On Morality: Why Not Use Speciesist -And Other Kinds Of- Oppressive Language?

 Confused (1)

Our language is a window into the way we think.

The way we think about nonhumans informs the way we speak about them, and the way we speak about them influences the way others think about them. And finally, that influences how they act towards them. So we can see that our language is vital in taking not just the first but many important steps towards ceasing to harm them.

Carefully choosing the words we use is incredibly important. If you’ve ever had someone make a completely inadvertently insensitive remark in your presence and you’ve been offended, or even if you’ve been blatantly insulted on purpose, you know exactly what I mean. And yet, pretty much every one of us has made a slip like the former at one time or another, and most of us have intentionally done the latter. The hallmark of a truly wise person is how they learn and grow from their mistakes. Criticism -the constructive kind, naturally- is a valuable tool in helping us learn and grow.

Part 1: The Vocabulary Of Speciesism

Part 1a: Establishing Our Moral Agreement
The first part of this post is about how we refer to nonhuman animals in our daily language. But before I get into examples, I’d like to pose a question: Do you think animals matter morally? I’m going to assume for the sake of argument that you’ve already read at least one of my pieces on our moral obligation to live Vegan and stop our “physical” (as opposed to what we would call “verbal”) violence towards nonhumans. If not, please read something here, here or here and then come back to finish this essay. If you need a definition of speciesism, the gist is when a human animal places a different moral value on a member or group of members of one species than we do on another species because of their species membership. This includes thinking that the human species is morally superior to any nonhuman species (“anthropo-centrism” aka “human supremacy”), and also that any nonhuman species is morally superior to any other nonhuman species. To understand why this is problematic from a moral perspective, go ahead and read one of the above linked items.

If you do think that nonhumans have moral status of any kind, then you should want the intentional suffering and death inflicted on them by humans to decrease, shouldn’t you? And if you want that to happen, as a way of effecting that, you should want others to feel that way as well, shouldn’t you? And if you want that, then it only makes sense for you to think and talk as though nonhumans have moral status. Which is why using the correct words in referring to them only makes sense, right? In other words, we don’t want to give other people the wrong impression, and so cause them to get the wrong idea, which they would then logically act on by committing wrongs on sentient beings.

Part 1b: Pronouns And Other Such Problems
I’ve seen a lot of people in our current speciesist, morally confused societal paradigm use extremely problematic words to refer to nonhumans. And I’m even talking about people who “rescue” animals and claim they have moral concern for animals; even some people who call themselves Vegans. Words like “it,” “that,” “thing,” “where,” etc. As in, “I saw a pig, it was running across the street,” “I saw a cute pig that was running across the street,” or “We should respect the rights of every living thing that feels pain, even pigs that are running across a busy street,” or “Where did this meat come from? Did it come from the pig that was killed while running across the street?” etc.

If we think that nonhumans matter morally (and so we want others to consider them as beings who are morally worthy of not having their rights violated) we should recognize that, in any discussion that refers to others who we consider worthy of moral concern (aka “moral discussion”), beings who can feel pain (which is what we mean by “sentient beings“) are completely different from insentient objects, that can’t. Words like “it,” “that,” and “thing” are used to refer to insentient objects, such as rocks, metal, plastic, and trees. These are objects –whether they are “living” or not- that cannot be proven to feel pain and therefore are not owed any moral weight by us, as opposed to subjects, who we do owe our moral concern. Before anyone reading this is tempted to argue that plants are sentient beings, read this or this, and understand that I’m not interested in that debate at all.

In regards to moral discussions, nonhuman animals are considered sentient beings and so should be referred to as “she,” “he,” “her,” “him,” “they,” “them,” “who,” and “being,” etc. As in “I saw a pig, they were running across the street,” “I saw a cute pig who was running across the street,” “we should respect the rights of every living being who feels pain, even pigs who are running across a busy street” or “who did that oink come from? Did it come from the pig who was running across the street?”

The fact that we use the same pronouns for nonhuman animals as we do for inanimate objects and that we would not use for human animals under the same circumstances shows a profound lack of respect for nonhumans.

Note: Some people have criticized this word choice by claiming that it makes no sense to use the pronoun “they” when the singular subject’s gender is in doubt. Really, it makes all the sense in the world. It may be awkward in our mouths when unpracticed, but it works  for us to use it every day for humans who are oppressed -when their gender is in doubt- and so it should work for us. People have criticized this choice of wording by saying that using “they” is confusing because it implies plurality, as in more than one human or nonhuman. This is patently false in any case where it’s already been established how many beings are the subject of a sentence. When we’ve already established that we’re only talking about someone, and not more than one someones, there is no problem there.

Plus, we already do use it in that way. Think about it: If we were referring to humans, we wouldn’t say “I saw a cloaked and hooded person walk down the street, and then I lost sight of it when it turned into an alleyway.” No, we would say “I saw a cloaked and hooded person walk down the street, and then I lost sight of them when they turned into an alleyway” because the being in question is a “person,” but we have no idea which gender that person is.

Humans are sentient beings, so we usually consider it disrespectful to refer to a “human person” as “it.” But when it comes to nonhuman persons, our speciesist society refuses to grant them the same consideration. This is the way we frame things in our minds so we can turn sentient beings into objects, which is the only way we can reconcile what we know, if we really examine them, to be massive atrocities our society commits daily on those innocents.

Some further criticize our anti-speciesist word choice by giving the example that we commonly refer to human babies as “it.” As in “Mary just had a baby, I wonder which sex it is?” I don’t think this proves that the word “it” should also be used for humans, however. Rather it betrays a lack of respect for children on the part of the speaker. It should become common practice for us to say “I wonder which sex they are?” or even better “I wonder what their sex is?” instead.

It may feel strange when we try to retrain ourselves to use non-speciesist terminology in the matter, but that is purely a result of the speciesist conditioning that our society puts us through, not whether it’s “wrong” to use the non-speciesist term.

Part 1c: The Euphemism, or “A Great Way To Distract You From The Truth”
The second point I’d like to make is about how we talk about the nonhumans who we humans use for our interests. Or more specifically, I’d like to talk about them as well as their flesh and secretions. If we’re going to talk about nonhumans and their rights, let’s be perfectly clear: The term “meat” is really a euphemism meant to divert attention from the real issue, which is that we’re talking about the flesh of a being who is easily provable, using only fact and logic, to be morally equal to any human. An innocent being who could feel pain, fear and other sensations, just as much as humans can. A being who had an interest in their own survival and freedoms just as much as you and I do. The reality is that it’s impossible to obtain the flesh of those beings for us to consume without inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on them. Every nonhuman whose flesh or secretions we consume was forced into existence, exploited, and then slaughtered using violence, and it was completely unnecessary.

Using nonhuman animals for their flesh is also not morally distinguishable from using any sentient being merely as a replaceable resource for any other human purpose either. All forms of exploitation of any animal, nonhuman or human, are equally morally wrong. Furthermore, to distinguish morally between different kinds of exploitation ensures that the people observing our arguments will inflict even more unnecessary suffering and death on nonhumans (and humans) than before.

So we can understand that using the term “meat” to refer to animal flesh is highly problematic from a rights perspective. It creates and reinforces the notion in others that who we’re consuming is merely an inanimate object, completely divorced from the breathing, sentient being who was unnecessarily harmed in order to obtain it. Similarly, words like “pork,” “beef,” “bacon,” “mutton,” “veal,” “leather,” “wool,” “down,” etc. are equally problematic.

Coats are not made of “leather,” they’re made of the skin of sentient beings who were killed for completely unnecessary reasons. Sweaters are not “wool,” they’re the hair of sentient beings who have immense suffering inflicted on them and then are killed for their flesh when they can’t produce enough hair to be profitable anymore. Pillows aren’t filled with “down,” they’re filled with the feathers of sentient beings who are fully capable of desiring not to be used as resources or killed, and who have been proven to care about their families as much as we human animals care about ours.

When you think about it, the very existence of “cheese” is completely messed up, let alone the word itself. Do we see any other species enslaving other animals so that they can use the milk that rightfully belongs to them and their babies to make “cheese?” Using that word in reference to animal dairy is adding insult (and by extension, further injury) to an already grave injury. These are the lives and secretions of sentient beings; we have a responsibility to the nonhumans who lived and died in humans’ immoral quest for our own palate pleasure to call these substances what they are: animal flesh and animal secretions at the very least, products of suffering and death if we want to bring passion to our rhetoric. But never “meat,” “leather,” wool,” “down,” etc.

Part 1d: Possession Is 9 Points Of The Very Speciesist Law
Also very similarly, we should avoid using the term “my,” “mine,” “ours,” etc. when talking about nonhumans. They are not our possessions, in the moral sense. They are not ours to use; their lives, freedoms, family, and suffering are not ours to exploit; they belong to themselves. So, it’s not “my meat,” it’s the flesh of an individual who was immorally exploited and caused to suffer and die for unnecessary reasons. To me, the nonhuman animals I rescue and keep in my home are not “my cats” in the sense of them belonging to me as mere possessions, they are “my family” in the same way that other humans are my family. They certainly have a relationship to me -as does any human I interact with- and this latter usage is the version of the word “my” that we can use and still observe a sense of justice for them. It’s the only non-speciesist way in which we can refer to nonhumans as being “mine.”

Moreover, we don’t think that it’s necessary to use euphemisms when referring to circumstances where humans have been exploited, oppressed, or otherwise harmed. If a human is intentionally killed by another human merely for selfish reasons, we decry that as “murder.” If a nonhuman suffers the same fate, we call it “putting them down,” or even more divorced from the act, “harvesting.” If a human is used as a replaceable resource to perform unconsenting labor of any kind, we call them “a slave,” but if the victims in question are nonhumans, we call them “livestock,” “units” etc. This is purely speciesism in it’s most obvious form. In fact, these are only a small portion of the instances where speciesist language occurs. Pointing out every instance in just the English language alone could fill an entire book.

Part 1e: A Little Pejorative Goes A Long Way
Another way in which we use speciesism to reinforce the idea that nonhumans are our moral inferiors is to use terms that pertain to them as pejoratives. To make but one example, we think absolutely nothing of using the terms “bullshit” or “horseshit” to describe something that we find objectionable or a lie. Let me ask the obvious question: why is a male bovine’s excrement morally worse than that of any other being? If it’s not, then why do we need to point out that the thing we find objectionable is like it? This is only the tip of a very large iceberg when it comes to this particular form of speciesist language.

Some other problematic phrases are “dumb as an ox” (this is both ableist, as it uses a word for not being able to speak as a pejorative, and speciesist, as it implies that all oxen are stupid), “the world is your oyster” (implies that we should own nonhumans and therefore use them as we see fit), “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” (both ableist and speciesist as it implies that all elderly humans or dogs are incapable of something that younger ones are capable of), “use ____ as a guinea pig” (implies that using nonhumans as unconsenting test subjects is justifiable), “hold your horses” (implies that we should own and use nonhumans as we see fit), “pick of the litter” (implies that we should use nonhumans as we see fit), “like shooting fish in a barrel” (should be obvious), “like a bull in a china shop” (implies that all bulls are clumsy and destructive), and these are only a few. Again, there are quite a few more; some of which are also outlined in this excellent essay, which also points out that it’s easy to find alternative phrases:

http://veganvine.blogspot.com/2016/06/speciesist-language-reinforces-animal.html

When we try to liken something we find problematic or objectionable (and it’s often some action that we humans engage in that we can be blamed for, but nonhumans can’t) to nonhuman characteristics or behavior, or just plain present nonhumans as things that are normal for us to own and use, we make obvious our lack of respect for them.

Part 1f: A Note On Miscellaneous Problematic Terms And Ideas
I’ve heard many Vegans say that nonhumans “should have rights.” Regarding pre-legal morality as a concept, nonhumans already do have rights. As a society, we’ve merely been violating their rights all along. We can’t give them moral rights nor take them away. Whether we are going to keep violating their rights -by living non-Vegan- or respect their rights by living Vegan does not change whether they have them or not. If we talk coherently about “giving them rights” this is only in regards to their legal status as property or persons. This is an important distinction to make (in those very words) in our speaking and writing.

Other speciesist phrases that our society sees as normal are ones such as “you’re an animal” in the context of vilifying someone for their negative actions. This is probably because most people are under the mistaken impression that any suffering and death inflicted by nonhumans on other nonhumans is somehow morally blame-worthy. So not only do we -often only subconsciously- excoriate ourselves for treating nonhumans in a way we -rightfully- know to be wrong, but we -often simultaneously- excoriate nonhumans for seemingly not being able to live up to some standard that we set for ourselves (confusedly, since most people don’t really understand morality from an academic standpoint and also aren’t following a consistent moral code in the first place). And throughout all of this, not only do we not realize the arbitrary and even contradictory nature of our mindset, we don’t even realize that all of this suffering we’re intentionally inflicting is completely unnecessary in the first place.

It’s only through Veganism (and by that I mean learning what Abolitionist Veganism means and thereafter practicing it) that we begin to untangle this ridiculous Gordian Knot of irrational, confused moral contradictions and myths that we’ve constructed about nonhumans. Only through recognizing what is unnecessary suffering; why sentient beings have rights and what rights those are, and how many different aspects of human and nonhuman behavior have been mythologized can we then fully realize just how deep our societal programming really extends; and thus, begin to reverse that programming. And one of the most effective tools for that reversal is in recognizing our problematic language and striving to choose our words more carefully at every opportunity.

Part 2: The Vocabulary Of Human Oppressions

Part 2a: Identifying The Underlying Problem
“The vegan movement” is rife with racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and other oppressive actions of all kinds. The first rule in any human rights social justice movement is that you must listen to the members of a marginalized group and believe them when they tell you what is oppressive and offensive to them. When you are not a member of the group in question, you are not the person who decides what is oppressing them and what is not.

All forms of oppression reinforce and sustain every other form of oppression. This is why people who identify as vegan will never achieve the true end goal of the vegan movement as long as they are engaging in any of these forms of oppression. This is also why people who wish to end the injustice of “racism” or any other form of oppression will never achieve their goal while they are still engaging in speciesism or any other form of oppressive action. How can someone know how to help end oppression when they themselves are engaging in the worst forms of oppression? You can literally never eliminate violence being inflicted on one oppressed group by engaging in ableism, genderism, ethnic bigotry, or *any* other oppressive behavior.

When we engage in any form of oppression we are promoting the idea that it’s morally acceptable to dismiss others from our sphere of moral concern based on some sort of physical characteristic that they have that we don’t, or that we have that they lack. With speciesism, that characteristic is their species membership. It makes no sense to discriminate against others morally based on their species membership because if we do so, then that promotes the idea that others should be able to get away with discriminating against you based on your physical characteristics, such as your sex, gender, ethnic membership, sexual orientation, etc. This also works the opposite way, which is why it makes no sense to say that it’s morally wrong to use nonhumans as mere replaceable resources for our interests but then turn around and show the same lack of moral concern for other humans based on some physical trait.

And it isn’t just a case of men discriminating against women, white against black, etc. Promoting the use of animals is just as effective in encouraging P.O.C. to harm each other, white people, etc. and women to discriminate against others, and so on. Promoting violence encourages violence in all its forms.

Part 2b: Identifying Each Problematic Term And Why It’s Wrong
When we use a word that was created to mean a disability -such as “dumb” means can’t speak, and “lame” means has trouble walking- as a pejorative (a negative connotation towards a thing or person we find morally wrong or objectionable) we cause the person with the disability to fell as if they are being vilified as a person. Even if the thing or person we’re using the term against has nothing to do with the disabled person. Just like saying “that’s gay” makes a gay person feel vilified. Or “that’s retarded” vilifies intellectually underdeveloped persons.

You may think that it’s not abelism to use “innocuous” terms like “dumb,” “lame,” “moron,” “idiot,” etc., but you are not the one with the disability being vilified! You using terms like “dumb” when *you* are not a speech-impaired person is abelism. You are not the oppressed, but you are being the oppressor. You have the privilege of being able to speak! Or being able to walk or get around without inconvenience or pain! Or you have a higher IQ than some people. You are not mentally impaired.

Problematic terms to use as pejoratives include, but are not limited to: “retard” or “retarded,” “idiot” and “moron” (vilifies the intellectually underdeveloped), “dumb” (vilifies people who can’t speak), “lame” (vilifies those with mobility problems), “gay” (vilifies those who are of a different sexual orientation than “straight” people), “bitch” (this term is both sexist and speciesist, as it not only vilifies women -comparing them to female dogs as a negative- but also vilifies female dogs as being somehow objectionable), “dick” (vilifies those who have a penis or who identify as male), and “pussy” or “cunt” (vilifies those who have a vagina or identify as female). It’s also problematic to use sex-negative terms like “cocksucker” as a pejorative because you’re vilifying both women and non-straight men.

Part 2c: How We Defend Our Problematic Behavior
I constantly see those who are unwilling to consider the problematic nature of their speech making the claim “That term isn’t oppressive because _____ .”

If you’re not the one who is offended by the remarks, then chances are you’re not one of the people who has the trait that’s being vilified. Ergo, you have no standing to make any claim as to whether the remarks constitute oppression or not. Telling people who are being oppressed that they are not experiencing oppression is oppression! It’s marginalization through silencing dissent.

Also, the argument that “most people don’t use that term to mean _____ anymore, but now they use it to mean this non-oppressive thing instead” is not a valid argument. The argument I’m making has nothing to do with whether the person remarking is intentionally trying to hurt the person offended by  the remark or “aiming” it at that person, it has to do with whether any observer is offended or not. If I, as a “white” person, went up to someone and attempted to insult them by calling them a “nigger” and a P.O.C. was nearby and was offended, would it make sense for me to say to the P.O.C. “I wasn’t using that term to mean you, I was using it to mean this other thing or person I meant?” No. The term was created to mean something offensive. If we use it as a pejorative in regards to something not connected to the original pejorative it was coined to mean, we can’t expect the person who belongs to a group whose members were the target of the original pejorative to not be offended.

“That isn’t as bad as _____ (something someone else is doing) so it’s ok.”

“I’m doing a lot of good for _____ (whatever group) so you should overlook it when I do this much smaller wrong thing.”

Neither one of these arguments is valid when it pertains to any problematic behavior such as slavery, rape, torture or murder, and so it’s not valid in the case of any problematic behavior. For instance, we don’t expect a claim such as “There will always be people who murder other people, so me beating my spouse or children is morally justifiable” to be taken seriously, likewise with a claim such as “I contribute a lot of money to/support organizations that fight child poverty and hunger, so it’s morally justifiable for me to kill other humans merely for my own interests occasionally.”

In the same way, it’s unreasonable to claim that just because someone else commits moral harms that you perceive as “worse” than merely using speciesist, racist, sexist, ableist, etc. terms, that it morally excuses us to do that. And the same can be said of claiming that just because we engage in some form of morally positive action that this excuses us from any blame for using various forms of problematic language either. In all cases, our moral responsibility is to not only refrain from committing the morally “worse” actions, but all morally problematic actions that we can refrain from.

Yet another argument that I see people trying to use to justify their oppressive language is “I have a friend(s) who are ______ (insert characteristic the person just got through using as a pejorative) and they told me that they aren’t offended when I say ______ (insert oppressive term).” In other words, these are people who will claim that they have black friends who give them a pass for using racist terms, gay friends who give them a pass for using the term “that’s gay,” friends who are disabled who don’t care if they use terms like “lame” or “dumb,” etc.

This argument is not valid in this context, however. The argument against using oppressive terms hinges on the people who are offended by those terms, not the people who aren’t. Morality is about causing the least amount of harm, not seeing how much we can get away with before we’re called out on our behavior. In order to cause the least amount of harm we need to live by the precautionary principle. Which means that if an action is unnecessary (meaning that it’s not something we need to do to thrive) and we know that there is a chance that any others could suffer because of that action, even if we don’t have direct knowledge of who those people are and where they are in relation to us, then we have a moral responsibility to err on the side of caution, which means not engaging in that action. So if there are 100,000 people of a marginalized group in existence, and you only know 10 of them personally -and those 10 people tell you that it’s ok to use any term you want around them, regardless of what it is- that doesn’t mean that the other 99,990 people of that grouping would agree with that. Which means that you going out into public and openly using those terms is going to oppress someone from those groups, which is the only criteria necessary to make doing so morally wrong.

Conclusions I’ve drawn from the last few years of Vegan advocacy
If we really wanted to insult others (although that is morally a bad idea, and just about the farthest thing from what we should be sticking to, which is peaceful Vegan education) there are plenty of much more egalitarian insults we could use. I am not going to teach these to people, since as I stated, I think that insults are one thing we should be decreasing in our society.

In any moral discussion, the best way to react when someone brings up the idea that we’re doing something wrong is to carefully consider their words and ask ourselves if there is any way that we can make positive changes to our behavior. If we want to ask respectful questions to see if the person we’re talking to has any further information for us or suggestions as to how we can do this, that’s a great second step as well. The worst thing we can do is become defensive and angry at the messenger, as this keeps us from thinking clearly and hence, blocks us from any positive change.

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

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Let’s Turn Off The News And Focus On Solving Our Problems

So now, we’re being told that we need to pay attention to the fight over whether an interpreter should testify about whether the president is lying or not…

Our species is made up of around 99% of individuals who are intentionally committing unnecessary violence against nonhumans on a daily basis. More than half of those people -probably much, much more- are intentionally or unintentionally committing overt acts of sexism/misogyny/cis-sexism and probably around the same number for racism and various kinds of homophobia/other discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those stats probably equal out -or come pretty close to it- for ableism, ageism, and many other less-talked-about forms of discrimination. This is not even taking into account all the people who merely benefit passively from those forms of oppression.

In a just world, our government would be educating us against such discrimination by focusing our attention on what each of us is doing wrong -including the members of our government- and explaining what they are doing to eliminate their own oppressive behaviors and how we could also try to do this ourselves. That is because this is the only way to solve any of the systemic problems that most of us keep wondering about how to solve. They would be doing this for each of us from the moment we entered public school, if not sooner.

In reality, instead of doing this, our government uses our mainstream news media outlets to pull our attention away from those things that are the root problems that we could easily change to stop our systemic problems and puts that focus directly onto the superficial symptoms of those systemic problems. They do this so that we’ll spend all of our precious time thinking that the symptoms *are* the problems and arguing about those symptoms instead of addressing our own complicity in the problems. This has the (intentional) result of actually *encouraging* many of the forms of oppression that we’re complicit in.

To give just a few of many, many examples:

Racism:
We have a huge problem with racism in our world. One of the ways in which this manifests itself is that white police officers sometimes murder black people. Then, an anti-racist group says “black lives matter.” So then cue a group of white people arguing with the first group, saying “blue lives matter.” And then a third group, saying “all lives matter.” People from all 3 groups argue, people from all 3 groups protest, people from Black Lives Matter get arrested, etc. etc. The mainstream news media covers all of this, and the people watching the news argue on and on about whether black lives or blue lives or all lives matter more.

Ever notice the mainstream news media never actually has any programming on about what racism really is and how those of us with white privilege could actually eliminate most of the racism from our world by simply taking the time to identify specific kinds of ideas and actions that are racist and making an effort to repudiate those ideas and actions every single time we encounter them in ourselves and others? All of the leaders in our government actually want us to perpetuate racism, since they stand to benefit most from that, so there’s no way they would let the media report on that.

Gun Violence:
Violence in general is one of the roots of most of the problems in our world. One of the ways in which this manifests itself is that sometimes a person takes guns and shoots a bunch of people in a school. Then one group of people starts saying “we need to ban _____ kind of guns” or “we need to make people wait ____ number of days to get a gun” or “we need to check their background before we allow them to have a gun” and another group says “no, it’s the opposite, we need to give more people more guns” and the mainstream news media covers this, so many groups of people who are watching argue on and on about what kind of guns are acceptable or not acceptable for random people to own and how many days we should have to wait to own those guns. In essence we are arguing about not only whether gun control laws reduce the amount of violence in the world but also whether it’s morally justifiable to enact such laws in the first place.

And the mainstream news media intersperses their stories on this issue with stories on how we need to “support our troops.” Even those people who are anti-standing-military or anti-violence need to support our troops, right? I mean, we should divorce the fact that those troops are being used by the government to inflict violence on innocent people and support the actual troops, because the actual people who are the troops are “good people,” so we need to support them *as* troops, right? That isn’t any kind of conflict with our stance against violence, is it?

Ever notice the mainstream news media never actually has any programming on about why violence in and of itself is wrong and how those of us who consume violent programming -and espouse the idea that responding to violence with violence is productive- could actually eliminate most of the violence from our world by resolving to disavow violence in all of it’s forms? Programming about how it’s not our laws about guns that are going to precipitate any truly meaningful change when society itself is saturated with a love of violence that gun violence is only one symptom of? All of the leaders in our government actually want us to perpetuate violence, since they stand to benefit most from that, so there’s no way they would let the media report on that.

Non-Veganism:
Human Supremacy is the root cause of pretty much every problem in the world. One of the ways that this manifests itself is that almost all the humans on the planet are currently enslaving and/or slaughtering over ONE TRILLION (that’s 1,000,000,000,000) nonhuman animals EVERY YEAR purely for the interest of palate pleasure. Almost everyone, including our government, thinks that “cruelty to animals” is a problem, so we argue and argue about which welfare reforms to implement to decrease the amount of  cruelty we engage in regarding our use of animals. The mainstream news media has numerous programming about this issue, not to mention all of the other shows about it, including fiction, documentaries, you name it. We keep watching and keep arguing about those welfare reforms, and wringing our hands at all the “cruelty,” and meanwhile we take a break from that to sit down and eat “our” bacon and “our” eggs and drink “our” milk while wearing “our” leather and wool and watching a show about which breeds of “our” dogs are the the best.

Ever notice the mainstream news media never actually has any programming on about the fact that just the mere action of using nonhumans against their will is inherently cruel, and that we could easily eliminate the majority of this problem of “cruelty to animals” simply by living Vegan and educating as many people as we can about why they also need to live Vegan? All of the leaders in our government actually wants us to perpetuate human supremacy, since they stand to benefit most from that, so there’s no way they would let the media report on that. In order to perpetuate the human supremacist paradigm they need to perpetuate the paradigm of welfarism, so the benefits of welfarism are the only thing they can allow the media to report on.

Two-Party System False Dichotomy:
We are told in the USA that we need to pick between Republican and Democrat or nothing will ever get done. Supposedly, the Republicans are the conservatives who want to oppress everyone by keeping our world the same as it was in “the olden days” and the Democrats are the liberals who want everyone to be sexual deviants and foreigners to come here and take over. So the mainstream news media covers only those 2 parties and the people watching argue about whether it’s better to be a Republican conservative or Democratic liberal and pretty soon we have a president who is sexist and racist and ableist and the list goes on and on.

And the people who are arguing about which of 2 parties is better are told that now they should argue about whether Russia is hacking us (flash info!: many other countries are also hacking us, Russia is just the target of a new cold-war-mongering campaign) or whether our President wears a toupee and now we have to argue about whether his translator is going to testify or not.

Ever notice the mainstream news media never actually has any programming on about the fact that the people who make up the leadership of both the Democratic party and the Republican party are just identical sides of the same two-headed coin, all of whom abuse whatever power they acquire as soon as they acquire it, who are all in bed with Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Animal Ag, and all the other corporations that seek to enslave us; programming about how we could ignore all of the stuff about Republicans and Democrats and actually solve the problems we have with our elected officials by refusing to vote for people from either of those parties; by finding people who belong to other political parties to vote for instead, as well as writing in candidates who belong to no political party at all? All of the leaders in our government want us to keep believing that we have only 2 options, because that is the only way they can keep us voting for someone who belongs to the power elite, so there’s no way they would let the media report on that.

The Point:
So the point to all of this, in case you haven’t noticed yet, is that it’s very easy to grab our attention and redirect it away from the real problems that we’re facing, which are problems of OUR making. They’re problems that were almost always created by each one of US at some point in our lives. Or at the very least, they’re problems that we each need to focus on avoiding participating in at every turn. When our focus is redirected away from the root problem and onto some idea about something trivial like whether the president is lying and why that makes him the real problem we need to address (of course he *always* lies, and he’s not the real problem, he’s just another symptom of the real problem), then it keeps us from looking hard at our own problematic actions and how we can deal with those.

When we focus on whether black lives matter or blue lives matter; whether guns should be more prevalent or be banned; whether the latest victim who speaks out in the #metoo movement is lying or not (rather than focusing on why sexism and the patriarchy are bad and how to eliminate them) *as if those are the root problems*, what almost always happens is that we end up creating a false dichotomy where we are the “good person” and the other people are all “bad people” because we think they’re all racists, sexists, homophobes, or some other kind of human supremacist, all the while forgetting that even though we may not overtly engage in some specific racist behavior, if we’re not a victim of racism then we most assuredly still benefit from racism in some way. Just like if we’re not a victim of the patriarchy, then we most likely benefit from sexism in some way. Even if that is something that we don’t want to happen. And the same can be said for all other forms of oppression. And this false dichotomy we create makes it very easy to keep all of us -both “conservative straight white male” and “liberal queer black female” alike- grinding along as mere gear-slaves in the giant machine that’s being controlled by a very small percent of people who have no interest at all in the well-being of anyone but themselves. The primary tool used to refocus our attention in this way is what we call the mainstream media. “The News,” in other words.

That’s not the only way that The News keeps us enslaved though. Another tactic they use is reporting on a preponderance of negative stories compared to the tiny fraction of positive ones. And when they do report on a positive story, it almost always is something that supports the overall false narrative they’ve concocted about what issues are the main problems that we need to focus on, or at least doesn’t actually contradict that narrative. This also has the effect of keeping us perpetually depressed or at least drowning in negative thought, and someone who constantly feels bad about the world is extremely unlikely to attempt to effect any changes in it.

What Can We Do About All This Though?:
The solution to this (the first step of it anyway) is to turn off The News. It’s full of lies, and watching it has actually been shown to make us less intelligent (The opening remarks about sugar in the preceding link are off the mark, but that is neither here nor there), not to mention less willing to make any positive changes. If we want to be informed, we need to find alternative news outlets, if we’re going to watch any “news” at all. And another step is to learn what critical thinking actually means and why we need to do that and read some actual science or other such facts instead of just believing whatever someone tells us, just because a bunch of other people are telling us that that person is an authority on that subject. These are not the only steps we need to take, but just taking those steps would at least put us well on the path to figuring out how to obtain a lot more of the truth than we’re currently getting. Something that we could substitute for watching The Mainstream News is to actually go out in public and find a person who is oppressed by the systemic power structures I’ve mentioned and ask them what they feel may be a solution to the problem.

As always, I’m going to leave you with the idea that another huge step is to think about whether nonhuman animals are mere things for us to use for our trivial interests, or whether we think that they are part of our moral community and should be respected, which means we shouldn’t be using them for our interests as much as we can help it.

If you want to find more information on these issues, here are some sources I would suggest you start with:

https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/are-humans-superior (my piece on why eliminating systemic nonhuman rights violations will also incidentally eliminate most systemic human rights violations).

http://www.vegantrove.com/2016/12/01/vegan-trove-0046 (this blog is filled with great links to alternative news sources that present progressive takes on human rights issues).

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cis-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

On Morality: Intent Vs. Consequence – Why “Good People” And “Evil People” Don’t Actually Exist

 Duality 01

I don’t think “evil” is something that exists.

By which I mean to say that I don’t believe in the idea that evil is a physical force which hovers in the air and enters people and makes them do things. Nor do I believe in the idea that “some people are ‘evil’ but some people are ‘good’.”

  • The Art Of Reductionism

Many people throughout history, no less on social media recently, have expressed the idea that specific people or groups of people “are evil” based on their actions towards human or nonhuman animals. This can range from simply saying that non-Vegans in general are bad people, to saying that hunters are worse than others, saying that people who torture animals are the worst, saying that pedophiles are all monsters, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

However, the idea that “some people are evil, and some people are good” doesn’t make much objective sense. All humans have the capability to perform actions that seem either “evil” or “good”, depending on the perspective of the person performing the action, as well as the person observing the action. Because of this, the very idea that some actions are “good” and some are “evil” doesn’t really make much sense either.

This is not to say that some actions are not destructive or harmful. But ascribing the term “evil” to a person because of an action that they’ve committed, as if simply using that term puts the action into a category that divorces it or the doer from all complexity or renders the doer incapable of being anything other than “evil” is far too simplistic and narrow-minded.

  • A Re-Examination Of Rights

Our human concept of morality itself is an automatic, logical response to the recognition that each being who is capable of feeling pain has an individual interest in not suffering. This recognition is the basis for our notion of whether individuals have such things as “rights.” A “right” is merely a term that we use to mean that we agree to a rule that allows us to protect an interest that we all have. Chief among the “rights” that individuals have is the right to not be used as merely a replaceable resource for human pleasure and other non-necessary (aka non-survival, non-health) interests.

Our human system of justice is based on the notion of a human interest in creating a “social order”; this order aims to regulate our behavior in a way which induces the most happiness, satisfaction and “good health” in general in as many of the members of our moral community as possible, and the least pain, unhappiness, and other forms of suffering. But this is only because we recognize that individuals who are capable of suffering have this right to not be made to suffer for the non-necessary interests of a human.

  • Who Makes The Most Sense To Blame?

From a purely practical perspective (before even considering any abstract notions of moral philosophy) if we examine the ideas advanced by Chaos Theory – for instance – we see that any choice we make between a wide array of possible actions means that our chosen action will affect everything else in the world. So basically, everything that happens in the world is a product of a near-infinite number of different inter-connected actions that are performed by everyone and everything in reality over “the course of time” (since by our commonly-held perspective, time is linear, even though from what some people have postulated, it may not be): each action affecting or being affected by every other action.

This seems to indicate that any action we commit could have a near-infinite array of both positive and negative consequences. Indeed, each action, as well as each of the consequences which automatically follow from it, could seem either positive OR negative OR both from the perspective of the beings both observing and being affected by them (This has been recognized already for thousands of years by some cultures).

So taking all this into account, how do we determine whether an action that affects others is morally right or wrong for us to engage in? Its simple: we must start by asking whether their are other beings who can feel pain who could become victim of our immediate actions, or even whether we can predict an indirect link between the 2. Since our actions could be seen as either positive or negative depending on who’s perspective they’re being seen from, it should need no explanation why we should be using the perspective of a potential victim as the measuring stick for whether an action is harmful, and not the perspective of a potential victimizer.

It’s not just the actions themselves or the consequences of those actions which determine whether we are morally blameworthy, but our perspective on those actions and consequences. So that is the ruling factor in whether we should commit an action or not; our own knowledge of whether or not we ourselves perceive our intent and our resultant action to be morally justifiable, based on whether we know if others may or may not be harmed by them unnecessarily. In other words, we must endeavor to commit only actions that have the best chance of causing the least harm through causing the least violations of the rights of others.

In my estimation, this would indicate that the consequences of our actions have absolutely no bearing on our moral culpability. Our actions obviously need to follow logically from our intent, but only our intent means anything when we are determining whether an action fits within our notion of moral responsibility. In other words, only our intent, not the consequences of our actions, should give someone the ability to morally blame us or morally praise us.

  • Being Honest About What Evidence We Really Have

People often try to prove the argument that evil people exist with the assertion “But there definitely are people who are evil. I know this is true because this person committed this, this or this horrible action.”

 But this is merely a list of wrong-actions that the person committed. The point that someone committed an immoral action is not proof that the person in question is evil. Their actions can be morally justifiable, or not morally justifiable (what we call “immoral”) but that doesn’t make the person “immoral,” nor does it make them “moral.” Everyone, even those who have committed the most heinous acts, has the ability within themselves to change their moral stance so that they are never again going to commit such acts.

Many people often try to counter that argument with the assertion “But this person never did change, so this proves that they were evil. They committed those actions, never regretted it, and died without repenting. This means that they were evil.” But this argument doesn’t prove that at all. All it proves is that the person in question didn’t change, not that they couldn’t have, if they’d lived longer or encountered the right set of circumstances. No human has been proven to be able to predict the future, so saying that we know whether someday someone will change or not is nonsense. There are amazing stories of people who have committed the most heinous actions doing a complete moral “about-face” years afterwards. Add to this point the fact that there are plenty of people who, for one reason or another, have never let on about the regret they felt for their actions. In other words, we often have no way of knowing who will change their moral stance in a specific way, when they will change, or in many cases, even whether they’ve changed at all.

Even putting aside the obvious problems with considering people evil from a rational standpoint, there is a moral problem with just dismissing someone as evil before you’ve seen how their life will turn out. This is because it doesn’t take into consideration the fact that people are eminently capable of changing their moral actions based on new perspectives. In fact, the only real constant in human behavior is change. To dismiss or condemn the entirety of the person as morally worthless based on only some portion of their actions is illogical from a moral standpoint as well.

Also, keep in mind that there are a lot of factors involved in the viewpoints of various people on the myriad actions one could commit and how they relate to morality. In many cases, the intent of a person is to do good, but they are merely confused or unsure what the best course of action is. Some people have been heavily indoctrinated regarding whether an action or set of actions is morally justifiable or not, in various ways and regarding different kinds of beings. Some are more indoctrinated than others, and fear, especially when it’s not even consciously recognized by the fearful, is an incredibly powerful obstacle to moral consistency. There is also the existence of mental disorders, both created by physiological elements and also those related to trauma. These are only a few of the things that often cause perfectly “morally conscious” people to say or do immoral things.

  • What Action Does This Suggest We Should Take?

The point is, when we consider the question of how we should be responding to the actions and even the arguments used by non-Vegans to attempt to justify their actions regarding nonhumans, we should keep in mind that we’re not dealing with monsters. We’re dealing with humans, and humans are fallible. They are also capable of massive changes in their moral stance as well as incredible acts of bravery and kindness. I personally have met or have heard the stories from many people who now identify as Vegan and would never have considered living Vegan -some, in fact, who were die-hard anti-Vegans beforehand, including trophy hunters and slaughterhouse workers- if someone hadn’t been compassionate enough to forgive them and then educate them peacefully on why it’s wrong to use animals. If not for this, they would still be enthusiastically exploiting nonhumans to this day. They themselves admit this.

If we want the people who are harming animals for palate pleasure and/or simple convenience -who would otherwise consider ending that behavior- to consider Veganism, then we have to be willing to put our hatred aside and educate them with understanding, instead of condemning them. Representing them as evil -or even “sociopathic,” “psychotic,” etc.- to others, regardless of what they have done, merely causes them, and other people, to avoid our message about the rights of nonhumans. If we look at it from the more rational perspective that anyone who’s done wrong can change -even to the utmost- at any moment and that we have no idea when that may happen, it makes it much easier for us to allow ourselves the opportunity to influence them.

  • Our Conclusions, And Who They Say The Most About

Another point to consider: Many of our family and friends may be non-Vegan. They are inflicting just as much unnecessary suffering and death by living that way as any other non-Vegan. Are we ok with considering them “evil” as well? If not, we’re just arbitrarily picking and choosing whom we consider to be evil based on our own fits of anger, random self-interest, or whims. Almost all Vegans were non-Vegan at some point, probably including the person reading this (you). Were they evil? Were you? Doesn’t that mean you are still evil? If we think people are one or the other, good or evil, then where is the line? Where do we draw a line and say that this set of actions makes someone evil, but this other set of actions doesn’t? And who is the authority who draws that line? What makes one person’s opinion on what makes someone evil better than some other person’s completely different, arbitrary -and usually contradictory- opinion?

In summation, it’s irrational, not to mention cruel, to just dismiss someone as evil before you’ve seen how their life will turn out. And publicly stating that someone is evil is a great way to guarantee that they, and probably at least a few other non-Vegans, will refuse to go Vegan, which means that the nonhuman animals lose. Is that what we’re trying to accomplish? Is some sort of catharsis where we obtain a few moments of sick pleasure from publicly vilifying another person (which is almost always due to our own shame because we once engaged in the same non-Vegan actions that they currently are engaging in) worth the very real lives and suffering of nonhumans?

  • Let’s Resolve To Do Better

Veganism is a movement of peace. If you think animals have moral value, then follow the path of peace, towards humans and nonhumans alike. Remember that humans are also animals, and it makes no sense to say that “other people should have compassion for animals” and then show a lack of compassion for  your fellow humans. Live Vegan. Educate others peacefully about why they need to live Vegan as well.

Yin-Yang 02

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

Re-blog: What we ask for, what we get ….

“As vegans, we all know that the world won’t go vegan overnight. Goodness, if we didn’t know, we’re reminded often enough. But likewise, we have to realise that there’s a big difference between compromising on material aspirations and compromising the rights of others; we have to keep our focus on who we’re fighting for. Just as I experienced with bullying, we all know that destructive behaviour isn’t going to stop overnight but that does not change the limits of the compromise that we are entitled to make.

Firstly we have a duty to our victims to educate those who needlessly harm them with use, that they, the victims, have a right to live unharmed and not to be used by our species as if they were our resources. Likewise those who are not vegan have the right to know that the myths they were taught about the necessity of harming others were completely false.

We owe everyone the absolute truth, that the only way that any of us can live true to our own values is to become vegan”

Read more of this incredible post:

Source: What we ask for, what we get ….

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cis-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

What DxE Doesn’t Understand (or doesn’t want to) About “Baselines”

grave-six-feet-under

There’s been a lot of talk recently from “DxE” (Direct Action Everywhere) supporters about how “activism” -and not Veganism- is “the moral baseline.”

You can read a great article about this whole phenomenon here. What I want to address with this piece is the fact that this stance by DxE betrays a fundamental lack of understanding on their part of what “a moral baseline” actually means. I’ve previously written something on what a moral baseline is -and why that baseline is Veganism- but this time I’m going to use a different analogy to attempt to get people’s thinking back on a logical track regarding this issue.

Let’s say that you’re standing flat on the ground, on bare dirt. Someone hands you a shovel. You begin to dig. You want to go higher, but -since all you have is a shovel and soft earth- you start digging. You dig down to about 10 feet below ground level. As you dig, you slowly realize that you also have the ability to use your mind to make yourself hover above the ground. So you stop digging, and you start hovering. And you go up to about 6-10 feet or so -for example, not necessarily exactly that- above the original ground level that you started from.

So, when you were standing on the ground -without digging- you were at the lowest point you could be without digging. You were also at the highest point you could be without hovering. With me so far? If not, please see the man in the shorts in the image below.

Now, imagine that standing on the ground without digging or hovering is “moral neutrality.” In other words, it means that we are not doing anything morally negative, such as intentionally inflicting unnecessary suffering or death on beings who can feel pain. But we are also not doing anything morally positive, such as trying to go out of our way to support the affirmative interests of those beings either (feeding them, helping them to heal from sickness or injury, etc.).

Now further imagine that engaging in any action that means intentionally inflicting unnecessary suffering -for any reason, be it food, clothing, research or entertainment- is the equivalent of digging down into the ground. In this instance -in the image below- we would be at the position of the man in the suit. Conversely, trying to engage in some action to positively support the interests of these pain-capable beings -feeding them, helping them to heal from sickness or injury, etc.- is the equivalent to hovering upward from the ground. Still with me? In this latter case, we would be hovering above the head of the man in the shorts.

Standing on the ground without digging or hovering is the base position you start from, before you could start either digging or hovering. It’s standing on a horizontal line, and it’s the base position that you start from in beginning your actions of going either up or down away from that line. It’s the base, and it’s a line. Base-line. Get it? This is why we call “moral neutrality” the “baseline for morality.”

Now, Veganism is by definition the attempt to do the least amount of intentional unnecessary harm we can. In other words, it’s not doing anything morally positive. It’s not a diet either, but it’s the moral stance against doing any intentional harm that our society is already (erroneously) telling us is morally acceptable. It’s not the act of doing even more than just refraining from harm, but it’s just “do no harm.” In other words, “don’t do anything morally negative, even if you’re not going to do anything morally positive.” Being Vegan doesn’t mean that we must intentionally refrain from doing anything morally positive, it just means that we must intentionally refrain from doing anything morally negative.

The Baseline 01

The reason that it makes sense to call Veganism “The Moral Baseline” is because refraining from intentionally doing any unnecessary harm is the least that we can do if we claim that animals have moral valueBeing Vegan doesn’t mean that we’re doing the most that we can do for animals. That would be an added action that we can do once we’ve gone Vegan, however. So, this means that “activism” could be called a “moral opportunity” rather than a “moral baseline” or “moral obligation.” We don’t have a moral responsibility to engage in “activism,” while we do have a moral responsibility to refrain from engaging in morally negative actions.

One reason we can’t make The Moral Baseline “doing the most that we can do” for animals is because no 2 people can do exactly the same positive actions -or the same amount of positive actions- for animals (in other words, positive actions above and beyond simply doing no harmful ones). To try to tell someone that a baseline for that person is to do more than just refrain from causing harm would be to put an unfair strain on those people who can’t do more. It also muddies the waters regarding the way people think about morality (see the above explanation about the difference between a “moral obligation” and a “moral opportunity”), at a time when we need for others -and ourselves- to be perfectly clear and consistent on this issue.

Human society at large is already engaging in massive morally negative actions towards nonhumans. This is due to a phenomenon called “speciesism” that you can read more about here and here. Due to speciesism and the myth of human moral supremacy, we are currently breeding -against their will and without their consent- many, many billions of nonhumans per year, who we use merely as replaceable resources. Then, when they’re of more use to us dead than alive, we slaughter them -which is impossible to do without using violence- and we use their bodies and secretions whenever and however we wish. We are also engaged in intentional actions that harm many other nonhumans who do not fall into the category of animals who we use for food. These actions are all completely unnecessary for us, and are all massive violations of the inherent rights of those nonhumans to their lives and freedoms.

In essence, society at large is already engaged in digging a massive hole of morally negative actions when it comes to animals. Veganism is not an attempt to metaphorically “hover above the ground” in regards to our moral stance. It’s merely an attempt to rise back up to ground level in regards to that stance, since -before going Vegan- almost all of us were inarguably participating in various intentional morally negative actions. Veganism is an attempt to climb out of that speciesist hole, by recognizing the rights of nonhumans and therefore acting in a morally responsible and morally consistent manner towards them.

When we educate others about Veganism, that would be considered “hovering.” In other words, a morally positive action that goes beyond just standing on the baseline (the figurative “ground” in our analogy). Nonhuman animal rescue, adoption, foster, etc. –when done in a way that doesn’t encourage animal exploitation (which is considered peaceful Direct Action)- is another powerful way of “hovering.” In fact, these are the only 2 forms of action on behalf of animals that can easily be done without encouraging speciesism, and can also be combined.

So, we can see that -since society is engaged in all of the speciesist, morally negative actions- there are many people who erroneously believe that we don’t need to live Vegan, but that we can still “do good for animals.” In other words, for instance, we have people who engage in “animal rescue” who are not Vegan. They eat, wear, and otherwise use some animals, while trying to save some other animals from being intentionally harmed, or harmed through neglect. Any Vegan worthy of calling themselves Vegan knows that this is an enormously speciesist stance and indicative of massive moral confusion on the part of the “rescuer.”

Welfare reform campaigns and other single-issue campaigns –as well as militant direct actionare counter-productive, and therefore harmful, ways of attempting to advocate for animals. These counter-productive actions are made to seem by our speciesist, morally confused society like they are ways to hover, but are actually causing the hole we’re digging to get deeper instead. Even many people who self-identify as vegans fall prey to the idea that we don’t need to stop engaging in morally negative actions to do good for animals. I’ve seen countless instances of “vegans” online saying that we can engage in welfare reforms -for instance- and help animals, even though welfare reforms are proven to increase harm to animals, not help them. If you view, read or listen to more than one of the hyperlinks embedded in the paragraph you just got through reading, you’ll understand exactly why this is. Also worth noting: DxE’s stance on the “animal organizations” who promote these welfare reforms and other speciesist campaigns the hardest is that we must not criticize them for this at all.

Likewise, all of the people who are trying to save wild animal species from harm or extinction -but are having barbecues and other such animal-exploitative events in order to raise money, or simply awareness (almost always money though)- are suffering from the same moral confusion. This doesn’t mean that they’re “bad people” by any means, simply that they’re confused about morality, and need to be educated on that subject or to educate themselves. Indeed, almost all of them obviously have their hearts in the right place; but that has never stopped people from committing a harmful action in regards to any other issue.

There is massive confusion among “animal people” as to what moral consistency regarding animals is. Society keeps on trying to dig the hole regarding animals deeper, and “animal people” in general are -ostensibly- trying to learn how to hover (read: help animals). All the while they are also -for some as-of-yet-unexplained (and probably inexplicable) reason- using those shovels right alongside everyone else. And some of them think that they’re hovering, but not everyone thinks that hovering at the same height is the moral baseline, etc. etc., ad nauseam. In this way, DxE is just another organization that is promoting the same confused, speciesist stance in regards to animals that society in general has been following for all of recorded history. They are nothing radical nor revolutionary, in a time when a radical, revolutionary idea on peaceful ways to shift the non-Vegan paradigm to a Vegan one is the only thing that animals really need.

And this is the crucial point: How can hovering 5 feet above the ground be the “baseline,” when the ground itself was already “a baseline?” If your idea that “doing something beyond Veganism” -which in your opinion is hovering at 5 feet up (or whatever it is)- is the baseline, then what about the non-Vegan who says that you must do something even more -while still being non-Vegan- to be at “the baseline?” Why is their idea of hovering 100 feet off the ground -while still being non-Vegan- not the baseline? Why is being in a pit 10 feet below the surface not the baseline? What makes your arbitrary “do something beyond Veganism” more valid as the moral baseline than anyone else’s arbitrary “do _____ or _____ for animals?” And this is why DxE’s position on “activism” being the moral baseline makes no sense. It’s really nothing more than an attempt to contradict an already rationally sound premise in order to somehow score some sort of points; to try to show the public that DxE is somehow different and “knows their stuff” more than the people who are involved in the only real movement that’s making any significant headway in the struggle to end animal oppression.

You see, if we make the baseline something other than moral neutrality, the term “baseline” becomes open to interpretation as anything -by anyone- and so becomes totally meaningless. And this is the whole point of making “moral neutrality,” which is -inarguably- living Vegan, as the only rational moral baseline. Because, do anything else, and we’re just digging our hole deeper. And morally speaking, none of us wants that for the animals. It means that we’re burying them right alongside us.

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If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cissexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

The Legacy on The Joey Giggles Show: Vegan Spotlight Edition #2

Last night I was grateful to do my first public speaking on Veganism live on a radio show which is hosted by two of my friends on Facebook, Joseph Aquilino and Holise Cleveland. If and when I’m asked to go back on the show, I’m going to post the link in advance here and on my Facebook timeline so many more people can listen live if they want. But they have posted last night’s episode on Youtube, so here it is. I hope you all enjoy it. My segment starts at approximately 1:13:00:

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, hetero-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

Re-blog: Thoughts on diluting the vegan message

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.


“The harm is incalculable as they peddle misinformation, sowing confusion and misleading those whose quest for information is genuine. Because unlike those who firmly believe that they’re Henry VIII or a visitor from Mars, when it comes to veganism, misinformation costs lives. Billions of them every year. Humanity’s victims are depending on us for a clear and consistent message as they stand quaking in the slaughterhouses awaiting their turn for their precious and only lives to be hacked from them for our convenience.”

 

There's an Elephant in the Room blog

sad-pigToday, one of the topics in cyberspace is sites, groups and individuals that call themselves ‘vegan’ when they very plainly are not. ‘So what’s the problem – aren’t they harmless?’ I hear some ask. So I found myself considering two aspects of this; the first is the fact that this hijacking and redefining of a concept such as veganism happens at all, and the second is that these phoney groups always seem to manage to gather followers.

It’s extremely encouraging to see veganism – true veganism – becoming more prevalent and mainstream in the world and that can only be a good thing.

However we live in a culture of media addiction where presentation triumphs so often over substance; a culture of celebrity worship, a culture where ‘trends’ are the star by so which many steer their moral compass through the shifting seas. ‘Vegan’ is becoming a ‘trendy’ word and as a result, there are those who…

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