Browse Month

June 2011

Nathan Winograd: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Nathan Winograd, on the lies used to receive grant funding (requiring that no healthy, adoptable animals be killed, the Maddie’s Fund grant) for kill shelters, that still kill roughly half of the animals they take in:

We know it is a lie because as the number of animals killed who are claimed to be healthy dropped to zero, the number of so-called “untreatable” animals killed has increased. For example, the number of animals killed deemed “untreatable” increased from 576 to a whopping 3,486. Likewise, the number of “treatable” animals killed also spiked, from 31,568 to 37,888. Maricopa County officials also excluded 4,107 animals who they claim were killed at the request of the people surrendering them. Their lives were not counted in reporting results, the statistics—and the animals—swept under the rug. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: pounds and “shelters” do not create No Kill by killing as they always have, but simply recategorizing animals as “unadoptable” or “untreatable” and then killing them. We achieve No Kill by actually saving their lives. In fact, the latest report is an analysis in failure.

“Shelters” that take in grants from the no-kill movement that haven’t bothered to change their kill rates one bit? This is the very essence of our myopic approach to animal “welfare.” Donate to no-kills. Adopt from traditional “shelters.” Do not buy from breeders. Ever.

Boycott Namibia over seal culling, South Africa?

As is usually the case with single-species animal campaigns, this profoundly misses the point. While most South Africans are eating animal flesh from animals that have been treated no better, animal advocates in South Africa are calling for a tourism boycott against Namibia over seal culling. When, oh when, will we make the connection, and expand our moral concern to all animals, including so-called “food” animals.

Johannesburg – South Africans should boycott Namibian tourism and products because of the country’s seal culling practices, three animal rights groups said on Wednesday. 

Dharma, nonviolence and vegansim

In a not-unexpected turn of events, I ended up in a back-and-forth with one of the many Gary Francione citing vegan advocates on twitter who seem hell bent on misappropriating every eastern religion they can find in order to claim that faith traditions thousands of years older than the modern animal rights movement inherently require veganism. I’d love it if it were true, but, of course, it isn’t, and all of the cherry-picking of the dharma in the world to try and make this claim won’t make it true. Things started here:

@wchanley There’s no moral justification for anyone, particularly Buddhists, to continue the violence of animal use. Veganism is the answer!/LiveVegan/status/82433912810385408

While I obviously have no issue with vegan advocacy, as an animal rights, social justice issue, I did take exception to LiveVegan’s characterization that there was some special vegan onus on Buddhists. I tried explaining that the monastic rules required that animals not be killed specifically for the consumption of monks and nuns, and that working as a butcher would be wrong livelihood, and that taken to its conclusion, dharma tradition could create a vegan future, as a result.

This seemed to fall on predictably deaf ears, as LiveVegan apparently googled for a few passages from some cherry-picked sutras that suited his/her taste and decided I was unaware that the Lankatavara Sutra among some other mahayana sutras criticize meat eating. But that’s the very point he/she was missing. Some mahayana sutras criticize meat eating; they do not imply or require veganism, and these sutras have not traditionally been used as a foundation for ethical veganism within Buddhist communities.

The problem, here, and it’s especially galling among GLF followers, is that folks don’t ever seem to know enough about the faith traditions they’re citing; some mahayana traditions encourage vegetarianism on some canon grounds, but they do not – as of yet – require veganism, no matter how much I’d like it if more people went vegan.

LiveVegan then decided to chuck his/her religious justification altogether, claiming that it was irrelevant what any religion had to say on the matter (which rather begs the question why single Buddhism out for special criticism in the first place). Trying to have it both ways instead of admitting you don’t actually know what you’re talking about is annoying, to be sure, but alas, unsurprising.

The whole exchange is on my Twitter feed if you’re interested, but the basic point is this: vegan advocates, do you really need to misappropriate Buddhism, Jainism or some other faith tradition in order to advocate veganism and animal rights? Are your arguments for animal rights not strong enough to stand on their own, without trying to claim that some religion you (very likely) don’t actually practice says things you want it to say (regardless of the facts) about veganism? Why eastern traditions in particular? Because Western religious chauvinism paints them as incense-waving, “exotic” pacifists?

Veganism as a moral position, and animal rights, as a social justice issue, are worthy enough to stand on their own merits. They don’t need your flawed claims about the dharma in order to be valid on their own.

Talk about a pointless “scientific” exercise…

In what is likely the very essence of needless duplication of effort, Iran’s fledgling space program plans to send primates into space to…what? Utterly duplicate the efforts of the US and Soviet space program more than a generation ago?

DUBAI: The reports that Iran is planning to send a monkey into space have left animal rights groups frustrated and angry. According to state television, the country’s top space official said after the launch of the Rassad-1 satellite that it would send the monkey in the near future.

Am I seriously missing something? “Activists march against overseas abattoir cruelty”

What am I missing? Why are animal activists in Sydney protesting abattoir practices overseas, while most folks in Australia eat flesh? Killing any animal for “food” is inherently a cruel act.

Up to 1000 animal rights activists have marched from Sydney’s Hyde Park to Parliament House, to protest against cruel slaughter practices at overseas abattoirs.