Gary Francione is Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University. He has been teaching animal rights and the law for 25 years has lectured on the topic throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, including serving as a member of the Guest Faculty of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and has been a guest on numerous radio and television shows. He was the co-director (with Anna Charlton) of the Rutgers Animal Rights Law Center, in which law students earned academic credits working on actual legal cases involving animals. Professor Francione is well known among animal advocates for his criticism of the animal welfare position and the property status of nonhuman animals, and for his abolitionist theory of animal rights. His most recent book is Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation (Columbia University, 2008). His other works include Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? (Temple University, 2000) and Animals, Property, and the Law (Temple University 1995). He maintains a website on animal rights/abolitionist theory at www.AbolitionistApproach.com.
Caryn: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass and welcome to “It’s All About Food.” We get to talk about my favorite subject, food, for an hour and for those who are frequent listeners you know some of the things we talk about, about how our food choices affect our personal health, the health of the environment and also the well being of the other animal species we share on our home planet earth with. It’s going to be a very interesting hour. I’ve got some one I’m a big fan of that we’re going to be speaking with today and I’m hoping we get your thoughts moving and juicing up and make you skirm a little bit. I want to push some buttons and get everybody thinking to make a positive difference in our lives and the lives of the other life forms on this planet. We have with us Gary Francione who is a distinguished professor of law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University. He has been teaching animal rights and the law for 25 years and has lectured on the topic throughout the Unites States, Canada and Europe including serving as a member of the Guest Faculty of the University Complutense de Madrid and has been a guest on numerous radio and television shows. He was the co-director with Anna Charlton at the Rutgers Animal Rights Law Center in which students earned academic credit working on actual legal cases involving animals. Professor Francione is well known among animal activist for his criticism of the animal welfare position and the property status of nonhuman animals, and for his abolitionist theory of animal rights. He written numerous books including Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation, Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?, Animals, Property, and the Law and his newest book which he co-authored with Robert Garner, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? Gary, Welcome.
Gary: Hi Caryn, Thank you very much for having me.
Caryn: Thank you, I don’t know that you know this but you’re one of the people in this, what do I want to call this? “animal vegetable kind of discussion”, who’s really made things clear for me and made a big impression on me gosh, I think it was that vegetarian summer fest when it was in Johnstown?
Gary: Oh my, that goes back. Your dating us Caryn, your dating us.
Caryn: Well, but you know, I heard a lot of people speak and that talk for me, I was already a vegan so I don’t want to say it was a turning point but there were some… it was unforgettable for me and I really appreciated your passion, your commitment, your clarity and listening to you is always at the very least, very interesting.
Gary: Well you know, I have to tell you that Johnstown event had an impact like that on you and other people … it also made alot of people very angry. I’m sorry about that. I spoke it as I saw it and I’m continuing to do that.
Caryn: Well, I know that this book that you wrote is the “Animal Rights Debate”, we’re not going to have a debate this hour, maybe that will make it less interesting but I totally agree with you on everything. I want to bring up a lot of the issues that are important to you.
Gary: Ok, alright.
Caryn: Ok, I’m just curious how did writing this book The Animal Rights Debate come about and how is it that Robert Garner agreed to co-author this book with you?
Caryn: That was really courageous.
Gary: I’m sorry?
Caryn: It was courageous.
Gary: Well, it was interesting and I think we both enjoyed the experience. What happened was in 1996, I wrote Rain Without Thunder: The ideology of the Animal Rights Movement in which I argued that the animal rights movement was collapsing into an animal welfare movement and that it was seizing to be an animal rights movement. In that book, I criticized Robert Garner position quite a bit because I thought that he was one of the people who was mis-using the concept of animal rights and promoting animal welfare reform under the guise of promoting animal rights. Not that he was trying to do anything intentionally wrong. It’s that he was confusing things by… the reason why animal rights as the concepts developed, was to distinguish it from animal welfare. To say that animal welfare is consistent with animal rights sort of missed the whole point of trying to have two separate concepts that we could discuss, debate and decide which was the better paradigm and so I criticized Robert in that book and the result was Robert wrote… he wrote things which were critical of me and the two of us sort of went back and forth for over a decade criticizing each other in various things that we were writing and a few years ago, couple years ago, I wrote him an email, and I said Robert, we’ve been criticizing each other for along time and in our respective writing why don’t we engage each other between the covers of the same book rather than in different books and articles and why don’t we have a debate and he thought it was a good idea and Robert’s an academic , he’s a professor. He’s the chair of the Political… The Department of Politics at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and he does not run an animal organization. It’s the people who runs the animal organizations who get very very a angry and don’t want to engage the idea. Robert has an “idealogical horse in the race”, I’m sorry to use a speciesist expression, I apologize but he has an idealogical horse in the race but he doesn’t have a financial one. It’s not part of his business as it were… so I think he was able to look at it in a more dispassionate way and I think the book works pretty well. We engage the idea… what we argue in the book, I take the position that we ought to abolish animal exploitation and not regulate it and that I believe the way to do that is through creative non violent vegan education. Robert takes the position that…Robert’s position is a bit complicated and I’m sorry he’s not here to discuss it today bit I will try to do my very hardest to describe it accurately. Robert claims to believe in animal rights but he believes that animals use itself is not a particularly problematic notion. He believes that animal life, all things being equal, “animal life’s matters less than human life” and he is focused on a right not to suffer. He doesn’t really argue for a “right not to be used” which is what I argue for. My view is… I don’t really care how humanely you treat animals, it’s wrong to use them and… you should not. We have no moral justification for using them. Robert takes the position that they have a right not to suffer and that we shouldn’t use them to the extent that we make them suffer but if we can use them without making them suffer then that wouldn’t be a particularly problematic position or set of actions to take to which I respond. It’s impossible to use animals without making them suffer or causing them distress in someway. It’s just absolutely impossible. You can talk about for example, one of the things we talk about in the book is use of animals for an experiment and he’s saying well if your using animals in experiments to find important cures for human illnesses and you’re not doing anything to harm them then you’re not subjecting them to any painful procedures then what’s wrong and the answers well you’re keeping them in cages. You’re causing them to be distressed. You’re causing them to suffer in various ways. There are other ways to suffer other than just the experience of pain.
Caryn: They’re not with their partners or their families.
Gary: Exactly, I mean it’s all sorts of ways in which animals in laboratories are being deprived even if you never tough them. Same thing with the use of animals for food. I mean, the idea that we’re going to have animals that we regard, that we love as… at least some of us love our most dearly beloved non humans companions in our houses that we’re going to treat cows and chickens and sheep’s that way and one day we’re going to say okay we had this wonderful life together and now we’re going to slaughter and eat you. I mean that is in my judgment so unrealistic and so crazy in terms of the possibility of that happening. So what he’s suffer. I’m arguing that they have a right not to be used at all, arguing, in essence is that animals don’t have a right not to be used. They have a right not to however well we treat them we have an obligation not to use them and I hope we can get into in a little bit, in a few minutes because I think it’s very important.
Caryn: It is very important…there’s like a hundred things I want to say.
The first is yes I agree. I wish I had gotten Robert Garner on as well, I didn’t realize onto after I finished the book which was this morning how good it would have been to have him on but it’s not necessarily in support of what he had to say. I found that his responses did not have the clarity that yours did and I really tried to be objective and maybe I’m not but I just found the responses confusing because I think they are.
Gary: Well, I don’t want to comment on that because…I wish Robert were here …
Caryn: Well maybe we’ll bring him back and we can have a real debate…
Gary: Part of the problem is he’s in England so there’s a six hour… five or six hour time difference. So there’s a time issue, but I’m sure that if that could be arranged that he would be happy to do kit because he likes talking about this and he’s a really very nice fellow and I think he…I mean we both believe sincerely what we write about. Robert is very supportive of these welfare reforms and these groups that are doing things like promoting cage-free eggs and abolition of the gestation crate or the veal crate and things like. I mean he’s into that sort of welfare regulation and he really…In many ways actually, I think …his position is different from Singer’s in a lot of ways because he…
Caryn: Ok, you have to tell everyone who Peter Singer is.
Gary: Oh. I’m sorry. Peter Singer is a philosopher, who wrote the book Animal Liberation in 1976, and basically takes the position that… as Robert does that animals don’t have an interest in not being used but it’s a question of how we treat them but Singer is what we call a Utilitarian, he believes what is right or wrong is a matter of consequences. He does not believe in “rights.” The concept of a “right” not to get too legalistic or boring. The context of a right, basically it protects an interest. A right is the way of protecting an interest and it says we’re going to protect this interest even if the consequence of doing so are going to be fairly steep and fairly significant. We can say well, I have a right to my bodily integrity. Means my interest in my bodily integrity will be protected even if by killing me and taking my organs out, you can save twenty people. The consequences of killing me would be good in one sense that you would save twenty people, but my interest in my bodily integrity, is protected by a right, which means we’re not permitted to violate or ignore that interest that I have in my bodily integrity simply because of the good consequences. So Singer, is a Utilitarian who maintains what we ought to do in any particular circumstance is determined by the consequences of the various actions that we can pursue and he thinks that we ought to do that which will maximize the best outcome for the largest numbers of beings involved, human or non-human… Robert doesn’t take that sort of position but his position in many ways is very very much like Singer’s, in that, he’s arguing that there is a really important value to be attached to welfare regulations. Things like the welfare reforms that are proposed by organizations like the Humane Society of the United States,… like Mercy for Animals, all of these welfare groups, that basically… he believes that these welfare reforms have a very very high value and in many ways Caryn, Robert’s argument is much better and much much more, I think much more developed than Peter Singer is… I don’t really think Peter has really moved the matter forward since he wrote “Animal Liberation” really.
Caryn: Well, when he wrote it in the seventies it was ground breaking and it got the conversation going to a certain extent and people like yourself and others have been clarified and building on it since that time.
Gary: Well you know it’s interesting, I presently in my office and I’m looking at a book and it’s called, “Animals, Men and Morals”, that was edited by Stanley and Rosalind Godlovitch and John Harris and it came …, let me look at the…because we all think of Singer as the guy who got the ball rolling and in many ways…
Caryn: This came out before?
Gary: This came out in 1971 and when Singer was a graduate student at Oxford, at the time, and there were a group of people… graduate students and some young professors who were meeting and talking about animal ethics and Peter was part of that group. I’m not sure he’s even actually in this book, let me see, no, no he’s not, and it’s interesting because this book has got some terrific essays that were, at the time, really paradigm shifting and so Singer was exposed to this and then he went off and wrote Animal Liberation which in many ways is much more conservative than a lot of the essays in this book, in terms of, both intellectually and subsequently, in terms of the direction that he was headed. In certain ways, he’s credited with starting the debate but in many ways, he was just picking up some interesting things that were going on in England in the late sixties and the early seventies.
Caryn: Well, I guess we can say that, a many many movements. There was always something that came before it.
Gary: Oh sure, sure, sure.
Caryn: The thing that boggles my mind, is that how people can say that animals don’t think about the future, that animals don’t care about their death or all of these things that we put on them or imagine that they can’t possibly think or that their thoughts are not as valid as ours because we don’t know what’s going on in their minds.
Gary: Well, we don’t…. and ..
Caryn: I just have this image of this movie that came out which I haven’ seen, that Richard Gere movie about the dog he found.
Gary: Yeah, I actually saw that the other night.
Caryn: It’s a sappy, happy film and the guy dies and the dog waits for him at the train station everyday.
Gary: Yes, yes, yes…
Caryn: Ok, that dog was thinking in the future.
Gary: Sure, sure, sure, sure. I mean look Caryn, look, I’m with you a hundred percent on this, I have… I’m sitting here, right now surrounded by five rescue k9’s. It’s amazing, we haven’t had any barking our burst, but we might have one before the end of the time but, yeah look, I don’t have any doubt that animals think differently from the way that humans think because we are the only beings on earth that use symbolic communication-language and so I would imagine that our concept, the way I think, the way you think are really sort of intimately bound up with these linguistic things called words and various concepts and things and so I suspect that there are concepts. The way they think is relatively different because they don’t use language, but it’s also absolutely clear to me that they have some sort of equivalent. I mean the idea that they don’t think about the future… I mean I don’t think that dogs sit around or any other animal sit around saying “well, gee, you know, I’m twelve” and you know the average age of a dog … my weight is, you know, my weight is 15 years, so I got another three years left to go, so maybe I liked to go live in Europe, for a time,” or maybe I’d like…I’m pretty sure that they don’t think that way, although…
Caryn: Although, you never know.
Gary: I have a border Collie and they’re scary, so you never know what’s going on with them but… I’m pretty sure they don’t think that way, but who cares, I mean, why… what I don’t understand is and this is a real big issue with between me and Singer and it’s interesting because a number of people have been trying to set up the base between me and Singer to discuss precisely this sort of thing and Singer won’t do it. He simply refuses to engage this issue but it’s fairly clear to me that this idea that the only way that animals… that animals don’t have an interest in continuing to live. This is a position that Peter takes and it comes from actually Jeremy Bentham which is the eighteenth century philosopher… a nineteenth century philosopher actually who Peter Singer bases most of his work on and Bentham took the position that animals matter because they could suffer but he said it was alright for us to use them because they didn’t care that we used them, they only care about how we treated them and Singer picks this up and actually this is a position that most of these animal ethics philosophers take, including Tom Regan, who takes a rights position. Regan position is different from Singers certainly, in a lot of respect. Regan takes this position, if a dog and a human, if they’re on a life boat, you got to throw one of them out, you should throw out the dog because the dog has fewer opportunities for satisfaction than a human does and as a factual matter, I mean I think that that’s just false…It’s certainly sort of a very attempt … appealing idea to theoreticians about this issue that this idea that animals don’t think the same way that we do so their life’s are lesser moral value and that’s were I have a serious problem because far as I’m concerned…
Caryn: Yeah, because we can’t prove it so any argument based on it doesn’t hold.
Gary: But, what if we found out? I’m perfectly happy to say that animals don’t think the way that we do, but my next point is who cares. Why is that relevant? I don’t really care how…
Caryn: Because we want to say that we are better because we think a certain way.
Gary: Oh, I understand why we do it. I certainly understand why we do it but that doesn’t mean it’s okay or that it has any validity, I mean, I think that many non-human animals have very sophisticated cognition. That is… they have very sophisticated mental abilities, but my view is, I don’t really care. I don’t really think, for example, I don’t think that great apes matter more than dogs or fish or that elephants matter more than dogs or fish or rats. My view is that if a being is sentient that’s the sentience is the perceptual awareness. As long as a being is perceptually aware that ….. I can say two things about that being. A, that being has an interest in her continued existence because the fact that she’s sentient, sentience is a means to the ends of continued existence and so, as long as she’s sentient then I have no doubt that she has an interest in continuing to live. To say she’s sentient, but that she does not have an interest, that she does not prefer or desire or want to continue to live is crazy in my view. Secondly, I can make a very good argument, which I do in this book and some others that I written. Least, I try to make a very good argument that we can’t morally justify treating beings who are sentient as our resources, and see this is were I really think this is a key issue in the debate that that I have with Robert Garner in our book is Gardner defends Singer’s position and says that all of the things being equal, humans have a greater moral value than non-humans and so if you got as far as the third section of the book when we were doing the actual debating part, I kept on pushing him on that and saying does that mean that a human being who is more intellectually… if you have two human beings and one is very intellectually sophisticated and the other is not very sophisticated, does that mean that the life of the person who is more intellectually sophisticated is worth more than the life of the person who is less sophisticated and I really couldn’t get him to answer that question. Then he kept on saying that there still going to be huge differences between even a person with a human with a lot of deficiencies and a lot of inadequacy or somebody who is severely disabled or whatever … and an animal and the answer is first of all that’s not true but secondly, it misses the theoretical point that if you don’t want to be a speciesist about it and if you want to take the position that sophistication of cognition is what gives meaning to life and moral value to life, then you got to do that within the human species as well as between the human species and other species.
Caryn: Peter Singer did that.
Gary. Yes, I understand that and… Singer.
Caryn: I’m not saying it’s right, but if you’re going to do that, you should do it all the way.
Gary: Well, yes and know, I mean Singer, on one level he does say that you can talk about the value of humans relative to other humans, but he has a default position. He basically says that we don’t treat humans as a general matter as replaceable resources and that’s all right for us to treat non-humans as replaceable resources. Well, once you set up two different starting positions, then even if you have a theory that says well you can make distinctions amongst or between human beings for purposes of moral value. You’re not really going to do that because you’re going to have a default principle that you’re working with that says if something is human then we don’t treat that thing as a replaceable resource because of its species characteristics. Which again, begs the question… so yes, I agree with you. To some degree Singer will take the step that Garner is reluctant to take and say yes, I will make distinctions amongst or between human beings for purposes of moral value, but on the other hand he sets up principle that basically means he’s not going to do that. So… I think the thing that’s really important here is one can get lost in the theory and I don’t want people to do that. This is really a very simple thing and I try to bring this out in the book. We all agree it’s wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals. Everybody, everybody who’s listening to this. Everybody you and I and everybody else will meet today, tonight, tomorrow, next week, whatever, agrees with that. Now we could have an interesting philosophical discussion, which we don’t need to have about necessity means, but if it means anything, it means that we can’t justify inflicting pain, suffering and death on non-human animals for reason of pleasure, amusement or convenience. So, if we start of with it’s wrong to inflict unnecessary pain suffering and death on sentient beings and that if necessity means anything, it means we can’t do that for reasons of pleasure, amusement or convenience, well if we look at our use of animals for food or for clothing or whatever, you know, were killing 56 billion animals a year; every year for food and that doesn’t include fish. Now, what is the best justification we have for that? It’s certainly, not necessary for health reasons. I mean nobody maintains anymore that it’s necessary for humans to eat any animal products to eat an optimally healthy life. I’ve been a vegan for almost… I’ve been a vegan for 28, 29 years now and I’m still going pretty strong. You don’t need to eat any animal products to lead an optimal healthy lifestyle. Indeed, I would say that the evidence is mounting that it’s detrimental to human health. Even if you don’t want to take that step, you certainly, can’t make a good argument that it’s necessary that you’ll be healthier eating animal products, number one. Number two, animal products are an environmental, ecological disaster.
Gary: Yeah, and so what you’re left with is our best justification for inflicting pain, suffering and death on 56 billion animals a year, every year for food, not counting fish, is that they taste good and see to me, once you sort of explain it to people that way and you say look… everybody was all upset with Michael Vick, why? Because he was sitting around watching dogs fight. Well, I think that that’s terrible what Michael Vick did but how the hell is Michael Vick any different from anybody who is consuming any animal products what so ever, meat, dairy, ice cream, cheese. It doesn’t really matter because the reason why we objected to what Michael Vick did was because it wasn’t necessary. He was sitting around enjoying watching… he was sitting around the pit watching dogs fight. The rest of us sit around the barbecue pit and roast corpses of animals that have been treated every bit as badly if not worst than the animals that Michael Vick fought.
Caryn: I think allot of people might know that internally, but they justify it by saying I need to eat and they don’t acknowledge that they don’t need to eat animals.
Gary: No, well I agree but see I think in a lot of ways, you know what I find when I talk about this issue publicly is you know, depending on who I’m talking to, if I’m talking to a university philosophy class, then I will talk about certain things…but when I’m talking to … I think this is really very simple idea, we don’t need to get lost in theory here. There are some very very simple ideas and if you take animals interests seriously, if you care then, if you care about animals and if you take morality serious, I hate to say this, but you really don’t have a heck of a lot of choice, I mean, you know, to say that well I care about animals and I take morality seriously but I’m going to go out and eat a hamburger, those are simply not consistent statements.
Caryn: Absolutely, and I care about the environment, but I don’t make the connection between animal …and global…
Gary: We would all think it would be crazy if I somebody were to say, “look I really care about children and I really do, I really care about the welfare of children and I’m now going to go out and purchase child pornography.” Most people would say jeez that’s somebody who is suffering from serious delusion. Well, I think it’s similar with animals to say I really care about animals and I take morality seriously, but I’m going to go out and consume ice cream or cheese pizza or steak.
Caryn: The Nile (denial) is not just a river in Egypt. Gary, we need to take a two minute break, so go and chat with your canine friends and we’ll be back in a couple of minutes.
Gary: Very good, thank you.
Transcribed by Marci Skinner, 11/17/2013
Caryn Hartglass: Hi, I’m Caryn Hartglass and your listening to It’s All About Food. And I’m here with Gary Francione and were talking about the animal rights debate abolitionism or regulation. Okay Roll’em. (Laugh) Where were we?
Gary Francione: Where we are? Oh geez, that was like ages ago. (Laugh) 2 minutes can be a lifetime.
Caryn Hartglass: So, I just want to talk a little bit about the animal welfare organizations there are the Humane Society, there’s PETA, there’s Mercy For Animals you mentioned and I don’t..god how do I do this, I don’t want to put them down. But, there are a number of things they do that I am not comfortable with in supporting and a lot of it has to do with the things they promote, the campaigns they have to improve the welfare of animals. Things like putting an animal in a slightly larger cage and there’s a lot of people that support them and a lot of people feel good about it they give their money and there’s a lot of time and energy that gets spent on these little tiny incremental little things that really aren’t improvements.
Gary Francione: Yes.
Cary Hartglass: And you slightly mentioned it in the book I don’t want to mention any names. But, something that surprises me is that some of my staunch vegan peers who now work there at the Humane Society have softened their stand, their more accepting of the welfare position an it really surprises me. I was wondering what’s behind that, do they really believe that is the best or Are they wrapped up in the power of this big organization.
Gary Francione: Well, you know there’s a ..it’s complicated I mean think.
Caryn Hartglass: (laugh) It’s complicated.
Gary Francione: I don’t think you can sort of say well their not sincere people. Because I don’t think.. It maybe true of some of them. But, I don’t think that is true about all of them. I think…people talk themselves into all sorts of situations that they really shouldn’t talk themselves into. Because, look at it this way these are large organizations they bring in huge amounts of money they want to continue to have…they have an economic incentive to have a very very large donor base. And so they way that you have a very large donor base is by creating the single issue campaigns whether it is gestation crates, you know getting rid of gestation crates or proposition 2 or veal crate issues or cage free egg issues or anti fur issues things like that. So you package and sell these single issue campaigns. And that’s, it’s easy to do fundraising with those devices. The problem with them and this is something I have been working on and writing about for longer then I care to think about, since the early 90’s. I have been talking about the fact that animals are channel property they animals have no intrinsic value whatsoever or an inherit value or a moral value. They only have value that we give them as commodities. And I mean look, I love our five dogs. I regard them as members of my family, when my dogs die I grieve and I love them, I value them very highly. But, the reality is the law regards them as property if I wanted to keep them all outside all the time, as long as I gave them minimal shelter and fed them and gave them water I could do that. If I wanted to beat them because they weren’t good guard dogs, I could do that the law protects that. So I think we have to understand animals are property cows, pigs, and chickens they are all property. And so when you are going to protect their interests it going to cost money to protect their interests, and the only time that were going to do that is when we get an economic benefit from protecting the interests or else you have all sorts of economic problems with the marketing of meat and dairy products and if you look at the history of animal welfare reforms they basically things that actually make the production of meat and animal products more efficient. Look for example at the humane slaughter act of 1958 where the United States government required that large animals be stunned before being shackled and hoisted, why was that particular welfare reformed passed it was passed because it when you have a cow hanging upside down that weighs 2000 lbs and she is moving around a lot because she is scared, very frighten, and she is suffering, she hits workers and she causes worker injuries and she incurs carcass damage which decreases the value of her as meat. So, industry will go along with having stunning, having a rule requiring stunning, yeah they will go along with that because that’s going to cut down on worker injuries and carcass damage so that will actually increase production efficiency interestingly PETA and the Humane Society are now trying to arguing that suppliers ought to be gassing chickens rather then electrically stunning them and if you look at the literature that PETA and HSU is producing their basically arguing that if you use controlled atmosphere killing or the gassing of these birds. It is economically beneficial to do so if you Caryn Hartglass decide that you have a real change of heart and tomorrow you want to go start a chicken slaughter house you would be crazy not to use controlled atmosphere killing because it’s much more economic efficient. So in the the first place a lot of these animal welfare organizations like PETA and HSU promote are simply things that industry will eventually do anyway because they are economically efficient and also there’s a value to industry fighting what PETA and HSU because it’s like a dance. There off in this little dramatic exchange arguing with each other and it looks like there’s a real conflict there. When eventually Purdue and all these other producers will go to controlled atmospheric killing anyway.
Caryn Hartglass: Because it is cost effective.
Gary Francione: It’s cost effective. Same thing with the gestation crates I get a kick out of the organizations that are promoting the abolition of the gestation crates. The gestation crate is disappearing because it is economically very bad idea. The alternative electronic sow feeding which are much more economically efficient so you know they have all these campaigns and they put a lot of money and time into these things but they give people, you know we live in a culture Caryn, where they want instant gratification so they say well you know geez there’s so much animal suffering I got to do something now to help animals. So I am going to support these welfare reforms so the answer is your not going to do anything to help animals now if anything what your going to do is your going to contribute to what I regard as the most a phenomena in terms of the animal welfare movement which is making people feel better about consuming animals you look at all of these organizations now are promoting the whole foods animal compassionate standard we have the humane choice label that the HSU is promoting they are also promoting certified humane raising animals whatever it is there’s at least a dozen of these labels that are out there now.
Caryn Hartglass: A lot of people that I am associated with are buying more free range eggs and they feel better about it, and yet the free range label is practically meaningless.
Gary Francione: Absolutely meaningless, number one and number two those are people if you asked and educated them property would stop eating the eggs all together.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
Gary Francione: This is where people are missing the education boat, instead of focusing on vegan education their saying no, no we have to encourage people to eat cage free eggs happy pork or happy beef or whatever they are trying to promote that is counter production that is making things worse not making them better think about it. You know if you explain to someone the varies moral arguments to people: the health issues, and environmental issues and their not going to go vegan then they are going to take some other step, that is fine if that is what they are going to do. But why encourage them. When I give a talk someone will say to me, “I can give up meat but I can’t give up dairy” and I always say look there is as much suffering if not more suffering in a glass of milk then a pound of steak and if I had to consume one or the other and making the decision based on suffering, I would end up eating the steak since animals used in dairy are kept alive longer and they are treated every bit a badly as meat animals.
Caryn Hartglass: and milk is more of a health issue then meat.
Gary Francione: I think it is certainly more of a health issue. But, it is certainly, in my judgement dairy products are responsible for as much suffering and death as meat products so if someone said to me I will give up meat but I not going to give up dairy. I always say look you can’t draw a line between flesh and other animal products, they are all the same, they are all products of exploration, all products of suffering, all products of death. Then I will say but look, if that’s what you want to do okay do it. But keep in mind that you are drawing a morally incoherent line. Rather than saying to them “oh that is great go be a vegetarian and that’s great”‘ then you are fulfilling your moral obligation to animals. I think that is a wrong way, as a matter of fact, I wrote an essay on this for the Vegan Society in Britain I guess last year I don’t know, it’s on my website and it’s called Vegetarianism First. I take issue with it and I discussed it with Garner as well. I take issue with this idea that we should be promoting vegetarianism. I think that’s a crazy thing to do I don’t think promoting vegetarianism and not promoting veganism is as crazy as saying we should eat meat from spotted cow but we should eat meat from brown cows or something that’s a crazy place to draw the line.
Caryn Hartglass: Knowing all that I know now after 30+ years of eating plants. I definitely agree with you. But at the time when I was it all putting it all together I was a teenager and motivated to not kill animals and not knowing any more than that and then went through this journey of learning and making decisions.
Gary Francione: But, that was 30 years ago.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, that was 30 years ago. Now there’s a lot more information, we have the internet I think people can make the leap and make the connections and I really believe that it’s up to each of us as individuals to make a change there was a comment by Robert Garner in your book I don’t remember exactly what it was but about the important of regulating laws in order the make change happen but then at some point he said the laws won’t change unless peoples thoughts change. And so it all comes back to each of us as individuals and that’s where the education comes which is so important but the education needs to be just all around us and how do we make that happen to be on television, it’s has to be in papers, it has to be in schools because a lot of us unfortunately are like sheep and again I don’t want to use the speciesism expression (laugh) but a lot of us tend to go with the flow. My mom has three vegan kids and she frequently says if all my friends were doing it it would be easier. So the question is how do we get more of the that information out there. It’s happening slowly but will it happen completely and soon enough?
Gary Francione: Hmm, soon enough it’s a interesting question. Look you know the exploration of animals is the pervasive form of discrimination on the planet with sexism coming second but all forms of discrimination are related racism, sexism, heterosexism, speciesism they are all related. Speciesism is a very serious pervasive problem (and) we don’t recognize it as a problem. One of the great tragedies, I think is the amount of money, and time and effort that goes into promoting welfare reform and I remember Caryn in the 1980’s god going back to the 1980’s and I remember being in meetings with leaders in the animal movement. When things were being discussed at the movement, because it was much smaller you could get all the leaders on the movement in a small room and discussions about rather or not to support the 1985 amendment to the animal welfare act, for example and I remember saying then listen, why don’t we just stop all of this nonsense and why don’t we put all of our time and energy into creative non violence vegan education and I really believe had we done that then, we would have had many more vegans. We would have a political movement that was based on the idea that animals are not things, they are not things for us to exploit, we would have a political movement that rejected this form of violence.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, factory farming would not have gotten the strong hold it has now.
Gary Francione: Well, by the 1980’s factory farming…factory farming really developed in the 1940’s, by the 1960’s it was pretty much (an) intrenched part of at least American agriculture. But certainly it would not have gotten…What’s happened in the past 20-25 years we have very little to show for the all of the time and money that has been spent and there is really very little to show. I don’t really think we have made progress as a matter of fact, I think we are going backwards. The happy meat movement is a very serious step backward and I think the continued relentless sexism and the failure to see that these are related issues of violence towards non human animals is really based in our violence culture as a general matter. That we need to take a step back look at violence as a general matter.
Caryn Hartglass: The question is what does humane really mean? When people use the word humane I think about what humans do to humans, it’s that humane? It’s violence sometimes.
Gary Francione: It certainly is and I agree with you and I think one of the unfortunately things that has happened in the past decade is we are otherising more and more groups of people and once you otherise somebody whether it is woman, or Muslims, or non human animals. Whoever it is you (are) otherising you can justify doing whatever you want to that group of people. Yeah I think there is a lot of fundamental moral issues here that we are missing as a species. Part of it is we will stand in line to get the next version of the iPhone or whatever gadget we want or the next iteration of games people play on their televisions so people will stand in line for a day or overnight or for two days to get those things but we are not really…morality issues are falling off the radar screen and that’s a very serious. I think it is very serious,in many ways it’s sort of different, the young people are coming of age in a society that is really very different from the one that you and I came to age in, even though it wasn’t all that long a time ago it may seem like it. But it may seem like it when we were younger people and we were in college or high school there was much more idealism and much more of a focus on morality that’s being commodified out and sort of just ignored and that’s a very very serious thing. To the extent that (it) is happening it not just (a) question on what kind of impact it had on animals but an impact that it had on a general matter. It’s really quite serious this is one of the things I find it deeply disturbing when I have conversations with animal activists, And they don’t understand the sexism of some of these animal organizations like ‘I’d rather go naked then wear fur’ this sort of nonsense this is very serious as long as we are commodify women we are going to continue to commodify animals. The one thing you can say for sure is when you commodify members of your own species It is very hard to see commodify members of other species (which is) really problematic so the idea that we are going to make progress. That we are going to somehow make progress on the animal issue by continuing to commodify women is just plain nuts. And again I remember in the 1980’s when these things were starting and I remember having a conversation with Ingrid Newkirk and I said Ingrid the ‘I rather go naked then wear fur’ campaign is not going to have a bit of influence it’s not going to and the proofs in the vegan pudding Caryn and it’s now, how many years later and the fur industry is just as strong as it’s ever been worldwide, the worldwide fur industry is as strong as it’s ever been. The anti-fur campaign is a perfect example of how single issue campaigns simply don’t work.
Caryn Hartglass: Don’t work and I see people campaigning against fur it’s just crazy because is leather okay, and my friends that don’t go to stores that sell fur but they will still go to stores that sell wool and leather. People are missing the point.
Gary Francione: Look there are animal people that will walk up to a women on the street that is wearing a fur coat and will say some really insulting and upsetting things to that women.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s not the way to make change.
Gary Francione: While they are wearing a wool coat. I have seen that happen more times then I wish I did.
Caryn Hartglass: (laugh)
Gary Francione: I have these bazaar discussions with these animal activists who seem to think leather is just a by product but fur isn’t. The answer is leather is not a by product number one, number two is (that) is not the point is it doesn’t really make much sense to focus on fur. To somehow suggest that it is a worse or a more odious moral violation then leather well it’s not.
Caryn Hartglass: Well it’s all down to these single issues, it’s because these non profit organizations are always looking for the next sexy campaign to bring money in to support the organization and that would be all well and good if they were making a difference. Makes me think of some of the disease foundations that are trying to fight cancer or whatever, they do the same thing and yet were no better off in curing cancer yet they’ll have these big fundraisers and they will serve all kinds of unhealthy food when we know that the majority of the cancers could be prevented with a healthy plant based diet and so it happens everywhere because these organizations want to keep going. And I think the goal of most of these non profits would put themselves out of business, because they would be solving the issue they are trying to work for.
Gary Francione: That is how they all start they all end up..the larger they get the more they start to resemble each other. So now there are a group of animal organizations in this country that are largely indistinguishable. All the basically all the same, the same positions, they all promote the same campaigns you know the primary differences (in these) organizations is they sell difference t shirts.
Caryn Hartglass: (laugh)
Gary Francione: That’s the primary difference and I know really one of the things I find very disturbing is inability in their reluctance to try and engage these issues in anything remotely a coherent or professional way. It’s impossible to get them to discuss these issues they will not debate the issues, They will not debate the ineffective…their are…issues here. If I was wrong about what I say about welfare reform,that is..I take the position that it is ineffective and that it is counter productive, if I am wrong it would be great to hear why I am wrong. They won’t do it they simply won’t engage the issues and if I am wrong about the idea the physiological…have to have minds like ours ..to continue to live. If that is wrong if my theories and everything I have written about. I would like to hear about why it is wrong and this is the problem they won’t engage. Now I am hoping my friend Gene Baur from Farm Sanctuary, Gene..I got an email from Gene a couple..of few weeks ago .. He wants to have a discussion with me about these issues and I delighted to do that and I wrote back the very next day, I think I got it late at night by the time I wrote to him it was the next day maybe only two hours later, saying absolutely. So I invited Gene to come to Rutgers and have a debate that would be moderated about these issues or offered him the option of having a podcast and doing that with moderator and I have suggested including Robert Garner that could moderate or someone else that Gene would like. So I am hoping Gene made that offer in good faith, I assume that he made that offer in good faith. I am waiting to hear back from him although it’s been a few weeks since he initially proposed it. And I accepted. We don’t have an agreement yet to how we are going to do this but that would be a very good thing, would be an opportunity for someone that heads up one of these organizations, large animal protection corporations to sort of deal with these criticisms to the extent, I am wrong or that he thinks I am wrong about my perspectives…wrong educated as much as anyone else. I think it would be very useful for the public and for animal activists to hear these sorts of discussions. I wish there was more of them to the extent you can have them on you radio show I am ready when you are.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay definitely want to have you back. We have about a minute left I really think the big issue is economics most of the decisions that have occurred in the country have been economic related even the wars that we have gone into. People like to think we have some altruistic motive but it’s always been based upon economics. Unfortunately, I don’t think we will have any changes unless we can show that it will going to be more economically or cost efficient.
Gary Francione: Or it gets to the point where economic efficiency has pushed so much…so many people to the edge and has destroyed their since of well being and their sense of good life there is a real push back against that and that may very well happen, look at what has happening in this country now. How many people are losing their homes, how many people don’t have jobs. That could result in significant change, I think we have to be hopeful about that. I would encourage people that are interested in this issue ‘rights versus welfare’ issue and the general relationship in human rights and animal rights the problems with violence as a general matter take a look at the website I have www.abolitionistapproach.com I have blog essays there,I have videos all sorts of things that people can take a look at (to) better education themselves on these issues and I hope that they will.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you, Gary Francione.
Gary Francione: Thank you, Caryn it has been a great talking to you again. Hope that you are well and look forward to doing a future show with you.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you, Gary Francione author of Abolitionist Regulation again his website is http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/ thanks for listening have a delicious week.
Transcribed 1/3/2014 by Donielle Zufelt