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A DEBATE IN ANIMAL ADVOCACY: To be or not to be an abolitionist?

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Emy Will

Emy Will

Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa. Although I have a doctorate in psychotherapy, my main passion is advocating for nonhuman animal rights. I condemn all cruelty to nonhuman animals and therefore follow a vegan lifestyle. I would like to connect with other animal activists from all over the world. The fur trade is one of the most abhorrent practices on this planet. Innocent animals are subjected to prolonged suffering for a trivial fashion item. As the chairperson of Fur Free SA. we campaign towards ending the global fur industry. This might not happen in my lifetime, but even if I leave one footprint behind, that is one step closer to the goal. This blog is a forum to discuss all aspects of the fur industry. It also raises issues around animal activism in general. Johannesburg is a crazy city and I need to escape from time to time. This photo was taken next to the magnificent Zambezi river.

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My journey to becoming an animal activist started from a gut feeling that the way humans treated nonhuman animals was immoral and unacceptable.
I was brought up in a home where consuming animal products, visiting zoos and circuses, riding elephants and having birds in cages was “normal”. Then I woke up.
Through exposure to a range of issues, I decided to give up my clinical psychologist practice and dedicate myself  to nonhuman animal advocacy.
When I embarked on this journey I naively thought that the common goal of improving the world for all sentient beings would bind people and make them tolerant of each other.
Well I was wrong. I have found the world of animal activism to be fractured, often with people on their own power trips. People have shown the petty side of human nature through being judgemental and jealous of others.
This, however, will not deter me.
I have become aware of the abolitionist approach to animal advocacy and perhaps some of you follow this practice.                                                                                                                                                                               Given  the following post on my blog from a blogger @ http://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/  and my response below, I would appreciate input from you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        same mission. 
legacyofpythagoras (http://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/ ):

I applaud your intent in attempting to shed light on this practice. Exploiting and killing animals for fur is immoral. This is true. But focusing on just one issue (fur) lends legitimacy to other exploitation of animals (eating them and their secretions, wearing leather, etc.).

All exploitation of nonhuman animals is equally immoral. It’s counter-productive to the fight for Animal Rights to focus on any one issue involving the abuse of animals, instead of focusing on the larger picture, which is the use of them at all.

Here are a couple articles that explain in more detail:

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/the-four-problems-of-animal-welfare-in-a-nutshell/

http://veganismisnonviolence.com/2014/02/11/criticisingvegans

These links and tons more on Veganism:

http://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

 My response:
Thank you for opening this debate in the area of animal advocacy.
I commend you for remaining true to your ideology and showing me the only way to stop the exploitation of nonhuman animals i.e. the abolitionist way. I understand the abolitionist approach to promote veganism as the moral baseline of the animal rights position. Activism is in the form of nonviolent vegan education as to why animal exploitation is immoral. In so doing, speciesism and the use of nonhuman animals will stop. Nonhuman animals will no longer be viewed and treated as property. 
Although I have adopted a vegan lifestyle I am not abolitionist, welfarist or militant, as I consider humanity to be more complex than these divisions purport. I believe that all life has equal value and therefore support all attempts to end the exploitation of nonhuman animals. When appropriate, I will raise awareness about our moral obligation to end the exploitation of nonhuman animals. I have been doing voluntary work at a cat sanctuary since 2005, which the abolitionist approach benevolently approves of (see bostonvegan.org). 
The underlying premise of the abolitionist philosophy is honourable: that “moral education” or “abolitionist-vegan” education, condemning the use of all sentient beings, will ultimately lead to a world where no being is treated as property. This will be a world where nonhuman animals have rights that are respected by all humans unconditionally. However, I find the abolitionist viewpoint unrealistic and in its own way counter-productive to any practical change. 
I understand and agree with the argument against welfare, although I find it selective to focus on one issue, namely the meat/dairy industry, to back the abolitionist anti-welfarist argument. While I have reservations about PeTA, I acknowledge PeTA has done a lot more than giving Temple Grandin an award in 2004. To condemn animal welfare organisations on one issue detracts from the larger picture and dismisses their other efforts to practice responsibility towards nonhuman animals. 
 In the fur industry there is no humane way of farming. As the welfarist approach cannot apply in this instance, you would categorise me as a “single-issue campaigner” (SIC). You would argue that through my campaign I am sending out the message that other uses or exploitation of nonhuman animals is acceptable. This argument to me is simplistic. You cannot seriously argue that if someone supports a campaign to end the despicable fur industry they are going to become so confused as to believe that exploitation of other animals is acceptable. The worst case scenario is that they will not become vegan but condemn unspeakable cruelty to nonhuman animals. I further argue that certain, and obviously not all campaigns, sow the seed for people to start reflecting on the various ways humans exploit nonhuman animals. Small acts of activism, in any form, can grow bigger. 
The abolitionist paradigm advocates nonviolence to the earth. Regarding this, there are urgent issues that cannot wait until everyone becomes vegan. We have to put the brakes on before it is too late. The devastation of rainforests for palm oil and soya production with resultant deaths of thousands of animals is one example. By the time people are educated that they do not need these products there will be no rainforests and ecosystems left. If we do not end puppy mills there will be so many unwanted animals that shelters will never cope. More and more nonhuman animals will be born in captivity for circuses and zoos. Heinous acts of poaching will lead to the extinction of species if people do nothing but encourage everyone to go vegan. Where does the abolitionist approach stand on environmental protection campaigns? Laws on protecting the environment vary from country to country. Would the abolitionist approach reject SICs taken by Greenpeace? If so, I find this stance extremely arrogant. 
In your view I am wasting time and energy when instead I should be educating people to adopt a vegan lifestyle. In South Africa which has 11 official languages, pervasive poverty in communities without sanitation and electricity; shocking levels of unemployment; crime; woman abuse and domestic violence this indeed would be a challenge. It was partly the armed struggle and international boycotts that ended Apartheid, not education that all people are equal. 
According to the abolitionist argument, SICs promoting human rights are acceptable because humans are not legal property. However, if one looks at the historical trajectory that led to this point, there was a time when slaves, minority groups, women and children were considered the property of others. People fighting for human rights used SICs. Petitions were successful in changing law where a change in attitudes followed. Among many examples, trading in slaves stopped before slavery was abolished; suffragettes fought for the vote through SIC actions before they obtained equal rights; child labour was stopped before other children rights came into force. It was incremental campaigns that finally led us to where humans are today. I find it confusing that you want nonhuman animals to have the same status as humans but you reject the model of campaigning that worked to attain these human rights. Is it not short-sighted to reject past experience?
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36 Comments

  1. Michael Lane says:

    I definitely fall into your camp. There is nothing wrong with focusing on an issue that matters to you–I doubt anyone with half a brain who reads your blog somehow thinks that because you are focused on this one issue that you condone exploitation of animals in other areas. That’s ridiculous, and in fact one would assume the exact opposite. Going deeper, absolutism is I think generally UNproductive, absolutists not only marginalize and scare away people who might work to change… but they also marginalize people who believe as strongly as they do in animal rights! My own view is that yes, the end goal of the absolutists is EXACTLY my goal, I have no problem with that. But in order to attract people to your cause really the best way is to inform and lead by example. People WILL come into the fold that way… they will only be angered and think that you’re extreme if you insist on the the principles of the absolute stance. I myself transitioned from a vegetarian first… then as I opened myself to more information and more willingness to change (this is almost always a process) further to align to my values, I moved to veganism. If anyone lectured me on the way it did no good whatsoever, and in fact made me resistant. I am also not very happy with quite a few things PETA does, but overall they have done and will do very good things for animal rights. Your arguments and your examples of the history of other movements are helpful and illuminating. I will say that I am very aware that every day this is a SERIOUS life and death issue–so many animals are brutalized even in the time I have written these sentences–so I DO understand where the intensity of the absolutists comes from. In the long run though, we have the same goals, and since the animals rights movement is constantly facing an uphill battle, these kinds of divisions don’t help one bit. Sorry for the wall of text. I like your blog and I think you are a wonderful voice for the rights of animals.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emy Will says:

      Your support is deeply appreciated, Michael 🙂
      It is sad though, that we even talk about camps of animal activism, as I totally agree with you that our end goal is the same – to end the senseless exploitation of nonhuman animals. To condemn small acts of activism is absurd, as they all add up to so much. SICs means those focusing on specific issues can do so with an intensity that is lost on trying to reach everyone. This does not mean we shouldn’t raise awareness when APPROPRIATE.
      The abolitionists also want to save the environment. Using their premise we must not recycle plastic, for example, as this won’t help climate change or stop pollution. Instead we must educate people that we do not need to use plastic until everyone stops.
      I agree that many people resent the self-righteous “preaching” to them. Change is a personal journey that can evolve in stages.
      Michael, did you know that extreme vegans even condemn having cats as companions, as they are carnivours 😛 Imagine our lives without our cats and we would miss all your amusing cat posts!!
      I find it interesting that you used the word “absolutists”, which I think is more appropriate than abolitionist – totally extreme 😀 .

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael Lane says:

        Yes, I’m aware that I may be judged because I have cats. Believe me, I am not crazy about having to feed them meat. But I had the cats before I became the vegetarian–so what should I do, give them up? Cats don’t have a choice to become vegans. People do. I made the choice. The plastic thing makes no sense to me–that’s the thing–absolutism always blots out common sense.

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  2. Stacey says:

    If people want to fault you for single issue activism, then they are going to have to fault people who are activists and stand outside condemning circuses, fur farms, factory farms, and any other established event or stores or places where activism is not only needed, it’s compassionate to do so. I consider myself an abolitionist only because I am not a welfarist (I don’t agree with shelters trying to raise money by holding steak dinners for one example) but not if people are going to fault those who are actively making a difference by actually going out and about protesting places and events. One person comes to mind: Peter Young who spent two years in a federal prison for releasing mink on a fur farm. To this day he actively protests many places where cruelty is rampant, and I doubt that anyone would have the wherewithal to charge him with the moniker of a welfarist. A dictionary doesn’t lead me to what I do, compassion does. You go, girl, you totally rock, Emy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emy Will says:

      I am truly touched by your kind words, Stacey. Thank you ❤
      Yes, to condemn everyone involved in single issue campaigns is dismissing a huge amount of compassionate people. In fact most activists, including myself, are involved in multiple campaigns. I am focusing on the fur trade as it has taken a back seat here because people are so busy campaigning against other animal abuses. Sadly there are many.
      The abolitionists would condemn any militant behaviour, as demonstrated by Peter Young and Alf. I can only say I have deep admiration for anyone who is prepared to go to jail for their beliefs. The abolitionists argue that activism should target those who demand animal products and not those that produce them. In other words, not the farmers of mink but the wearers of mink fur. Well I believe one should approach it from every angle and if a few mink farms get burnt down, as long as no creature is harmed, this is the risk a farmer takes when inflicting cruelty on nonhuman animals.

      There is something hypocritical and gross about "shelters trying to raise money by holding steak dinners". I too would not support this, particularly as there are so many other creative ways to raise funds.

      Thank you for caring and for all the awareness that you raise about animal cruelty.

      All the best ,
      Emy ,

      Like

      • How is targeting the people who personally kill the animals going to stop animals from being killed in the future? Once you burn down a mink farm, what happens? The public goes vegan? No. They want more fur, another mink farm pops up and kills more mink.

        Are mink morally more valuable than cows or chickens? No. Mink, cows and chickens are morally of the exact same value. And the cows and chickens are harmed every bit as much as the mink.

        Is burning down a fur farm going to make the non-Vegan public love Animal Liberationists? No. It’s going to make them think Vegans are crazy arsonists with a grudge against humanity at large. Is that going to make new Vegans?

        How is saving a million mink going to save the 60 billion land animals and 1 trillion sea animals killed every year just for food? Answer: it’s not. It’s going to make people eat more animals each year because they think Veganism is an insane arsonist cult and wouldn’t go near it with a 50 foot pole.

        Not to mention we have limited time in a day to perform activism. We can spend all of that time doing a million SICs, one for each species or issue and get maybe a few million animals saved, at the cost of trillions more, or we can educate the non-Vegan public for that entire time and make enough new Vegan educators to make the entire world go Vegan that much faster.

        If you keep focusing on treating the symptoms you’re NEVER going to cure the disease.

        SICs are speciesist, immoral and useless. Which means that when you engage in them, you are being speciesist, immoral and useless.

        I constantly see non-Vegans on the ‘net railing against Vegans because they refuse to see the truth about why they should stop engaging in the immoral acts of exploiting animals. When it would be much easier simply to acknowledge the immoral behavior and stop doing it. Why not use logic and modify your immoral behavior instead of doing the exact same thing every non-Vegan always does and shooting he messenger?

        Stop with this Welfarist garbage already.

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  3. Lee Hall says:

    Hi, dear Emy. Increasingly, activists use the buzzword single-issue to describe interventions for specific animals or communities of animals in particular locales. I’ve given this buzzword a lot of thought, so I welcome this chance to discuss it. Thank you.

    As I see it, single-issue is a misleading term. Each individual, and each community of animals, is connected with others. No deer, no coyote, no fox is a lone coyote or fox. Each is an individual whose life matters, yet deer or foxes or coyotes interact with each other (which is how they are defined as a species); and they are, in turn, members of a larger bio-community.
    In any case, should anyone’s plight be dismissed for being particular, and thus somehow undeserving of current attention?

    It’s appropriate to defend serious anti-fur campaigns; to stop a local, state or federal deer kill; or to support other specific interventions. Campaigners who present a local case in connection broad changes in culture need support.

    Now, if a group is going to argue that a chinchilla farm ought to kill its chinchillas with one method instead of another (PETA has in fact argued that way), then I think it makes sense to explain the trouble with that kind of non-committal campaign. .

    In contrast, say a state, province or country gets a fur-farm ban. We could count that as a welcome advancement. If we can end the use of pelts, wherever such ending might be possible, animals who could have lived free (minks, lynx, rabbits, seals, beavers, Arctic foxes…), can live free. Any time we successfully defend a free-living animal’s (or community’s) interest in living free of human domination, any time our actions free entire communities to actually experience what would be theirs if animal rights were a reality, this is a good thing and it is a step ahead.

    Indeed, even though bulls cannot enjoy animal rights in the sense of living free, what animal advocate wouldn’t welcome an outright end to bullfighting in México? An adios to a sector that breeds bulls to torment and kill them for sport would be worthy of at least an audible sigh of collective relief.

    Although the best ban is the one we enact by controlling ourselves when we stop exploiting other animals, various bans are, in the meantime, ethically important where they can be obtained.

    Some ask whether targeting fur and not leather in a given campaign is inconsistent. Leather is a largely commodity related to and encompassed by a bigger sector: animal agribusiness. Thus, we can’t ban it, so much as work on the vital issue of urging the people of our society to stop buying animal products.

    We challenge the exploitive relationship between ourselves and other living, feeling beings. Sometimes this means working on a project to stop animal dissections, sometimes to stop the extermination of raccoons, sometimes to challenge language labs, sometimes to challenge the use of animal skins for fashion, and sometimes to encourage people to buy organic cotton socks instead of wool, or a sleeping bag that does not contain down. There are many facets. If a fur ban is possible, let’s seize the day. Some will say it does not bring about a fundamental culture shift. But it would be one of those moves that brings our society nearer to a full shift in consciousness; so it is one of those things I believe we need.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emy Will says:

      Thank you so much, Lee, for participating in this debate. I was in fact wondering where you were placed on the spectrum of veganism. I know you would have given it a lot of thought and therefore value your input. I love your concept of “Each individual, and each community of animals, is connected with others”. People pursuing single causes certainly do not place one creature’s life above another. Most animal activists I know in fact will support all causes to somehow end/reduce animal exploitation. I certainly support all efforts, including consciousness raising, to end the domination and use of nonhuman animals. There is no humane factory farming or slaughtering method! Nonhuman animals feel fear and pain just as humans do. So, I do not support the welfarist approach adopted by PeTA but would not dismiss an organisation in its entirety for that.

      The abolitionists argue that we should educate the user of animal products in order to reduce the demand. I believe we should tackle the issue from all angles, where people can petition to close certain shops or farms that promote cruelty through the sale of animal products.

      Yes, what a wonderful world it would be if we all controlled ourselves by not exploiting other animals. But if we waited for that and did nothing but educate, there would be a lot suffering taking place 😥 .

      Like

      • Lee Hall says:

        Thanks for offering the discussion, Emy. I value your thoughts as well.

        As to where I’m placed, I’m vegan, and therefore abolitionist. I want to see our systems of exploitation of other conscious beings ended. [abolitionist (n.) 1792, originally in reference to the slave trade, from abolition + -ist. Source: Online Etymology Dictionary ]

        I admire your support for all efforts, including consciousness raising, to end the domination and use of nonhuman animals. I believe that is the core of the abolitionist effort. Wouldn’t you say it is?

        I have opted out of using the word “welfarist” because it’s occurred to me that outside a small circle of people it has no obvious meaning. I am not against animal welfare. But I don’t want animal sellers peddling their products and claiming to attend to the animals’ welfare in the course of that. Thus, the problem isn’t people supporting animal welfare. There is a problem when they misuse or unfairly claim that term.

        Like

  4. Bravo Emy.

    I am an animal rights advocate, abolitionist, proponent of animal welfare, fan of PeTA, and vegan. And, I am none of these. However one care to look at it. But above all, beyond the labels and condemnation of them, I stand for animal rights and against their abuse and work toward improving their welfare and hope for the day we all live in peace. Yes, a pipe dream I know.

    To suggest single issue and animal welfare campaigns “lends legitimacy to other exploitation of animals,” is shortsighted, naïve, and out of touch with reality. I know many, actually too goddamn many, people who are aghast at and condemn gestation crates but who will never stop eating pig, never become vegan. Never. But, they will take a stand against inhuman treatment of pigs. Yes, they will. They have. And I can’t change them.

    So, to someone who would like to suggest it counterproductive to fight for the welfare of a pig I have this to say. Let’s put your ass in a crate so small you can’t turn around, leave you there for, let’s say 2 or 3 years, kick, beat, prod, and sexually molest you in ways you’ve never wished for, then brutally and unceremoniously march you to your death.

    Pigs are condemned to die and be food for this zombie populace. I don’t like it. I fucking hate it. Pigs are my favorite creature. The very thought of their misery stirs in me a rage that I suspect will one day be my undoing. But I’d much rather see them live free from abuse and comfortable in their surroundings before they’re marched off to die. And to anyone who says my efforts toward their welfare are counterproductive, I like to put their ass in a cage. Yes I would.

    One more thing. It’s not difficult to see that PeTA and Mercy for Animals has done more to improve the lives of animals than the abolitionist. And this may be the best, but certainly not the most, we can all hope for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emy Will says:

      Heartfelt thanks for all your support, Peter ❤

      I follow your comments on fellow bloggers posts and you are indeed a loyal friend. You mostly affirm people and when need be challenge them. This I admire in you.

      I too admire your passion when it comes to animal rights. You are correct, I think those of us who are not purely abolitionist have a bit of everything in us. I firmly believe we need to tackle animal exploitation from EVERY ANGLE – from those who demand, to those who supply nonhuman animal products.
      Some campaigns are more successful than others but I do not believe any are harmful, as the abolitionists argue. As a psychologist I know that labelling of people can be harmful, as people rarely can be categorised in that way.

      The abolitionists use the very strategy that they condemn i.e. focusing on one method, vegan education, to end the exploitation of nonhuman animals! If facts don’t fit their model they just sidestep the issue. This lacks integrity and is indeed out of touch with reality.

      All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wefarism in any form, whether a campaign against fur, or any other campaign or petition is the worst thing someone can do if they think animals matter morally:

    http://veganismisnonviolence.com/2014/02/11/criticisingvegans

    People who engage in welfarist campaigns are not Vegan.

    Like

    • Lee Hall says:

      Someone who works in a campaign against fur is automatically not vegan? I hope that’s not what you’re suggesting. If a fur farmer were to apply to set up an enterprise down the road from a family of vegans, those vegans do not lose their vegan identity for going to the town meeting and resisting the application.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Welfarism kills and tortures animals. People who do not promote the moral baseline of Veganism are not Vegan.

        Like

      • Lee Hall says:

        Your answers seem robotic to me, Legacy. People are indeed “promoting the moral baseline of veganism” when they get out of their armchairs to attend a town meeting with the purpose of preventing the establishment of an animal-use enterprise in their midst.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “People are indeed “promoting the moral baseline of veganism” when they get out of their armchairs to attend a town meeting with the purpose of preventing the establishment of an animal-use enterprise in their midst.”

        How? I don’t see people who are protesting fur or zoos or whatever talking to people about Veganism? All I see are speciesist campaigns that reinforce the idea that SOME exploitation is worse than other exploitation. Fur is not worse than what anyone does when they sit down to eat a steak or a piece of chicken.

        Like

      • Lee Hall says:

        Wearing other animals is not vegan. Eating other animals is not vegan. Neither is worse than the other. This is not an either-or decision. The vegan principle can be applied to the diet; it can also be applied to the wardrobe.

        All social practices that involve the domination of other animals by humanity are challenged by vegans.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We’re not talking about whether Vegans are challenging something, we’re talking about whether “Vegans” are promoting the wrong thing. People who engage in campaigns that focus on fur are promoting the idea that fur is worse than eating animal substances or whatever else. Which kills and tortures the animals that non-Vegans will eat after protesting the fur.

        Like

      • Lee Hall says:

        It’s not “promoting the wrong thing” to prevent the fur farm. Indeed, it’s good when vegans take part in such an intervention as vegans of integrity are not going to the town meeting to say that fur is worse than other forms of exploitation. You seem to believe opposing fur means we are ranking wrongs. I don’t think we are. If nobody intervened in any injustice because everybody worried that doing so would promote other injustices, no one would have ever done anything at all in the social-justice sphere.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s most definitely promoting the wrong thing when you don’t talk to people about Veganism, but DO talk to them about how fur is worse than any other issue involving animals.

        Like

      • Emy Will says:

        I find it extremely judgemental, regardless of the issue, to categorically state that a campaign is “the worst thing someone can do if they think animals matter morally”. This verges on fanaticism, which can only lead to schisms, which in turn will drain energy away from fighting for animal rights >:(.

        it seems to me that the abolitionists use the very strategy that they condemn. That the ONE AND ONLY WAY to be an animal activist is to educate people about veganism. Is that not a single cause in itself??

        Like

      • Lee Hall says:

        Emy asks if insisting that the ONE AND ONLY WAY to be an animal activist is to educate people about veganism is a “single cause” in itself. I think indeed it is, if one is going to insist that we reject activism on behalf of fur-bearers, or deer, or black bears, etc. because we must at all times focus on the chickens and cows (or, as Legacy worded it, the sitting down to chicken or steak). I think, Emy, that is quite the single-issue activism; its proponents seem focused on domesticated animals at the expense of free-living ones, who do need to be defended in any serious animal-rights framework.

        Also, I would challenge the assumption that addressing fur isn’t vegan education. Of course it is–every bit as much as focusing on dietary custom is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Emy Will says:

        Thank you Lee. I think all those who sincerely fight for the rights of nonhuman animals contribute towards changing the ethos of treating nonhuman animals as property to be used or abused.
        ALL these nonhuman animals have value and need to be protected.
        For example, illegal dog fighting happens in this country where these poor creatures are shredded to death and watched with pleasure by so -called humans. Only punishment for these crimes will stop this practice not vegan education. And so the list goes on …
        Don’t let ideology override common sense.

        Like

      • Emy Will says:

        Thank you Lee. I think all those who sincerely fight for the rights of nonhuman animals contribute towards changing the ethos of treating nonhuman animals as property to be used or abused.
        ALL these nonhuman animals have value and need to be protected.
        For example, illegal dog fighting happens in this country where these poor creatures are shredded to death and watched with pleasure by so -called humans. Only punishment for these crimes will stop this practice not vegan education. And so the list goes on …
        Don’t let ideology override common sense.

        Like

  6. Lee Hall says:

    Of course I would not be “talking to them about how fur is worse than any other issue involving animals.” To the contrary, as I just wrote: it’s good when vegans take part in such an intervention as vegans of integrity are not going to the town meeting to say that fur is worse than other forms of exploitation.

    Once we’ve begun to repeat our previous comments, I’d guess our dialogue has unfolded as far as it can. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So you’re saying that when you’re at an anti-fur demonstration you’re talking to people about Veganism?

      Like

      • Emy Will says:

        I find it extremely judgemental, regardless of the issue, to categorically state that a campaign is “the worst thing someone can do if they think animals matter morally”. This verges on fanaticism, which can only lead to schisms, which in turn will drain energy away from fighting for animal rights >:(.

        it seems to me that the abolitionists use the very strategy that they condemn. That the ONE AND ONLY WAY to be an animal activist is to educate people about veganism. Is that not a single cause in itself??

        Like

      • Emy Will says:

        “SICs are speciesist, immoral and useless. Which means that when you engage in them, you are being speciesist, immoral and useless”
        (legacyof pythagoras).
        Dear legacyof pythagoras:
        – This blog is for constructive debate around activism.
        – Your uncompromising response reveals that you clearly have not heard any viewpoints that others have put forward.
        – Any legitimate questions have been sidestepped.
        – Every time you “speak” you show your fanaticism i.e. “Excessive, IRRATIONAL zeal” (dictionary.com); your unwillingness to tolerate and respect differences in others.
        – Next you will be burning heretics at the stake.

        As Lee Hall notes, “our dialogue has unfolded as far as it can”.
        Wishing you all the best, Emy

        Like

    • Emy Will says:

      Absolutely agree, Lee. I find the abolitionist viewpoint intolerant of others. If any point is raised that does not fit into this narrow approach it just gets IGNORED.
      Abolitionists claim the environment is also important, so I still want to know how the abolitionist views environmental single issue campaigns?Must I give up recycling and reducing my plastic use until the whole world is educated that they do not need to use plastic. Causes are linked! Plastic on landfills and in the environment cause huge suffering to nonhuman animals who ingest this. But hey, this is not important, as long as we just keep on educting people to become vegan!

      There is just so much more to discuss. Perhaps a debate to post on your blog 😀

      Thanks again Lee for all your thoughts..

      Like

  7. This is quite a debate! It’s also a lot of new information for me and I’m still learning about the perspectives people have expressed here. That being said, here are my thoughts. I don’t see anything wrong with people focusing on one issue of animal rights. The issues in animal rights are many and complex, and it’s not easy to make a difference when you’re trying to do too much. No one person can do it all, but everyone can do something. Emy has chosen to do something, and I respect what she is doing. She’s given up a psychotherapy practice to devote her life to this and I see this as admirable.

    As far as the argument against working for animal welfare, this is a toughie. Of course I’d like to see all animals treated with the utmost respect, but that reality (if it ever occurs) is going to take a long time. Is helping animals to have less pain during that long wait helpful? Is it going to help people to think more about animal welfare so that the treatment of animals gets better and better over time? Or is it going to make people feel justified in treating animals as food and objects because they believe the animals they are using were treated “humanely?”

    I don’t know the answers to the above questions, except to say that to the animals who are living now will likely appreciate more humane treatment since they won’t be alive when all beings are treated with respect.

    I’d also like to say that in all cases where humans were treated as property, changes occurred in increments. Especially since vegans are such a minority, we can’t expect the world to change overnight. Chipping away is the best we can do. I think that even working toward animal welfare now is a force in this chipping. I know that many people don’t agree with me on this, but it’s making people think more about animals as living, feeling beings. Sure, maybe it will make some people feel “justified” in eating animals, but it may wake others up to being more compassionate to animals. In any case, it’s getting people thinking about the welfare of animals and that’s a start toward the goal of respecting the rights of animals.

    I doubt that I’ve changed anyone’s mind about anything (just as how we vegans can go on and on and not change the minds of omnivores). It’s hard to change the views of others. I’ll close with saying that I believe that judgment is not helpful in winning people over – it closes people down and pushes people away.

    Celeste 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emy Will says:

      Dear Celeste. Your thoughts on this very complex subject are most appreciated. I support all efforts to end the abuse of nonhuman animals. I would even support a worthwhile campaign run by a non-vegan, if it felt sincere. The fact that I focus on the fur industry is because other activists are too busy with different campaigns, but we are all working towards a common goal.

      Sadly, South Africa is a country where animal rights are not a priority. Many cultural practices here involved the ritual killing of animals and this is not going to change in the near future.

      I like the phrase “chipping away” 😀 There are so many things that we now take for granted that came about through a “chipping away” process. I agree that we need to think of easing suffering in the ‘here and now’ and not live with some ideal that might never be achieved.

      Best wishes and thank you for caring ❤
      Emy

      Like

  8. I consider myself an abolitionist because I don’t believe in using animals. However, some abolitionists would dismiss me as being a “new welfarist” because I don’t oppose welfare reforms. Well, tough. As much as I would like to see the world go vegan in my lifetime, why should other sentient beings have to wait? I’d rather they at least get better treatment while we human animals fight about it.

    Emy, just keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the (what I like to call) absolutist abolitionists. 😉 Just as there are different kinds of vegans, there are also different kinds of abolitionists and the one camp does NOT have claim on the term or the philosophy.

    And you’re right in your observation above. The fact that one group of abolitionists (remember, not all abolitionists agree with this vocal minority) strongly feel that vegan education is the one and only acceptable form of activism could itself be viewed as a single issue campaign. They’ll never see that though, snort.

    Liked by 1 person

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