It hasn't in over a century of similar activism. Offering a course on veg/veganism is not going to change that.

    Why do industries make deals with PeTA, HSUS, and other reform groups? Because they profit from so-called "humane" meat and dairy, and consumption has increased! You may not want to promote animal agriculture, but that's what reforms do, and the industries know that.

    I'm not saying you don't want to end animal use. I'm only asking you to look at this realistically. Reform will not lead to abolition. It won't even lead to substantially better conditions for animals. I truly don't mean to be unfriendly, but I can't agree with something that doesn't make sense.

    October 20, 2007
  18. Hi Ellie,

    First of all my usual offer to discuss this offline. I predict it will be much more fruitful. Just an offer.

    I appreciate your exclusion of "well-intentioned activists" (no I didn't see the thread). I would suggest that some if not all of the activists whom you claim do not really want to end animal exploitation – a deeply offensive charge – are also well-intentioned.

    I know some of the people leading or conspicuously pushing reforms. They are dedicated ethical vegans deeply committed to abolition. Their focus may be on reducing suffering – a noble goal, per se IMHO – and you may not agree with all of their tactics. If you like, I can probably arrange conference calls with them offline and you can pose the question to these folks yourself. I would suggest that you may need to upgrade your negative opinion of them, as a good faith measure. That will improve dialog, cooperation, and productivity among activists all working for basically the same common cause.

    To accuse folks of engaging in reform campaigns *merely* to raise funds is unfair, illogical, and uncalled for. Should I say that Gary Francione criticizes leaders of the movement just to sell books? Or that Peaceful Prairie is defiant just to attract funds from people looking for that sort of thing? Of course not. And you should not engage in those tactics, either. The task before us is enormous and often heartbreaking. Please, can we avoid gratuitous and mean-spirited attacks? I mean from all sides, and I'm not exempting myself. Please, give your fellow vegan activists some benefit of the doubt.

    (Besides, PETA engages in so many stunts that they must know will offend people, an argument could be made that they're doing everything they can to dissuade new members. VO is quite low-key in their fundraising. HSUS, granted, is more aggressive in their fundraising but OTOH moves closer to vegan outreach every year. Their latest ads in mainstream environmental magazines recommend that people reduce their intake of meat, dairy, and eggs as much as possible. A perfect message? Maybe not. But can you even imagine the HSUS of 10 years ago saying that? They're a work in progress. I digress.)

    You conjecture that reform won't lead to abolition. It led to my personal abolition and I've seen many others take that road. Was it the only factor? Of course not. But it played a role. I believe it still plays a role for reasons I've enumerated elsewhere. I've seen it play a significant and consequential role in civil rights movements. I think I'm looking at things reasonably. We can agree to disagree. Good luck with your activism. I'm right there with you.

    October 20, 2007
  19. Jenny #

    I think the focus on "welfare vs rights" distracts from the real issue causing all the trouble these days, which is the large so-called animal advocacy groups collaborating with industry — scratching each other's backs and accepting each other's money/PR connections. It's a "business bonanza," in the words of one industrial "cage free" egg producer.

    And now the followers of these large corporate groups, with all the best intentions, are unwittingly drawn into promoting things that they themselves don't believe in, and describing animal exploitation in rosy terms. For an example, take a look at how the California Initiative is being "sold" by one well intentioned animal advocate, who is saying it will result in "cruelty free farming":

    In the 10 years I've been in this movement, I never saw AR activists/vegans pushing animal products, or calling them "cruelty free", until HSUS, PETA, Farm Sanctuary, et al decided to "do business" with the animal exploiters. Money is now flowing in from new sources, like Whole Foods sponsoring almost every animal/veg event. As a result, speakers are now being put on the podium who kill thousands of animals a week while preaching their "compassion" for animals.

    What's the real problem here? Is it that we AR activists don't want animals to be treated better before they are killed? Or is it that we don't want to make the animal exploiters rich by selling the public on the phony idea that if they pay more, the animals will be "happy" to die for them.

    There are ways to help those who are exploited without enriching those who do the exploiting. If the large groups took this approach to working on husbandry reform, perhaps they would not be getting so much flak.

    October 20, 2007
  20. Ellie #

    Hi Gary,

    If I may clarify, I'm not accusing activists of profiting from reforms. I am accusing group leadership of putting their organizations above the interests of non-human animals. You said that's illogical, so let me explain how I think it works.

    We agree our task is enormous, and animal advocacy can be downright discouraging. Understandably, activists need to feel they're making a difference– these groups get rich on convincing people they're winning "victories" for animals.

    But I don't think they are victories, Gary, because the animals are not winning. And I think the leaders of these groups know that too. They may be vegans, but I think they know the limits of the reforms they promote, how impossible it is to enforce them, and that they've helped create a market for "humane" meat.

    Please don't take this as personal attack on yourself. I appreciate your offer to arrange a conversation with these folks, but I don't think we can change each others view. So for now, let's please stay with the blog, ok? We can agree to disagree 🙂

    October 21, 2007
  21. kim #

    Hi Ellie-

    Just wanted to comment on some things in your posts to Gary.

    Reforms may be limited, but I don't see how outright bans on certain practices is a matter of enforcement. And with those bans, changes in the environment for the animals, however minimal they appear, are significant to the animals living every second of their lives in a gestation crate or a battery cage. Ideal or a victory to you? Maybe not. Significant to them? Of course.

    And besides, lack of enforcement doesn't excuse ignoring legal atrocities. Most people think that laws to protect ALL animals already exist, so at the very least we need to force the reality of legally sanctioned torture to get in line with public perception, while dealing with the issues of enforcement.

    As far as helping create a market for "humane meat", I think that market segment is an inevitable outcome of educating the public on factory farming, regardless of how cozy animal groups get with "producers". Since most people won't immediately grasp the moral considerations, they will initially seek out an alternative to factory farming in order to keep eating animal products, regardless of the strength of vegan advocacy. So one could argue that ANY activism that acknowledges current conditions helped create the "humane meat" segment.

    I look at these "partnerings" more as keeping your enemies close – as I'm sure the "producers' view it – and that they, obviously, are using each other to further their own interests.(Now whether this is making animal groups "rich" is subjective, when compared to industry and government resources. And although funds are raised through welfare campaigns, lots of that is then used on abolition campaigns and vegan advocacy.) But if the animals get something out of it at all while awaiting abolition, I view that as a positive development – considering their assured constant suffering without any reforms.

    It's becoming pretty apparent that we are going to be advocating veganism/abolition from a "humane farming" landscape in the near future regardless of our objections or opinions about who is ultimately responsible for that shift, so we (you, me) need to start focusing on strategies for vegan advocacy within that dynamic.

    October 21, 2007
  22. Thanks Jenny for drawing my attention back to the real issue, not the use of a label or who calls whom what, but the fact that these groups now consider those who profit from killing and enslaving animals allies and major donors, while they consider the grassroots activists in the trenches as an annoyance and possibly as the enemy. You articulated the issue very well.

    Of course the industry will continue to promote their "humane" products. We as a movement don't need to promote the tortured bodies of animals for them. Yet that's exactly what the movement is doing because it is so profitable to do so. TAFA was a wake up call for many of us regarding what is really going on.

    I am disheartened by much of what I see around me and further discouraged when so many activists buy hook, line, and sinker (fishing metaphor used here since the movement promotes the idea that we can kill and eat animals and still care about them) that we're being divisive if we say what bothers us, that this promotion of the industry is necessary, and that the real problem is those who wish we were still promoting veganism.

    For those who say these steps are necessary to raise money, I find myself questioning if raising money ought to be a primary goal of the movement. You can throw a lot of money at a problem and still get nowhere if our goals and basic ethical beliefs aren't clear.

    I know that this simply isn't going to change. These organizations just get too much money this way. But I hope that those of us who still think veganism is worthwhile can band together and find new and creative ways to promote veganism.

    October 21, 2007
  23. Ellie #

    Hi Kim,

    I think banning a practice of animal use can be a good idea if it's substantial, but I don't think any have been so far. From what I've seen and read about "humane" farming, I honestly don't think these measures are significant for the animals.

    For just one example, chickens are still debeaked because they stand on top of each other on "free-range" farms. They're still killed within a fraction of their lives, and male chicks are still killed within days.

    Also, some "bans" do not end the practice, as claimed. The litigation in California is not a ban on foie gras; but according to Farm Sanctuary, HSUS, and other groups, they were victorious in banning foie gras, and activists should celebrate. Imo, this is disingenuous.

    Re: enforcement, no matter what the law is, it's impossible to monitor how billions of non-human animals live and get killed. Stunning and other "humane" killing methods still cause them stress, pain, and injuries in transport.

    I agree, "humane meat" is an outgrowth of these measures; but vegan advocacy based on a holistic respect for animals does not lead to consuming them. If it's uncompromising, as I think it should be, then either you respect non-human beings or you don't. Either there is "humane" farming or there is not. It cannot be both.

    October 21, 2007
  24. Ellie #

    To Neva and Jenny,

    I agree completely.

    October 21, 2007
  25. Ellie #

    Sorry Neva and Jenny, I had unexpected company earlier, and closed down my computer, forgetting what I wanted to say.

    To continue: I agree completely….. about these groups making deals with industry, but I think a label/identity is important. It's important to distinguish rights from welfare because only rights advocacy supports animal personhood–and if ever animals can be rights holders, they must first be recognized as legal persons.

    That will take a very long time, and I think it's important to put this in the correct context now. Promoting animals as products cannot possibly lead to them having rights, so I think it's a mistake to call this animal rights advocacy.

    Considering the profit made on the Animal "Compassion" logo, labels can make a big difference.

    October 21, 2007
  26. Jenny said:

    I think the focus on "welfare vs rights" distracts from the real issue causing all the trouble these days, which is the large so-called animal advocacy groups collaborating with industry — scratching each other's backs and accepting each other's money/PR connections. It's a "business bonanza," in the words of one industrial "cage free" egg producer.

    I think that the real issue is the use of animals, and the tragic aspect of recent "advocacy" is indeed the "business bonanza."

    We use language to represent how we feel, so the discussion becomes filled with references to welfare, rights, abolition, etc…, and there is not universal agreement about what rights or abolition should mean (I think everyone agrees what welfare is and isn't). In an effort to short cut to a word that describes what someone believes, they use the word they think represents their beliefs, then the endless debates ensue, due to the absence of universal agreement. And my point is that I'm not going to solve that. I don't see how I could. But what I can do is minimize my participation in activities that aren't a good use of my time, such as debating endlessly with people who are already vegan and are firm in their belief that incremental reforms will lead to us not using animals.

    Co-opting of language is a significant problem, and I deal with it when and where I can, however I am aware that there is a point when it is not effective. And I think that point, in some circles, has been reached.

    October 22, 2007
  27. Ellie #

    Yes, but what should we do when these issues and words come up? I'm not a perfectionist, and I don't have to be correct all the time. If we think some activism is not helpful to animals, should we just ignore it?

    October 22, 2007
  28. kim #

    After some further reflection on the topic of "When words get in the way", I've decided to personally use "anti-welfarists" rather than "abolitionists" as I think it appropriately differentiates abolitionists who favor (or don't condemn) incremental welfare reforms from those who don't. And I think it's a logical juxtaposition to "new welfarists."

    Any thoughts on this?

    Personally, I'd rather we just acknowledge we are all animal rights activists/abolitionists who happen to have different strategies, philosophies and interpretations of what an AR activist is or does. Because in reality, the "public" (who you realize very quickly through personal interactions is basically clueless) is going to call us all AR activists anyway, regardless of internal conflicts, debates about strategy or self-determined labels.

    One more thing came to mind out of this discussion – a slightly altered version of the AA mantra "please give me the strength to change the things I can and accept the things I can't." I think it's apropos, in regards to the question of how much energy, anger & frustration we should put toward changing other vegan activists' positions (through altered terminology or other means), including the larger animal organizations, once we've made our feelings/criticisms clearly known.

    October 22, 2007
  29. Ellie,
    I don't mean at all to suggest that we don't have the language discussion, particularly (especially) with people new to veganism and animal rights. What I'm talking about is having the same discussion over and over, with the same vegans. I'm trying to politely bow out of that discussion, as it appears to already be taking over some boards and I don't have the time or inclination to keep having it (with the same people). I hope that's not rude.

    October 22, 2007
  30. Dan #

    I agree that it is generally a waste of time debating this issue with the same people.

    I’ll continue to criticize new welfarism as the barrier to abolition that it is, and continue to use the terms regularly. If Gary, Kim, and other defenders of the new welfarist paradigm want to criticize me for criticizing new welfarism, fine. In my view, there are two movements, and I really don’t care what the new welfarist movement has to say.

    October 22, 2007
  31. Ellie #

    Thanks for clarifying that, Mary. I too think it's a waste of time and energy to debate with the same people. It seems we all (you, Kim, Dan, and I) realize that.

    At the same time, I think it's important to build the foundation for non-human personhood, and that means rejecting whatever condones exploitation of animals.

    October 22, 2007
  32. Dan #

    My apologies for kicking this dormant argument so as to raise the stench of hell again, but I didn’t have time during the past few days to comment on one particular thing Gary wrote a few days ago as follows:

    Gary wrote:

    “To accuse folks of engaging in reform campaigns *merely* to raise funds is unfair, illogical, and uncalled for. Should I say that Gary Francione criticizes leaders of the movement just to sell books? Or that Peaceful Prairie is defiant just to attract funds from people looking for that sort of thing?”

    My reply:

    Reform campaigns are a very profitable racket for new welfarist organizations. They are where organizations like PETA, and especially HSUS, can really tap into millions of meat-eaters’ pockets and pocket millions of dollars annually. Meat-eaters don’t care as much about non-sensational stuff like vegan education and outreach. Meat-eaters like to hear “victories” about how “happy” meat just got “happier”. “Happier” meat makes a happier meat-eater.

    Of course, who doesn’t want animals to suffer less? Only a sick sadist would want animals to suffer more. Even animal agribiz itself touts animal welfare, and when they can get a nod from new welfarists, all the better! So it’s true Gary, new welfarists don’t engage in reform campaigns *merely* to raise funds, they engage in reform campaigns also because it makes more than half of their donors (i.e. the *meat-eating half*) very happy, and making donors happy is always a big goal of NPOs, regardless of the biz they’re in.

    About Francione selling books, the guy is a distinguished law professor. If he stayed on Wall Street early in his career, he’d be rolling in more money than he’d know what to do with. Francione is not writing animal rights books for money. In fact, typing that made me laugh.

    About Peaceful Prairie: they/we (I volunteer for PPS) are an all volunteer group. Depending on the individual, they log up to 60 hours weekly running that sanctuary *with absolutely no pay whatsoever.* How much of your donor dollar goes *only* to VEGAN education and outreach and *only* to feeding and caring for the animals when you donate to Peaceful Prairie? 95 cents on the dollar *and all of it direct* – NO “allocations of overhead”. There are not many NPOs that can brag about that kind of hard work from volunteers and that kind of program funding as a percentage of expenses. In fact, I know of none. If Peaceful Prairie received even one percent of PETA’s revenues, they would have *six times* the revenue they did in 2006. Sure, Peaceful Prairie would be glad to have more funds, who wouldn’t, but don’t claim they’re getting rich off of abolition, or as you put it “defiant”. That is absurd. Also, your characterization of abolition as “defiant” tells me quite a bit about where you stand, Gary. (How DARE anyone disagree with the “movement” establishment!)

    I’ll be back Thursday or Friday and comment if necessary then.

    October 23, 2007
  33. Last year at Turtle Nest Village ( our administrative expenses were under 7% (this year they're under 10%) and may I say we threw ourselves a party (fully funded by the board, by the way). Admin expenses of 5% are crazily streamlined. I've never heard of anyone getting down that low. In fact, one of the things I'm telling people to look at in my pamphlet, is just how much of each of their hard-earned dollars goes to administration and fundraising. And of course, how much the ED gets in salary. Now that the 990 will be revamped and maybe mean something next year, the average person will be able to use it, in addition to Charity Navigator ( and any other information on guidestar ( to better decide whom to give to–if anyone.

    October 23, 2007
  34. kim #

    Dan said: That is absurd. Also, your characterization of abolition as “defiant” tells me quite a bit about where you stand, Gary. (How DARE anyone disagree with the “movement” establishment!)

    Of course it's absurd, hence the comparison. It's as absurd as proclaiming anyone goes into AR to make money. Or runs an AR organization for the money, counting on welfare campaigns to make them rich. Or that any of the people running these organizations couldn't easily find more lucrative positions outside AR.

    And in regards to your mischaracterization of what Gary was claiming as being defiant, he said Peaceful Prairie was defiant, not abolition. Again, in relation to the absurd notion that they (Peaceful Prairies) are dismissive of welfare reforms *merely* to raise funds in the same way it is absurd to proclaim AR groups run welfare campaigns *merely* to raise funds.

    I know that Gary is committed to abolition, as should you, as he's stated that in several posts here. As far as his stand on anti-welfarists and their disagreements with the movement, I think he's clearly stated his observations. And none that I recall ever implied he felt anyone/group is above criticism. He very eloquently elaborates on this and other topics at his blog

    October 23, 2007
  35. Dan #


    Perhaps the biggest reason Peaceful Prairie’s (PPS) is so low is that it is 100% volunteer. If they paid salaries or wages, just administering payroll would increase the percentage a small amount. Add to that any salaries for routine admin-type work, and we’re up to 7-10%. As PPS grows and starts paying people, etc. those percentages will admittedly change to the still very streamlined, but more common 7-12%.


    Let me explain:

    It is a fact that animal welfare, because it gets the support of the meat-eating general public, is far more lucrative in terms of the ability to pay salaries and supposedly “help” the animals than is animal rights (i.e. abolition). It is absurd to turn it around and claim that PPS is doing abolition work because it is more lucrative than animal welfare work. It is *not* absurd to say that PETA is doing welfare work because it is more lucrative than rights/abolition work.

    About my “mischaracterization” of Gary’s word “defiant” in place of the word “abolitionist”, the real mischaracterization is Gary calling himself “abolitionist”. Abolitionists do not support and promote welfare reform. Gary does. Abolitionists educate and persuade vegans to focus exclusively on vegan education and outreach which they correctly see as the only means to abolition. Gary rejects such an exclusive focus in favor of also promoting “happy” meat. Abolitionists see welfare reform as a meat-eater’s cause and vegan education and outreach as a vegan’s cause. Gary disagrees. Gary insists that we all embrace and not criticize welfare reform and the people and orgs that participate. But abolitionists see welfare reform as not only making animal consumption more palatable to the public, but also a never ending treadmill and money-machine for welfare organizations that will never lead to ending animal use. Gary claims he would like animal use to end someday, but all new welfarists, by definition, claim they would like animal use to end someday. Gary is a new welfarist (and thus cannot be an abolitionist; they are mutually exclusive) because he argues for welfare reform and/or supporting and promoting it, not because he says he’d like animal use to end someday.

    So, PPS is abolitionist in the true sense of the term, not Gary’s half-baked notion of nonsense that “we’re all abolitionists- let’s hug and do welfare reform together!” PPS is part of a different movement that could possibly someday lead to real abolition. I suppose if the new welfarist movement wants to call PPS “defiant”, that’s fine. After all, it's not the same movement. Maybe the meat industry will call PPS “very defiant.” (Where’s the laughing smiley?)

    October 24, 2007
  36. kim #

    Dan, I know you don't care what those Francione has labeled "new welfarists" have to say (laughing emoticon needed for that previous foot stomping declaration of yours), so I won't bore you with further rebuttals.

    Suffice to say that thankfully you can't co-opt the meaning of "abolition" and that you don't get to choose what meanings others get to place on their activism. I'm sure you believe anti-welfare strategies are the definitive means to gain abolition, as much as Gary and I believe and acknowledge that welfare reforms have a place in the process and are inevitable.

    How you, Francione, and some others choose to convey and pursue the premise of this self-proclaimed "new movement" is such a turn off, that I doubt the majority of the population is ever going to hear your position when it's drowned out by all your misplaced frustration and anger at other activists/organizations. If some of you took the time to actually listen and examine public perceptions, instead of trying to impress one another with pseudo-intellectual academic theory about property rights, you may recognize that reality. But I guess for some of you, trying to find a way to define yourselves and feel powerful within the powerless minority that is animal rights, has its own rewards?

    October 25, 2007
  37. Dan #

    Saying that 1) welfare reform is inevitable versus saying 2) it is causally necessary for abolition are two entirely different claims. I don’t deny that welfare reforms are inevitable. In fact, I’ve always argued that vegan education and outreach often motivate meat-eaters to buy “happy” meat and push for reforms. I also realize that welfarists, both new and traditional, will very likely far outnumber rightists/abolitionists during my entire lifetime. New welfarism isn’t going away any time soon and that is inevitable. However, there is no causal relationship between “happy” meat (the results of new welfarism) and going vegan. Going vegan is a result of vegan education and outreach only.

    Of course, we can call ourselves what we want, and you’re right, you and Gary can call yourselves abolitionists and nobody will stop you. You can also mislead less informed people into thinking that you really are abolitionist. But if and when they come to see what a real abolitionist is, your credibility might suffer a bit. You’re better off calling yourselves new welfarists and taking pride in it if you think the activity behind the word is so praiseworthy. That you desire so much to be viewed as “abolitionists” tells me that you don’t really believe that new welfarism (i.e. the activity and believe that welfare leads to abolition) is a good thing, or at least not as good as being an abolitionist.

    Our criticism of new welfarists is not “misplaced frustration and anger” any more than your defense of new welfarist is “misplaced frustration and anger.” We simply disagree and make it well-known.

    About our new movement being “such a turn off”; well, I suppose one person’s treasure is another person’s trash. It’s just too bad genuine animal rights advocacy is viewed by some vegans as such a turn off. Oh well, I’m sure a focus on vegan education and outreach is also a major turn off for hunters, trappers, and “happy” meat customers also. Personally, I think despite the ranting and raving against us, we’re making many people think and re-think advocacy and focus more on veganism. As long as that’s the case, I’m fine with the heat.

    About “pseudo-intellectual academic theory about property rights”: first, a vast majority of our discussion has nothing to do with property rights and its relation to exploitation, but rather it is about vegan education and outreach as the way to eventually achieve animal rights and how “happy” meat is an obstacle to vegan education and outreach. Second, you can put derogatory adjectives in front of it all you want, but the property theory is rock solidly pragmatic and widely respected in academia, even if those who respect the theory don’t currently accept animal rights, per se. IOW, even if they don’t agree that animals should have the right not to be property, they agree that if animals DID have the right not to be property, they could obtain other basic rights, such as a right to life, which they can’t have as long as they are someone’s property.

    Come over to the dark side with us, Kim. Be a naughty, defiant abolitionist.

    October 25, 2007
  38. kim #

    Dan said: It’s just too bad genuine animal rights advocacy is viewed by some vegans as such a turn off.

    Spin, spin. Twist, twist. Compelling, reasoned and respectful presentation of a position = possible consideration by the intended party. Angry, mocking and accusatory presentation = turn off, ears closed. Sure, some people will be attracted initially to the misplaced outrage and hyperbole, but not in substantial numbers; nor will it produce any long-term participation. If you've got little to offer towards the application of a theory, other than angrily targeting those you consider the offenders, interest won't be sustained. Add to that the lack of evidence that vegan advocacy alone will result in abolition, and you've got a pretty hollow platform.

    Besides, we already know the affect this approach of yours has had on changing the strategies of the "primary offenders" – HSUS, PETA, everyone except Peaceful Prairie. Zippo. (Your approach with them is comparable in effectiveness to omnis calling us "AR nutters".) They're already doing vegan advocacy (in conjunction with incremental welfare reforms), and have made it clear they have no intention of changing that strategy, so what else have you got?

    Dan said: Come over to the dark side with us, Kim. Be a naughty, defiant abolitionist.

    I'm already an abolitionist.

    But going over to the Francione-esque, anti-welfarism dark side? Not possible. Delusional, ego complexes can't be faked. :>)

    October 31, 2007
  39. Kim,

    I'm confused by some of your posts here. I've been following
    along. You are referring to yourself as an abolitionist, while
    simultaneously suggesting the term "anti-welfarist" for abolitionists.
    You say we should be unified and stop infighting, yet you continue to
    argue that we should see things your way. I'm sure you feel insulted
    somehow or else I can't understand why you would keep posting with
    such emotion. However, you fail to see how insulting and divisive
    your comments are.

    I know you're a great activist and I know you're really dedicated, but
    I've also seen a lot of comments from you that seem to suggest that I
    have nothing worth saying and no right to say it. I've commented
    here and in other forums in response to you and yet you've never
    answered back to anything I've said or asked. I'm left wondering if
    you just think I'm not worth responding to, you find my comments too
    long to read, or if you're too busy repeating the same things you've
    said many times to even acknowledge my concerns.

    You repeatedly ask what we're going to do, given that PeTA and HSUS
    aren't going to change. I think you're probably right that they won't
    change, but part of the discussion on this blog and other forums is
    about how we can continue to contribute to the cause of animal rights
    even we find ourselves unable to accept the direction of the
    self-appointed leaders of the movement. Mary's efforts to create a
    pamphlet, my efforts to create materials, pamphlets, and articles are
    all about promoting animal rights and veganism in ways that we feel
    comfortable with.

    I also find it weird that in this movement we're in the business of
    hope, that is we hope against all odds that the most close-minded
    burger-eating Joe Public will be able to see a film, read a book, or
    meet an animal at a sanctuary and start making changes in his life.
    We HAVE to believe that's possible. Moreover, our own ranks are full
    of former burger-eating Joe Publics who did change. At the same time
    you're telling us to accept that our views will never get even the
    slightest consideration from anyone at PeTA, COK, or HSUS. Strange
    that we hope the public will be more flexible in their entrenched
    beliefs than organizations devoted to bringing about change will be.

    The reasons for so much criticism of the larger groups include
    a) most of us were dedicated supporters of those groups up until very
    recently and in forming our own concepts of how to promote veganism,
    we are primarily viewing it right now as "what not to do."
    b) defining what we feel doesn't send the right message or why those
    efforts are not effective is the reason why we need to create our own
    materials. If we were happy with everything PeTA did then we'd just
    pass out their pamphlets and go home–it is our dissatisfaction that
    drives us to be more active in coming up with our own resources, and
    c) they really do some incredibly offensive and foolish stuff. I
    don't agree with every single critique of HSUS and PeTA, but some of
    their campaigns and statements are so far from anything resembling
    animal rights that I sometimes feel the need to do a sanity check and
    ask others if I really saw/heard what I thought I saw/heard.
    Incidentally this seems to be something PeTA in particular relies
    on–"let's do something so outrageous everyone will be talking about
    it." Then when WE talk about it we're accused of being divisive.

    Compromise and cooperation are a two-way street. If the larger groups
    want our support then they need to earn our trust back. The simple
    fact though, as you point out, is that they won't change and they are
    not interested in our views or our support. That is their choice.

    I do find it fascinating though that PeTA is eager to reach a
    compromise with Burger King and call off their opposition of Burger
    King in response to very minor changes, and yet PeTA cannot compromise
    with the very large number of animal rights activists who support
    non-lethal control for feral cats. They are eager to be buddies with
    the animal exploiting industry but find cooperation with other
    activists impossible. PeTA calls advocates of No Kill solutions for
    companion animals unrealistic, hoarders, and sometimes calls us crazy
    or even liars. But they give Temple Grandin an award for designing a

    To me the message is pretty clear, and it's not just PeTA, but also
    HSUS and COK, these groups view those who make their living killing
    animals as allies, but they also view dedicated vegan activists as the
    enemy. This leaves me no choice but to distance myself from these
    groups and try to find my own ways to contribute to the cause.

    This is all anyone can do. Many people when they find their own
    consciences at odds with the tactics of the larger groups simply drop
    out and vanish. I prefer to seek ways I can contribute that don't
    conflict with my ethics.

    I've heard from so many supporters and/or employees of PeTA, HSUS, and
    COK, and they all say essentially the same things you are saying.
    They express hostility that I'm "being divisive." They say their way
    is inevitable and I'm naive to think otherwise. They say essentially
    all the same things that the meat industry says to us to try to make
    us give up and go home. You know, maybe these organizations are
    being divisive by insisting that everyone agree with them, or by doing
    things they know are not going to go over well with many activists.

    I respect many people who work at these organizations and know many of
    them to be extremely dedicated. But something seems lost in
    translation and somehow the organizations come out with things that
    are very difficult to accept, for me impossible to accept.

    October 31, 2007
  40. I am really not sure why HSUS keeps coming up. They do not claim to be an animal rights/abolitionist group–quite the reverse. Thus instead of being friend or enemy to that cause surely they are simply and dispassionately irrelevant to it? And perhaps PeTA can go in the same category and people can get own with their own initiatives?

    October 31, 2007
  41. I never understood the lumping of HSUS with PETA, as HSUS is clearly welfarist. Maybe since Wayne Pacelle and he's the first vegan leader of HSUS? Maybe that muddied things? I don't know. HSUS and PETA are aligned on happy meat and the like, though, which should only make abolitionists upset with PETA, not the HSUS, as we should never have had expectations of HSUS to do otherwise.

    That's my two cents.

    October 31, 2007
  42. I heard Wayne Pacelle speak (again) a few days ago and he seems somewhat irritated by two things. 1) HSUS being mistaken for an animal rights group and 2) being misquoted.

    October 31, 2007
  43. Dan #

    Very well said, Neva.

    About PETA getting lumped in with HSUS (because PETA has shifted toward HSUS more than HSUS has shift toward the old PETA), I think the combination makes sense because they do the same welfare reform work. The primary difference is in their professed goals: PETA says they would like animal use to end and promotes veganism (but not as a moral imperative); HSUS says they want to make conditions better for animals and stays several parsecs away from the nasty “V-word” (the implication is that they are perfectly fine with slaughtering animals for food, etc. as long as we do it nicely, ya know, cutthroat compassion). PETA is new welfarist. HSUS is old welfarist. They are both welfarist; therefore, the lumping, dispite some differences.

    BTW, PETA is NOT animal rights. They promote Peter Singer and reject Tom Regan and Gary Francione, among others.

    October 31, 2007
  44. Dan,
    Though I agree that PETA isn't an animal rights organization–they think they are. At least HSUS doesn't claim to be something it's not. For ME, that's the problem.

    It's no wonder that the clueless mainstream media calls anyone who advocates for a nonhuman an "animal rights activist."

    October 31, 2007
  45. I put HSUS in because they are systematically absorbing smaller organizations. They took over The Fund for Animals, which was previously an animal rights group. They took over Doris Day Animal League. Then they brought on the whole leadership of Compassion Over Killing. This has left COK in a position where they really can only take stands and do campaigns that are approved by HSUS, and thus COK, which used to be an animal rights group is now an animal welfare organization.

    HSUS wields considerable economic power over the entire movement and they've also decided to compete with FARM for the annual AR conference by holding their own conference and inviting groups that agree to toe the party line. HSUS said the purpose of starting their own conference was to exclude speakers who promote violence, but they exclude abolitionist speakers who never promote violence. HSUS claims that for the past two years their conferences have surpassed the AR conferences in attendees. Is their conference attended by all burger-munching welfarists? No, in fact PeTA, COK, and Hugs for Puppies participate. In fact many groups are afraid to NOT participate. I tabled there this year for United Poultry Concerns and most people really wanted info on veganism. I was somewhat harassed by one small group of people who wanted to keep eating chickens, but then found out those were speakers paid to speak there by HSUS and AWI, they were ranchers.

    Paul Shapiro of HSUS claims to be an animal rights activist and is touted as such by Eric Marcus in his podcast and goes around speaking as an animal rights speaker.

    October 31, 2007
  46. I agree with Dan.

    PETA and HSUS operate similarly, regardless of how they define themselves (which is mostly rhetoric anyway). They are both focused on running or promoting campaigns (largely irrespective of their actual content or merit) that will generate revenue. Also, HSUS is fervently supported by new welfarist Eric Marcus, who (rather regrettably) runs

    In fact, just today he put up a "Phone Chat with Paul Shapiro of HSUS".
    He calls Paul Shapiro one of the "top activists in the movement".
    They both support the "Humane California campaign", which I find revolting.

    October 31, 2007
  47. Wow. Thanks, Neva. Those are very good points. I even wrote about the mergers way back when, but I didn't at the time see it as a welfare/rights thing. Now, I was a "new welfarist" at the time, I think, so it's no wonder.

    Though I still don't equate HSUS and PETA, as I think THEY THINK their missions are different (regardless of what they actually do), what matters, in my opinion, is continuing to open the eyes of people who say that they are animal rights activists, and then support HSUS or PETA. It's the continuous funneling of money to non-abolitionist groups that I'd like to see cease. I want people who believe we shouldn't be using animals to realize–just like I did–that they could very well be supporting campaigns that are actually not in alignment with their beliefs. They're just not examining the groups the way they should be.

    There are plenty of people like that. I know that because I was one of them and I still know plenty of them.

    October 31, 2007
  48. Ellie #

    Another thing, HSUS has taken credit for what other groups have accomplished. With such dishonesty, I wouldn't believe ~anything~ they claim.

    November 1, 2007
  49. I think the simple fact is that welfare is an issue claimed by 60%-ish of the US public, rights/abolition is down at about 6% (from a survey I saw reported last week). So organisations dealing with welfare will tend to be the bigger ones. But my point is this is a separate concern. They are going to do what they are going to do. You can win the definitions and vocab war and still not have acheived anything. I think having initiatives that are abolition-focussed is more productive than critiquing the choices of others to focus in something else most of the time.

    November 1, 2007
  50. Ellie #

    I think personal approach is also important. In my own advocacy (letters to editors, blogging, etc.), I stress non-humans are personal beings, who have interests far beyond avoiding pain. Imo, this is very important because it's essential to build a foundation for animal personhood, which will never-ever come from animal "welfare".

    In a meat-eating culture, groups that modify animal husbandry– and thus tacitly support it– are bound to be more popular. After all, people can still eat meat and continue to use animals. That, and alliance with industry pushes abolition to the fringe of animal advocacy, where the mainstream regards it as so radical as to not be taken seriously. So I think the disagreement between ideologies is understandable.

    November 1, 2007

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