Single Issue Discussion, 2

This post is in response to my assertions about Single Issue Campaigns, and is continued from the first follow up discussion post.  The comments I’m responding to are italicized.

Thanks. That does help clarify. Part of what bothered me about your post is that it didn’t seem to convey what you actually believe. I also think this is the most important issue among abolitionists, and it is really important to address, head-on, the precise points raised by opponents of your view. Of course that may not have been the goal of your post. ;) That was just my initial reaction to it.

I do appreciate the feedback.  The goal of writing what I did was really to get some concepts off my chest, which have not been adequately addressed in opposing arguments to Single Issue Campaigns.  Someone once told me that eliminating the use of fur is like freeing only slaves named “Bob” — it wasn’t complete enough.  And yet when we (arguably) freed the slaves called Homo Sapiens, that was lauded as a huge victory (and of course it is).

The fact is, there are multiple species of animals that would not be used by humans if they aren’t used for fur – that matters to all the creatures living in tiny cages who would not be there if people would stop wearing their skins.  It matters to all those baby seals (and their families).

Sometimes I think some abolitionists are trying to say that we should work to save the forests, but that it’s somehow wrong to protest the cutting down of pine trees or oak trees or birch trees.  When all the oak, pine, and birch trees are gone, what will be left of the forest to save?  Furthermore, if single beings matter to us, then single injustices need to be addressed and protested.  Massive injustices are made up of these.

I also worry about putting things out there that may:

1. Encourage people with less knowledge of the issues to embrace anything that sounds like it might be a good idea, anything that “helps nonhuman animals now” when actually we don’t know if it is a good idea or even have evidence that it probably isn’t. I felt like your story seemed to do that. I realize you are aware of the issues, but many of your readers may not fully understand the issues, or even know that they are there at all. It makes intuitive sense to “do whatever we can to help now” even though that may not always be the best course of action in the long run.

My supervisor at work sometimes has to remind me (rightly so), not to “overthink the problem.”  Is there ever a situation where AR advocates think it’s wrong to stop wearing fur… or eating meat?  People who have “less knowledge of the issues” can still do these things, even while being educated.  Learning something is generally a process and a journey, but not wearing fur or eating meat right now… do matter.

The sticky wicket with vegan education alone is that, in order for people to become educated, they have to be willing to learn and then act on that knowledge.  For example, Sea World has apparently failed to “learn” that keeping wild animals in swimming pools is a problem, and even if they know it, they aren’t acting on it.  But get enough (lawful, non-violent) social pressure on Sea World and other aquatic animal prisons… and their closure will become meaningful not only to the animal called “Tilikum,” but all those animals named Orcinus Orca as well as many others.

Put another way, do we care why someone doesn’t rape or murder us?  We would like for people to understand that it’s morally wrong and choose to do the morally right thing… but if we are seeking justice, it becomes imperative to protect individuals from those harms, whether or not a woud-be perpetrator understands all the issues that make rape and murder morally wrong.  Again, by all means, the effort to educate them should be there… but by itself, it’s not enough to ensure justice.

2. Give opponents reason to dismiss the supporters of abolitionist SICs (I’m not sure what the best way to refer to them is) as having no substantive claims. I didn’t feel like you really addressed the issues in your post, and I felt like you didn’t make what are actually the strongest arguments in favor of your view, one of which is laid out very nicely in the last paragraph of your response to my Twitlonger.

I’m afraid I don’t even know what an “abolitionist SIC” is (that in itself is a problem with specific definitions and jargon, noted by others in previous comments).  Sometimes there is a huge tendency in some philosophical circles – again – to overthink the problem.   Animal justice, like human justice IS intuitive.

The bottom line is, I do want to make it illegal for people to own elephants and orcas and other non-human animals.  For starters, I want them to stop being used in circuses in America.  That doesn’t negate my desire to see them not being used for other things, in other places… but it is within my reach to protest, write letters, and boycott circuses – and to encourage others to do the same.  Is there any usefulness to telling people that my efforts there are “misguided” or “confused”?  Again I would ask, who is really the misguided, confused person… the one who acts, or the one who is philosophically against but who fails to act?

I do agree that campaigns which argue that killing animals “humanely” are not useful.  I sincerely believe that these “happy meat/eggs/dairy” campaigns only serve to make people feel better about their injustice to animals.  Animal agriculture BANKS on convincing people that it’s okay to kill animals for food… many so-called animal welfare campaigns put forth by some large organizations are in full cooperation with that lie.

So that’s really the best explanation I have for why I defend “single issue” advocacy.  I don’t expect to convince anyone who has their mind made up otherwise, but I do think it’s valid.  What I’m proposing is action, and what I’m opposing is broad-brush criticism of those who are involved in activism.

And by the way, for those animals lovers out there who may not be vegan… loving animals means not using them – how loved would you feel if those around you were using you for food, clothing, entertainment, or making money by selling your offspring as “pets”?   I hope you will come to see that saving a cow is as meaningful as saving a dog or a baby seal.  But I wish you the best in saving whomever you can.

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Me and the Cello

I have a new book.  The blog posts about saving the world will be slow for a while.

Sometimes I just do this… as one good friend told me – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Music re-charges my spirit.

The (Not) Secret In A Gadda Da Vegan’s Other Blog

“Please Lord, WHY is she making another blog?” *weep*

Well, for one thing, I have a blog with a readership that is not vegan.  I’ve come to see it as a place for helping promote veganism to the general public, and share great recipes with those who are inclined to try them.

But there are topics I’d like to write about to share ideas with other vegans and activists.  Those topics aren’t always appropriate or of interest to readers of the other blog.  This is where those will appear.

This is in no way a secret blog for my alter-ego… just an alternative venue.  There will likely be some cross-over between the two sites.  Hopefully my fellow vegans will find this alternate blog of interest, or if not, hopefully I will find it a useful place to spout nonsense that no one else cares about ;)