Edited 29/11 to add: there has been a lot of accusation about recently over this piece, things like, I support happy meat …ah- for the illiterate who said that, I do not support “happy meat” hence this video I made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeXHS5LRZCM
For the abolitionist who said, I am misrepresenting and am inaccurate – I am not aligned with any side, You – as an abolitionist may disagree, but since I am not “representing” abolitionism, I can hardly “mis-represent” it. And rather than blather on to other people about how inaccurate (huh?) it is, how about leave a comment and tell me Where! it is inaccurate – oh wait, I forgot, you are an abolitionist, all you do is criticise and bully anyone who doesn’t think exactly like you. You have no desire to engage with anyone who isn’t part of your little clique or debate or defend your ideas, your idea of “vegan education” is to insult and call people “wrong” but since you haven’t ever learned to think for yourself, you can’t explain Why! someone is wrong, unless your Leader tells you first What! to think.
So go pray to your cult leader and maybe when you are perfect then I will accept your judgment of me.
Single Issue Cause, or as abbreviated SICs, are often the feature of mockery amongst animal rights advocates. But there are valid reasons why I support them.
The people who criticise others for not doing everything, are often those who don’t even attempt to do anything, in case they in turn are criticised for not doing everything.
When I hear certain vegans saying silly little things such as “people are always organising Anti-Fur demos, but never Anti-Leather demos” or “why do people have campaigns to “Save the Whales” but never “Save the Cows” whats the difference?” or “Meat free monday tells people that it is okay to eat meat on the rest of the week”.
Or they harass without mercy vegetarians as being corpse-eaters, because any animal used for food, the suffering of dairy cows and egg-laying hens, as well as the male calves and chicks being slaughtered as useless to the industry means there is blood on the mouths of vegetarians.
Often these are the same people that leap to the defence of such “vegan” celebrities as Alicia Silverstone, who eats eggs and dairy, saying they are doing a good job, and what is a little dairy. Although her ads for PeTA have been for Vegetarian campaigns, never vegan.
However, in the war against cruelty and exploitation of animals, it seems to me, a bit naive to expect the entire world population of over 6-billion people to go vegan instantly.
In the meantime, animals are still be exploited and continue to abused and treated with cruelty.
As an activist, I have seen people who would step in front of an exploding harpoon to save a whale from a Japanese whaler, yet continue to eat chicken and pork. I have seen people who can write passionate online essays in defence of veganism, yet continue to own stock in pharmaceutical companies and in companies that have palm oil plantations in Sumatra. I have seen people who make movies about the fur-trade, and yet, turn to abolitionist vegans who spend every minute online decrying anyone who promotes “anti-fur” as being a SIC and therefore welfarist.
I have found it is often those who come to veganism quite late in life who are the most harshest judges of other people, possibly thinking, “If I can make the connection, then they should as well”. And yet, while they are so preoccupied promoting peace and violence hoping it will lead to veganism, they often neglect to show empathy and compassion to other humans. (And sometimes very little to the animals, their veganism sometimes presents as “I’m perfect, why aren’t you?” instead of seeking to end cruelty and exploitation of all animals).
What is wrong with engaging people with the causes they are passionate about and then encouraging them to extend their compassion wider?
I’m fighting a war against exploitation and cruelty, I’m fighting against some of the largest industries in the world, killing animals is extremely lucrative, and fighting for animals is only lucrative for those who are prepared to sell out.
So if someone wants to take some of the load off my shoulders and organise an Anti-Fur protest, I will say: good, thank you. …
I will not ask them to also organise an anti-leather, anti-wool, anti-silk, anti-suede rally… and then because cruelty goes beyond clothes, I must also ask them to organise an anti-vivisection, anti-meat, anti-dairy, anti-egg, anti-honey, anti-whaling, anti-tuna, anti-logging in Sumatra protest, anti-circus, anti-zoo, anti-horse racing, anti-rodeo protest… and then because vegan means anti-violence and pro-feminism and pro-LGBT, I will be asking them to organise an anti-violence protest and pro-feminist rally and pro-lesbian-gay-bi-trans march… at this point if we are still friends, their likely response will be “go to hell”.
How do you complete a walk of 10,000 kilometres? One step at a time.
Single Issue Causes, are a way of connecting with others who are just taking steps into learning about animal cruelty, and treating them with hostility and disdain, is nothing short of bullying on our part and diminishes us as human beings, and possibly alienates potential vegans. It is nasty, it is bullying and this harassment of part-vegetarians and welfarists needs to be reexamined. We should work on encouraging them to either take up the vegan cause or leave them alone.
Does bullying ever work to gain true believers?
Single Issue Causes raise awareness of issues with people who are yet to make a connection. You never know what it will be that triggers someone to finally see that the food on their plate used to be a living being and the clothes on their back use to have a life. To a meat-and-dairy eating, leather wearing individual, they have little interest in the politics of welfare v rights, abolition v liberation; they only see a movement full of nasty, brutal, hate-filled people who have no empathy for anyone who isn’t exactly like them.
Is this the first-impression that we as vegans and animal rights activists want to present? No, really, is it?
Harassment of Single Issue Cause activists, implies you know them intimately and know every single detail of their lives. Exactly how do the critics of single issue cause know that the people who speak out against fur on one day aren’t out there promoting veganism on the other 364 days of the year? How does it promote animal rights to hate on others that are trying to make a difference – and what are you doing to end exploitation and cruelty to others, besides spreading it to other humans.
To suggest that someone who is fighting a single-issue cause is not also fighting every other cause when they can find 2 minutes to take a breath is arrogant and judgmental.
Sometimes, when real animals are suffering, for example, a round-up of wild brumbies (horses) is immanent or duck-hunting season is about to open, do we debate the theories of speciesism or do we take up this single issue cause and fight for these animals. In cases like this, some activists might put aside their promoting of vegan education, and fight for animals who are about to die. Sometimes the way to prevent the deaths of real animals is to make alliances with non vegans and non animal rights people. And then you can debate theory afterwards.
How do you build the Great Wall of China? One brick at a time.
Also, for a movement that is constantly redefining itself as being all-movements (peace, non-violence, feminist, pro-LGBT, anti-agist, differently-abled, anti-slavery…. it is also strangely middle-class, white, urban, Buddhist, consumerist and elitist, and extends harassment to anyone who doesn’t match that criteria… see Suburban Vegans… Sydney vegans say ‘Forget You!’).
Most people work, have friends, family, volunteer, play sport, do housework, not everyone has the opportunity to spend all day, everyday online. And so, maybe all they can do it one or two issues that particularly touch their hearts. Who am I to criticise them for that?
I would no more criticise someone for focusing on a single issue, than I would criticise a 6year old just learning to read for not completing War And Peace, or criticise a toddler just learning to walk for not completing a marathon.
Single issues might be a way for someone new to activism to start to learn how to campaign. By starting with one issue, and learning as they go, they will soon get to know others, network, support, share, and be exposed to different ideas.
Focusing on one cause at a time, might also be a way to help groups or individuals when what seems like an over-whelming task – of re educating the entire population of the world about veganism. Fight one battle, win it, and move on. Rather than be paralysed at the enormity of the task in trying to reach over 6-billion people, activists start with what they can do, and complete it, freeing their mind, energy, emotions, money for the next task.
Single Issue Causes also can harness the activists working in local communities. I live over 500 kilometres from the ocean, trying to get locals interested in the plight of sea turtles might come across as being out-of-touch with the needs of local residents. On the other hand, talking about local issues that have an effect on the lives of people in my community might be the first time some of people in my town have thought about these issues.
And the reverse would apply, there would be people that live on the beach that love to fish, but also care about the conservation of sea turtles, dolphins, whales, sharks and penguins, do we say to these people – you have no right to be an activist, because we say so, only vegans are allowed to care about issues? How arrogant does that sound.
These complex and entangled roots feed our sense of disaffection and have bred the burgeoning single interest movement. Membership of political parties may have been in decline for decades but the number of people who can boast about their presence on a political march or their membership of a single issue group has done the opposite. The single issue has become the antidote to political apathy.
Apolitical animal? The rise of the single issue
Modern animal rights activists are not merely opposing single issue causes related to animals, they are opposing People are have different opinions that don’t matched their “every cause at once”.
They are quietly and subtly reworking the definition of vegan as “The animal rights movement is a new peace movement; a peace movement that includes all beings” – Gary Francione. … How long will it be, before veganism is an option in this reworked Peace Movement, or is Mr Francione positioning himself to be not only the father of Animal Rights (Donald Watson, you are irrelevant) but also the father of peace?
This kind of approach does not seem to be about making life better for the majority of living being on the planet, it seems to be about controlling the behaviour of a few followers.
The reliance of some vegans on “education” as a tactic, sounds eerily like Stalinist Gulags or North Korean “re-education camps”, it focuses on changing how people think, rather than the alleviating the suffering of those being exploited.
The fight to end the cruelty, exploitation and brutality against the animals of the world is overwhelmingly large, lets accept allies where ever they are.