Animal Rights Movement Must Avoid Single Issue Campaigns


Single-issue campaigns convey the false impression that some forms of exploitation are worse than other forms of exploitation. The anti-fur campaign is the prime example. There is no morally significant distinction between or among fur and leather and wool and silk.

All SI campaigns are open to the same criticism. A campaign that targets circuses, or one that targets circuses that use wild animals but not domesticated animals, sends the message that other forms of animal "entertainment" are okay. If a circus comes to town and you want to protest that event, at least be sure to be explicit in including in your literature and in all of your discussions with people that circuses are merely representative of the problem of animal exploitation as a general matter and that we ought to stop eating, wearing, and using animals altogether.

That is, deliver a vegan message in that context and it will help to mitigate (although not eliminate completely) the problems inherent in single-issue campaigns. Abolitionist veganism is not, as some incoherently suggest, a single-issue campaign; as I have developed that notion, is the rejection all consumption and use of sentient nonhumans for *any* purpose.

A campaign that boycotts a fast-food chain until it gasses chickens and then calls off the boycott when gassing is implemented sends the wrong message. A campaign that boycotts a state as long as wolves are shot from an airplane and then calls off the boycott when aerial shooting stops sends the wrong message.

As Victor Schonfeld, maker of the influential "The Animals Film" in 1982, stated recently on the BBC: the movement needs principles of crystal clarity. These single issue campaigns do nothing but confuse the public.

You RT a post: "If we wait until everyone is vegan to defend a fox, we'll have no foxes left to defend! How on Earth is that vegan?"

But this is the classic new welfarist line: we are not going to achieve veganism overnight so we have to pursue welfare reform and/or single-issue campaigns in the meantime. That is the SAME line taken by PETA, HSUS, and every other new welfarist group. And it is subject to the simple observation: nothing is going to change *until* veganism becomes more widely accepted because as long as animal use is the default position, no significant or sustained progress can or will be made on single issues. The history of animal welfare reform bears this out.

I should add that if anyone thinks that the Weir matter is going to save a single fox, they are mistaken. And if anyone thinks that a fox is worth more morally than the cow used to make Weir's skates, I disagree.

The Weir episode is really no different from someone at a dinner party at which all sorts of animal products have been served announcing after s/he ate the steak and eggs and cheese that s/he is not eating the ice cream for reasons having nothing to do with the ethical aspects of ice cream. To call that a "victory" is to invite an inquiry into what, exactly, a "failure" might look like.

I have expressed my views in reasoned and respectful ways. I am sorry that certain people are choosing to attack me personally. But I learned long ago that when welfarists have nothing of substance to say, they just call you names. Oh, well. 


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