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 item. 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,” “him, “her,” “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 when unpracticed in our mouths, but it works for humans who are oppressed every day 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. Not true, 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 we commit 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 we humans use for our interests, or more specifically, 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 humans do. The reality is that it’s impossible to obtain the flesh of those beings 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 reprehensible. 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 what 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 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.

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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Animal Welfare Is A Trap

Welfarism is a trap; one that our entire society has been caught in for around 200 years.

Our society begins our indoctrination in welfarism since the day we learn to talk, and doesn’t stop piling it onto us until the day we die. Those people living right now who call themselves “vegan” but repeat the mantras (which they erroneously call “arguments”) supporting welfarism are merely repeating the same ideas propagated by non-Vegans that we’ve been bogged down in for all this time regarding how we should be *treating* nonhuman animals. The same ideas, over and over. Where has that gotten us? We’re currently enslaving or needlessly slaughtering many times more nonhuman animals each year than we were 200 years ago.

In reality, the process we call “going Vegan” has been corrupted by welfarism into something that most people -even those of us who think we’re Vegan at first- completely misconstrue. We think that once we’ve gone Vegan, that means that if we care about getting people to stop hurting animals, we need to sign petitions, engage in “protests,” tell people “baby steps are good” or “every little bit helps.”

In short, this is because welfarism has corrupted the meaning of “going Vegan” to support itself. When we really live Vegan, we completely reject everything that is not part of a coherent, consistent framework of Animal Rights. Welfarism is directly opposed to that framework, so one of the only ways that welfarism can counteract Rights is to corrupt people’s understanding of Rights to support welfarism.

However, once someone who has been indoctrinated in welfarism recognizes this, they can then begin the process of freeing themselves from it. This is actually like a second “going Vegan.” If we recognize this, then we have begun a process which should culminate in our understanding of what really does constitute Animal Rights and what doesn’t. This is not an instantaneous process in almost any cases, but usually spans a bit of time spent researching and learning, even for the most astute among us. But as I said, once it’s over, it means that we reject any and all of the activities that support welfarism (after all, how can making the same old mistake over and over again get us a new, better result?).  The people who have already done this are called “Abolitionist Vegans.”

The tenets of Abolitionist Veganism -in stark contrast to those of welfarism- are that nonhumans have the right not to be used for human interests, regardless of how “nicely” we use them; and that their use -being wrong- is what we need to abolish, not that we need to merely change our treatment of them. It’s really not that difficult a concept to grasp.

The tenets of welfarism -which are meant to divert our attention from Animal Rights discussions and reinforce the ideological framework of welfarism- include the ideas that: we don’t need to stop using animals as long as we change their treatment; that animals don’t care if they or their loved ones die, they only care whether they suffer in the moment; that there is a hierarchy of species with humans at the top, which means that our interests are more important than theirs; that there is a moral hierarchy of wrong acts so that some are more wrong than others, which allows us to somehow “rank” how bad other people are in comparison to ourselves and each other; that Veganism is a matter merely of human health or some other human-centric concern; that we need to focus our anger on the human “abusers” instead of focusing our peaceful education efforts on all non-Vegans; that hating other humans because they “torture” nonhuman animals and inflicting violence or destructive acts on them or their property is not counter-productive to our goal; that even if petitions, protests, and other such campaigns on behalf of nonhuman animals are speciesist (and they are, all of them), that this doesn’t matter because “at least it’s DOING SOMETHING”; that “getting someone to ‘go vegan’ is progress” even though what the welfarist who is saying this doesn’t realize is that the people they are talking about are actually now just “plant-based” welfarists; and more.

Some of you may ask, “but if you don’t do all these old types of ‘activism,’ then what do you do instead?”

The answer: we do the only thing that isn’t harmful -which welfarism is- and that has the ability to help instead – we educate people on why they need to live as Abolitionist Vegans. This activity is what is responsible for *any* progress that has been made in regards to Animal Rights in the past few decades.

If you think it’s wrong to hurt animals and that’s why you’re Vegan, please join us in educating people about why they need to live Vegan. Here’s how we start:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/create-new-vegans

And here’s much more info on which actions are counter-productive to the Animal Rights Movement:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/welfare-watch

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.

Re-blog: Something Other Than They Are

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.


An incredibly powerful and useful perspective on the evil of domestication.

 

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Recently I was involved in a discussion on another forum initiated by a hopeful vegan person asking if there was a humane source for animal based food for carnivorous pets.  My response was that there is not.  Though with great populations of domesticated carnivorous animals who are dependent on humans for food, we are, so far, fraught with choosing the life of one animal over another.

Plant stuffs can be formulated to meet the health and nutritional needs of some obligate carnivore species, namely domesticated cats.  And omnivorous ones, such as dogs, generally cruise easily on vegan diets.   However, should this option fail a particular animal, Gary Francione, esteemed promoter of the grassroots Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights,  explains that in our responsibility to all domesticated species who are already in existence we may succumb to a morally excusable use of one animal for the food of another however morally…

View original post 1,225 more words

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.

Animal Rights Is Reason Enough – guest blog post by Vegan Musings

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A friend showed me this poster by an Abolitionist Vegan writer on Facebook called Vegan Musings (I’ve been following their awesome posters since soon after I became Vegan, which was in the end of the summer of 2013. Please check them out in the link provided).

It’s the perfect answer to the argument that some people try to use that “We have to focus on educating people about plants-only diets and how factory farms impact the environment because arguments about morality won’t get people to go Vegan”. Below is a record of the text that is on the image:

The Reason why veganism (i.e. not owning, exploiting, killing, or in any other way intentionally harming other animals) is important is not that practicing it or understanding how it impacts others and the whole world benefits humans, human justice issues, human society, and the environment on which we all depend (which it does). It is NOT that injustice to other animals informs injustice to humans (which it does). The reason why veganism (i.e. respecting the basic inherent rights of other animals and living accordingly) is important is that it is what’s right for other animals whose rights are violated. Not harming a particular group of persons intentionally means not doing wrong to them because that’s good and right for them.

Veganism is important because it’s important to the ones we won’t be harming anymore. And that reason should be more than a sufficient reason why it should be important to us, who cause this harm to them. Anything else is an inevitable beneficial consequence of living a life without deliberately harming other animals. Because these consequences can be positively transformative for core matters of all life, we should understand why it is so, as well as understand their interconnection, interdependence, and relation to veganism, but they are not WHY we primarily ought to accept the truth of animal rights and be vegan as a result.

When we want to end an injustice towards someone, we have to advocate directly for the ending of that injustice so that people understand that it’s wrong and they stop practicing it.

When one advocates anything else by using veganism, or what one may call “veganism” but isn’t, as means to that end, one doesn’t address the significance of the moral value of the lives of the persons who are immediately subjected to injustice, but treats them instead as a source of problems or solutions for others. Those others then become more important than the ones being subjected to the initial injustice, who are not even valued as individuals to begin with, and who are not viewed and advocated for as the true victims of that injustice.

Consequently, one discriminates against the victims, perpetuates speciesism, and doesn’t promote veganism.

Nonveganism is wrong because it is wrong for other animals. If people don’t understand this and act on this understanding, the using, killing and other ways of intentionally harming other animals will never end because humans won’t realize that speciesism is wrong and won’t become vegan, although some forms of injustice to other animals may change appearance. If one understands this simple and natural concept, then one can also understand the connection of this violence to other forms of human violence; the consequences of this violence to the essence of humans, human society, ethics among humans, and the planet; and advocate accordingly.

Vegan advocates should be able to realize that a justice cause is important in itself for the victims it represents and that this is exactly what everyone else should also understand.

Other animals are not the means to our ends, whether the means are their exploitation or their nonexploitation.” ~ Vegan Musings

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”

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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, we would be at the position of the man in the suit in the below image. 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.” 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.

Society at large (every human as one large group) 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, 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 own 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 “hover above the ground,” it’s merely an attempt to rise back up to ground level (in regards to our own moral stance), since before going Vegan, almost all of us were inarguably participating in various morally negative intentional 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 action, are counter-productive, and therefore harmful, ways of attempting to advocate for animals. These counter-productive actions are made by our speciesist, morally confused society to seem 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), 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.