Saturday, June 1, 2013

As long as I can't free you, I am bound to help you

An email exchange between a very hard working, long-time animal advocate the same age as myself and a very young (I would bet) idealistic one who has internalized the philosophy of Gary Francione has prompted me to try and articulate in a simple statement my view on the schism within the animal rights movement between the absolutist abolitionists and the rest of us: 

Simple compassion and fundamental moral logic say we should strive to alleviate the unnecessary suffering of anyone who is unjustly imprisoned or exploited no less vigorously than we fight for that person's freedom. The two struggles – so-called “welfarism” and “abolitionism” in the case of animal advocacy – are neither contradictory nor incompatible. In fact, in my experience, they’re very highly correlated among the most hard-working animal advocates. Uncompromising abolitionists like Gary Francione and his followers who are hostile to all animal welfare efforts and even achievements are among the exceptions, as are true welfarists who believe it’s acceptable for people to exploit and kill other animals for selfish human purposes as long as we’re reasonably nice to them.

Finally, in my view, when humans “possess” other animals in a benign, nonviolent symbiotic relationship, there is no need for “liberation.”
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