Buried Days

Sheeple! A term of disparagement for diving headlong into lies, for being herded by the throat cutters. Sheeple!

Sheep did not follow us; they led their own. Generation by generation, they learned to cross the mountains and the seasons, to follow the rivers, and the green shoots.

A river’s got a memory. Like the seasons. Like the sheep.

Full piece published today on CounterPunch.

Image source: ArtTower via Pixabay (CC0).

Humane Deer Control? Don’t Buy the Myth

Everywhere humans aim weapons at deer, there are also the calls for a different style of erasure: capture and contraception.

The contraception debate asks how animals will be controlled. The assumption it accepts? That they will be controlled. 

When advocates become invested in unnatural “solutions” they enter that perpetual struggle to become consultants in animal-control planning, while insisting that the supposed lesser evil is helping animals. The deer, who don’t consent to any of these projects, are caught in a tug-of-war over which is the better deer-erasure method in a given situation… 

Continue reading here.

Photo by Siska Vrijburg, via Unsplash.

Revisiting MacKinnon’s “Of Mice and Men”

Catharine A. MacKinnon, Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, specializes in equality issues under international and constitutional law. MacKinnon pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment, establishing it before the U.S. Supreme Court, and secured legal recognition of rape as an act of genocide.

In the 2004 essay “Of Mice and Men: A Feminist Fragment on Animal Rights,” Catharine MacKinnon explored the connection between misogyny and animal exploitation. MacKinnon’s book chapter continues to influence the way I understand animal liberation as the call for nonhuman animals to live on their own terms.

Our social norms signify that the integrity of nonhuman bodies does not matter. As female people have often been defined and valued in terms of the use of their bodies and their reproductive functions, feminism has a message for all liberationists.

Where is human disregard for other animals obvious? “The place to look for this bottom line,” writes MacKinnon, “is the farm, the stockyard, the slaughterhouse.”

Where is human disregard for other animals more subtle? For nonhumans and for women, Professor MacKinnon notes, the “denial of social hierarchy…is further supported by verbiage about love and protection” as though it mitigates the domination.

To take a stand where such deeply-rooted exploitation could be successfully challenged involves a journey deep into the psychology that leads to a human history of oppression and destruction.

A Unilateral Bargain

When we exert control over cats and dogs and horses, we pretend our vice is a virtue.

Maybe we don’t eat them, but they are nevertheless commodities, separated from their birth families at the discretion of buyers and sellers, to find comfort as long as their luck would keep them with people willing and able to feed and shelter them. At any time, the kind human owner might experience a reversal of fortune: family strife, divorce, illness, or death. Then what happens to these animals?

As for horses, many who pass their primes (or the primes of their owners) cannot evade the common chain of sale, resale or donation to charity, neglect, and finally slaughter. Horses die by the hundreds every year on racetracks, and still more die during vivisection on behalf of the racing industry. They’re subjected to other “sports” and sent into wars, ranching businesses, policing and social control.

Many people call the animals in their homes companions, even part of the family. But domestication was physically imposed upon the animal’s ancestors, their reproduction controlled over generations.

Once specific individuals are born into the human world, they need, and should receive, our protection and care. The point is that it was arrogant and violent to systematically turn wolves into dogs in the first place and caring does not mitigate that. What is true for women is true for wolves. Their rights must be on their own terms. As MacKinnon puts it: “Unless you change the structure of the power system you exercise, that you mean well may not save those you love.”

Crushing the Other

Pornography involving nonhuman animals is yet another appalling industry made possible by our systematic control over other beings. As MacKinnon writes, “Surely animals could be, and are, trained to make it appear that they are enjoying doing what people want them to do, including have sex with people.” But they have no way to opt out.

Then there’s the outright torture, such as that in crush videos. These and other examples of torture and killing of nonhuman animals have been defended on the grounds of artistic expression. As MacKinnon points out, similar arguments have been applied to defend imagery depicting the violent handling of women.

It is not surprising, given the U.S. Supreme Court’s placement of pornography into the “obscenity” category, that the debates focus on concerns over censorship. The real problem is the way we divide society into classes, perpetuating the use and humiliation of some by others. 

The best advocacy for nonhuman animals will serve as a model for respectful interaction between humans ourselves. But that doesn’t mean respect among humans is the only respect that matters. Lawmakers point out that violent treatment of nonhumans leads to desensitization, and then to violence against human beings. Such arguments imply that the abuse of nonhuman animals is taken seriously only insofar as intervention could potentially guard the human community from harm. That implication leaves human supremacy intact.

The Like-Us Trap

Some animal advocacy encourages popular interest in animal labs. The argument is that other animals have a lot in common with us, and we can prove it, so they should have some types of rights. Cognition studies are called non-invasive; yet the objects of analysis are detained, usually isolated. There is no sanctuary that can ever make up for their loss of freedom throughout their lives, while those who study them move up their career ladders — many being congratulated profusely for their published claims to have formed new bonds between humanity and other animals.

“[A]nimal rights are poised to develop first for a tiny elite, the direction in which the ‘like us’ analysis tends,” MacKinnon writes.

“[H]ow to avoid reducing animal rights to the rights of some people to speak for animals against the rights of other people to speak for the same animals needs further thought,” MacKinnon writes. Spot on. We’ve focused on who may suitably speak for owned nonhuman beings, rather than on how to withdraw from the habit of ownership itself.

When a chimpanzee died in an Atlanta laboratory after being used in HIV experiments, Professor Lawrence Tribe declared, “Clearly, Jerom was enslaved.” Tribe added that Jerom should have been treated “with respect” yet had no right to opt out of being enlisted “to save a human life, or achieve a higher goal.” The reporter who interviewed Tribe reassured readers: “In other words using chimps for medical research would remain possible.”

“People tend to remain fixated on what we want from them, to project humans onto animals, to look for and find or not find ourselves in them,” writes MacKinnon. The question for the animal rights theorist and activist is “what they want from us, if anything other than to be let alone, and what will it take to learn the answer.”

The Most Comprehensive Right

Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis said the right to be free of public curiosity was rooted in something deeper than what a study of property rights could reach. Justice Brandeis wrote that “the right to be let alone” is “the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” [Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928) (dissenting).]

The right is valued not only by men, and not only by the civilized. 

Animal advocacy needs the filter MacKinnon’s feminist fragment provides. Much more work remains to be done before our society understands how the domination of any group affects all. Critically, animals are still property across the board. Serious animal advocacy, by working at the base of the hierarchy, will strengthen respect for all groups. We have something to teach all movements for social betterment, even though there are relatively few of us, so that we face great pressure to focus on “the animal question” specifically. The fewer theorists and activists are in this area, the more critical it is that we’re informed by (and inform) people who work in interrelated areas of social justice.

Love and liberation,


Photo credit: 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0); by Coalition for the ICC via Flickr.

International Hummus Day Is Cumin Soon! (Sorry.)

Get ready. The 13th of May is (drum roll, please) International Hummus Day, when “millions of people around the world” will be “celebrating their love for hummus”—as millions of people would do anyway, because hummus is a staple throughout the Middle East and a mainstay in casual restaurants throughout Europe, and in many major cities worldwide. Every day is hummus day.

But if we’re going to have some extra hummus this month, great! Let’s do it. Use the link above for inspiration to share what you make with the world. Everyone is eager to know where we get our protein 🙂

Make It at Home: Hummus With Salad and Pita

We begin with the shopping list: the ingredients for the hummus. Don’t forget the pita (pitta) flatbread. And scroll down past the hummus to get the salad recipe.

Ground cumin

3 garlic cloves

2 cups cooked chickpeas. If time permits, home-cooked are the best. Hold onto the cooking liquid.

6 tablespoons of tahini (sesame butter)

A lemon (juiced)

2 tablespoons organic olive oil (optional)

Parsley (the whole bunch)

Options: paprika, cayenne, pepperoncini, salt and pepper to taste

In food processor, blend the drained chickpeas with tahini and blend in a teaspoon of cumin, the lemon juice and garlic, and, if desired, one tablespoon of the olive oil. Add cooking water to make this as smooth as you like. Line a bowl with the fresh parsley. Spoon hummus into the bowl and spice it up. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the hummus if desired, and serve with lightly toasted pita.

To make the Mediterranean salad…

Gather the head of romaine lettuce (torn), 3 diced tomatoes, a sliced cucumber and a sliced bell pepper (seeds removed), a small, sweet onion and 6 sliced radishes.

And for the salad dressing, whisk together, according to your preference:

Olive oil, parsley, fresh lemon juice, a minced garlic clove and minced mint leaves, and salt and pepper.

Toss the salad ingredients and serve dressing on the side. Enjoy and share, on the 13th of May or any other day.


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich via Pexels.

United Nations SDGs: If We’re Not Veganizing Them, Are They Really Sustainable?

For-profit companies and charities alike are jumping onto the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs). We all want to self-identify as sustainable people. But most want to hang onto that good-ole biblical prerogative: human dominion…

The human quest to dominate the planet and its conscious beings caused our sustainability crisis. If we really want to address the crisis, animal-liberation thinking must inform our discussions of life on Earth.

Read on…today at CounterPunch.

Ammo Sapiens

Maybe we need to refer to the species as Ammo sapiens. Because if there’s one thing humans are endlessly resourceful about, it’s making and using weapons.

The NRA and the 2nd Amendment are evidence of the corruption and the loneliness of our kind. The person buying weapons, vowing they’re just for hunting, or the President who says the deer aren’t wearing Kevlar vests so, hey, we can live without military-style machine guns and keep the rest…They are still supporting the weapon makers.

Whether it’s a deer, a bear, or a human ape in the crosshairs, whether it’s semi-automatic or not, violence is violence, and human aggression is our problem.

We could be so much better, so much stronger, so much more aware of the meaning of every moment in another being’s life.


Photo source: Stephen Andrews, via Pexels.

List of Things to Do

Here is an animation to illustrate temperature anomalies in 191 countries over the recent period of our history. Notice what happens especially from the 1980s on.

Now that we know, we can act. We must act.

Cycle. Walk. Take the bus. Take the train.

Eat plants.

Other than those plants, try to avoid buying new stuff.

Stop breeding domesticated animals (and that includes humans).

Refuse to put up with the subjugation of other species by yours.

Work for all aspects of justice at the root. It’s the same root.

What’s on your list of Things To Do?

Banner photo by Nathan Stein via Pexels.

Enough Shite-Talk About a Snake-Chasing Saint

I’m listening for the Eastern garter snakes. Any day now, they’ll arise from hibernation, rustle the Pennsylvania leaves, then tumble down the hills into the bright edge of the vernal equinox.

Also this week, we’ll have Saint Patrick’s Day. And someone—there’s always someone—will solemnly say that we’re celebrating the Great Enlightener Who Drove the Serpents From Ireland Into the Sea…

Read the full piece at CounterPunch.

Banner photo: Natrix maura (Viperine water snake) by Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0.

To Hear Fellows Crying

In this vulgar Anthropocene story, in our self-styled supreme species, empathy has been shelled, shot, stomped, interrogated, lynched, detained, depleted, betrayed, clubbed, bulldozed, slaughtered, unheeded and unheard. The inflictors of such harm will crumble in their time. Their child, or their child’s child, will be stranded.

In this world riddled with the strange, empty casings of the supreme ones’ self-domesticated angst, a vague, lifelong murmur from deep in my mind calls out to the universal mother, calls out to the gentle grandfather who walked me to the post office with a typewritten letter to a friend. It calls for a time when my living soul was clutched tightly, by all the love in the world.

The full piece is published at ➡️CounterPunch. Writing it caused me to take refuge with the love and happiness I felt, aged 3, with my grandfather. It’s about the refuge Tyre Nichols and George Floyd ought to have had. It’s about love for every conscious soul ever to have lived on this Earth. Empathy connects us all and brings us home.

Text image: Tim Hall, holding me. Banner image by Kelly, via Pexels.

Life Is a Climate March

In 2022, I drove approximately 2,000 miles. This was by design. I have a self-imposed 2,000 mile cap on my annual driving.

The average U.S. adult drives 14,000 miles annually, says a quick internet search. If so, then I spared the atmosphere about 12,000 driving miles (and did not fly).

Eating an animal-free diet equates to a savings of 8,100 miles (not) driven annually.*

In comparison with the typical U.S. adult, I’m sparing the atmosphere about 20,000 driving miles a year.

This is a defiant stance. A serious load of CO2 not emitted, representing many times the petroleum sector could have taken my dollars, and did not. In suburbia, it involves some sacrifices; but it feels good, because I’m an ape and my ancestors moved on their feet.

Is this defiance (or conversing about it to others) a virtue signal? Some will take it that way, likely because they don’t wish to take it as a cue.

I so often hear that climate concerns are just signals and not meaningful action.

“The problem is too big!”

“People aren’t going to change.”

“One person can’t do anything about this!”

Those statements have a way of becoming excuses for complacency.

It’s my job to let people know: We can all “march” to divest from emissions. Many of us can walk to the grocery store, tend a garden, bike to a hike, Zoom into meetings, and take the train to conferences—and, indeed, to climate marches. If our infrastructure makes this dangerous or practically impossible, we can agitate for pedestrian-friendly routes and better public transit and remote meetings. And we can press for the in-person meetings to apply vegan-by-default policies.

I let people know: I’m striving to make my life a climate march. I invite them to join me. To live defiantly. To live in harmony with our real nature.

Love and liberation,


PS: And I can do better. This will be my last car—of any kind. Selling capitalism as “green” is a lot like marketing animal agribusiness as humane.


*Source of figures for diet and emission reduction: Jason Czarnezki, EVERYDAY ENVIRONMENTALISM, which puts the figure at an equivalent of 1,160 miles saved daily through a “protein shift” from animal products to plant-derived meals.

Photo credit: Porapak Apichodilok.