Friday, September 11, 2009

NZ Vegan Podcast Episode 37 - In support of Non Violence

Listen HERE

This episode I talk about my support of non violence and of the abolitionist approach and peaceful non violent vegan education. I give my reasons why, based on my own personal experience and non-expert opinion, and my core beliefs, which is all I can do. In this episode I am specifically talking about some of the things that I have read over the last few weeks in which proponents of violent tactics in the name of animal rights have been getting a lot of attention, and I have read some things that I thought were not only misguided and tactically wrong, but also deeply immoral. Not all those involved are supporters of the extreme physical violence that a couple of writings and advocates are proposing, however it was very distressing to see support of these advocates by anyone at all. I realise that a lot of the really extreme positions come from people who are deeply disturbed by what is going on in our world and are perhaps totally overwhelmed with everything, the horrific amount animal exploitation and who feel desperate. I say they need to snap out of it and help us create a peaceful vegan movement, but of course they don't agree with that, nevertheless I stand firmly in my beliefs, as always.

I also object to people who are trying to confuse the issue by dragging things like Open Rescues into the debate about violence, I think that is muddying the waters and taking the focus of the debate off where it originally began and where it should remain, which was an objection to the hate mongering, propositions of actual physical violence and an escalation in violence in general by some advocates.

Finally I think we must realise that it is important for us to be there for new vegans who may be overwhelmed by their new knowledge, and help them stay sane and positive, because they are our ethical vegan movement and we need them to not lose control, we need them to help us get the ethical vegan movement going, and that is not going to happen if they spiral down into despair and hate.

And now for the good news! These are the podcasts I mentioned in the episode:
Professor Gary L. Francione from Abolitionist Approach:
Abolitionist Approach Commentary
at the iTunes store

Vincent Guihan from We Other Animals: - We Other Animals Radio
at the iTunes store: We Other Animals Radio

And Dr. Roger Yates from On Human-Nonhuman Relations:
On Human-Nonhuman Relations Podcast
at the iTunes store

This is the link to Barbara DeGrande's Veganacious blog

and this is to Corey Wrenn's Vegan Examiner articles, I hope to have Corey on as a guest very soon.
Roanoke Vegan Examiner

Thanks for listening.


  1. "If you break a lock is that violent? I think that is trying to set a trap"

    I disagree. It's a legitimate question to ask.

    But what these people are saying is that violence is required to stop violence, and we all would accept violence to be used in some situations, such as preventing a rape/bashing/fight of a human. So because we find it acceptable to use violence (or the threat) in some situations involving humans, but not in saving non-humans, we are therefore speciesists.

    What is considered violence needs to be clear.

    Gary opposes open rescues because there might be a violent confrontation and the fact that you can save animals from a local shelter. I disagree with Gary, and so does Roger.

    Anyway, Gary has said he has been on the receiving end of violence. This is because of what he says. You could mount an argument that you shouldn't advocate veganism because it might result in violence.

    I was amazed when Gary mentioned in his last podcast that it is illegal for that dear to receive vetinery treatment. This reminds me how it is illegal to "sabotage" hunts (hunt sabbing). It is legal to kill these animals, but it is illegal to protect them. This is unacceptable.

  2. Hi Gordon
    Thanks for your comments, as always very thought provoking and have a lot of thought put into them. Just have to point out that no one, including Gary, denies that in a crisis situation i.e. if someone were to attack you and try to rape you OR try to attack your dogs, or at a rally if they tried to break your arm and you wanted to defend yourself etc, that self defense or counter force would be used - that has nothing to do with this either, and I thought we already cleared that up on Facebook! :-)

    If you are doing something such as being on someone else's property illegally (and I am in perfect agreement that the fur farmers or whoever are the actual immoral ones, the real criminals here — but they are not yet in the eyes of the law remember, in the Capitalist State that exists and that will respond — just ask Dr. Yates) and you get confronted while engaging in that activity, it is not the same as being involved in an unprovoked physical attack on yourself or your companion animal.

    I myself object to Open Rescue being brought into this argument about violence, and although I know that other people think it is a legitimate thing to bring up, I just don't. In this episode I am addressing hate mongering and threats of physical violence against non vegans, which I observed with my own eyes on certain websites, and I am fully aware that number one it is probably just crazy talk but to me that is still not excusable and it is still very damaging in a number of ways, and number two MOST of the people are proposing the rise in violence as in economic sabotage like fire damage and the like, and are not proposing deadly physical force against non-vegans, however I don't agree with that either, for practical as well as moral reasons. (For one thing as Roger Yates has pointed out many times, fire kills non humans, every time, how can they justify that?) I think they will damage the movement that we are just starting to create, I think that their economic sabotage of heavily insured multi-billion dollar industries is ineffective and not worth the price we will all pay for those activities, and anyway many of them have been openly supportive of the people who are promoting hate and physical violence, which I object to and find very worrying.

    Your last observation is so on point. Thinking about all this violence stuff I watched Bowling for Columbine, in which "why are we so violent in America?" was the main theme of the documentary, and I was watching the father of one of the young boys who were murdered give a speech, and it was tear filled and emotional, and he talked in detail about the "tech 9" (I think) semi automatic assault rifle that was used to kill his boy, and he proclaimed "this type of weapon is NOT used to kill DEER. It has no use whatsoever." Well you know everybody cheered and cried. No one there associated any deer's death as being equally unjust as the young boy's. We are indoctrinated with speciesism, and it is not even hate filled on their part. They don't hate deer. They are morally confused and those of us who have finally had the chance to clear up that confusion in our own lives can educate others, and hate and violence is not going to do it.

  3. The following comment was sent to my by email but I asked permission to post it as I think he has raised a number of important points:

    I've just listened to your latest podcast - great as always!

    1 comment:
    - humans are not bilogically herbivores, i think that is just not correct
    we are similar to apes not cows and horses
    however what we biologically are is irrelevant, just because we are biologically , lets' assume, "herbivores" is no reason we should be herbivores... except for reasons of health
    the logic would be "natural" = "heathy"
    this logic however is flawed, it assumes that healthwise the ideal diet for humans nowadays is the diet of our prehistoric ancestors. this is also where the raw foodist logic comes from.

    however there are two problems with this theory, a) humans have evolved physically and adapted and b) a raw food diet does definitely not work for many people. it DOES work for others as it seems.

    an example for a) is: european have adapted and gotten lighter skin, humans have shed their hair, many europeans have become "lactose persistent" (they can still digest lactose as adults)
    and b) many people i know including myself have gotten very ill on a raw food diet. many people become malnourished, not enough calories to start with, several babies have died and as far as i know also some adults..

    the only reason for being vegan is ethical, not "naturalistic".
    and to promote a raw food diet as the ideal diet is not just unscientific it is imo also dangerous for the individuals who follow such advise and for the vegan movement.

    a good critique of all raw diets with an intersting raw food response is here:

    this is just my opinion and is meant as friendly constructive feedback not as criticism ;)

    all the best and keep up the great work!! :)


  4. Hi Christian!
    Just want to respond by saying first of all thank you! I welcome feedback, I appreciate constructive criticism, and I am grateful for new information. I need to be careful - I am very ignorant still about science, and I have already had to eat my words that you can't get obese on a vegan diet, which was quite embarrassing, so I really should kind of stick to what I am sure of.. which is ethics. I think we all know about ethics as it comes from the heart.

    I have a lot to learn about many other aspects of veganism; history, science, diet, and also plant based agriculture (just to name a few) but as you I feel the ethics is the most important reason.

  5. Dear Elizabeth:

    Great podcast.

    I am glad to see that you have taken on this "cult" nonsense. I make arguments. I give reasons in support of conclusions. If my arguments are valid and sound, then calling someone a "cultist" who accepts sound arguments is like saying that it is "cultist" to agree with the position that "All humans are mortal, Socrates is a human, and, therefore Socrates is a mortal."

    Although I make many arguments about violence, there is one that is irrefutable even if you think violence is morally acceptable: as long as demand continues, shutting down suppliers, especially in a world in which capital can cross national boundaries, is less productive than masturbation. You can shut down HLS and 10 other vivisectors and as long as there is social approval of vivisection (and that approval is overwhelming), that activity will be picked up by others. You can shut down 10 slaughterhouses and as long as people want to continue to eat meat, that demand will be filled.

    I also want to say that I find the open-rescue issue nothing but a silly diversion. We are talking about violence to other humans and property destruction that threatens humans and nonhumans. To obsess about open rescues is ridiculous. To Gordon and everyone else: do you reject violence against other humans and against property that threatens humans and nonhumans? If not, then let's not waste time talking about open rescues. If you do reject all of the aforementioned violence, we can then talk about the issue of open rescue.

    Moreover, Roger Yates defended open rescues on the ground that these actions are needed to get information about the condition of animals. If that was true at some point in the past, it certainly is not true now in my opinion.

    Finally, if Gordon and others are so very concerned about saving animal lives, they can go to their local shelters where thousands of animals are killed and rescue one or two or three.

    In my view, what is really going on here is that no one pats you on the back and calls you a hero when you go and adopt some little rat that is going to be killed because people do not adopt rats. If you steal the rat, you get to play hero.

    There is no scarcity of opportunities for humans to save nonhumans.

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University

  6. Elizabeth: Just wanted to say this was my favorite podcast you have done so far and how lovely to be included in it! Non-violent abolitionists are going to keep receiving challenges. I admire your strength and feel a debt of gratitude to Gary Francione for all he has done. You both keep me going and give a sense of hope. Thank you!

  7. Elizabeth,
    "Just have to point out that no one, including Gary, denies that in a crisis situation..."

    But what makes the situation the animals in different to your given situation? They're both horrible and violent situations.

    "(For one thing as Roger Yates has pointed out many times, fire kills non humans, every time, how can they justify that?)"

    I don't see fire as useful, but lets keep in mind lots of things we do result in the death of non humans. Most noticeably agriculture. We could go freegan, but we choose not to. Another vegan inconsistency is buying commercially grown fruit that has been pollinated by "enslaved" bees. As far as I know it isn't necessary to consume fruit to lead an optimally healthy life, but we don't boycott fruit.

    "I think that their economic sabotage of heavily insured multi-billion dollar industries is ineffective and not worth the price we will all pay for those activities"

    Indeed. Economic sabotage, for the most part, is completely useless.

    "we are similar to apes not cows and horses"

    We aren't "similar" to apes, we _are_ apes. We're apes, just as chimpanzees and gorillas are.

    "I also want to say that I find the open-rescue issue nothing but a silly diversion."

    I disagree. I can't help but feel when you say you oppose violence, you mean you oppose direct action, even if it's non-violent like OR's.

    "do you reject violence against other humans and against property that threatens humans and nonhumans"

    I don't reject it outright. But I am not a violent person, and I don't see violence as useful at this point in time (and for the next 100+ years).

    "In my view, what is really going on here is that no one pats you on the back and calls you a hero when you go and adopt some little rat that is going to be killed because people do not adopt rats. If you steal the rat, you get to play hero."

    That's a good observation. Though I support open rescues even though I haven't been involved in one before.

    "There is no scarcity of opportunities for humans to save nonhumans."

    Indeed, so we should save the ones that suffer the most if we didn't save them. This, I guess, would be the egg laying hen. The depopulation [of the birds from the shed], transportation and slaughter process is brutal. They're handled roughly and crammed in crates which breaks their bones.

    We've discussed this previously, so talking more about this is pointless.

  8. Hi ,The AR movement in its short history has NEVER harmed or used violence against another human being .I find your definition of violence wrong and also what that gary person comes out with is rubbish.
    I have nothing but respect for those that liberate animals from abuse ,nor do i call smashing a window etc violence.

  9. Hi Mino
    thanks for listening. I wish you had listened a little closer, that's all. I have a feeling you didn't listen at all. I never said anyone committed deliberate violence in the history of the AR movement, I was talking about those who are proposing it (or were at the time of the podcast, they have since removed these specific blog posts) and those who are hate mongering and proposing an escalation of violence as a useful strategy, both of which I have sincere objections too.
    Neither did I say I don't respect people who "liberate animals from abuse".

    I wish people would not to be so reactionary; the "movement" has a difficult enough time being taken seriously as it is.
    However I appreciate that you don't agree; to agree or not is your prerogative.
    Thank you for your comment.