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What is wrong with these animal rights organizations?

There is a severe and disturbing disconnect in the minds of the fanatics behind the animal rights groups. First there’s NIO, harassing and threatening students. Now look at what PETA is up to: they plan to launch a porn site to benefit their cause.

The nonprofit organization, whose controversial campaigns draw criticism from women’s rights groups, said it hopes to raise awareness of veganism through a mix of pornography and graphic footage of animal suffering.

“We’re hoping to reach a whole new audience of people, some of whom will be shocked by graphic images that maybe they didn’t anticipate seeing when they went to the PETA triple-X site,” said Lindsay Rajt, PETA’s associate director of campaigns.

I am trying to visualize the kind of people who would be drawn to a site featuring naked women and tortured animals…and no, those aren’t the people I’d want to associate with. It sounds like it might be popular with serial killers, anyway. Is that the audience they want?

And then there’s this:

PETA has been accused of campaigning for animal rights at the cost of exploiting women. A Facebook group, Real Women Against PETA, was launched after the organization paid for a billboard showing an obese woman with the message: “Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber. Go Vegetarian.”

They are sending a consistent message, at least. They love kittens. They hate women.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. David Marjanović, OM says

    graphic images that maybe they didn’t anticipate seeing when they went to the PETA triple-X site

    This seems to mean they’ll launch a porn site, and the porn will be peppered with “graphic footage of animal suffering” to shock the people who foolishly expected innocent porn into veganism. Sooooo clever of them to give the surprise away.

  2. says

    PETA’s kind of campaiging undermines the cause of vegetarianism and animal rights. It’s becoming more and more common to hear people responding with references to PETA’s ridiculous methods in discussions about vegetarianism and animal welfare.

    No other moral goal(women’s rights, votes for blacks, abolition of slavery, the 8-hour working day…) was advanced through this kind of behaviour.

    I would encourage people disgusted with PETA not to conflate their tactics with the moral implications of meat-eating or vegetarianism, or those of animal welfare more generally. That PETA choose irrationality doesn’t mean anyone else has to.

  3. says

    This calls for close scrutiny of their site, in order to have a full understanding of their tactics. Not that I won’t be appalled… I’ll skip the tortured animals, of course.

    It sounds like it might be popular with serial killers, anyway. Is that the audience they want?

    Well, they’re not exactly looking for the best sorts. That seems obvious enough.

    Glen Davidson

  4. azkyroth says

    PETA are some of the most blatant vacuous, content-free attention whores I’ve ever seen. Why does everyone still pretend they have a cause other than self-aggrandizement?

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    PETA and Greenpeace are a couple of a small group of activists I just ignore. These do stupid things for publicity, constantly striving for an emotional reaction instead of of an intellectual reaction. I just move on.

  6. azkyroth says

    PS:

    I am trying to visualize the kind of people who would be drawn to a site featuring naked women and tortured animals…and no, those aren’t the people I’d want to associate with. It sounds like it might be popular with serial killers, anyway. Is that the audience they want?

    They’re marketing to PETAphiles, of course.

  7. Sili says

    They hate kittens, too. Peta want to get rid of pets to the best of my knowledge.

    And there already is porn with graphic footage of suffering animals (and I’m not even referring to exploited women): Crushing. (I had to look it up since I couldn’t recall the name – good thing my search history is fucked up as it is …)

  8. mister_roboto says

    I was very saddened to find out the undergrad student that NIO targeted had given in to their demands.

  9. Sally Strange, OM says

    PETA: Allowing meat-eaters to wallow in unjustified self-righteousness since 1997.

    (I say this as an enthusiastic omnivore.)

  10. rez_imotoboleht says

    I think the porn will act as positive reinforcement and reduce the negative response towards animal abuse in some people.

  11. raven says

    Cuckoo!!! Cuckoo!!! Cuckoo!!!

    That sums it all up.

    I’ve been a minor victim of PETA. They stole some white rabbits once.

  12. Sir Eccles says

    Unfortunately you have fallen for their trap. It is highly unlikely they will actually launch any such site. Yet, the mere mention of them doing so gets them huge free media attention. People are talking about them everywhere.

    While the old adage about all publicity being good publicity isn’t always true, it can’t be long before one of the Presidential candidates latches onto it as a cause celebre.

  13. billgascoyne says

    I’d like to ask these people what “rights” are, where did they come from, how did people get them, and how did animals get them?

  14. raven says

    Never had any nonrabbit mediaated dealings with PETA people.

    But I did meet an Earth Liberation Front activist once on vacation back home.

    1. He was a young guy with three kids. Didn’t live with their mother and never paid any child support.

    2. Didn’t seem to have much of anything in the way of like, you know, a job.

    3. Definitely seemed a bit, a lot cuckoo.

    It’s likely that being in PETA or the ELF says more about someone’s mental state than anything else. It’s an excuse for marginal personalities to act out with vandalism, theft, and arson.

    It’s also counterproductive to their causes and likely to land them in jail with felonies. When people think of the ELF, they don’t think, Oh, save the environment, they think environmentalist terrorists.

  15. DR says

    I’m really fed up with the so-called “animal rights” activists who can’t accept that animals are not humans (humans are animals, but the converse doesn’t usually apply). There is a fundamental difference between a higher primate and a slug. The only thing that can make one believe that all animals are “equal” is the superstition of the existence of a “soul”.

    I certainly agree that we should limit the suffering of animals to a minimum, just as we should do for humans. But to claim that a cat can suffer in the same modalities as humans do is anthropocentrism in the extreme. A cat suffers in its own way, which is for the most part inaccessible to us.

    And in the end, compassion for animals is all well and good, but maybe we should first make sure to show compassion for our fellow humans. Anyone who claims to show compassion for animals, but cannot feel compassion for the animal which which he/she shares the most, is lying.

  16. Sally Strange, OM says

    It’s not that they hate women specifically.

    It’s that they hate people. All of us.

    That may be, but then why do they consistently choose to express their hatred of ALL PEOPLE by using pictures and content that specifically degrades WOMEN?

    Could it be that misogyny is more socially acceptable than misanthropy (literally, the hatred of men, but figuratively of course, the hatred of people, since men = people)?

    If they choose to express their misanthropy via misogyny simply because the latter is more socially acceptable, how are we to tell them apart from genuine misogynists, really?

  17. Michael Swanson says

    Vegan here, and an animal rights supporter who would never threaten anyone. I’d like to thank PETA for making us all look like fucking jackasses. Good old PETA, who euthanizes more than 90% of the animals it “rescues.” Good old PETA, who drives people away from veganism and vegetarianism with their hypocritical bullshit. And now they want people jerking off at their computers to associate porn with animal torture?!

    Fuck PETA. Oh, and just to be perfectly clear: Fuck PETA.

  18. JJ says

    Freaking animal rights activists. We had a pretty bad stint of terrorism (and that’s what it is) here in Santa Cruz, targeting UCSC researchers. Really hit home for me as I knew some of those involved (not the animal rights activists, but their targets), having gone through the bio department there.

  19. says

    You already said what’s wrong with them in your first sentence. You used the word “fanatics.”

    You remind me of the time, many years ago, when I was harassed by environmental fanatics for buying disposable diapers. It so happens that we used cloth diapers, and laundered them ourselves with phosphate free detergent. That was about as much as we could do those days. However, we were planning a short vacation, and wanted disposable diapers for that to avoid having to haul back a pile of smelly laundry. We probably caused less harm to the environment than the fanatics did by driving to the store where they were demonstrating.

    Some people lack ordinary common sense, and go overboard with their ideological commitment. Fanaticism is a bit like religion.

  20. Umbre says

    Agree with Michael Swanson. I sometimes wonder, with all the bullshit they pull, if they are actually playing the part of the “concern troll;” sowing seeds of fanaticism and lunacy to hurt the movement under the guise of trying to help. They have done more to hurt the cause than any other organization. Because of PETA, admitting you are vegetarian, vegan, or for animal rights (for whatever reason) is akin to admitting you’re a crazy jackass to most people.

    Thanks, PETA. Say classy.

  21. says

    Huh. The article about Dawkins in PZ’s previous post mentions:

    (He has embraced the Princeton University philosopher Peter Singer’s Great Ape Project, which would accord legal rights to apes, including a prohibition against torture.)

    No one even mentioned it. Odd, that.

  22. azkyroth says

    Could it be that misogyny is more socially acceptable than misanthropy (literally, the hatred of men, but figuratively of course, the hatred of people, since men = people)?

    My understanding is that in the Greek, “anthro” is gender-neutral and “vir-” is the counterpart of “gyn-“

  23. Sally Strange, OM says

    My understanding is that in the Greek, “anthro” is gender-neutral and “vir-” is the counterpart of “gyn-”

    Oh, excuse me then. I guess the conflation of “man” with “person” happens in English then, as “misanthropy” is defined as “hatred of man,” and “anthropology” is defined as “the study of man,” etc.

  24. azkyroth says

    I think the problem started with “anthro” being translated as “man.” Which was originally gender neutral for “human” in English (the word “woman” is derived from “wyfman,” “wife-person,” the counterpart of which was “weepman” – so on an ironic side note, the “womyn” affectation removes the “person” part but keeps the “wife” part, much like traditional gender roles), IIRC. And then in English people dropped the “weep,” though the associated attitudes probably preceded it.

  25. Nij says

    [/delurk]
    [linguistmode=on]

    My understanding is that in the Greek, “anthro” is gender-neutral and “vir-” is the counterpart of “gyn-”

    Vir is Latin for ‘man’ as in “that man over there”. The Greek equivalent would be aner which is turned to andr- when used in a combination word e.g. androgyny.

    Anthro- derives from Greek anthropos meaning ‘man’ as in “all of mankind”. It’s the same as the Latin homo.
    Naturally these all get mixed up because English uses the same word both for the overall group and for the specific sex.

    [relurks]

  26. ckitching says

    Not to mention one of the senior VPs of PETA requires insulin. It wasn’t until 1982 until synthetically produced insulin was available (produced by genetically modified bacteria), and it took quite a few years after that before it became the de facto norm. Before then, it was all produced by animals.

    I certainly don’t begrudge her for taking insulin to survive, but to see her claim this isn’t hypocrisy is lunacy.

  27. says

    But I did meet an Earth Liberation Front activist once on vacation back home….

    It’s likely that being in PETA or the ELF says more about someone’s mental state than anything else. It’s an excuse for marginal personalities to act out with vandalism, theft, and arson.

    This is pretty typical of the overall quality of your posts and thought.

    That is not a compliment.

    It’s also counterproductive to their causes and likely to land them in jail with felonies. When people think of the ELF, they don’t think, Oh, save the environment, they think environmentalist terrorists.

    And you might want to question and investigate why that is. But it’s not likely you will.

  28. Tenebras says

    @19 The correct word of “hatred of men”, is “misandry”. “Misanthropy” is “hatred of Man (humanity)”

    And no, PZ, PETA doesn’t even like kittens, given how much higher a percentage of them they euthanize compared to other shelters. PETA doesn’t give a shit about animals, they just hate humanity and use animal rights as a cover. I’m not even sure they don’t just hate animals too, since they’re actually connecting animal torture with porn now.

  29. HappyHead says

    Interesting note: PETA, and their splinter group in Canada “ARC II” (created to avoid the bad name of PETA, but just as bat-shit crazy, so that lasted all of a few months) are both labelled as designated Terrorist Organizations by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which means that their registered members may, if they’ve ever been arrested for being obnoxious at a protest, end up on the border service’s “Do Not Cross” list, as well as being prone to spontaneous arrest for questioning if anything goes wrong in their area.

    A few years back, the local ARC II chapter (who are we kidding? They were all shipped in from Toronto and Chicago, the police checked their ID…) were protesting the horrible animal cruelty at the Shrine Circus. Ironically, there was one act of animal cruelty perpetrated – specifically by the leader of the Animal Rights protesters, who brought her dog, muzzled (so it couldn’t pant to cool down) and forced it to sit in the middle of a blazing hot parking lot of 8 hours with no water or shade.

    Animal Rights my ass. They’re only interested in causing problems and pushing people around.

  30. D. C. Sessions says

    This sounds like some real bioweapon-grade projection.

    The ARA crowd seems to dwell on images of animal suffering like it holds the same fascination for them that man-man sex does for fundies. Which would explain a lot about how they came up with this idea in the first place.

  31. Muihtil says

    Researchers don’t conduct (good) research without the utmost respect for experimental animals and model systems. PETA will never understand that.

  32. raven says

    raven:

    It’s likely that being in PETA or the ELF says more about someone’s mental state than anything else. It’s an excuse for marginal personalities to act out with vandalism, theft, and arson.

    And here is another of many examples.

    Eco-arsonist sentenced for heroin sales by Michael Rollins
    kgw.com
    Posted on June 28, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    Updated Tuesday, Jun 28 at 7:37 AM

    EUGENE — An arsonist who avoided federal prison five years ago by helping lock up Earth Liberation Front activists is headed to state prison for selling heroin.

    The Register Guard reports 38-year-old Jacob Jeremiah “Jake” Ferguson of Eugene was sentenced Monday in Lane County Circuit Court to nearly five years in prison after pleading guilty to selling heroin, possessing cocaine and endangering his 4-year-old daughter in the process.

    He was on probation under a 2007 plea deal for his role in arsons by an ELF band known as The Family. Targets included a meat-packing company, car dealership, ranger station and lumber company. Ferguson is depicted as the leader of the group in the documentary “If A Tree Falls.”

    He faces a probation revocation hearing July 14 in federal court.

    So help me out here.

    Is selling heroin better or worse than being a convicted arsonist? Where does ratting out your gang to avoid prison stand in relation to those two, better or worse?

  33. humans depress me says

    “Animal torture and porn… I am sorry, but who would even be turned on by that?!”

    Ever googled for “hard crush”?

  34. spqr says

    What an awful idea. Juxtaposing images of animal torture and pornography – as if to equate them morally – isn’t likely to make much sense to people in a culture that spends more each year on both pets and ‘adult entertainment.’ It’s just going to cause visceral offense. And, I worry, risk linking animal cruelty with sexual arousal in some peoples’ minds.

    Also, as others have mentioned, this will likely drive the rational, otherwise uninformed mainstream further from the cause of animal welfare. I think I have some (small) sense of what it must feel like to be, say, a liberal Muslim in the western world when Al Queda claims responsibility for a bombing.

    DR @ #18: To the best of our understanding, cats (and many other animals) can and do suffer in many of the same modalities that humans do. And not because of what crazy cat ladies or animal psychics claim to know about Fluffy. Rather it’s based on extensive scientific experimentation in pain, sleep, nausea, behavior, etc. The moral or ethical significance of that suffering is something we each feel differently about in light of our other priorities (human needs, scientific advancements, etc). But it is well accepted that animals suffer in many of the same ways that people do.

  35. says

    So help me out here.

    Is selling heroin better or worse than being a convicted arsonist?

    Is this question supposed to make sense?

    Where does ratting out your gang

    Gang?

    to avoid prison stand in relation to those two, better or worse?

    See my post here. Maybe read the book I talk about there. Maybe STFU about movements you know nothing about rather than engaging in your stupid psychologizing reductionism over and over. Maybe stop being credulous about characterizations brought to you by the COINTELPRO crowd.

    You’re the sort of person who would’ve parroted the same propaganda about anarchists a century ago, abetting the mass arrests, torture, deportations, and murders of social justice activists who’d never harmed a single person.

  36. latsot says

    I’m all for animal rights, less so for stupid shit. I’ve had three run-ins (runs-in?) with animal rights protesters. When I was a kid, an animal rights group released an fairly large but unknown number of Mink into the river that ran past our house. They were being bred for careful, considered release and not for coats or for being indiscriminately dumped in a river where they’d do a lot of damage before starving. These idiots managed to set back a breeding programme as well as destroy some already fragile sections of river.

    The other two were protests at my university. Much violence was threatened (but thankfully not carried out) against students and staff and there was picketing of buildings. Buildings in which no animal testing had ever occurred and was not planned. Animal testing was going on in the university and it was perfectly easy to find out where, but they hadn’t bothered to do their homework.

    The impression I was left with was that many of these people are a lot more interested in their egos than with the welfare of actual animals or even with doing the slightest bit of homework before beginning a blithering campaign.

    Some of their propaganda I saw recently was exactly the same poorly-photocopied stuff I saw 15 years ago, featuring a dog supposedly with an RS232 port sewn into its skull. They don’t say that this dog (if it really even existed) was badly treated, they just point to the port and call it bad. They aren’t interested in the procedures and checks in place to ensure ethical and humane treatment of animals, they just want to make a point they don’t really understand.

    It’s sad, because there are animals being mistreated all over the place and they could use some help. Some of these groups won’t pick sensible targets because the animals aren’t what they care about.

  37. says

    PZ, you seem to consistently seek out the worst examples of AR supporters and use them to knock down the whole movement. Even within the AR movement many deplore PETAs tactics, and I actually think you know that. It’s your blog, you can do what you want – but it’s not an honorable tactic.

    Despite your apparent fascination with animal rights, I don’t recall seeing a discussion here, for instance, of Richard Dawkins’s recent eloquent essay against antivivisection, for instance. http://boingboing.net/2011/06/30/richard-dawkins-on-v.html

  38. Great American Satan says

    PETA has a reputation for being balls-out jumped-up wackadoodle insane that they have to maintain. It’s good they’re doing this stuff, because I’d almost forgotten how crazy they are. Silly me.

    And this here comment is from someone who wouldn’t feel bad about trophy hunting some trophy hunters. I don’t care that much about human life, but that shit is just distasteful, PETA.

    -

  39. Dhorvath, OM says

    SC,
    I missed whatever drove you from the Thread, and don’t follow SYTYCD, but if I run across Bill D, I can let him know you are checking in.

  40. says

    SC,
    I missed whatever drove you from the Thread, and don’t follow SYTYCD, but if I run across Bill D, I can let him know you are checking in.

    Thanks! :) This is actually Dancing with the Stars (which I don’t ordinarily follow, but the rightwing awfulness about Bono had me tuning in).

  41. Ze Madmax says

    Hillary @ 50:

    From the article:

    Practices such as branding cattle, castration without anaesthetic, and bullfighting should be treated as morally equivalent to doing the same thing to human beings.

    I think Dawkins is arguing against inflicting needless pain to animals. News update: Most animal research labs already do that. The issue is that ARA extremists like the ones PZ mentions tend to place animals in equal (or superior) standing with humans.

    And I would argue that there’s something wrong with that.

    P.S.: Essay against anti-vivisection?

  42. says

    …And there goes a thread full of misinformation (PETA steals rabbits? Since when?) and misdirection (PETA kills 90% of animals it rescues? Doesn’t that sounds somewhat odd?) and outright lies.

    Can’t you keep your complaints to, I dunno, the actual bad things, instead of using this as a way to throw out unsourced or biased or unskeptical crap?

  43. says

    By the way, since we’ve been talking about Gardasil, it might be worth mentioning one related example: Vioxx – a single drug – killed maybe 28,000 people. ELF has killed how many? And who’s in prison?

    ***

    The philosopher Peter Singer, in Animal Liberation, is the most eloquent advocate of the view that we should move to a post-speciesist condition in which humane treatment is meted out to all species that have the brainpower to appreciate it. Perhaps this hints at the direction in which the moral Zeitgeist might move in future centuries. It would be a natural extrapolation of earlier reforms like the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women.

    I suspect that if PZ posted this and suggested that it was taken from the manifesto of a radical animal rights organization many people would mock it and express HORROR that they could talk about animal rights in the same breath as human rights. “Speciesist”! How ridiculous!

    But it’s Dawkins, in The God Delusion (p. 308).

  44. Ze Madmax says

    Crissa @ 57:

    (PETA kills 90% of animals it rescues? Doesn’t that sounds somewhat odd?)

    “Since 1998 PETA has killed more than 17,000 animals, nearly 85 percent of all those it has rescued” (Source)

    And no, not odd at all. There’s a ton of unwanted animals out there, and dead animals cost little in terms of upkeep compared to live ones.

  45. azkyroth says

    Animal torture and porn… I am sorry, but who would even be turned on by that?!

    I told you. PETAphiles. :P

  46. McCthulhu awaits the return of the 2000 foot Frank Zappa says

    Hey, look at the bright side. World Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club will probably get a few more bucks from the PETA-ites totally fed up with giving an organization that clueless their donation money.

    I was disappointed with them from the get-go. I thought PETA stood for People for the Eating of Tasty Animals. Imagine my shock and horror when I found out what they were really about.

  47. says

    Leaving aside the confusing rhetoric of “rights”, I do find it difficult to sustain the view that the interests of non-human animals are of so little importance, in comparison with humans’ interests, that we are entitled to inflict unnecessary death, pain and suffering on them for our pleasure and convenience.

    Some would answer that humans are of greater moral worth than non-human animals because we have traits that they lack: superior intelligence and cognition, the capacity for abstract thought, complex language, and so forth. Of course, this argument is coherent and reasonable in itself. But it rests on a great many empirical assumptions, and the difference isn’t so starkly categorical as this line of argument pretends. The evidence from behavioural studies suggests that pigs, for instance, actually have remarkably advanced cognition and problem-solving skills. Even sheep, archetypally stupid herd animals, are actually far more intelligent than was once believed.

    In any case, such a line of argument certainly doesn’t establish that non-human animals’ best interests should be discounted completely. A pig certainly doesn’t have the same mental capacities as an adult human, but that doesn’t mean that a pig can’t experience pain, suffering, loss, and the fear of death, or that we shouldn’t be concerned for its wellbeing. (After all, a one-day-old baby and a person in a permanent coma don’t have the mental capacities of an adult human, either; that doesn’t stop us being concerned for their welfare, nor would it justify depriving them of their personhood and dignity.)

    I’m not talking about survival situations. Few people would disagree that it’s acceptable to sacrifice non-human animals in order to save our own lives: given the choice between killing a cow for food or starving to death, most people will understandably choose the former. So, too, I’d find it very hard to criticize researchers for life-saving cancer treatments on lab rats and so forth.

    Rather, I’m talking about things we don’t need to do. For instance, middle-class people in affluent Western societies don’t need to eat meat: it’s easy enough to adopt, at minimum, an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet. Similarly, we certainly don’t need to go fox-hunting or bullfighting, or wear furs, or test cosmetics on animals. It’s very hard to justify these practices morally, unless we argue that the death and suffering of non-human animals is of no importance at all, and that we have an unlimited moral right to kill or harm them for our pleasure and convenience. I don’t see how such a position can be justified, unless one buys into religious mythology in which “man was given dominion over the animals” and similar nonsense.

    None of this is meant to excuse PETA, who are a ridiculous organization. But I find it depressing that any mention of vegetarianism or animal rights here, or in other mainstream liberal circles, is generally met with scorn and derision. It’s an important moral issue that we need to confront.

  48. Mak says

    (PETA kills 90% of animals it rescues? Doesn’t that sounds somewhat odd?)

    instead of using this as a way to throw out unsourced or biased or unskeptical crap?

    That so-called “unsourced or biased or unskeptical crap” comes from the records they have to turn into Virginia every year, which is open for public viewing.

    The oft-cited 97% rate comes from their 2006 records, after you account for the padding they attempted with the numbers from their spay/neuter program (see the Others column compared to the Reclaimed By Owner column below it).

    Last year, just taking the numbers at face value it’s still an almost 80% euthanasia rate, though that number is inflated some by a SHITTON of “other companion animal” adoptions (did they get a bunch of fish or something? WTF). Cats and dogs alone (again, just taking the numbers at face value) were killed at a rate of almost 94%.

    Hardly lies or misinformation or unskepticism — from our side, at least.

  49. says

    Walton, you might be interested in the book I mentioned @ #28. I don’t know if Waldau’ll be teaching or speaking at Harvard Law* while you’re there, but you should find out.

    *On a side note, I’ve attended enough events at Harvard Law to know that they offer ridiculous amounts of bottled water. That should stop.

  50. raven says

    Crissa lying:

    …And there goes a thread full of misinformation (PETA steals rabbits? Since when?)

    Well, since they broke into our animal facility in the middle of the night and stole a bunch of white lab bunnies.

    The morons let them go in a city park. These are domesticated rabbits who have never lived in the wild with a projected lifespan in a park of days. Fortunately they were easy to round up. They wanted their bowls of rabbit chow.

    Another fine example of PETA. A PETA troll outright lying on the internet.

  51. says

    *On a side note, I’ve attended enough events at Harvard Law to know that they offer ridiculous amounts of bottled water. That should stop.

    Yeah… at catered events, they also get through a lot of disposable cutlery and Styrofoam plates (which are non-recyclable). It’s annoying. (Personally, I’ve saved some free disposable knives and forks from events; once washed, they can be reused, thereby reducing waste.)

    Other than that, though, they’re pretty good about green issues (by US standards, at any rate). They have a “single-stream” recycling system which makes it simple to recycle plastics and metal, and there are also compost bins for waste food and paper products.

  52. raven says

    Crissa distracted by the voices in her head:

    Why did someone lump Greenpeace in with PETA here?

    They didn’t. If you were taking your medication, the voices in your head would quiet right down. Then you could do complicated things like read, cross the street unaided, and put your own socks on.

    I mentioned the ELF, Earth Liberation Front. Because I’ve had some RL (that stand for Real Life, Crissa, something you may have heard about but never actually experienced) dealings with them, however slight and unintentional. In a lot of ways they are like PETA.

    Wild eyed fanatics with superficially noble goals who have no trouble using malevolent and counterproductive means to achieve those goals. Their means do not match up with their ends very well.

    PS Someone from PETT (People for the Ethical Treatment of Trolls) will have to explain all the above to Crissa. I don’t think she has mastered the skill of reading for comprehension.

  53. says

    Crissa distracted by the voices in her head:

    It’s stupid to put this within the blockquote. It is not part of the quotation.

    Why did someone lump Greenpeace in with PETA here?

    They didn’t.

    Nerd somewhat did, @ #5.

  54. Otrame says

    Sam @71:
    I will not be going to your link and I think most here will not because whorimg your pathetic writings–I know they are pathetic because if they weren’t you wouldn’t need to pull your little tactic to get readers– by “commenting” with an insult and a link is the kind of childish behavior that most of us here find BORING. Please fuck off.

  55. stanton says

    Otrame, for Sam to realize this, he has to be aware that trying to bait Prof Myers with a five word insult is pathetic and stupid.
    In other words, he needs to develop cognitive thinking skills equal to or above that of a 7-year old.

  56. Marella says

    PETA is mentioned along with Greenpeace because they are both attention seeking institutions with scant regard for reality. I had a subscription to Greenpeace’s magazine many years ago but I caught them out in too many lies (don’t ask, it was decades ago and I didn’t take notes) so I cancelled it. They do not operate from a scientific standpoint, they are simply nature worshipers and like all relgionists, consider that no lie is too big if it’s for their cause.

    Not everyone can be a vegetarian, I have to be on a low fibre diet and I need to be very careful not to eat too many vegetables and starches. I can just about live on eggs and cheese but it’s very limited way to eat and deficient in iron.

  57. Mak says

    Otrame:

    I will not be going to your link…

    It’s just a big rant about how “Beard Grandpa PZ Myers” is a “New Atheist” “militaristic” “new age feminist” who is totally wrong about PeTA’s misogyny, with some lies thrown in about how PZ “accus[es] and generaliz[es] all men as woman hater” [sic], a long dumb rant about Elevatorgate we’ve heard a million times already, more rants about how PZ only values women’s genitalia because he supported Watson (wut?), the same old tired spiel about how being against exploitation of women is just treating them like babies, something about being patriarchal and hypocritical for disagreeing with Catholics and being a father who gets pissed at other fathers, something else that compares NIO and PeTA with the Gnu Atheist movement, and then calls him a big fat (emphasis on fat) meanie hypocrite with a “rotten flesh , cholesterol struck fat heart” [sic] because he hates Halal slaughter while not being a vegan, and claims that PZ changed his diet out of compassion rather than because his doctor ordered it, and somehow this makes him a big meany poo head, too.

    I saved you ten minutes of wallowing through paragraph after paragraph of confusing nonsense bordering on Timecube ramblings, and some really bad grammar. “[E]maciated from shackles of cultural conservatism,” indeed.

  58. M Groesbeck says

    It might be encouraging to some of us to note that there’s a position available other than the PETA “animals good, women bad” model and the mainstream “let’s just pretend that only humans are sentient” attitude. Consider the approach suggested by (primate biologist and critical theorist) Donna Haraway — consider the effort and suffering contributed to society by animals as just another form of labor by sentient entities. Yes, we’re in a unique position as humans — but unique as a matter of degree. We’re responsible for the lives that we decree worthwhile for those species who don’t have access to the perspectives we do — which is a position distinct from the PETA view and the “only human suffering actually matters morally” perspective.

  59. robro says

    Neil @ #24: “Fanaticism is a bit like religion.”

    Yep. In fact, I discovered earlier today that according to a couple of dictionaries, “fanatic” is from the Latin “fanum” or temple. It was introduced into French in the 17th Century to describe “a religious maniac.” Modern man has just broadened the concept to all sorts of things.

  60. Tim DeLaney says

    Two thing you can say about domestic animals that are raised for meat, milk, eggs, or pelts is that they are well-fed and protected from predators. When slaughtered, their deaths are generally less painful than that of their feral counterparts who are generally subject to starvation, predation, and disease. Most domesticated lines would quickly go extinct if turned loose in the wild. Maybe PETA should think about the consequences of what they advocate.

    Most of us would agree that domestic animals should be well treated. Arguably, we should be willing to pay higher prices for meat in order to ensure that the animals have better living conditions. But nutcases like PETA are not the ideal arbiters of that decision.

  61. ryk says

    I don’t have any links or citations off-hand, but I have a distinct memory of past PETA publications/websites claiming research that is now (or at that time…) being conducted on animals should instead be conducted on mentally retarded humans (I think sometimes they also included people w/ down’s syndrome, but I’m not certain).

    srsly.

    and I really miss the old ‘People Eating Tasty Animals’ website. that was awesome.

  62. Paul says

    There was an article in the Gainsville Sun yesterday about NIO’s campaign.

    http://chalkboard.blogs.gainesville.com/2011/09/animal-rights-group-posts-info-on-local-woman/

    It turns out that Ashley wasn’t a student after all but a very junior staff member at a UF lab, who didn’t even have any contact with research animals. It appears she was targeted simply because of where she worked and the fact that she made a little too much personal information about herself available on FaceBook.

    In an interview Ashley says that Marino is a bully rather than a terrorist. I actually disagree with her, Marino is a bully AND a terrorist. What other word but “terrorist” is appropriate for somebodty who encourages arson attacks against those who disagree with her views on society, and advocates the murder of scientists? Because that is exactly what Marino does on her blog, even if she cloaks herself in enough vagueness and disclamers to keep the lawyers happy.

    There are many ways one could respond to AR extremists like Marino, but this happens to be my favourite http://speakingofresearch.com/get-involved/ucla-pro-test/

  63. Gazza says

    Seems a lot of people have already suggested it might happen. What will PETA’s response be when some psychopaths goes from watching the degradation of women and torture of animals in porn videos to inflicting the same on women to get their daily jollies.

  64. lordshipmayhem says

    As Captain Kirk put it about Khan: I’ll say this for them: at least they’re consistent.

  65. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Crissa #56, read Marella #75.

    I don’t see much difference in tactics. If you want to do good, you don’t lie, bullshit, and create civil disobedience just for publicity. You also let people go about their legal activities.

  66. Eidolon says

    First off – What Walton said @64 is something I strongly agree with.

    For any animal, regardless of species, we have what one large animal vet called a ‘duty of care’. That duty is to provide, to the fullest extent possible, for the needs of the animal. We have to treat it in a humane (interesting word, that) manner. To the extent that we fail to do this is what creates AR activists.

    Consider zoos. Look how they have changed over the last 50 years. At least part of that change was driven by AR concerns. Yes PETA is a miserable organization but they are neither the totality nor even representative of individuals who think we have a ‘duty of care’.

  67. Achess says

    So…

    PETA = porn = hating women

    and

    Fat chick on a billboard = … hating fats…? Well no, the answer was also: hating women.

    … Come on PZ, get your shit together.

  68. John Morales says

    Achess:

    So…

    PETA = porn = hating women

    Using women doesn’t imply hate.

    Fat chick on a billboard = … hating fats…? Well no, the answer was also: hating women.

    Insulting fat women doesn’t imply hate.

    … Come on PZ, get your shit together.

    Hey, just because you are full of shit doesn’t mean it’s desirable for others.

  69. KG says

    Marella

    I had a subscription to Greenpeace’s magazine many years ago but I caught them out in too many lies (don’t ask, it was decades ago and I didn’t take notes) so I cancelled it.

    Well of course, alleged lies from several decades ago that you can’t remember are conclusive evidence that all the works of Greenpeace today are unmitigated evil.

    They do not operate from a scientific standpoint, they are simply nature worshipers and like all relgionists, consider that no lie is too big if it’s for their cause.

    I know this is utter bullshit so far as Greenpeace UK is concerned, as I know their chief scientist slightly.

  70. julian says

    Perhaps PETA should compromise and just do furry pr0n.

    This could work…

    With all of PETA money and manpower they could easily create a piece that puts Pirates to shame. The question, of course, is which furry comic should they parody.

  71. John Morales says

    KG, really. I just looked at Greenpeace UK’s website, under (“what we do”)

    Eliminating toxic chemicals

    Toxics threaten our water, air, land, oceans – and our future.
    Synthetic chemicals put the global health of humanity and the environment at risk, as the world’s industries fail to research the potential impacts on our planet.

    Bullshit overall, perhaps.

    Utter? I think not, when any chemical that’s synthesised is to be eliminated.

  72. KG says

    I don’t see much difference in tactics. – Nerd

    Then that’s because your prejudices prevent you doing so, because they are clear enough. You may approve of civil disobedience for causes you don’t happen to be behind (I bet you have no objection to it in those you approve of) but it does not resemble the repulsive misogynistic antics of PETA we’re discussing here, let alone the harassment, violence, burglary and arson characteristic of animal rights extremists.

  73. Scott says

    PETA’s kind of campaiging undermines the cause of vegetarianism and animal rights. It’s becoming more and more common to hear people responding with references to PETA’s ridiculous methods in discussions about vegetarianism and animal welfare.

    Indeed, but there’s no cause like a lost cause. I think they would actually achieve some goals if they did things like campaign for better treatment of food animals, with the acknowledgement that people are always going to eat meat. As an omnivore, I would actually support more humane treatment of food animals, but the extremist ideas and methods of PETA and others like them turn me against them.

  74. says

    @Walton 64 – loved your post.

    >it depressing that any mention of vegetarianism or animal rights here, or in other mainstream liberal circles, is generally met with scorn and derision

    I actually think the situation in “mainstream liberal circles” is changing in leaps and bounds. Veg is rapidly becoming mainstream. Remember Gandhi – “First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    As for scorn here, that was my point: PZ cherry picks what he reports/mocks, and then his audience follows suit. It’s peculiarly puzzling given that, in Western culture at least, the strict dichotomization of humans and non-human animals, and deprecation of the latter, is profoundly rooted in the Abrahamic morality everyone here supposedly deplores. Sam Harris notes that point, and Dawkins may, too.

    While I’m commenting, I’ll make another pitch for two great books:

    Green is the New Red by Will Potter – about the increasing demonization, persecution and prosecution of animal and enviro activism and activists at the behest of agribusiness, and almost always for merely exercising free speech / free assembly rights. a great, scary book – and of course it’s naive to think the forces of repression will stop at the animal rights activists. http://www.greenisthenewred.com

    Eric Maisel, The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without Gods . Maisel is one of the premier creativity coaches, and this book captures the joy and fulfilment atheism brings much more than other books on the topic. http://www.theatheistsway.com/ I wish we would host a discussion of this here.

  75. says

    John Morales # 96
    Following your link I think it’s a pretty uncharitable reading of the (I think poorly worded) statement.
    Even within the context of your quote I wouldn’t have read it as “all synthesized chemicals” but rather as “toxic synthesized chemicals”.
    If you read the whole page you find that it’s the topic of a campaign against toxic chemicals in clothing, which have a bad impact on the environment, the workers and the consumers.
    One thing my husband drilled into my head was to always-always-always wash any clothes or fabric that would come into contact with my skin before wearing.
    Because he used to mix the colours that would later be used to dye the fabric. He would use protective gear and have a bazillion of saftey guidelines to follow. When the colour was mixed he’d send the “recipe” to a place in China or India where nobody would give a damn if they just let their waste water run into the river and where the workers were handed a pair of gloves at best.
    So I think that getting that shit out of our clothes would be something good, don’t you?

  76. illuminata says

    Is it that they want people turned on by animal torture, or do they want people revolted by porn?

  77. illuminata says

    Not to mention that we know that the atheist community always treats women amazingly well…glass houses and all that…

    WEll, you’ve got a point, though I would argue the difference is that PETA as an organization treats women as less than animals, whereas its merely individual atheists who are bitter, angry misognyists, and more than a few were vocally opposed to that, your blog host notably included.

  78. says

    Scott

    As an omnivore, I would actually support more humane treatment of food animals, but the extremist ideas and methods of PETA and others like them turn me against them.

    Well, it’s not a very rational position to keep on doing something you basically think is bad just in order to annoy PETA, is it?
    You can support more humane treatment of food animals simply by being conscious about your own consumption. Try to find out where you can get meat from farms that do treat their animals kindly* and support them by buying their stuff and not the cheap stuff from the supermarket.
    We know that animals can suffer and they shouldn’t pay the price for PETA being idiots.
    Speaking as a happy omnivore. The best argument against vegetarianism is lamb.
    *My favourite slogan on my milk box is “we don’t know if cows can be happy, but we want to make sure they can be.”

  79. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Giliell @101, no, I see it as typical bait-and-switch.

    They are (not too subtly) equating synthetic with toxic; I don’t think it’s “poorly worded”, I think it’s deliberate.

    Exactly the same sort of equivocation as their entry in their Global campaigns page, where they equate current GM with any and all GM:

    The simple truth is, we don’t need GM technology.

    (You think the rank-and-file grok these little distinctions?)

  80. John Morales says

    Hillary:

    As for scorn here, that was my point: PZ cherry picks what he reports/mocks, and then his audience follows suit.

    Cherry-picking means the cherries are there.

  81. jamessweet says

    Meh, PETA’s not soooo bad. Don’t get me wrong, I disapprove of a lot of their tactics and disagree with them on quite a number of — probably most — issues. But there’s a bit of an Overton Window effect going on here, where PETA’s extremism makes room for the more mainstream animal welfare organizations to really get their message heard without being immediately dismissed. As long as they aren’t actually using violence, they may actually be doing more good than harm on balance. Maybe. (I still wouldn’t give them money, I’m just not enraged that they exist and do what they do)

  82. says

    John Morales
    I still disagree. The quote you post is embedded in a paragraph about sustainable farming, biodiversity and GM-technology within farming and understood within the context.
    Probably I’m reading those things too charitable in my tree-hugger mode and you’re reading them too uncharitable in your green-peace-disliker mode.

  83. julian says

    But there’s a bit of an Overton Window effect going on here, where PETA’s extremism makes room for the more mainstream animal welfare organizations to really get their message heard without being immediately dismissed.

    I don’t think I’m comfortable with gaining a platform through terrorist action or abusing innocent bystanders.

  84. Carbon Based Life Form says

    Post #71 — Sam, I read your blog entry. A word of advice: If I wrote English as poorly as you do, I would run anything I wrote past someone whose native language is English. (There’s a man I know in Italy whose English is actually very good, but anything he writes in English is obviously not written by an native English speaker. I have edited the English language pages on his website so that the English is what a native English speaker would write.)

    Also, you say things in your blog which are simply not true. You say that PZ “is a devoured fanatic accusing and generalizing all men as woman hater in this elevatorgate issue.” PZ has said nothing of the sort. He said that there are some men who act improperly towards women, which is indisputable.

  85. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Hillary Rettig:

    one of the premier creativity coaches

    A bullshit “job” title if ever I’ve heard one. Right up there with “life coach.”

    As for PeTA, they make me crave hamburgers.

  86. says

    @Illuminata – PETA /= the animal rights movement. The title of PZ’s post is not “What’s wrong with PETA?” but “What is wrong with these animal rights organizations?”

    >>>whereas its merely individual atheists who are bitter, angry misognyists, and more than a few were vocally opposed to that, your blog host notably included.

    seriously, I perceive no difference between atheism and AR along these lines. misogynist atheists exist (way more than just a few individuals, as you say) and so do misogynist AR people. Nearly everyone in the “formal AR” movement (meaning, who work for AR orgs or do prominent activism) deplores PETA’s tactics, and I suspect most non-prominent AR activists do as well.

    if anything, institutional AR is less misogynist than atheism, with many more women rising to prominent roles more organically. (PETA itself is run by a woman, more’s the shame.) Here is the speaker list to this year’s big AR conference:
    http://www.arconference.org/speakers.htm

    I count 47 out of 104 speakers being female (may be off by a few). And while the AR community does keep an eye on gender balance in conference type situations, it’s not a huge concern. This is in contrast to atheism, where I think the #’s are much lower, and where I’ve read numerous posts, including by PZ himself, on how men need to make room for, and encourage, women.

    Good dialoging with you – gotta get to work –
    Hillary

    PS – @John Morales – “Cherry-picking means the cherries are there.” The cherries are ALWAYS there, in any analysis, but any analysis based selectively on them is fundamentally flawed.

  87. says

    Cherry-picking means the cherries are there.

    So I’m sure you’d think posts about atheists that suggest that Chris Mooney, Justicar, and a couple of libertarians are representative of us as a whole are just swell.

  88. Ing says

    Hate this Overton Window justification. Its “the ends justify ther means” dressed up in a new suit. Why doesn’t anyone just promote the assasination of the Koch brothers to shift the window back to center. Its the same bull the right wing uses to justify and feel good about the Tea Party. Really what you’re saying is nasty things are excusable for a cause you support. Stop bitching about AIG lying then. The question clearly is one of allegence not ethics

  89. Amoeba says

    @18

    I’m really fed up with the so-called “animal rights” activists who can’t accept that animals are not humans (humans are animals, but the converse doesn’t usually apply). There is a fundamental difference between a higher primate and a slug. The only thing that can make one believe that all animals are “equal” is the superstition of the existence of a “soul”.

    This is bugging me as it seems really backwards, from my perspective at least. In my experience, people who believe in souls think it makes them more special than the animals, and therefore are allowed to treat them like crap. I don’t believe in anything like a soul, and feel like that puts us on more even footing with the animals and therefore should try to avoid making them suffer.

  90. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    PETA /= the animal rights movement. The title of PZ’s post is not “What’s wrong with PETA?” but “What is wrong with these animal rights organizations?”

    PZ did also mention NIO. So it was these in the sense of these two. Had he said “What’s wrong with animal rights advocates” you’d have had a point.

  91. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    On the other hand, he did say this:

    There is a severe and disturbing disconnect in the minds of the fanatics behind the animal rights groups. [Ed: emphasis mine]

  92. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Yeah, SC, somehow I perceive a difference between people who embrace misogyny, racism, and unnecessary destruction of animals to advance their cause… and PZ.

    Then again, you and Strange Git were defending bombing Monsanto several threads ago. I guess I’m just not progressive enough or ideologically pure enough to believe that since corporations are waging war on us, we can commit “collateral damage” by killing people who work there. I mean, they chose to work there, right? Including, say, the janitors, during a shit economy…

  93. David Marjanović, OM says

    Greek – Latin – Old English – 21st-century English – modern German

    ánthropos – homo – man – human (being) – Mensch
    anér (andr-´) – vir – wer(man) – man – Mann
    gyné – femina/mulier – wifman – woman – Frau

    Misanthropist, misandrist, misogynist.

    While the old adage about all publicity being good publicity isn’t always true, it can’t be long before one of the Presidential candidates latches onto it as a cause celebre.

    …Seriously???

  94. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    Cherry-picking means the cherries are there.

    So I’m sure you’d think posts about atheists that suggest that Chris Mooney, Justicar, and a couple of libertarians are representative of us as a whole are just swell.

    If the intent is to smear all animal rights advocates based on the actions of PETA and NIO, then it’s unfair. But if the intent is to blame PETA and the NIO for the actions of PETA and the NIO, then it’s pretty fair. Unless he’s distorting what they’re doing.

  95. Mr. Fire says

    They didn’t. If you were taking your medication, the voices in your head would quiet right down.

    For the love of God, raven, please put an end to this cruel, careless, and useless language.

  96. says

    Yeah, SC, somehow I perceive a difference between people who embrace misogyny, racism, and unnecessary destruction of animals to advance their cause… and PZ.

    You’re hard of thinking.

    Then again, you and Strange Git were defending bombing Monsanto several threads ago.

    Show me where I did that, or retract that claim and apologize.

    ***

    If the intent is to smear all animal rights advocates based on the actions of PETA and NIO, then it’s unfair. But if the intent is to blame PETA and the NIO for the actions of PETA and the NIO, then it’s pretty fair. Unless he’s distorting what they’re doing.

    The argument to which John Morales was responding was “As for scorn here, that was my point: PZ cherry picks what he reports/mocks, and then his audience follows suit.” It certainly does seem to be the case that when PZ posts about animal rights issues, he tends to focus on people and organizations that do bad things,* and sometimes implies that they’re representative of the movement (as the title of this post does); then people go to town. As I pointed out above, Richard Dawkins is a supporter of animal rights activism. I suspect a thread on a post about his positions would look very different.

    It’s quite similar to gnu-bashers pointing to, say, Sam Harris’ political remarks and suggesting that he represents all atheists. We point out all of the time how stupid it is for people to form their beliefs based on the personalities or actions of atheists, but there’s a tendency here, it seems, for people to base their support for animal protections/rights to some extent on the behavior or personalities of a selection of activists. If a cause is just, it can’t be discredited by the actions of some who claim to support it.

    I don’t think PZ does it intentionally, but it’s a problem in an environment in which animal rights and environmental activists are being targeted by powerful industries and governments.

    *Though he did that cuttlefish post recently.

  97. JoeKaistoe says

    @64 Walton

    Rather, I’m talking about things we don’t need to do. For instance, middle-class people in affluent Western societies don’t need to eat meat: it’s easy enough to adopt, at minimum, an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet.

    I’m really sick of this “If I can do it, everyone else can too” garbage that seems to be the main talking point of a large contingent of vegans.

    Sure, many people would be able to sustain themselves on a vegan diet that currently aren’t. But it’s a giant load of steaming propaganda and ignorance to claim that anyone of the economic means can manage that. It reeks of extrapolating personal personal experience to everyone.

    My personal experience is knowing people with gluten allergies, limiting non-meat food that can be consumed, some vegetarians that tend to be very sickly (which may or may not be improved by a more varied diet) and someone with significant iron deficiency.

    While this experience doesn’t extrapolate to everyone needing to eat meet, it effectively refutes the talking point that “anyone can be a vegetarian”.

  98. mishcakes says

    @64 Walton — thank you. Eloquently written and I fully agree.

    @79 Tim DeLaney — well in that case I’m sure you won’t mind if we lock you up forever in a padded room. Delicious meals every night, and no chance that you’ll get run over by a bus or fall off a ladder or catch a deadly virus and kill yourself. And when you do eventually succumb to ailments due to old age, we’ll painlessly put you down. Think of how horrible it would be to live naturally and suffer from say, cancer, surrounded by loved ones after living a risky life on the outside! It’s best for you, you know.

  99. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    *Though he did that cuttlefish post recently.

    And, as I expected, the comments there (both here and at Sb) were quite different from those on this thread.

    Which could be precisely because the issues are different. The cuttlefish issue was one of (at least perceived) ecological devastation, not cruelty to cuttlefish. Most of the comments there were against the perceived eco-devastation.

    Most of the comments here have been PETA focused, against the tactics PETA has been accused of employing. I don’t see an inconsistency.

  100. says

    PETA loves cats and hates women? That’s nothing compared to the Canadian Prime Minister. Here’s an excerpt from a recent blog article I wrote:

    Around four million Canadians, including more than one in seven children, live in poverty yet the Harper government recently refused to accept the evidence-based recommendations of a Parliamentary committee to develop and implement a poverty-reduction plan. One in seven Canadian children in poverty amounts to over one million poor children. It is a national disgrace for one of the richest countries in the world, yet Prime Minister Harper shows more compassion and concern for the welfare of cats than children. His official website demonstrates that clearly. The home page under Family Center provides information on how to foster or adopt pets, but nowhere can you find any concern for the welfare of a million children suffering the indignity of poverty.

    http://chainthedogma.blogspot.com/2011/09/order-of-british-columbia-is-out-of.html

  101. illuminata says

    PETA /= the animal rights movement. The title of PZ’s post is not “What’s wrong with PETA?” but “What is wrong with these animal rights organizations?”

    He doesn’t say PETA = all AR groups. However, we have in the past – as the post very clearly explains – run into other AR groups some even more derranged, but all just as idiotic and counter-productive. THAT is why the post is titled as is.

    Your defense of AR as more pro-women falls immediately flat once one views how women are used within the movement. Vegetarianism is coded as “female”, as is caring about animals, so more female participation doesn’t surprised me. This doesn’t mitigate the misogyny within the movement at all when they are used as sex objects and prizes to be won.

    Atheist groups do have a problem with misogyny – that is def not under dispute. But until there are national campaign shaming women for being fat – so therefore they should turn to atheism! – or using women as naked bait to turn men on to atheism, these two are not analogous.

  102. ChasCPeterson says

    when PZ posts about animal rights issues, he tends to focus on people and organizations that do bad things,
    Though he did that cuttlefish post recently.
    And, as I expected, the comments there (both here and at Sb) were quite different from those on this thread.

    Echoing Waffler @#131, the cuttlefish post had sbsolutely nothing to do with ‘animal rights’ issues. The threat was to ecosystems and populations, not to individual animals.
    Animal rights is about cruelty to and suffering by individual animals. Conservation is about populations, lineages, and ecosystems. There is little to no overlap.

    animal rights and environmental activists

    Are you conflating these orthogonal ‘issues’ as a matter of intentional rhetoric, or are you actually confused about the difference?

  103. says

    I’m really sick of this “If I can do it, everyone else can too” garbage that seems to be the main talking point of a large contingent of vegans.

    Sure, many people would be able to sustain themselves on a vegan diet that currently aren’t. But it’s a giant load of steaming propaganda and ignorance to claim that anyone of the economic means can manage that. It reeks of extrapolating personal personal experience to everyone.

    My personal experience is knowing people with gluten allergies, limiting non-meat food that can be consumed, some vegetarians that tend to be very sickly (which may or may not be improved by a more varied diet) and someone with significant iron deficiency.

    I should have qualified my statement more. There are, of course, plenty of people who cannot eat a vegetarian diet because of socio-economic factors (poverty, living in a food desert, etc.), as I acknowledged. I should have added that a minority of people, as you point out, cannot do so because of health problems. And there are also cultural factors; in some societies where vegetarianism is rare, it’s very difficult to find sufficient affordable food on a vegetarian diet.

    My point, though, is that the average healthy, affluent, Western middle-class person does not need to eat meat or fish. For the majority of the people reading this thread, eating meat is a matter of choice, convenience and pleasure, not medical necessity. Nothing you have said contradicts this observation.

    FWIW, I myself am ovo-lacto, not vegan, because I don’t have the resources at present (in terms of money, time, cooking skills, knowledge of nutrition, etc.) to sustain myself on a purely vegan diet. So I am not advocating veganism for all; that would be completely unrealistic. I would, however, advocate that most people of sufficient economic means should, at least, cut down the amount of meat they eat, and consider vegetarian alternatives which are easily available. (Obviously this doesn’t apply to those with exceptional health conditions for whom this is unrealistic.)

  104. Mr. Fire says

    I guess I’m just not progressive enough or ideologically pure enough to believe that since corporations are waging war on us, we can commit “collateral damage” by killing people who work there.

    Strawman, Ms. Daisy Cutter. Further clarified here.

    Whether or not you agree that Strange Gods’ reasoning follows is a different matter. But it is objectively wrong to conflate his endorsement of arson with an advocacy of, or even an indifference to, indiscriminate murder.

  105. raven says

    mishcakes lying:

    @79 Tim DeLaney — well in that case I’m sure you won’t mind if we lock you up forever in a padded room. Delicious meals every night, and no chance that you’ll get run over by a bus or fall off a ladder or catch a deadly virus and kill yourself.

    Lying is one of the minor faults of PETA. Being cuckoo wild eyed fanatics is worse.

    My cats aren’t locked up in a padded room. They go outside whenever they want at least when I’m home. My yard is fenced to keep out the predators for their safety.

    If they don’t like it at my house, they can walk away and never come back. In point of fact, two of them are volunteers. They were feral cats who just showed up at the door one day. They looked hungry so I gave them a bowl of food.

    Pets aren’t slaves, they are symbiotes.

  106. Blueaussi says

    SC (Salty Current), OM @130


    *Though he did that cuttlefish post recently.

    And, as I expected, the comments there (both here and at Sb) were quite different from those on this thread.

    The organization Cuttlefish Country was not advocating its supporters do anything illegal, unethical, or just plain skeevy in support of their cause.

  107. Tim DeLaney says

    Mishcakes @ 129:

    @79 Tim DeLaney — well in that case I’m sure you won’t mind if we lock you up forever in a padded room. Delicious meals every night, and no chance that you’ll get run over by a bus or fall off a ladder or catch a deadly virus and kill yourself.

    As things stand, I have plenty to eat, and I’m in practically no danger from predators. So, being sane, I would reject your offer.

    However, if I lived on the edge of starvation, in constant terror of predators, I’d have to give serious thought to your padded room. It would be better to have a 60 year well-fed, safe life than a 30 year poorly-fed life lived in constant danger of being ripped apart by predators.

    But, to each his own.

  108. mishcakes says

    @137 raven — if you read Tim’s post, he’s talking about domestic animals raised for “meat, milk, eggs, or pelts”. Not pets.

    And you actually just made my point for me. How wonderful that your cats enjoy a life free to roam, explore and do what they please. That’s what animals (including humans) enjoy. The fact that they might die from something other than old age is a trade-off for not being “protected”.

    Since the metaphor went completely over your head, I’m comparing the “great” life of farm animals as described by Tim to a comparative situation for humans. Since he assumes the animals are getting an awesome deal out of it, I made the assumption that he’d enjoy that kind of situation as well.

  109. mishcakes says

    @140 Tim — I agree a sane human wouldn’t choose to live their entire life in a padded room. I still think you’re missing the point though although I’m not sure how to describe it better.

    I think they key might be in the definition of a good life. For humans, a good life is what you describe – not hungry, no fear. For all other animals, a good life is not being locked up.

    For that reason there are charities to help people in your “I might choose the room” situation that are not in the business of locking them up into safety.

    Make sense?

  110. says

    Ay. OK,

    Echoing Waffler @#131, the cuttlefish post had sbsolutely nothing to do with ‘animal rights’ issues. The threat was to ecosystems and populations, not to individual animals.
    Animal rights is about cruelty to and suffering by individual animals. Conservation is about populations, lineages, and ecosystems. There is little to no overlap.

    …Are you conflating these orthogonal ‘issues’ as a matter of intentional rhetoric, or are you actually confused about the difference?

    This is simply wrong, and surprising from an ecologist. It’s wrong historically, practically, and in reference to the targeting I’m talking about. These movements have a great deal of overlap. That they’ve sometimes worked at cross-purposes reflects ignorance on activists’ parts more than anything. Animal rights are as inseparable from population and ecosystem protection as human rights are. I don’t think you would argue that dumping poisonous waste into people’s water supply or destroying their crops isn’t a human rights issue as well as an environmental issue. Same with individuals vs. populations. How small does the population of desert tortoises have to get before your activism qualifies as animal rights activism? On the other end, research and factory farming use billions of animals. They’re distinctions that can’t really be made. Moreover, the targeting, as I discuss in my new post, very much puts these together.

    PZ’s post was not about some vague destruction. The title wasn’t “Australia wants to cause ecosystem destruction!” It was “Australia wants to murder cuttlefish!” At Sb, the second comment asked: “Yes, I agree that the cuttlefish breeding ground needs to be protected. However, South Australia also needs fresh water. What takes precedence? Cuttlefish or people?”, to which Ichthyic replied “South Australia’s pretty much a desert, yes? I’ll go with the Cuttlefish.” It would require work to say that this discussion is fundamentally separable from a discussion of the moral or legal rights of cuttlefish.

    ***

    The organization Cuttlefish Country was not advocating its supporters do anything illegal, unethical, or just plain skeevy in support of their cause.

    This is tangetial to my point. But there are many animal rights projects that don’t, either. (Well, let’s leave illegal out of it – the connection between law and morality is tenuous.) The point was that PZ rarely or never posts about animal rights activism that isn’t unethical or skeevy, even though people he’s friends with like Dawkins are involved in it. These posts, like in this case, imply that that the bad actions are representative, and we would be angry if the same thing were done with atheists. When he does post about campaigns that are at the very least related, this relation is obscured, and people have more reasonable conversations.

  111. says

    I’m often troubled by the characterization that PETA members and sympathizers have told me over the years when trying to sway me to their cause (in person, not here specifically):

    That there are only two ways of approaching treatment of and interactions with animals. Either they are fully equivalent to human beings and have all the same rights (despite showing vastly different levels of cognition and intelligence) or that humans are super duper special (an idea with religious roots) and don’t have to worry about ethical treatment at all.

    This is a false dichotomy, and I have seen echoes of it here as well.

    It frustrates me because like many other omnivores who also enjoy and respect animals, it tries to force us into boxes that don’t represent us at all. It is possible to recognize animals as possessing intelligence and higher cognition to varying degrees while also not insisting that we must have no meaningful interaction with them (as pets, food, medical test subjects, etc.) as a result. Ethical guidelines for humane treatment of animals are constantly evolving and this is a good thing, but it doesn’t mean that we should advocate human beings cease all animal interactions and considerate use.

    I admit I tend to be suspicious of anyone insisting they’re part of an animal rights organization instead of animal welfare. Just as “men’s rights activist” has become a toxic term, animal rights groups are highly colored by the violent, threatening and extreme actions of their visible proponents. I am happy to support conservation organizations, and animal welfare groups like humane societies (and the national ASPCA in the United States).

    While old conceptions of human’s superiority still color the way we make policy decisions about animals, acknowledgement of animals’ cognitive abilities has changed drastically in the last 50 years. (Due in part to actively studying animals in captive environments.) From animal welfare organizations, we began to see changes in regulation and enforcement of animal protections. Importation of wild-caught exotic species was banned, and certifications of kind and respectful husbandry came into place. Zoos are facing ever more rigorous compliance standards from watchdogs to create more appropriate and mentally stimulating environments. Animal testing in medical science is very carefully scrutinized, and ample justification for its use and experimental procedures are required prior to approval.

    Greater improvement is required, particularly in food supply animal practices, but I don’t believe that the evidence supports mandatory vegetarianism either. My family has kept and eaten chickens and ducks; family friends have domestically raised rabbits and pigs for us to eat. Decisions must be made with kindness and respect in mind; large scale agri-business is a major problem criticized by animal rights and welfare groups alike.

    I believe many arguments about animal rights bear a tendency to anthropomorphize animals, ascribing desires and motivations of people without any hard evidence that this is the case. Captive animals lack freedom, but are granted some opportunities that would be denied them in an environment where daily needs dictated behavior. As agriculture allowed people greater abilities to discover scientific and mathematical realties, captive animals may be able to experience similar abstracts. At the risk of anthropomorphizing myself, I believe that animals can find something meaningful granted by the ease of captivity.

    For examples:
    1. A domesticated herding dog working in a family group (of mixed species) has a job to do, and possibly a purpose and satisfaction in accomplishing it.
    2. Animals of various types have shown an ability to learn to communicate with people using human forms of communication (some spoken as with the African grey studied by Dr. Pepperberg, or apes with sign language). These animals show obvious signs of bonding with people and pleasure at new discovery and knowledge.
    3. Primates in captivity have shown a capacity for keeping other animals as pets. Many people are familiar with the story of “allball” kept and named by a captive gorilla, but there are other cases. Last year sometime I watched a conservation program that profiled a wildlife refuge (I forget where) wherein an orangutan took in a stray dog that found its way into the park and kept her like a pet.

    None of these would be possible without allowing humans the authority to keep and raise animals.

  112. says

    I admit I tend to be suspicious of anyone insisting they’re part of an animal rights organization instead of animal welfare.

    This is a distinction promoted by animal-exploiting industries. There have been radical changes in the ways humans affect animals’ lives over the past several decades, and the notion of some attenuated vision of animal welfare leaves this unprecedented system largely unchallenged. As described in Animal Rights, this idea that animal rights is some novel and radical notion that means something vastly different from animal protection (especially that all animals are exactly like humans, as though animal rights means the right to vote or something) is incorrect. As Dawkins describes, animal rights are a pretty natural extension of our ideas about human rights. I think we would be better served to abandon this rhetorical distinction and talk about actual campaigns (call them for rights, protection, welfare, whatever). Of course debates can and should still happen, but this rhetorical splitting off and demonization of animal rights activism is unfortunate for humans (especially activists) and nonhuman animals alike.

  113. says

    I blogged it first! Even people who are into animal rights should be against this because it doesn’t work, and women are way more likely to become vegans or vegetarians. They keep doing this woman hating bullshit under the assumption that it actually accomplishes something, that part of the argument is almost never evaluated. They haven’t shown that it converts anyone, and I am pretty sure it doesn’t. PETA has been hounded forever for not taking women’s rights seriously, and they don’t care about that. As a utilitarian group, I think that they can be persuaded to stop based on how little good it is actually going to do in the long run. It alienates the people most likely to agree with their message.

  114. Ing says

    But it is objectively wrong to conflate his endorsement of arson with an advocacy of, or even an indifference to, indiscriminate murder.

    What about an endorsement of drunk driving?

    How dangerous to others does an act have to be before it shows blatant indifference to the lives and safety of others?

    Hell if the question is distance or intent, then why be mad at the company at all. They’re not actually pulling the trigger as their main motivation. They’re just doing business and people getting fucked over by it is not their concern in much the same way that anyone hurt by a fire is no concern of the arsonist.

  115. Mr. Fire says

    What about an endorsement of drunk driving?

    How is drunk driving equivalent to corporate arson? How many people are using drunk driving – misguided or otherwise – as a means to effect some type of change?

    in much the same way that anyone hurt by a fire is no concern of the arsonist.

    But surely this is reiterating the very strawman I was trying to address!

  116. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    How small does the population of desert tortoises have to get before your activism qualifies as animal rights activism.

    How small does the population of giant sequoias have to get before your activism qualifies as animal rights activism?

  117. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    @SC

    You are trying to link someone’s efforts to save a species from extinction to animal rights. Yet not all species people try to save from extinction are animals, no? So animal rights may have nothing whatsoever to do with species conservation, no matter how small the remaining population of individuals. Or do you think there is a parallel concept of ‘vegetable rights’ that motivate plant conservationists?

  118. says

    I think we would be better served to abandon this rhetorical distinction and talk about actual campaigns (call them for rights, protection, welfare, whatever). Of course debates can and should still happen, but this rhetorical splitting off and demonization of animal rights activism is unfortunate for humans (especially activists) and nonhuman animals alike.

    If it were entirely artificial and without established associations, I might agree with you, but I feel that identification matters. We may sigh about the semantical tangle created by pro-life/pro-choice (particularly re: accuracy), but the fact is that terms like these that are part of the public discourse are predictive of policy positions.

    It is part of the way we talk about animal treatment, cruelty and protection now, and in general there is a distinct difference between fundamental positions. What role humans should play in the lives of animals is a core disagreement, and one that can’t simply be hand-waved away. I’ve seen welfare and rights organizations work together to support legislation when it comes up, but that doesn’t mean that their end goals are the same.

    As Dawkins describes, animal rights are a pretty natural extension of our ideas about human rights.

    Of course recognizing animals’ rights to kind and respectful treatment follow from humanistic principles. That doesn’t mean that all the positions of large and vocal animal rights organizations are supported by empirical science or objective assessment. People (including me) approach animals via an emotional connection that is often irrational. It isn’t logical that I’d refuse to eat a dog, but don’t feel that way about eating a pig. I acknowledge that.

    This is a distinction promoted by animal-exploiting industries.

    This implies that you see the distinction as entirely fabricated by large scale agri-business interests. If so, evidence would help.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Pharmaceutical corporations don’t exploit anyone. They’re driven by the purest ethic of respect for human and nonhuman animals.

    I’ll tell you this, I’m much more comfortable with “Big Pharma” than I am with “Big Placebo.” At least those who work in developing new products and treatments for pharmaceutical corporations have evidence of efficacy. The idea that those who profit from medical discovery are unethical monsters is distressingly conspiracist; Dr. Paul Offit is dismissed as an evil tool of “Big Pharma” because he created a currently marketed vaccine, yet he’s a powerful advocate against anti-vaccine fears leading to incidence of measles, pertussis, etc.

    And you really think that they’re complacent about animal trials? Animal testing is highly regulated there. If you want to point unethical treatment in medical testing, look at the poorly designed study involving macaques attempting to show the horrors of childhood vaccination. It certainly didn’t advance our knowledge or test for a remotely likely risk of vaccination.

  119. says

    @SC

    You are trying to link someone’s efforts to save a species from extinction to animal rights.

    Actually, I was linking someone’s efforts to protect an animal population to animal rights.

    Yet not all species people try to save from extinction are animals, no?

    Correct, and irrelevant. Moreover, it’s not like sequoias aren’t part of interconnected ecosystems in a way that’s relevant to the protection of a number of animal species, in the same way water is relevant to humans and human rights (even if trees weren’t living organisms, which of course they are).

    So animal rights may have nothing whatsoever to do with species conservation, no matter how small the remaining population of individuals.

    Even if this were true with regard to nonanimal species, which it isn’t, it would have nothing to do with the tortoise or the cuttlefish examples.

    Or do you think there is a parallel concept of ‘vegetable rights’ that motivate plant conservationists?

    There is, in fact – not a parallel concept but an encompassing concept. It’s in some countries’ constitutions.

  120. says

    It is part of the way we talk about animal treatment, cruelty and protection now,

    Again, there’s a reason this historically/sociologically/practically meaningless distinction is widespread. It has been promoted by powerful interests. It’s not useful in moving forward with discussions of animal protection, if that’s what people are genuinely interested in.

    and in general there is a distinct difference between fundamental positions. What role humans should play in the lives of animals is a core disagreement, and one that can’t simply be hand-waved away. I’ve seen welfare and rights organizations work together to support legislation when it comes up, but that doesn’t mean that their end goals are the same.

    Why don’t you talk about these concrete campaigns and the positions of different organizations within them? The discussion of “rights” and “welfare” organizations are extremely general and vague.

    Of course recognizing animals’ rights to kind and respectful treatment follow from humanistic principles. That doesn’t mean that all the positions of large and vocal animal rights organizations are supported by empirical science or objective assessment.

    But that wasn’t my argument. Why on earth are people so committed to building these straw men?

    People (including me) approach animals via an emotional connection that is often irrational. It isn’t logical that I’d refuse to eat a dog, but don’t feel that way about eating a pig. I acknowledge that.

    I’m uncertain about the relevance of this to the discussion.

    This implies that you see the distinction as entirely fabricated by large scale agri-business interests. If so, evidence would help.

    I’ve given more than one reference in this thread. Showing that it’s “entirely fabricated” isn’t necessary. Useful to and promoted by, absolutely.

    I’ll tell you this, I’m much more comfortable with “Big Pharma” than I am with “Big Placebo.”

    It’s not wise to be at all comfortable with Big Pharma (it’s odd that people keep putting this in quotation marks – do people think PhRMA doesn’t exist or something?). But what the hell does this have to do with the discussion at hand?

    At least those who work in developing new products and treatments for pharmaceutical corporations have evidence of efficacy.

    Sometimes. And evidence of safety, sometimes. And often they lie. I mentioned above that Vioxx probably killed about 28,000 people. I’m not comfortable with that.

    The idea that those who profit from medical discovery are unethical monsters is distressingly conspiracist;

    I’m going to stop right there. I did not say that, and I’ll thank you to cease misrepresenting me. (Also, I’m still waiting for the evidence that I supported the “bombing of Monsanto.”)

    If you want to point unethical treatment in medical testing, look at the poorly designed study involving macaques attempting to show the horrors of childhood vaccination. It certainly didn’t advance our knowledge or test for a remotely likely risk of vaccination.

    As I believe I mentioned months ago on one of Orac’s threads about that, the fact that that research made it by the IACUC doesn’t speak that well of the approval process generally.

  121. Kagehi says

    So.. Wait, are the pictures going to be of naked women torturing animals, because… well, that really would be sick, but right in line with some of the other crap they have pulled. Somehow though.. I tend to suspect that this isn’t going to go over real well with most people, unless its the vegan animal torturers, who like getting off on imagining the disemboweled dog buried in their back yard, while making out with their new hot date…

  122. kristinc says

    Last year sometime I watched a conservation program that profiled a wildlife refuge (I forget where) wherein an orangutan took in a stray dog that found its way into the park and kept her like a pet.

    At the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, there is an elephant who has adopted a dog (or vice versa). They go everywhere together.

    More on topic, I dislike the way PETA has out-shouted legitimate animal welfare work in the popular consciousness, so we have a harder time of discussing very real concerns about the treatment of animals. Elephants are an excellent example: it’s not horrifically cruel to keep them in zoos because they’re “slaves” who yearn to be “free”, it’s horrifically cruel to keep them in zoos because they lack the movement they need for their feet and end up in terrible chronic pain. It’s not ethically problematic to use chimpanzees in entertainment because it “robs them of their dignity”, it’s ethically problematic to use chimpamzees in entertainment because it disrupts a social network much like our own and requires abuse and abandonment in order to make it possible.

    If we could have a little less overwrought screaming about abstract human concepts like dignity and slavery, maybe we could have a little more discussion about suffering and pain.

  123. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    Correct, and irrelevant.

    Even if this were true with regard to nonanimal species, which it isn’t, it would have nothing to do with the tortoise or the cuttlefish examples.

    You are being obtuse. You are making a claim about what motivates, or ought to motivate, somebody who wants to protect a particular species. You think that at some level, it has to be about animal rights. This is bullshit. It may be, but it certainly doesn’t have to be, and there’s no inconsistency.

  124. John Morales says

    I think many conceptual problems disappear when one is conscious that humans are animals.

    The issues then relate to ‘human animals’ vs ‘non-human animals’, rather than to ‘humans’ vs ‘animals’.

  125. says

    If we could have a little less overwrought screaming about abstract human concepts like dignity and slavery, maybe we could have a little more discussion about suffering and pain.

    Actually, there’s been no such overwrought screaming on this thread, or if I recall correctly much if any on the many other threads about animals. What there often is is quite a bit of overwrought screaming about some elements in the animal rights movement and very little discussion of nonhuman animals. Not discussions about wild animals in captivity, but discussions about some rhetoric about wild animals in captivity. It’s somewhat similar to the people who show up on threads where people are talking about feminism to lecture them about how if the rad fems would stop demanding female domination they would help us to advance the cause.

  126. Kagehi says

    Elephants are an excellent example: it’s not horrifically cruel to keep them in zoos because they’re “slaves” who yearn to be “free”, it’s horrifically cruel to keep them in zoos because they lack the movement they need for their feet and end up in terrible chronic pain.

    Yeah, and it pisses me off even more that they don’t distinguish between “city based” zoos, which started out more as menageries than “preservation” locations, and thus fit your description, and those like the San Diego affiliate, which owns an area of land the size of small city, and gives each group of animals they have there “large” areas of land to move around in. So much so that its often hard to see them from the tram ride they made to go around the park, and not much better, sometimes, from the walk through paths.

    They actually resort of higher priced “Safari” camp outs, as a means to actually guarantee that you can see something reasonably close up. But, to PETA, there isn’t a damn difference. Hell, if every park was the size of the animals original range, and we all lived in a 5,000 story building, on the edge of the “animals” territory, they would whine about how we “dares” to confine them by placing a protective fence, around *ourselves* to keep them out.

  127. Tim DeLaney says

    Mishcakes @ 141

    You have completely missed my original point. Let me explain it.

    Domestic animals raised for meat, milk, eggs and pelts would not exist at all if PETA had its way. (Raven rightly saw the difference between this category and pets, BTW.)

    My original point is that domestic animals arguably have a better existence than their feral counterparts. You may argue, if you wish, that being caged is worse for them than having a perpetual fear of predators, and perpetual paucity of food. But I argue in return that being caged, but well-fed and free of terror, is better than not existing at all (which is the actual choice). After all, nobody would rationally prefer non-existence to an existence that is comfortable and fear-free.

    Note that I advocated paying a higher price for meat, milk, etc as an ethical trade-off for making their existence more pleasant. I don’t pretend to suggest how many dollars are equivalent to their comfort. We could debate that ad nauseam.

  128. says

    You are being obtuse.

    Ahem.

    You are making a claim about what motivates, or ought to motivate, somebody who wants to protect a particular species.

    Nnnnnnno.

    You think that at some level, it has to be about animal rights. This is bullshit. It may be, but it certainly doesn’t have to be, and there’s no inconsistency.

    Stop harping on inconsistency. I’m trying to have a discussion with Chas about distinctions. You don’t appear to be able to follow it. And you’re tiresome, so I think I’ll stop responding to you.

  129. kristinc says

    Actually, there’s been no such overwrought screaming on this thread

    Correct, sorry, I should have been clearer. I didn’t mean on this thread, I meant in the discourse about animal welfare in general. It’s been my experience that a lot of people are so conscious of PETA’s rhetoric that they “hear” it — and become dismissive — even when the topic under discussion is from a more reasonable and realistic perspective. PETA has just been that successful at dominating the discourse, and I think it’s been a disservice to animal welfare.

  130. says

    Elephants are an excellent example: it’s not horrifically cruel to keep them in zoos because they’re “slaves” who yearn to be “free”, it’s horrifically cruel to keep them in zoos because they lack the movement they need for their feet and end up in terrible chronic pain.

    They’re highly intelligent, highly social wild animals. There’s zero reason to keep them in zoos. This is not just about their feet.

  131. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    I’m trying to have a discussion with Chas about distinctions.

    Distinctions which you apparently are unable to understand.

  132. kristinc says

    Okay, see, SC, this is the same problem PETA has. I’m on your side with the elephants. I don’t think they should be in zoos. I think it’s a crying abusive shame. But apparently that’s not good enough unless I also espouse the idea that they can tell the difference between being “wild” and being in captivity in a place where they have the space and social networks they need (the Sanctuary in Tennessee, for instance).

    This is what turns people off about PETA even when they care about not being cruel to animals.

  133. says

    It’s been my experience that a lot of people are so conscious of PETA’s rhetoric that they “hear” it — and become dismissive — even when the topic under discussion is from a more reasonable and realistic perspective.

    I think that’s true, and the problem is that when there are a number of posts about PETA, that’s what the discussion tends towards. I’ve been posting about an orca, “Morgan.” The whale has the right to return to her life in the wild if she can. She has the right not to be bought by SeaWorld and spend the rest of her life in a goddamn concrete tank doing endless circus tricks and being bred (and then having her children taken away). I don’t care if PETA are assholes. I don’t care if people think this is more a “welfare” than a “rights” issue. But I want the discussion to be about the animals and not about a selection of activists.

  134. says

    Okay, see, SC, this is the same problem PETA has. I’m on your side with the elephants. I don’t think they should be in zoos. I think it’s a crying abusive shame. But apparently that’s not good enough unless I also espouse the idea that they can tell the difference between being “wild” and being in captivity in a place where they have the space and social networks they need (the Sanctuary in Tennessee, for instance).

    Okay, see, kristinc, I’m on your side. The Elephant Sanctuary is not a zoo.

  135. says

    A few additional thoughts:

    I’d echo others upThread in saying that I personally prefer to talk about “non-human animals”, rather than drawing a rhetorical distinction between “humans” and “animals” as though humans were not animals. This might seem trivial, but I think it’s more important than it appears; the traditional verbal dichotomy between “humans” and “animals” seems to me to reflect, albeit unconsciously, the traditional Western Abrahamic “human exceptionalist” view that humankind is separate from, and intrinsically superior to, the rest of the natural world, and that humankind was “given dominion over the animals” so that we can use them for our benefit. I know no one here would consciously argue for such a view, but it’s deeply ingrained in our culture and our background assumptions. And I don’t think this kind of thinking is helpful in arriving at rational conclusions on the subject of animal ethics, in the context of a secular worldview.

    (By this, I don’t mean to propose the opposite extreme view: I’m certainly not suggesting that non-human animals can be treated the same way as humans, or that we should fall into the trap of anthropomorphizing them and of ascribing to them human values, motivations, experiences or interests. That view is just as irrational. Nor can we treat all non-human animals the same way; in terms of sentience, cognition, intelligence and emotional capacities, the gulf between, say, a pig and a crayfish is an extremely wide one, and ethical principles that hold for some species do not necessarily hold for all species.)

    As for the distinction between “animal rights” and “animal welfare”, it is a distinction that has abstract conceptual value. In our society, non-human animals are not juridical persons; they do not have legal personality, and therefore are not regarded by the law as having “rights”, as such. Rather, non-human animals are generally regarded by the law as property (“chattels”, to use the technical Anglo-American legal term). Most jurisdictions have plenty of legislation that regulates how non-human animals may be treated, and that seeks to protect their welfare to some degree or other; but this doesn’t affect the fact that they are regarded as property, and that the legal system does not regard them as persons who are capable of having or enforcing individual rights. Granting juridical personhood to non-human animals is an unusual idea, but not a completely far-fetched one; there are some legal scholars who support it. (I don’t have a strong opinion on that issue myself, and I won’t offer any view on it here.)

    I agree with SC, though, that the boundaries are much more blurred in practice than this theoretical analysis would suggest, and that the abstract conceptual distinction between “animal rights” and “animal welfare” doesn’t have much relevance to real-world activism. In reality, few of the people we call “animal rights activists” are primarily or exclusively concerned with securing juridical personhood for non-human animals. Rather, as regards the major issues affecting animals’ wellbeing – habitat destruction, the meat industry and animal slaughter, research on live animals, bloodsports, and so on – the domains of “animal rights” and “animal welfare” overlap in practice. And I think it’s more useful to debate the ethics of these issues in concrete real-world terms, without resort to philosophical abstractions like “animal rights”. One does not need to decide in the abstract whether non-human animals should have “rights” in order to resolve that inflicting needless pain and suffering on a non-human animal is wrong, for instance, nor to oppose the hunting of a species to extinction or the destruction of its habitat.

  136. azkyroth says

    No, they don’t love kittehs with 28 adopted, and 1507 euthanized in 2010

    They could just love them properly cooked, you know.

  137. Tim DeLaney says

    One thing I have taken from this thread–and I must shamefacedly confess it has not occurred to me before today–is that zoos should not exist at all. They accomplish nothing; their educational value is minimal compared to competent nature video programs (preferably narrated by David Attenborough). In fact the ones I have visited are generally a disgrace in their sensitivity to animal welfare.

  138. says

    As for the distinction between “animal rights” and “animal welfare”, it is a distinction that has abstract conceptual value. In our society, non-human animals are not juridical persons; they do not have legal personality, and therefore are not regarded by the law as having “rights”, as such. Rather, non-human animals are generally regarded by the law as property (“chattels”, to use the technical Anglo-American legal term).

    To be clear, I wasn’t saying the distinction is legally irrelevant (if you’re talking about legal as opposed to moral rights). It’s of course perfectly possible to regard the property concept as a problem and to try to change it. (After all, many people were generally regarded by the law as property in the past.) Actually, the term “rights” has even been used in at least one “Western” court in recent years with regard to nonhuman animals, there are rights enshrined in some constitutions, and there are some who argue that even in “our” society some nonhuman animals have some legal rights already. What isn’t the case is that animal rights activists are all uniformly seeking a precise equivalent to human legal rights for all animals.

    I agree with your next paragraph.

  139. azkyroth says

    But until there are national campaign shaming women for being fat – so therefore they should turn to atheism! – or using women as naked bait to turn men on to atheism, these two are not analogous.

    Yeah, really. I mean, there’s the Skep-* calendars, but that project was intentionally co-ed. (Though I’d be curious what the relative sales are like).

  140. azkyroth says

    Whether or not you agree that Strange Gods’ reasoning follows is a different matter. But it is objectively wrong to conflate his endorsement of arson with an advocacy of, or even an indifference to, indiscriminate murder.

    …why does this not surprise me…

  141. says

    Actually, the term “rights” has even been used in at least one “Western” court in recent years with regard to nonhuman animals, there are rights enshrined in some constitutions, and there are some who argue that even in “our” society some nonhuman animals have some legal rights already.

    Yeah, I should have been more precise in talking about “Western societies”, “our society”, and the like. Of course people here come from a wide range of national and cultural backgrounds, and I should avoid making these kinds of default assumptions.

    Really, I was trying to qualify my statements according to the limits of my knowledge: I don’t have any particular expertise in this matter outside the Anglo-American legal world (and legal systems derived therefrom), and so I can’t comment on how the legal status of non-human animals might differ in other legal systems. (Animal law is a whole field in itself, and one I’ve never studied.) I don’t know if there is any jurisdiction in which non-human animals are not generally legally regarded as property; I’d be interested to find out if this is the case.

    What isn’t the case is that animal rights activists are all uniformly seeking a precise equivalent to human legal rights for all animals.

    Of course that’s true, and it’s an important point.

  142. says

    A lot of modern zoos function as breeding programs and rehabilitation programs for endangered animals. Not all, but while animals are endangered in the wild, some zoos are beneficial. Our local zoo also operates a rescue program for former circus animals, so they house ligers and tigons. Most zoos now won’t keep them, as they are not “proper” breeding stock – so I guess the option was to kill them.

    As to Greenpeace, I used to support them but their vandalism at CSIRO was the last straw.

  143. azkyroth says

    I think they key might be in the definition of a good life. For humans, a good life is what you describe – not hungry, no fear. For all other animals, a good life is not being locked up.

    Support this statement.

  144. azkyroth says

    PETA has been hounded forever for not taking women’s rights seriously, and they don’t care about that. As a utilitarian group, I think that they can be persuaded to stop based on how little good it is actually going to do in the long run. It alienates the people most likely to agree with their message.

    Where could you possibly have gotten the idea that Pinheads Entreating Tawdry Attention were a utilitarian group? (In that sense, I mean).

  145. illuminata says

    Let’s sit around and blog about people we hate who actually do something besides sit around commit acts of terrorism, bigotry and harrassment.

    Fixed your blatant bullshit for you.

  146. mishcakes says

    @164 Tim — Okay sure, if new laws were enacted tomorrow that mandated x number of feet per head of livestock and factory farms as we know them today didn’t have enough space to house them all, it would definitely be preferable for the animals alive today to remain at the farm rather than be released into a hostile and unknown environment.

    But that’s as far as I can see that argument going. Are you really feeling bad for the potential new cows and pigs who wouldn’t be born into a shitty, short life? I think that’s another key in our disagreement. You seem to think farm animals live a comfortable life, when (except for rare small farms) they definitely do not. Knock animal-rights groups all you want, but at least they have exposed the horrible conditions of most huge US factory farms.

    I’m not a member of PETA, and although I’m a vegetarian, I wouldn’t want to deny people their right to eat whatever they want. I agree with you that people who can, should pay more for humanely raised food. Domesticated animals wouldn’t *poof* cease to exist in any scenario, they would just decrease in numbers due being offered a good life analogous to our good life, where instead of cages they had fields and space to roam and act out on their natural impulses.

  147. ChasCPeterson says

    I’m sorry that my recent online habits are not conducive to conversation. Tardily: there is an important distinction to be made between ‘animal rights’ and conservation, even single-endangered-species-type conservation, and it’s not numbers. It’s levels of organization.

    ‘Animal rights’ issues are always couched in terms of properties of individual animals: suffering, pain, subjugation, imprisonment, denial of rights.

    ‘Endangered species’ issues are concerned with protecting the existence of a lineage: a population or species plus the time vector. And even then populations are protected as proxies for functioning ecosystems (communities of interacting organisms of all kinds plus their geological/climatic environment in the time vector).

    The sequoia comment was not bizarre, but right on (and pretty funny). The values that motivate ‘animal rights’ activists are made of anthropomorphic empathy for individual animals (almost always mammals). In contrast, the pure conservation ethic applies equally to populations of any organism.

    It’s true that PZ muddled it in the cuttlefish case by complaining about the ‘murder of thousands’ or whatever…murder is a property of individuals and (in my view) not the point. In my view the danger was to the ecosystem containing the spawning grounds of the cuttlefish lineage.

    My problem with Big Solar developments in Mojave desert tortoise habitat is motivated only a little bit by concern for the several hundred individual tortoises to be killed and/or relocated and/or deposited in boncentration bamps bonservation benters. I’m much more pissed about the proportional cost to the collective millennia-old lineage of tortoises in (say) the Ivanpah Valley, and even more about the swaths of functioning old-growth Mojave ecosystem–of which the tortoise happens to be only the most charismatic and obviously endangered member–that’s being obliterated forever.

  148. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    I’m sorry that my recent online habits are not conducive to conversation.

    Well, you could keep up better if you got a smart phone!

    [/TET reference, which some of us lurkers read]

  149. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Animal rights is more important than your bullshit feminism.

    Animal rights is an oxymoron. Women are real human beings. You fuck off.