A long time ago I read a book by Marge Piercy. The characters used the gender-neutral pronoun per for everyone. I like it to this day. It makes me think of personhood. And as we vegans know, personhood is more than human.
Best wishes for the week ahead, everybody.
Love and liberation,
June is Pride Month — dedicated to, and celebrated by, LGBTIQ+ and allies worldwide.
I believe animal advocacy, at its best, works to challenge and transcend domination wherever it is found, and I think that belief explains why so many vegans from the movement’s earliest days have conscientiously objected to war.
It’s why so many of us sense that heterosexist oppression stems from the same place as human supremacy.
This month 51 years ago, at Stonewall Inn, an interracial group including nonbinary and transgender people rose up against vindictive policing. They rose up against bigotry, hate, and hurt. Their pain and their courage combined to open up new pathways to self-actualization for the rest of us. Pathways to respect. To love. To many more acts of protest, and to unforgettable times of joy and celebration.
And yet the torture and death of George Floyd reminds us, again, that — as far as we have come — the struggle for human freedom is still grotesquely immature. It tells us respect still takes a back seat. And it is a setback for every living being on the face of this Earth.
Pride month 2020 is a time of sorrow because of yet another murder in a pattern of authority-wielding murders, another profound loss to the collective conscious soul. Why? Why can’t we just be decent?
The Art of Animal Liberation must be committed to human dignity and respect for nonhuman life as a dual striving. The loss of George Floyd makes the reason all the more intense, and the need to speak up for the #BlackLivesMatter movement all the more urgent.
My CounterPunch bio identifies me as working for animal liberation. It feels right to have that bio follow a piece about the selective way “looting” is discussed in connection with #BlackLivesMatter protests. It feels right to spread the word that we’re all on this planet together, and no one is free as long as bullets, cages, and chokeholds rule our culture. Authoritarianism has got to go. Humanity must change now. There is no more “I won’t see the change in my lifetime, but…” because now we’re bracing for the storms of a distorted climate. It was always time for respect to ascend, and the very existence of a future, for us, should not be taken for granted.
Banner Photo: Mike Von
Senator John Cornyn, justifying Donald Trump’s use of “Chinese virus” and other inappropriate names for COVID-19, says:
People eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that. These viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people, and that’s why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses.
But outside of making a case for veganism, who gets to call anyone out for animal use?
Kindly read my latest article for CounterPunch and share it further if you’re so inclined.
My friend Lois Baum recently gave an invited sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rochester, NY. In the sermon, Lois quoted a statement attributed to an animal liberation summit, circa 2010:
Veganism is a moral and ethical way of living; the practice of non-cooperation and non-participation in anything that exploits nonhuman animals, humans, or the environment. It is a moral baseline for our conduct and how we are revealed to the world.
A spot-on description, I think, of the connected ethic of a vegan life.
Making Others Do Disgraceful Work
And it leads me to think again about the humans who do the disgraceful work of killing living animals and turning their bodies into commodities for human consumption.
I do not believe vegans should invest in undercover investigations of these employees’ actions. Some people disagree. Here is my logic.
Time and time again, the “successful” undercover investigation means:
- Workers get caught, punished, and driven out (and many if not all of them are leading the most exhausted, marginal, and fragmented of lives already).
- The company increases surveillance of the workers who remain.
- If regulators do suspend the company’s business, the business usually tidies up and reopens.
- The case against the company involves employees’ failure to follow regulations. It is never about real caring, real fairness, and it’s definitely never about justice. (Injustice is heaped on, as workers’ precarious lives slide into worse ruin.)
- Arguments resume on whether “ag gag” laws should tighten up to prevent undercover investigations, as the company swears up and down that it is now adequately self-monitored.
One of the points made by early vegans is that we shouldn’t expect other human beings to do disgraceful work for us, work which we’d avoid doing ourselves.
That, I think, invokes an empathy and fairness principle. It does not assume that we should blame these employees for doing what they do…badly.
Animal agribusiness is all unfair, and so many humans are implicated. Only a few people are vulnerable enough to be cast out of society for the way they do it.
The Humane Society of the United States has just accepted CEO Wayne Pacelle’s resignation.
This followed reporters’ investigations into claims that CEO Wayne Pacelle and (now former) VP of farm animal protection Paul Shapiro have sexually humiliated HSUS staffers.
In the words of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, wider concerns involve a “frat-like ‘bro’ culture” that manipulates and stifles advocacy careers.
Some say the #MeToo problem in advocacy can be fixed with more female leadership. Can it? Read on.
Start Your World Vegan Month at Wildflower Vegan Cafe
What’s Up? Enjoy cake and a cup of fair-trade coffee or a hearty vegan meal at Wildflower on the first Saturday in November, when I’ll facilitate a slideshow and conversation on Cuteness and Memes in Animal Advocacy.
Where? Wildflower Vegan Cafe, Village on High, Millville, NJ. 856.265.7955
When? 4 pm on Saturday 5 November 2016
We’ve all seen “Why love one but eat the other” images. Indeed, why do we love a puppy yet have no regrets when it comes to eating the calf? Then again…
Does setting the ideal in “loving” animals compromise nonhuman dignity? What can other social movements teach us about these idealized images?
Eric Nyman, owner of Wildflower Vegan Café, said, “Our business is nurturing bodies and minds. We’re excited to open November, which has traditionally been World Vegan Month, by offering space for Lee’s work on memes—inviting advocates and the public to consider how feel-good imagery might endorse exploitation.”
This graduation season, Michelle Obama gave a commencement speech for the City University of New York. The country’s largest urban public university, CUNY is historically dedicated to bolstering opportunities for people of modest backgrounds. Michelle Obama’s speech, at CUNY’s flagship City College in the Harlem District of Manhattan, lauded this year’s graduates for their own struggles. But the bright-pink elephant in the room—City College reportedly makes higher-than-average use of both part-time and adjunct teaching staff—never got a mention.
. . .At this time, knowledge is critical to a public understanding of civilization-threatening problems. A 2014 Pew Research survey showed that most people who’ve attained a college degree know that global warming is driven by human activity, while most people without that education do not.
And if this is so, higher education matters urgently to sound politics.
But opportunities to contribute to society, its knowledge, and its policies are being denied to current and future teachers and researchers.
Meanwhile, people positioned to change this are speechifying at commencements.
Read this piece in full in today’s edition of CounterPunch.