Tuesday, September 22, 2009

scare tactics: animal rights extremism

Vegetarian/vegan cookbooks...We all need them and we all love them. What would a vegan/vegetarian site be without giving the proper attention to the art of cooking? But it turns out that these cookbooks are nothing more than vile propaganda. What? Yes, that's right...propaganda!

Some time ago dutch politician Henk Jan Ormel attracted a lot of media attention with his requests to ban a vegetarian cookbook. According to him it was nothing more then a piece of propaganda that attempts to promote a 'vegetarian lifestyle'. To make things even more bizarre, the book was being published by the dutch government itself and was meant to inform people of proper vegetarian nutrition. This didn't bother Ormel apparently, who also demanded that the funds for the book be used to inform the public of the importance and necessity of animal testing! (for those who read dutch, here is a good blogpost about it by Tobias Leenaert of the belgian vegetarian union EVA: Tobias Leenaert )

This might seem strange and hard to believe, but this sort of weirdness is becoming more and more frequent in Europe the last couple of years. Just like in the US we are being branded as nutjobs, terrorists and criminals. The advancements the animal movement has made are being threatened by an artificially created hostile climate, and the real question we have to ask ourselves as a movement is: How do we deal with this?

This is an important question that affects the future of billions and billions of animals. How did we respond in Europe? Animal activists in Holland seized the opportunity to make it clear to the public that meat is bad for your health, the environment and the animals. That was the only positive thing that came from the negative and absurd media publicity we got, and I question if this had any effect. Holland, Belgium (my country) and other Western - European countries have seen good progress in the last decade or so when it comes to animal rights. Of course resistance has been mounting and the climate is getting dangerous and dark.

Two things that took place in Holland this year made this quite clear. Dutch minister Guusje Ter Horst announced that she wants to deal with 'increased' animal rights extremism by forcing all animal right groups (including animal protection groups such as 'de dierenbescherming', equivalent would be RSPCA) to sign a contract in which they vow NOT to use violence anymore. So, in fact all groups are considered violent untill they sign a contract that they aren't violent and won't break the law. So in essence you are considered guilty of breaking the law until you sign a piece of paper. This caused a small legal riot in Holland and eventually all animal rights and protection groups collectively decided to refuse to sign such a document.

Another example is a severely hyped interview in the dutch media of an 'ALF infiltrator' (Adrian Redford) who warned people on prime time TV not to donate to any animal right groups, because most of the money is used to fund terrorist ALF activities. Of course the usual suspects (meat industry, ...) loved this. In this case it was mostly the dutch blogosphere that responded (including myself). If you read dutch, you can read everything here: animal rights extremism (or you can use google translate)

The question is: how do we deal with this? In the US this has been going on for some time, but we see the same problem emerging more and more here in europe. How must we react as a movement against such a storm of scare-mongering, scare tactics and maligning of activists? What can we do? What do you think?

This post will be crossposted on the vegansoapbox: vegansoap box: scare tactics

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gary Francione on sexism and animal rights: again

Gary is at it again...the sexism rant. And this time he isn't just ranting about Peta...he discovered a dutch ad made by animal rights group 'wakker dier'.

A playmate model apparently looses her attire to draw attention to the animal issue. I don't see a problem with it. Gary of course considers this 'exploitation' and one of the many forms of moral decay in our society (oh joy).

You can read gary francione's post here: abolitionist approach: sexism

Here is the clip in question: exhibit A

Playmate Ancilla Tilia strips for Wakker Dier from Revolver on Vimeo.

So, in short. We see a woman take off her clothes in a commercial (something men do as well on Peta posters, anti men in that case?) and then she gets brutally murdered...(unexpected turn of events)

So what does this do? Does this clip promote violence against women and sexism? NO

It is quite shallow to look at it in that way and everybody that logically dissects what is happening in this commercial will realize this. It is a fine piece of work, nothing more. It manages to captivate the audience (and yes nudity - both male and female - can do this) and then in an unexpected turn of events she gets killed. Of course people are shocked to see this...and then they are presented with some facts. Facts about what happens to animals every day.

Gary Francione obviously didn't get it, and made some strange remarks that can be taken in several ways. Here is one such remark:

Wakker Dier hired Dutch Playmate and fetish model Ancilla Tilia to play the part of a stripper who gets clubbed and stripped like an animal.

She got stripped like an animal. Yes, to draw attention to an important issue in an original and funny way (which works better then just blogging and accusing other animal activists FYI). So what is the problem? That she got stripped LIKE an animal. I find the 'tone' of this line quite strange...

In the many years that I have been doing animal work, I have never had anyone come to me to say that they had been moved to consider the animal issue because they saw a naked woman in a cage. Indeed, this is precisely the sort of thing that makes progressive people think that the animal rights movement is a pathetic joke to be dismissed and ignored.

And I have never encountered anyone that said they turned vegan because they had a discussion online or read an abolitionist blog about animal rights. People turn vegetarian/vegan for several reasons and over a certain period of time. I have never encountered anyone that turned vegan overnight because of one poster.

But yes, there could be people out there that get convinced by one message. Maybe I simply haven't met any of them yet. But that also counts for Gary Francione himself. Maybe there are people out there that see this and start thinking about the issue and turn vegetarian/vegan.

I am sure however that this commercial has more positive effect than blogposts on the abolitionist approach site claiming that vegetarians are worse then meat eaters...

The commodification of nonhumans is very similar to the commodification of women. But society has no problem with the commodification of women. Instead of opposing sexism and misogyny, a large segment of the movement actively promotes it. As long as we continue to think of women as meat, we will never see the problem with using animals as meat.

And as long as some people in the movement insist on cheap rethoric to help the cause of animal rights, animals will not be saved.

Both men and women are naked during the Peta protests that Gary Francione is troubled by. It strikes me that he only fixates on female nudity. Just like the media outlets do. But lets think of the running of the nudes in spain. Both men and women are naked.

Is it Peta's fault that both the media and 'anti-sexist' animal activists battling commodification only see naked women whom they need to protect? It is called tunnel vision. I just wonder what causes it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Peta watch australia and swine flu: update

Loyal readers of this blog will remember that some time ago I made a blogpost about the swine flu (H1N1) outbreak and raised some question about current meat production. I linked factory farming conditions (meat production) with the swine flu outbreak, because the conditions are excellent for the distribution of new pathogens, mutations and so forth...

Apperently the people over at Peta watch blog didn't get what I was trying to say and made a post indicating that I was 'misinformed'.

You can read all about it here: swine flu and meat production

It would appear however that I was indeed right linking meat production to the swine flu pandemic (duh)...

The science section of the danish newspaper 'Politiken' had an interesting article about H1N1. You can read it hear: Swine flu virus (the link is in danish!)

The article basically states that swine flu did indeed originate in swines and eventually infected the human population (something farmers don't like to hear)


Den nye pandemiske H1N1-influenza cirkulerede uopdaget i svin i mindst et årti, før den blev overført til mennesker, og der er behov for langt bedre overvågning, hedder det i en advarsel fra en amerikansk ekspert.

translation: the H1N1 influenza circulated unnoticed in swines for about a decade until it transferred to the human population.

This also makes it clear that the reality is far more complex then what the Peta watch blog portrays on it's blog...

according to peta watch

UPDATE: It's actually humans giving swine swine flu!

Nope, it was the other way around...but of course swines can catch it too, since it originated in swines...makes sense...