Norm Phelps Reviews Joan Dunayer’s Speciesism

The Fund for Animals’ Norm Phelps recently reviewed Joan Dunayer’s latest missive, Speciesism. Speciesism, like all of Dunayer’s animal rights work, is strictly abolitionist with little room for dissent. Phelps doesn’t have a problem with Dunayers’ abolitionist arguments, but rather disagrees with Dunayer on how to get there.

So, for example, Phelps describes the following excerpt by Dunayer as “an intellectually consistent ethic of moral equality for all sentient beings”,

Sentience, defined as any capacity to experience, is the only logical and fair basis for rights. In nonspeciesist philosophy, all sentient beings have rights. What’s more, all sentient beings are equal. Any needless harm to nonhumans should be viewed with the same disapproval as comparable harm to humans. Am I saying that a firefly is as fully entitled to moral consideration as a rabbit or bonobo? Yes. Am I saying that a spider has as much right to life as an egret or a human? Yes. I see no logically consistent reason to say otherwise.

Phelps has no problem with this insane logic, but he cannot quite stomach the way Dunayer wants to put it in practice. As he puts it, “Unfortunately, what is elegant in theory can become hopelessly tangled upon contact with reality.”

That reality includes Dunayer’s attack on animal rights groups including United Poultry Concerns, Compassion Over Killing, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In her book, Dunayer writes,

If I were in a Nazi concentration camp, and someone on the outside asked me, “Do you want me to work for better living conditions, more humane deaths in the gas chambers, or the liberation of all concentration camps?” I’d answer “Liberation.” I’d regard any focus on better living conditions and more “humane” deaths as immoral.

They just can’t resist the Nazi comparisons at this point. Godwin’s Law is alive and well with the animal rights movement.

But Phelps disagrees,

It is this two-pronged approach — with its simultaneous, and not entirely consistent, emphases on both liberation and reform — that is critical to success in the real world in which animals are suffering and being killed. Dunayer’s Nazi concentration camp illustration is based on the unstated assumption that animal liberation can be achieved within a fairly near time frame. But since it clearly cannot be, refusing to work for better living conditions and less painful and terrifying deaths amounts to a betrayal of the animals whom we are professing to help. We must resist the temptation to sacrifice real-world results on the altar of an ivory-tower consistency because what we are really sacrificing is animals.

Someday, maybe, they’ll be able to treat spiders and humans as morally equal, but for now they need to concentrate on more humane slaughter methods. And if Phelps doesn’t think animal liberation is right around the corner, why does The Fund for Animals keep issuing press releases saying things like it is the beginning of the end for hunting?

Its kind of amusing to see Phelps then turn to a critique of Dunayer which is a pretty good indictment of the entire animal rights movement,

Like religious fundamentalists, Joan Dunayer believes that she has found the only path to salvation and that all who do not agree with her are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. And in fact, her faith that rigid adherence to logically consistent theory is the sole route to liberation has something of the aura of religious zealotry about it. And like fundamentalists religion, her faith is not empirically based. There is absolutely no evidence to support Dunayer’s claim that working for “welfarist” reforms retards liberation. Historically, the notion that the road to social change lies in strict submission to an elegant orthodoxy has always led, not to the utopia that was promised, but to failure, disaster, or both.

Come on, Norm — religious-like zealotry? Adherence to bizarrely impossible ideals? Holier than thou attitudes? Don’t pretend as if Dunayer has a monopoly on those traits; they’re pervasive in the animal rights movement.

Again, people used to e-mail me complaining that I was distorting animal rights activists by suggesting they might grant rights even to insects, but Dunayer says spiders and humans are morally equal and the best Phelps can muster is that its a great ideal that is nonetheless impractical for now.


Trying to Walk Before We Can Crawl. Norm Phelps, Satya, January 2005.

HSUS/Fund for Animals Merger Apparently A Done Deal

The rumored merger between the Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals appears to be a done deal.

The Associated Press reports that the new organization will be headquartered in Washington, DC, where HSUS is currently located, but will maintain an office in New York where the FUnd for Animals is located.

Along with the merger, the groups plan to launch a new 501c(4) group to increase the amount that they can spend on political lobbying. Both Fund for Animals and HSUS are organized as 501c(3) which strictly limits the amount of lobbying they can do. Animal rights magazine “Animal People” obtained a memo written by Fund for Animals president Mark Markarian in which Markarian wrote,

“A key component of the merger would be the launch of a new 501(c)(4) organization which could spend unlimited resources on lobbying. It would raise money specifically for lobbying.” The new entity might be named either, “The Humane Fund for Animals” or “The Humane Society Fund for Animals,” the memo indicated.

“As you know,” Markarian and the memo continued, “The Fund and HSUS are both [IRS classification] 501(c)(3) organizations, and both currently face lobbying limits that severely encumber their effectiveness. HSUS must limit its [political] spending to $1 million per year—just 1.3 percent of total spending. The Fund must limit its expenditures to $450,000—about 6% of total spending. These hard caps cannot be consistently exceeded without risking the loss of our charitable status.

“In short, as our organizations grow, our lobbying programs cannot grow commensurately because of the rigid formulas established by the IRS. The HSUS spending cap is frozen at $1 million, no matter how much HSUS grows. The spending limit is the same whether an organization’s annual budget is $20 million, $80 million, or $200 million. As wages, benefits, printing, postage, and other expenditures rise from inflationary pressures, we face shrinking ability to spend in the lobbying domain.”

Markarian and the memo pointed out that the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund “distributes in excess of $5 million per year, and its lobbying arm spends nearly $20 million. Other political opponents, including the American Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers Council, Safari Club International, and Feld Entertainment, spend millions more on political activity. We are at a distinct and often insurmountable disadvantage,” Markarian and the memo contended, “when we attempt to push sweeping and meaningful reforms.

“Our hope,” Markarian and the memo said, “is that a single 501(c)(4), viewed as the political lobbying arm of both organizations, would appeal to donors from both The HSUS and The Fund. Within a few years, it is not unreasonable to think that the 501(c)(4) may be able to spend upward of $10 to $15 million on political activities—representing an increase in spending in this domain by a factor of 10.”

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance issued a press release on Nov. 19 saying that it had talked to Scripps Howard News Service reporter Lance Gay and that,

Gay stated that sources within the groups confirmed that the new organization would seek to ban bowhunting as a priority.

Pacelle has also been making noise about removing the exemption for poultry under the Humane Slaughter Act.

According to an article by Lance Gay, Pacelle apparently is looking to possibly merging with other groups as well,

Pacelle said he would like to further unify the animal rights movement in the United States through other mergers, or by creating an umbrella organization that could carry more political clout in Washington.


Animal rights groups to merge. Associated Press, November 19, 2004.

Animal rights groups to announce plan to merge, ban bowhunting. Press release, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, November 19, 2004.

HSUS to merge with Fund for Animals. Lance Gay, Scripps Howard, November 22, 2004.

The Fund, HSUS, and merging packs. Animal People Online, September 2004.

Stuart Chaifetz Not Happy about Proposed Merger Between HSUS and Fund for Animals

New Jersey-based animal rights activist Stuart Chaifetz distributed an e-mail in October decrying talks of a merger between the Fund for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. Chaifetz’s argument boils down to the fact that he doesn’t consider the HSUS to be a true animal rights group.

According to Chaifetz,

The clear and overwhelming facts are that HSUS’s views on hunting are in opposition to those of the Fund for Animals. This is no ambiguous issue; I’ve dealt with both the Fund and HSUS for more than a decade, and my love for the former is equal of my disdain for the latter. Therefore, to have either the Fund dissolved directly into the HSUS, or to have the Fund become some appendage or affiliate, creates a serious conflict based on both philosophy and action.

Chaifetz goes on to cite a specific example — HSUS’ role, or lack thereof, in New Jersey’s black bear hunt,

New Jersey Governor James McGreevey defended his decision to hold last years black bear hunt by saying that he was working with HSUS on a birth control plan; obviously he was using HSUS and the “humane” card for political cover. I reached out to Wayne Pacelle, who now leads HSUS, and implored him to join with us (we had our own sterilization plan) and state that if the Governor held the hunt we would not work with him on reproductive control. The point, which I explained to Wayne, was that by removing McGreevey’s political cover, we undercut his strength and deliver a blow that could shake him and may, with all other efforts, force an end to the hunt.

The response I got back was “we do not want to burn any bridges.” HSUS did not change their position, and neither did McGreevey. Carnage followed. I do not know that if HSUS had done what we asked, it would have changed anything, and therefore I do not cast blame for the hunt upon them. What I do know, and what everyone who care as about wild animals must know, is that HSUS acted not on behalf of the bears, but of their own political benefit; they would not risk offending the Governor. To not risk offending is to capitulate before the battle has even begun. To not risk is to condemn wild animals with no hope of appeal. HSUS will never risk. The Fund has and would, but soon the Fund, as it is now, may be no more.

Stuart’s got a point there. I’m sure that if Pacelle had went to McGreevey with an ultimatum — stop the hunt or we won’t work with you on the birth control plan — McGreevey would have waited all of 30 seconds before laughing in his face. Too bad Pacelle didn’t take Chaifetz’s advice.

I haven’t been following this apparent merger talk, but I do have a suggestion for HSUS. Since a combined HSUS/Fund organization will be a major undertaking, why not try a blast from the past and bring back David Wills to help run it. After all, if a whale can survive long after its circulatory system has failed, why can’t Wills make a return from the dead as well?


In Defense of the Fund for Animals — and Against the Merger with HSUS. Stuart Chaifetz, October 2004.

Humane USA Targets U.S. Senate Candidate Chris John

Humane USA — an animal rights political action committee created by the Humane Society of the United States, The Fund for Animals and other groups — is targeting U.S. Senate candidate Chris John for his pro-cockfighting views.

John is part of a three-way race for an open U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana. He is running against Republican David Vitter and fellow Democrat John Kennedy. Both Vitter and Kennedy oppose cockfighting. Currently Vitter is leading the race polling at about 43 percent, but if no candidate receives a majority then a runoff election between the two top vote getters is held.

In article on its website, Humane USA says,

Chris John is clearly out of step with Louisiana voters. He has established himself as the go-to guy in Congress for the cockfighting industry. Louisiana is one of two states where cockfighting is legal, and John has been a staunch advocate of the activity in which roosters are pumped with drugs, sharp knives and razors are strapped to their legs, and they are forced to hack each other to death for entertainment and gambling.

When legislation to ban the interstate transport of fighting birds came up before the House Agriculture Committee, John tried to bottle it up. “Let me be very clear about my position on this,” he lectured. “I strongly support the cockfighting industry in Louisiana. I am adamantly opposed to this piece of legislation, and I will vote against it in every opportunity that I have.” He described cockfighting, in an interview with the Baton Rouge Advocate, as a “cultural, family-type” activity and “an industry that is very important to America.”

Humane USA is running ads against John in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Lafayette, and also plans for a mass mailing target Democratic and independent women voters in the state.


Humane Society targets Senate candidate Chris John. KATC.Com, October 2004.

Chris John Supports Extreme Animal Cruelty. Humane USA, October 2004.

Fund for Animals Wants Wildlife Watching Day

September 18 was National Hunting and Fishing Day and, in response, The Fund for Animals issued a press release asking for “a more humane way to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 18 — look at, but don’t touch, the wildlife.”

The odd thing is that The Fund for Animals continues to claim there is some sort of tension between viewing and shooting wildlife, when both activities clearly coexist today.

For example, Heidi Prescott said in the press release,

The benefits of watching wild animals outweigh any good that might come from killing them. Both from a compassionate and a monetary stance.

But then the Fund stupidly includes the following figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to buttress their non-argument,

. . . in 2001, 66 million wildlife watchers spent $38.4 billion on their hobby, while 13 million hunters spent only $21.6 billion.

Hmmm…so wildlife watchers spent $38.4 billion all the while hunters spent $21.6 billion — looks like the best of both worlds to this writer.

However if we accept the proposition that the USFWS should try to maximize money spent on either activity, it should clearly try to increase hunting since wildlife watchers spent only about $580 per person compared to hunters who spent about $1,660 per person — almost three times as much.

Adding another 5 million wildlife watchers, for example, would add about $2.9 billion to total spending. Adding another 5 million hunters would add an additional $8.3 billion. No wonder so much focus is put on luring hunters.


Look but don’t touch! Press Release, Fund for Animals, September 16, 2004.

Humane USA Endorses John Kerry

Humane USA recently endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president in the upcoming U.S. election. According to its web site, Humane USA is a political action committee formed by leaders of animal rights groups including The Humane Society of the United States, The Fund for Animals, Farm Sanctuary, ASPCA, Doris Day Animal League, Animal Welfare Institute, The Ark Trust, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.

In a press release announcing its endorsement, Humane USA said,

  • Kerry was the co-author with former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) of the successful effort to halt an annual $2 million subsidy for the mink industry – terminating a taxpayer give-away to the corporate mink industry. Kerry and Smith shepherded this amendment through the Senate during debate on the Fiscal Year 1995 Agriculture Appropriations Act, and they have repelled subsequent efforts by legislators aligned with the mink industry to revive the taxpayer boondoggle.
  • Kerry has a notable record of co-sponsoring animal friendly legislation, including support of measures to combat cockfighting, bear baiting, canned hunts, puppy mills, the bear parts trade, the exotic pet trade, steel-jawed leghold traps, and the abuse of “downed” livestock.
  • Kerry has also exerted leadership in securing important funds for animal protection. In recent years, he and Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) co-authored letters sent to the leaders of the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations to increase funding for existing animal protection laws, including the Animal Welfare Act and the Humane Slaughter Act. Thanks in part to KerryÂ’s leadership – and his collaboration with the powerful senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) – the Congress has provided more than $26 million in new funds for animal protection programs in recent years.
  • The President of the United States has a major impact on public policies that affect the lives of animals. The Animal Welfare Act, Humane Slaughter Act, Horse Protection Act, and a long list of other federal laws need proper enforcement if their original purposes are to be fulfilled. The president also shapes how Congress views new legislative proposals to protect animals from cruelty and abuse. We need John Kerry – not George W. Bush – in the White House.

Interestingly, as Humane USA points out, the Bush campaign’s web site also highlights the support Kerry has received from animal rights groups the Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals,

John Kerry has the highest rating on the Humane Scorecard sponsored jointly by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Fund for Animals. Both groups are firmly committed to ending hunting in this country.

  • HSUSÂ’ website says “sport hunting – the killing of wild animals as recreation – is fundamentally at odds with the values of a humane, just and caring society” (emphasis added). (; viewed 7/5/04).
  • Heidi Prescott, the National Director of the Fund for Animals, said in a 1995 speech that the Fund for Animals is “unalterably opposed to the killing of animals for sport” (emphasis added). (Speech by Heidi Prescott to the 4th Annual Governors Symposium on North AmericaÂ’s Hunting Heritage, August 1995)


Humane USA Endorses John Kerry for President. Press Release, Humane USA, Undated.

John Kerry on Hunting. Press Release,, July 10, 2004.