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Aspiring to Act Justly and Fairly is Not “Sh*t”
By Gary L. Francione

Someone sent me this as one of the many examples of opportunistic so-called “animal advocates” who fall over themselves in a mad dash to say that animal exploitation is really okay while they hold their hands out for donations:

Imagine someone saying: “Most of the time, I am not a bigot. But I’m not perfect and I occasionally engage in actions that are legal but that harm others and that are motivated by my racial animus because I enjoy it.”

Imagine someone saying: “Yeah, I’m a bigot. But I’m a reducetarian bigot. I am cutting down my racist behavior here and there. For example, I don’t tell racist jokes on Monday before 6.”

Would we say, “Civil Rights Advocates, We Gotta Break Through This 100% Perfect Sh*t” and argue that it’s perfectly okay to deliberately engage in racist conduct, and that we just have to get over this “sh*t” about associating the concept of civil rights with equality?”

Of course not.

Imagine someone saying: “Most of the time, I don’t engage in sexist behavior. But I am not perfect and I occasionally engage in behavior that is legal but that harms women because, well, I enjoy a bit of misogyny now and then.”

Imagine someone saying: “Yeah, I’m a sexist. But I’m a reducetarian sexist. I am cutting down my sexist behavior here and there. For example, on Mondays, before 6, I don’t tell misogynistic jokes that have some sort of sexual violence to women as the punchline.”

Would we say: “Women’s Rights Advocates, We Gotta Break Through this 100% Perfect Sh*t” and argue that it’s perfectly okay to deliberately engage in sexist conduct and that we need to get over this “sh*t” about associating the concept of radical feminism with rejecting misogyny?”

Of course not.

In both cases–in *all* cases involving fundamental human rights–we would be clear: We would say: “You need to think more seriously about justice and fundamental fairness. You need to recognize that justice requires that you not deliberately harm others in these ways.”

But to excuse exploitation–indeed, to celebrate it as some sort of virtue–is the approach of certain opportunistic “animal advocates” when it comes to animals. It’s sad. It’s intellectually vacuous. And it’s transparently speciesist. These “animal advocates” put their stamp of approval on actions that involve imposing suffering and death on animals.

Always speak with people in a nonviolent way and remember your goal is to educate, not judge people (as opposed to actions, practices, and institutions). That it very important.

But it is also important that we recognize that justice requires we always be clear that we have a moral obligation not to engage in victimizing the vulnerable. Those concerned about justice should never put a stamp of approval on that victimization.

And the claim that we often hear that none of us can be “perfectly” vegan because, for example, animals are unintentionally killed in the process of harvesting crops is, like this entire enterprise, intellectually vacuous as well as morally bankrupt. For example, just about every product we consume involves a process where humans are unintentionally injured and sometimes even killed. That does not mean that there is no difference between unintentional deaths that occur during the manufacturing process and deliberately murdering human beings and approving of that murder–and even praising it as a normatively desirable thing.

The animal wefare/happy exploitation crowd has as its central goal to make people feel comfortable about continuing to exploit. This assures that they will bring in donations so that they can be careerists–professional “activists” who ask you to contribute money that you earn at your job so that they can have the “job” of being professional “activists” who compromise the interests of animals and reject veganism as a moral baseline, and then canonize themselves as heroes “for the animals.” It’s appalling and it’s corrupt. Supporting these people in any way is supporting animal exploitation.

The person who wrote the essay that I was sent this morning is not a vegan and explicitly rejects veganism as a moral imperative. “Sh*t” is non-vegans lecturing us about veganism and then holding their hands out for a donation.

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If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

Embracing veganism as a moral imperative and advocating for veganism as a moral imperative are, along with caring for nonhuman refugees, the most important acts of activism that you can undertake.

Gary L. Francione has proposed that we create a virtual billboard.

The purpose of this virtual billboard is to remind us that veganism is OUR choice. We have the ability to say no to violence. We have the ability to affirm the personhood of animals. We have the ability to reject the status of animals as property. We have the ability to say no to speciesism. We have the ability to solve the problem of animal exploitation in the only way it can be solved: by abolishing the demand for animal products. Click here for more information: The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

Watch and listen to Gary L. Francione discuss the Philosophy of Animal Rights.

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Gary L. Francione Bio:

Professor Francione with five of his seven rescued pound puppies

Professor Francione with five of his seven rescued pound puppies.

Gary L. Francione is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark.

His new book–out in January– is “Why Veganism Matters: The Moral Value of Animals.”

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“In this inspiring work, Professor Gary Francione, one of the most powerful voices against the oppression of nonhuman animals of our time, provides a compelling argument for recognizing the moral status of nonhuman animals. A profound and critical call for ending the institutionalized commodification of nonhuman animals and abolishing all forms of their oppression.” — David A. Nibert, author of Animal Oppression and Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism, and Global Conflict

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Professor Francione has been teaching animal rights and the law for more than 29 years, and he was the first academic to teach animal rights theory in an American law school. He has lectured on the topic throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, including serving as a member of the Guest Faculty of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He has been a guest on numerous radio and television shows. He is well known throughout the animal protection movement for his criticism of animal welfare law and the property status of nonhuman animals, and for his abolitionist theory of animal rights.

Professor Francione and his partner and colleague, Adjunct Professor Anna E. Charlton, started and operated the Rutgers Animal Rights Law Clinic/Center from 1990-2000, making Rutgers the first university in the United States to have animal rights law as part of the regular academic curriculum, and to award students academic credit not only for classroom work, but also for work on actual cases involving animal issues.

Francione and Charlton represented without charge individual animal advocates, grassroots animal groups, and national and international animal organizations. Francione and Charlton currently teach a course on human rights and animal rights, and a seminar on animal rights theory and the law. Professor Francione also teaches courses on criminal law, criminal procedure, jurisprudence, and legal philosophy.

He is the author of numerous books and articles on animal rights theory and animals and the law, including Advocate For Animals: An Abolitionist Vegan HandbookAnimal Rights: The Abolitionist ApproachEat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating AnimalsThe Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? (with Dr. Robert Garner) (2010), Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation (2008), Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? (2000), Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement (1996), Animals, Property, and the Law (1995), and Vivisection and Dissection in the Classroom: A Guide to Conscientious Objection (with Anna E. Charlton) (1992).

“VEGANISM IS NOT A SACRIFICE; IT IS A JOY”  Gary L. Francione’s website: click here.

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