Monday, August 08, 2011

(Not) Veganism in the Media

HSUS' Wayne Pacelle has been making the rounds recently to promote his book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals; Our Call to Defend Them. The articles I've been reading here and there about his various appearances have not offered up anything surprising; they've mostly reflected his continued commitment to ensuring that Americans feel more comfortable about using non-human animals. This recent piece in Michigan's Lansing State Journal, for instance, turned up more of the same. Strangely enough, the article starts off quoting Pacelle as saying that "we [...] need to be mindful and intentional in a society where our attitudes toward animals are conflicted and contradictory". Given the conflicted and contradictory messages HSUS has been disseminating over the years, Pacelle's plea for mindfulness and an associated thoughtful intentionality when it comes to how we think of non-human animals seemed ironic at best -- and disingenuous at worst.

The article's emphasis seems largely placed on Pacelle's great "passion" and charisma. I've no doubt that HSUS' president and CEO is still able to seem enthusiastic while engaging with ease in essentially churning out
the same old message he's been churning out for years now. Pacelle's become adept at reassuring people that HSUS is no "us" to the general public's "them" -- that everyone, regardless of actual concrete follow-through has some sort of good intention, and that this good intention is enough.

People of every background and experience have a passionate connection to animals and they want to do something to make the world better for them.
And just what sort of people share Pacelle's "passionate connection" to animals and want "to make the world better for them"? People like attendee Gita Mahabir, who insists that she's "not like a crazy animal person" but that she "just do[es]n't like to see things [sic] suffer". Basically, Pacelle's message is palatable to people who view those who take the rights of non-human animals seriously as nuts. In repeatedly dodging opportunities to talk to the public about going vegan, Pacelle also implicitly endorses this mindset.

How exactly does Pacelle manage to obtain and hang on to the attention -- and financial support -- of people like Mahabir? By making it clear to them that to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with almighty defender Pacelle, you need not worry yourself about being lumped in with the "crazy animal people" who choose not to use animals. Although he asserts that that eating is a moral act, his interpretation of its morality completely sidesteps exploring the notion that anyone should consider the bother of depriving themselves of the taste of animal flesh and secretions.
It doesn't mean you have to be a vegetarian but you have to be conscious and perhaps buy products from farmers who are raising animals humanely [sic].
According to the article, his book contains "50 ideas to help animals" with "many" actually involving cutting back on animal consumption. I wonder how many times Pacelle actually brings up not using animals as a possible way to "help" those locked into this cycle that inevitably ends in their slaughter? (I haven't read it, but would be happy to do so and to give it an earnest review if somebody wanted to send me a copy. A bonus: I own a good shredder!)

So hey, Wayne? Instead of suggesting to people that they "perhaps buy products from farmers who are raising animals humanely" and presenting it as the very least they can do, how about offering veganism as your so-called "prescription" for the immorality of what we're putting billions of non-human animals through every single year? Is it really so far-fetched to consider telling your HSUS donors that not using non-human animals altogether is even a viable option? Is it really so unfathomable to present not using non-human animals at all as the only truly "humane" option when it comes to whether or not we should treat animals like things and continue to breed them for slaughter? C'mon? Think about it.

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