More Joan Dunayer on Animal Rights vs. Animal Rights Welfarists

In response to criticism of her book, Speciesism, and specifically its attacks on the more non-abolitionist elements of the animal rights movement, Joan Dunayer recently posted a long section of her book which deals with this topic to animal rights mailing list AR-News.

Dunayer charges that animal rights activists who work for reform of certain practices are hypocritical or, at the least, not true to their ideals,

Asking KFC or any other company to implement less-cruel slaughter of chickens conveys this message: “It’s alright for you to kill chickens, provided that you do it in the least cruel way.” As David Nilbert has stated, nonhuman advocates shouldn’t ask a company to sell body parts from chickens slaughtered less cruelly; they should demand that the company “stop selling fried body parts of chickens altogether.” . . .

“Welfarist” campaigning perpetuates a speciesist double standard between humans and nonhumans. As expressed by Francione, treating “the nonhuman context different from the human context” indicates “species bias.”

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 chamber, or the liberation of all concentration camps?” I’d answer, “Liberation.” In fact, I’d find the question bizarre and offensive. I’d regard any focus on better living conditions or more-“humane” deaths as immoral. It’s equally immoral to focus on better living conditions or more-“humane” killing of enslaves and slaughtered nonhumans.

. . .

Time, money, and effort always are limited. Activists should devote every available minute and dollar to reducing the number of victims and bringing the day of emancipation closer — by promoting veganism and building public support for nonhuman rights. Over the long term, the best way to reduce hen suffering is to increase opposition to hen enslavement, not to seek “improvements” in that enslavement.

Dunayer goes on to argue that animal rights activists who campaign for improved treatment of animals might actually increase their suffering,

Groups such as UPC and AVAR have campaigned against total-starvation forced molting. A ban on any or all types of forced molting would be “welfarist,” not abolitionist. Such a ban-actually a requirement that enslavers give hens adequate food and water-would leave hens to be killed when their egg laying declines.

The forced-molting issue epitomizes the tradeoffs that “reforms” often entail. A ban on forced molting would mean that many more chickens would be enslaved and murdered. “Laying hens” would pass through the egg industry at a faster pace: egg-factory owners who previously used forced molting would “dispose of” and “replace” them after a shorter period. The number of hens and roosters used as breeders also would increase. So would the number of male chicks born and killed.

Even so, Paul Shapiro, Campaigns Director of Compassion Over Killing, has argued that, overall, a forced-molting ban might reduce the suffering of chickens because forced molting causes suffering and prolongs the time during which a hen lives in horrendously cruel conditions. Whether or not the total amount of chicken suffering would be less without forced molting-which is impossible to determine-what are we doing when we ask that the longer suffering of fewer individuals be replaced with the shorter suffering of many more individuals? We never would say of innocent humans, “Please improve the conditions of those who are imprisoned and killed, but imprison and kill more people.” Do we really want more hens and roosters living lives of utter misery and more male chicks being born only to be suffocated or ground up alive? To a rights advocate, the whole idea of attempting to calculate which causes more suffering-torturing and killing fewer chickens over a longer period or torturing and killing more chickens over a shorter period-is morally objectionable. Either way, chickens suffer and die. Either way, their moral rights are completely violated. Remember: chickens shouldn’t be imprisoned in the first place.

According to an industry article on forced molting, the low-nutrition method of starvation was developed because “animal welfare interests” criticized the no-food method as “inhumane”; the new method “addresses the negative welfare connotation that fasting has with animal welfare organizations and consumers.” In other words, while continuing to starve hens, the industry now will claim to feed them. As a result, consumers will feel better about eating eggs.

Of course as Norm Phelps noted in his review of Speciesism, what Dunayer is calling for in practice is no improvement and no abolition, since liberation in Western societies is a non-starter. Lets hope all activists adopt Dunayer’s views!


Speciesism. Joan Dunayer, 2004.

DARPA Funds Research Into Rat Rescuers

Back in 2002, researchers at the State University of New York made a splash of publicity — and lots of criticism from animal rights activists (Gary Francione complained at the time that “there’s got to be a level of discomfort in implanting these electrodes”) — after they created a remote-controlled rat. The researchers implanted electrodes in the brains of rats and then used a remote control computer setup to reward the animals for fulfilling tasks. In this way, they were able to train the rats to respond to a series of remote commands, essentially creating remote-controlled rats.

Neat trick, but aside from the basic science involved in helping to further map which brain regions are involved in specific behavioral changes, does this have any real world application?

DARPA, the Pentagon’s research unit, us currently funding a project to see if such rats could be used to locate people in buildings that have collapsed from earthquakes or other disasters.

Researchers Linda and Ray Hermer-Vazquez at the University of Florida in Gainesville have been training rats to identify the scent of human beings as well as for the explosives TNT and RDX. The trick then is to be able to interpret remotely when the rats have in fact discovered such scents. According to Linda Hermer-Vazquez,

There are two neural events that we believe are hallmarks of the ‘aha’ moment for the rat.

If they can reliably pick up on those neural events and have a system that allows the rat to be pinpointed when it discovers human or explosive scents, then rats could make ideal rescuers. Unlike other solutions for finding trapped people, such as remote controlled robots, the rats would be able to navigate within complex, unpredictable environments much better as well as detecting human and explosive scents in an environment that is full of competing smells, which artificial systems still have a great deal of difficulty with.

The Hermer-Vazquez’s told New Scientist that they hope to have a viable rat rescue system developed sometime in 2005.

Typically one of the fears after large earthquakes and other natural disasters is that rats will multiply and spread disease as a result of the breakdown of sanitation and other systems. How appropriate, the, that rats might also be put in service to find victims and save the lives of people trapped after such disasters.


Rats’ brain waves could find trapped people. Emily Singer, New Scientist, September 22, 2004.

“Robo-rat” controlled by brain electrodes. New Scientist, May 1, 2002.

Ingrid Newkirk on ALF

While surfing the web the other day I ran across an interview with Ingrid Newkirk published on an Australian animal liberation site. The interview was originally from the Australian publication Vegan Voice and dates back to 2001.

Anyway, the interviewer asks Newkirk several questions related to accusations from Gary Francione and others that in reaching accommodations with Burger King that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had softened its abolitionist stance. Newkirk dismisses such suggestions and adds that the U.S. media do not seem to think PETA has abandoned its radical pose (emphasis added),

We have an abolitionist approach, but I always say that while our heads are in the clouds and we fight for total liberation, our feet are firmly planted on the ground. For example, I don’t think people should ride horses (which has been too radical for even an animal rights feminist publication to print in the U.S., believe it or not), but if I see someone beating a horse I’m going to try and stop them even if I can’t take their horse away from them. I must say, the press doesn’t share this idea that we are namby pamby: They know that if there’s a rat or cockroach involved, PeTA is the group here that will stick up for that poor blighted animal publicly (we are currently defending sharks due to the hysteria over the recent attacks!) and we will always stick up for the A.L.F., so they call us and we do.


Ingrid Newkirk – taking on the critics. Vegan Voice, 2001.

Gary Francione and Lee Hall Write Scathing Attack on the Animal Rights Movement

Rutgers law professor Gary Francione and Fund for Animals legal director Lee Hall wrote a scathing critique of the animal rights movement for the San Francisco Chronicle. The op-ed defended Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders who recently criticized a California proposal for a “humane education” curriculum in schools.

Francione and Hall raise some points which this author fully agrees with, but in general they disapprove of the mainstream of the animal rights movement because they do not think it is radicalized enough. In Francione and Hall’s view, a group like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is composed of a bunch of sellouts who are little better than cattle ranchers.

Francione and Hall agree with and expand on Saunders’ criticism that the animal rights movement tends to be inconsistent. They note, for example, how quickly people rushed to defend Peter Singer’s qualified defense of sex between humans and non-human animals. Francione and Hall write,

Remarkably, a large number of prominent animal advocates rushed to defend singer. Those advocates who did criticize Singer found themselves reprimanded for “divisive” conduct. Such a response befits a cult, not a social movement.

Francione and Hall also agree with Saunders that Singer does openly advocate infanticide — as is obvious to anyone who reads his writings on the topic — and express contempt at those in the animal rights movement who label as “animal enemies” (their term) those who criticize Singer for this and other absurd positions.

But it is their wholesale attack on the humane education proposals that show Francione and Hall’s true perspective — they consider any attempt at improving animal welfare to be collaborating with the enemy that ultimately undermines the entire movement. Francione and Hall write,

Saunders correctly perceives the meaninglessness of such [humane education] legislation. Who disagrees with the position that we ought to be “kind” to animals? The problem is that as long as animals are our property, as long as we can buy them, sell them, kill them and eat them, it does not matter whether we call ourselves “guardians” or how much we ramble about “humane” treatment. In reality, we are still their masters and they are our slaves.

. . .

It is our view that animals should not be brought under the control of human owners in the first place and, therefore, that humans should stop producing domestic animals for human use.

With Francione and Hall, the problem then is not that procedures for slaughtering cattle is inhumane, but rather that animal rights activists seem to accept things like human beings having pets or abominable practices such as the provision of guide dogs for the blind.

Rather than advocate for humane treatment of non-human animals, Francione and Hall argue for essentially a complete separation and end all contact between humans and animals (except, perhaps, where humans are simply unnoticed observers).


A deeply confused animal rights movement. Gary L. Francione and Lee Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, August 21, 2002.

Gary Francione on the War Path

The Summer 2002 issue of Friends of Animals’ Act’ionline includes a long interview with Gary Francione in which Francione makes abundantly clear his disdain for Peter Singer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, non-vegan activists and anyone else who deviates ever so slightly from his abolitionist perspective.

Francione does not shy away from the implications of his belief that all property interests in animals should be abolished,

Gary Francione: . . .If, however, we did accord animals this one right not to be treated as property, we would be committed to abolishing and not merely regulating animal exploitation because our uses of animals for food, experiments, product testing, entertainment, and clothing all assume that animals are nothing but property. If we accepted that animals have the right not to be treated as our property, we would stop–completely–bringing domestic animals into existence.

I am not interested in whether a cow should be able to bring a lawsuit against a farmer; I am interested in why we have the cow in the first place.

. . .

FoA: So we need to do away with seeing-eye dogs?

Gary Francione: If we are serious about animal rights, we have a responsibility to stop bringing them into existence for our purposes. We would stop bringing all domestic animals into existence for human purposes.

Francione launches several broadsides at the animal rights movement, including arguing that “there is no animal rights movement in the United States. There is only an animal welfare movement that seeks to promote the ‘humane’ exploitation of animals.”

Francione’s main targets on that count are Peter Singer whose ideas have been “disastrous” for the animal rights movement. Francione goes on to say,

Ironically, Singer and PETA together have eviscerated the animal rights movement in the United States. . . .

The movement has set Singer up as some type of deity. To disagree with Singer’s views is interpreted by many as an act of disloyalty to the cause of animal rights. The result is that the movement is now saddled with a representative who praises McDonald’s, who espouses that humans with lives somehow considered as having lesser value can be sacrificed for the rest of us, and who announces that “mutually satisfying” sexual relationships may develop between humans and nonhumans.

Francione also attacks animal rights activists who are vegetarians but not vegans. According to Francione, “Anyone who maintains that she or he is an ‘animal rights’ advocate but is not vegan cannot be taken seriously.”

The odd thing is not that Francione holds such extreme views, but rather that he sincerely believes that the animal rights movement would have a much better shot at achieving its goals if it adhered to his strict abolitionist stance.

Lets hope he can convince the rest of the animal rights movement of that proposition.


Interview with Professor Gary L. Francione on the State of the U.S. Animal Rights Movement. Friends of Animals, Act’ionLine, Summer 2002.

Animal Rights Activist Attack Peter Singer Over Bestiality Stance

Peter Singer still has not made any comments about his book review for Nerve which, on the most friendly interpretation, offered a weak argument against bestiality. While People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Ingrid Newkirk offered a defense of Singer, many animal rights activists were quick to pile on denunciations of Singer, many of which were posted to the Nerve web site as well as being distributed through Internet e-mail lists.

Friends of Animals president Priscillia Feral wrote,

Friends of Animals, an interntional non-profit organization with 200,000 members throughout the world dedicated to promoting the rights of animals and concern for wildlife and the environment, denounces Princeton philosophy professor Peter Singer, for an essay in which Singer maintains that under some circumstances, it is acceptable for humans and animals to have sex with each other. FoA finds Singer’s position shocking and disgusting. Bestiality is wrong in part because the animal cannot meaningfully consent to sex with a human. In this sense, bestiality is wrong for the same reason pedophilia is wrong. Children cannot consent to sexual contact and neither can animals. Contrary to a statement from a spokesperson for PETA, Singer’s essay isn’t an intellectual issue, and his thinking isn’t logical. It’s a moral issue. Singer and his apologists just need to stop repeating every annoying idea they’ve developed for shock value.

Megan Metzellar, program coordinator for Friends of Animals weighed in as well,

Singer is basically condoning rape and molestation as long as one (presumably he?) can find a way to interpret the situation as being “mutually satisfying.” I suppose Mr. Singer can find a way to justify any base behavior in his mind via his meaningless hypotheticals. Singer has been put on a pedestal by the animal rights movement for a very long time but this essay is a wake-up call to those who have blindly idolized him. Moreover, since women are often sexually abused and exploited in conjunction with acts of bestiality, feminists should be outraged by his position on this issue. Child advocates should also be alarmed since Singer is condoning sex acts in which one party is basically incapable of giving consent. Singer is in dangerous territory here and if he has any sense left he will realize the potential fallout from this essay and retract his position.

Theodora Capaldo, president of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, was worried about the damage that Singer’s views will have on the animal rights movement.

As someone who has played and continues to play a high profile and influential role in the animal rights movement, I believe your responsibility changes. The success of animal liberation depends not only on the ideology, the legal arguments, and the philosophical reasoning but perhaps more importantly on the sophisticated strategies that will allow mainstream populations to hear the message, accept the message and act on the message. Heavy Petting will come back to haunt us and is a step backwards. Unchallenged, this essay will serve to further marginalize and, therefore, damage the animal rights movement. The consequences of it will push us back into the bubble-gum bottomed recess of prejudice that hell hole of ridicule that remains our greatest obstacle and enemy. Some people may care about your thoughts on bestiality from some perverse unconscious desires. More significantly, however, many others will study your every word not to better ground their arguments in support of animal rights but rather to find new ways to discredit our efforts. They have been given new ammunition and new accusations with which to boost their arguments about the absurdity of our beliefs. Heavy Petting will be used against us. Have no doubt.

Live by the sound bite, die by the sound bite.

Gary Francione, who seems to have laid low after shutting down his animal law center, reminded animal rights activists that Singer’s argument is beside the point since the existence of pets is an abomination itself, regardless of whether or not anyone is having sex with the animals.

Even if animals can desire to have sexual contact with humans, that does not mean that they are “consenting” to that contact any more than does a child who can have sexual desires (or who even initiates sexual contact) can be said to consent to sex. Moreover, Peter ignores completely that bestiality is a phenomenon that occurs largely within the unnatural relationship of domestication; a domestic animal can no more consent to sex than could a human slave. Therefore, since the threshold requirement–informed consent–cannot be met, sexual contact with animals cannot be morally justified….It is bad enough that Peter defends the killing or other exploitation of those humans whose lives he regards as not worth living, and, through his pop media image, he has succeeded in connecting the issue of animal rights with the very ideas that were promoted by some academics as part of the theoretical basis for Nazism. It is bad enough that the “father of the animal rights movement” regards PETA’s sell-out liaison with McDonalds as “the biggest step forward for farm animals in America in the past quarter of a century” (a direct quote from Peter) and that PETAphiles are pointing to Peter’s approval as justification for the sell-out. It is bad enough that Peter continues to support and promote those whose unethical actions have actually harmed animals. Bestiality merits nothing more or less than our outright and unequivocal condemnation. Peter’s disturbing view that humans and nonhumans may enjoy sexual contact as part of “mutually satisfying activities” will only further harm the cause of animal rights, and I can only hope that those who care will register their strong dissent.

Aside from the animal rights movement, it will be interesting to see how the Princeton community reacts to Singer’s newly found views on sex with animals.