can be sometimes dismaying. Not because of those who harm animals, curiously, but because of those who are supposedly in agreement with you.
Several months ago on facebook someone posted something about Amazon selling rabbits feet. You remember those grotesque body parts supposed to bring "good" luck...obviously they don't represent good luck for the rabbit. I shared the post and complained to Amazon and urged others to do the same.
To my surprise my actions resulted in some 17 separate comments by a person objecting to my objecting. Not because they thought selling body parts was ok but rather because I wasn't objecting to any and everything at all to do with selling something from animals. Now of course I do object to selling anything to do with animals but in this instance I wasn't doing that, I was focusing on this particular instance of human cruelty. I sort of felt like that was my choice, ya know?
However, this person proceeded to "educate" me about speciesism and how single species advocating was bad juju and eventually she wrote that "Seeing welfarist postings is upsetting because it causes violence to animals." She then fired me as a Facebook friend...with the condescending proviso that I might be taken back into her fold if I would read a book by G.L. Francione called "Rain Without Thunder" and get my mind right. (By the way, I'm unable to find any empirical backing for the notion that welfarism causes violence to animals, this is apparently an opinion floating around with no evidence supporting it.)
Actually I thought and still think the whole facebook brouhaha was sort of funny and sort of sad at the same time. Several friends of mine got rather incensed however and took the woman to task in some of their comments. I responded to her a couple of times but when I saw that she seemed to be on a mission and wasn't ready to back up some of her assertions with empirical data I thanked her for her opinion and just didn't respond anymore.
Thanking her for her opinion seemed to incense some buddy of hers who then chimed in during this comment extravaganza by writing that the person trying to school us...this self anointed guruess: "has better things to do with her time...(and that we were showing a) lack of appreciation of her sharing the science of how easily the human mind is manipulated...marketing was my work for many years and her understanding is greater than many PHDs."
So, I had a person with understanding greater than many Ph.D.s and a marketing whiz telling me what a goobers we all were for not appreciating the pearls they were casting before us. Wow.
Probably this rather arrogant and silly statement epitomizes what I found amusing and dismaying. First of all, I always get a little nervous when somebody starts claiming to know more about some area than folks that hold a doctorate degree in that specialty. Not that something like that isn't possible, it is just that the likelihood of such is really very small. Certainly the things written by either of these folks wasn't exhibiting some superior grasp of the topic . (Not to be disingenuous here, I hold a Ph.D. in psychology and spent several decades observing and sometimes assisting people struggling to change how they thought and felt and behaved...changing is not easy nor is it something I am particularly ignorant about.)
Again, remember, I firmly am an advocate of and supporter of the notion that all sentient beings have a right to live their lives however they want, they are not property, amusements, slaves, pets or food. That is my position and nothing I was saying contradicted that -- however -- that wasn't good enough for these folks because I wasn't toeing their party line. Gimme a break.
In addition, no one and I repeat no one, has discovered any sure-fire way to get people to change their thinking to some desired way or another. Happily so. If such a certain method had been discovered, governments would all be using it and each society would have only one way of thinking. You can look around and see that such is not the case; ipso facto such a certain methodology doesn't exist. Get real.
I sort of felt like I was in one of those stories where you see somebody being excommunicated by a religious group or someone being expelled or assassinated by communist or nazi party members because of factional disagreements. It was sort of surrealistic.
I'm not a big believer in orthodoxy of thought or speech or feeling primarily because it's stifling and exclusionary and unrealistic and eventually stupid-making. Human animals, like other animals, are individuals and trying to impose a "one size fits all" mandate on what to say or how to say it or how to feel is ridiculous. Convincing someone to change their thinking takes many different approaches. What is effective in one instance may be totally ineffective in another situation.
I'm also definitely not a believer in half-assed notions being promoted as "science". Invoking the term Science usually suggests there is empirical evidence somewhere. I asked for evidence to back up what position these folks were pushing and never was offered any but then they proceeded as if they had presented evidence for their statements and I was just ignoring it.
I am familiar with the writings of Dr. Francione. He's a philosopher and animal rights advocate and writes some good stuff re ethical veganism and abolishing the property status of animals. I'm in agreement with that, but he isn't some deity or something. Philosophy is an area of study that generally relies on logic and rationality for the scaffolding of knowledge. Needless to say, straightforward logic and rationality often has only a peripheral relationship to how human animals think or behave.
In his defense, his writings do not come across as arrogant and all-knowing but apparently some of the folks that claim to follow him get almost cult-like about it. I don't know whether he encourages that or not but it is sort of weird and off-putting...and silly. I like silly usually, but when someone is being silly and doesn't know it but rather is being real serious and earnest and pushy...it can offensive and a bit spooky.
I'm not a welfarist in that I don't think human animals have any right to use other beings, no matter how nicely they might treat them. I do think, while we're trying to implement an abolition of other animal use, if any improvement in the treatment of any or all animals that are being used by humans can be achieved...then go for it...and if you want to put your passion into advocating for one sort of animal...more power to ya. Hell, if we can liberate the fur, feather, skin and scale folks one species at a time that is still better than where we are now.
To act as if anyone has figured out how to get human animals to quit damaging other beings and the planet is sort of goofy. This is a big, big, big problem and a lot more folks are going to need to wake up to this fact and be motivated to change before things get rolling and anything that increases that awakening and motivation...I'm for it.
Not that I am for any and all approaches because some things that are done in the name of helping other animals is simply incomprehensible. For instance…having a non-vegan barbeque or a non-vegan ice cream fundraiser for some animal shelter or something...that sort of stuff exemplifies speciesim in action. Advocating (implicitly or overtly) by using or hurting one group of animals to help another group of animals is so yucky that my head smokes a little when I see it.
It is in these misguided efforts that you see some serious evidence of the disordered thinking supported by our society, of speciesism, of welfarism. Those sorts of travesties uphold the notion that human animals have some sort of right to control, use, "breed", steal from or kill other animals…just as long as humans aren’t overtly mean to these specific types of animals. This is simply wrong and precisely what is erroneous about basing the value of sentient beings predicated on what species they belong to.
I do not, on the other hand, see a problem with objecting to selling animal parts (a rabbit foot) or objecting to the killing of baby seals or objecting to rodeos or circuses that use animals. The more the merrier is the way I see it…as long as you are not condoning harm or encouraging harm or engaging in harm to animals in some other way…go for it.... I'm aware that often such efforts are may not be too effective but…what the hey? Hells bells, if we eliminated the ineffective activities from our lives, I doubt there would be much left…Power to the Ineffective! One of the great lines in the terrific movie “Hospital” starring George C. Scott, occurs when he screams out an open window: “Power to the Impotent!”
As for the orthodoxy enforcers on facebook or anywhere else…confusing opinion with empirical evidence is poor form and doesn’t help anyone, much less the animals. Contentiousness about trivia trivializes what you might be attempting to accomplish. Trying to tell others what to say and how to say it is controlling and demeaning and counterproductive. And rude.
Realize that trying to convince an ethical vegan (who endeavors to harm no living beings) that they are not thinking or saying things the "right way" is a little peculiar. Sort of like bitching at the fireperson trying to put out a fire because she is not wearing the right kind of hat instead of taking the matches away from the kids who started the fire.
In truth, such an approach exhibits your deficiencies at convincing others. Obviously if you had the key to convincing…I would have been convinced as would everyone else that read what you had to say…that didn't happen.