Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wayne Pacelle, Get That Elephant Out of Your Living Room, Will You?

It seems that Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS, has been busy traveling coast to coast, spending some of HSUS' millions to field pre-submitted questions from HSUS supporters. According to his blog post on October 22, many people have been asking what they can "do to help The HSUS and animal protection". Pacelle's enthusiasm was definitely infectious at the beginning of his blog post; I have to admit that I got a little excited, myself! I thought, "50 whole options! Surely one of them must be..." and then found myself shaking my head a little sadly as I made my way through the items.

Pacelle asserts that the "movement" can only succeed if millions "take these positive actions" and adds that "we can all pitch in to raise funds to support the vital work of The HSUS and allow it to grow and be a more powerful and effective force" (i.e. please send bigger donation checks). So what are the positive actions? Pacelle presents them under different categorical headings:

In Your Community:

  • Encourage your local media to run information and PSAs from HSUS and distribute HSUS leaflets at events.
Get Training -- Get Activated:
  • Take advantage of HSUS' various humane education programs to learn to spread the HSUS message, attend HSUS conferences and awards ceremonies, volunteer at HSUS events, take a course through HSUS' Humane Society University.
Volunteer To Help Animals:
  • With HSUS' Wildlife Land Trust and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association Field Services program. It's also mentioned that you can volunteer at your local shelter, although it sticks out a little as a non-HSUS option.
Political Activities:
  • Lobby, lobby, lobby for HSUS campaigns and initiatives.
Work with Local Schools:
  • Get kids involved in HSUS initiatives and help get HSUS into your local schools.
Give Us Your Moolah:
  • Support HSUS corporate sponsors. Buy things through HSUS.
Speaking of Moolah:
  • Give HSUS more of your own money, organize HSUS fundraisers to raise additional money for HSUS, and finally, host a social event and invite an HSUS representative to come talk to your friends and family about why they should be giving money to HSUS.
How About What Wayne Pacelle Thinks You Should Do on a Personal Level:
Four of the other suggestions Pacelle makes are sound enough: Adopt or foster from your local shelter, keep your cats indoors, learn to co-exist with wildlife without resorting to killing said wildlife and establish a "pet care trust" for animals in your care lest anything happen to you.

The remaining suggestions about what you can do on a personal level to "help The HSUS and animal protection" were just more of the same old stuff I've come to expect from this welfarist group. Pacelle basically lists off a bunch of half-hearted things that are more about making yourself feel better than they are about taking the interests of animals seriously. He does so while walking around the big ol' elephant in his living room (or swank HSUS office, whichever the case may be). That elephant is veganism.

In a list of 50, there is no mention made of simply not using or exploiting animals as a viable option to "help" them. Instead of suggesting that you purchase animal-free cosmetics, he says to ensure that the cosmetics you use haven't been "tested" on animals. Instead of suggesting that you frequent vegan restaurants, he suggests that you try to talk restaurants into carrying more "cage-free" eggs. Instead of suggesting you go vegan, he suggests you reduce your meat consumption and avoid factory-farmed products. He does mention replacing "meat and other animal-based food with vegetarian food", which is confusing. By "animal-based food", does he mean things that contain animal flesh and that these should be replaced with eggs or dairy? I mean, if by "animal-based food" he meant eggs and dairy, then he should have said that they should be replaced with VEGAN food instead of side-stepping the issue and treating 'vegan' as if it's a dirty word.

What's HSUS going to do about that elephant in your living room, Wayne? 'Cause surely, ignoring him isn't humane. Isn't it time for an HSUS "Go Vegan!" campaign?


Philip Steir said...

How in the world could not eating animals and becoming vegan be the absent referent in the context of what you can do to best help animals?

The irony here is too big for any room.

Lucas said...

Yet another example of a "leader" of the "animal movement" (?) marginalizing veganism in order to appeal to the status quo to make more $$$.


Thanks for the great post.

Barbara DeGrande said...

Spot on Mylene. It is such a shame when these organizations with all the money and ability to reach out, do not. Maybe Wayne is not a vegan? If not, how can he pretend to care about animals? If so, how can he not advocate for veganism?

Daniel Wilson said...

Maybe Wayne just forgot to mention the words vegan and veganism. I mean it's a pretty big list; you can't expect a guy (even a guy who claims to be vegan himself) to remember every little thing, right?

Perhaps he was going to but ran out of room, like some of those annoying comment boxes that only let you put down a measly 5000 words.

Or maybe he accidentally spelled "vegan" wrong and his lame-o computer substituted it with "vegetarian" or "less meat". You know those crazy spellcheck and grammar programs.

Or perhaps he was... oh the hell with it. Sorry Wayne, I tried. I really tried. There's just no logical explanation. You really messed up (again).

Now give your head a shake and repeat after me: "Choose compassion, go vegan. Choose compassion, go vegan. Choose compassion, go vegan."

Elaine Vigneault said...

FYI, at his "town halls" when someone mentions veganism, he says he's vegan and says he'd love to see a vegan world, and then goes into mainstream moderate mode by suggesting that a 10-20% decrease in animal product consumption would directly benefit more animals than doubling the vegan population.

Lucas said...

Elaine, so Pacelle tells people in small settings that he wants a vegan world but tells the public at large that he does not want a vegan world? This is why people accuse HSUS of having a hidden agenda - a lack of honesty. But who knows which position he is honest about? Seems to me like he's looking for donations from all angles.
Please read the post on this very blog about him in an interview on Agri-Talk radio. He says he does not want a vegan world, does not support animal rights, supports zoos and hunting, and elsewhere he's said he supports "responsible breeding" of "pets".
It's unfortunate, for the animals, that double the amount of vegans would not pay his 6 figure salary, but a 10 - 20% animal product (that he endorses) consumption still would... And anyways, where the hell is he getting those figures? And aside from that, what work is HSUS doing that is reducing the amount of animals exploited by humans?

unpopular vegan essays said...


In the short run, as a matter of mere numbers, that may be true (I haven't checked the assumptions or done the math to agree or disagree with such a statement).

However, double the number of vegans who are active in promoting veganism (especially if many of them were influential) would be far better than the cut back in consumption. (Real) vegans experience a paradigm shift that goes beyond the mere reduction in harm, death, etc.

Anonymous said...

I do understand that some groups are going to put "I want EVERYONE to love me!" ahead of the reality of the situation. But, HSUS, who is already being called a terrorist group by the CCF and who is slandered by hunters at every turn should know better than to keep sacrificing the cause in order to please the masses.

Now is the time to be honest and vigilant, not to be cowardly suckers who tip toe over everything.

I think HSUS might even be doing the animal abuse industries a favor with this one. Hey, you can keep abusing animals AND feel good about it! Just write a few letters, send hsus a check, and make sure your package of suffered chicken periods says "cage free" on it.

It's sad. I wonder when people are going to wake up.

Crystal said...

HSUS continues to promote speciesism and the notion that dogs and cats are somehow more worthy of protection and love than chickens, cows, sheep, pigs, fish, or for any animal.

They're always neglected to mention even vegetarianism on their website.