Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wayne Pacelle of HSUS Makes It Clear That He's No Abolitionist

Just yesterday, AgriTalk (aka the "talk radio program for rural America and agriculture") aired an interview with Wayne Pacelle, a self-described vegan and the President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). For those of you who may have been rooting for HSUS, keeping your fingers crossed and hoping that maybe the animal slaughter industry's labelling of Pacelle or HSUS as having a so-called "vegan agenda" held the slightest bit of promise in terms of ending the use of animals in agriculture, please listen to this abridged version of the podcast.

The fact that Pacelle and HSUS have been standing firmly in the new welfarist camp was (yet again) made more than clear.
In the interview, host Mike Adams of AgriTalk asked Pacelle where HSUS stood with regards to animal rights or animal welfare and Pacelle responded.

Adams: We have had a lot questions about where you come down on animal rights and welfare. The livestock industry and people I know believe in the humane treatment of animals. There is a difference between animal welfare and animal rights. How do you define the two? Are they same or different?

Pacelle: We at the Humane Society of the United States don’t talk about animal rights, but human responsibility. That places us more with the comments that you represent from the agriculture community. In almost al of our campaigns and activities, whether it’s Prop 2 in California or prior ballot measures in Florida or Arizona, or in our Hallmark/Westland investigation, where we exposed the terrible mistreatment at a cull cow slaughter plant of the spent dairy cows, or in some other campaigns, those fit squarely in the realm of animal welfare. They relate not whether animals should be used for food, but how they are treated during production, transport and slaughter. [...] We’ll have some disagreements depending on what your orientation is, but I don’t think anyone can reasonably claim that our work is moving in the direction of eliminating animal agriculture as some of the folks in the industry keep repeating.
Pacelle goes on to assert that it's his
core belief that Americans are going to continue to eat meat, milk and egg products. That is the way it is. These are long-standing cultural practices. Our diet has been at work for a long time with people and it will not change certainly not overnight and it’s not going to change over a decade or 50 years.
In the remainder of the interview, when asked about his veganism, Pacelle makes it clear that it's his personal choice and that it has no impact upon and nor does it reflect HSUS or its policies. He goes even further to emphasize how, in fact, very few of HSUS' volunteer board of directors are even vegetarian, as if not eating animals somehow leaves you incompetent to help determine their best interest. When asked if he's stated that he wishes to put an end to all sport hunting, he denies it firmly and then dodges a question about whether he opposes hunting in general, stating that HSUS merely focuses on its "worst abuses" such as "canned hunts, bear baiting, contest shoots, shooting of endangered species [and] pure trophy hunting". When asked if he supports the closure of zoos, he says no. He even calls farming a "noble profession". You can read a transcript of the full interview here.

I think it's important for vegans to be aware of these facts--of this reality. It concerns me when members of the vegan community come out in support of organisations like HSUS, defending them for making supposed small inroads for animal rights. The truth is that organisations like HSUS do absolutely nothing to benefit animal rights. They collect donations from the guilty and wage minor public relations campaigns.
What they accomplish isn't merely insufficient; it actually sets animal rights considerations further back. These campaigns invariably end up making those same people who donate feel better about maintaining the status quo concerning society's treatment of non-human animals as property. Is that what the vegan community really wants? Is this man who the vegan community really wants to champion?


Fredrik said...

At least we have an admission from the source itself. The welfarist camp can no longer call us paranoid or divisive when we point out that HSUS has no interest in animal rights, and has no objections to "good" animal exploitation per se.

This interview should be downloaded and archived. in case the original is taken down. Future debates would be much simpler.

unpopular vegan essays said...

Thanks for posting this, Mylene. It shows that HSUS is a much bigger obstacle to any real progress than industry itself because of the misguided trust the public has in HSUS. The industry-welfarist partnership is THE obstacle for abolitionists to overcome. There is virtually no difference between Wayne Pacelle and animal ag CEOs.

Anonymous said...

"At least we have an admission from the source itself. The welfarist camp can no longer call us paranoid or divisive when we point out that HSUS has no interest in animal rights, and has no objections to "good" animal exploitation per se.

This interview should be downloaded and archived. in case the original is taken down. Future debates would be much simpler."

Sadly people will still claim HSUS is for animal rights and animal liberation even after they admit they aren't 9let alone their past actions). below is a quote from a vegan on twitter (I removed the name).

"I take HSUS conversations with ag industry w/ a grain of salt. They are impt overall to goal of animal liberation."

Roger Yates said...

I also think many will claim the HSUS are just saying this to continue to fool welfarists to give them cash when, in reality, they are an 'animal rights' organisation.

This is a pretty standard part of countermovement claims-making at the moment and it certainly is not just the case that Wayne simply states his position and people accept it.

It is not many years ago when I and another provided forum members will amply evidence that Peter Singer is not a rights-based philosopher and a reply came back: "Because PS says he's not AR means he's not?"

Elizabeth Collins said...

Yes I had an email exchange with a big defender of Wayne Pacelle who had previously claimed in an interview "...I think these guys really want as much and you and me to see an end to animal agriculture..."
and later on "... 'Oh animals aren't property and and we have no business eating them or raising them or exploiting them,' - you believe that, I believe that, Wayne believes that..."
and earlier
"...Today we have HSUS being run by a committed vegan who clearly has a much larger picture than winning incremental reforms..."

When I pointed out the Agritalk interview and asked this person to listen saying they were wrong about what they claimed about Wayne, they responded by saying: "..Just suppose that I'm right about what I said.... If that's the case, what
reasons would Pacelle have for saying what he said in the Agritalk

Yeah. What? Beats me. Maybe it's the big "secret agenda" that was mentioned in said interview.

M said...

Unfortunately, those of you who've pointed out that there are some who are still going to try to defend HSUS regardless of what Pacelle admits are probably right.

I received an email today from a vegan acquaintance who reads this blog. In it, she chided me for having written something that she said would only "help widen the divide between animal advocates". I pointed out to her that all I did was report on an interview in which Pacelle, himself, laid the facts out clearly about what his and HSUS' intentions are concerning animals raised for slaughter. Her response was to ask me what else I would have expected him to say in an interview on a pro-ag show, as if somehow Pacelle had no choice but to have said what he did.

Roger: With regards to Singer, all I can say is what I quipped to an abolitionist friend a few months ago: Too many don't want to believe that the purported father of the animal rights movement has orphaned his followers.

Bea Elliott said...

Of further interest is the follow-up "open line" Agri-talk discussion. There were 8 or 9 callers - none even welfarists let alone abolitionist. Not one call was from an "AR" opposing view and this was infuriating, (and shady).

There was a chicken "farmer" who said the birds would suffocate each other if released from the cages... A hog-man who said Pacelle has no stake in the matter because he's vegan and "would not eat veal if you told him you gave it bubble baths and an i-pod". A horse rancher that said HSUS does "good work" (when they focus within their arena).... And a spokesman from the CCF gave an extensive critique of what Pacelle had to say. The CCF guy took up most of the broadcast. That figures...

But through this entire hour of circular chain-pulling, the most amusing thing was said by the last caller. "Peggy" who says: "If we loose the animal industries, (any part of it) we are all going to be naked and hungry and sick." Clearly she has no idea what being vegan is all about. And that is our challenge to educate the nay-sayers, while discrediting HSUS's compromises. A tall order - but half the battle is knowing who your enemies are... After Wayne's comments - there can be no question...

M said...

Someone emailed me last night to say that the AgriTalk podcast link is no longer working. The link to the transcript still is, however.

If anyone is aware of any other places where that interview may be found (i.e. f it was snapped up for a different site), please feel free to post a link. I'll do some nosing around with Google later today.

M said...

In case anyone is interested, I've updated the link to the podcast in my post.

You can also copy and paste this URL: