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An interview with Professor Gary L. Francione on the State of the U.S. Animal Rights Movement

Professor Francione’s theories are very different from those of Peter Singer and Tom Regan. Unlike Singer, who promotes animal welfare and who rejects the concept of animal rights, Francione maintains that animal welfare cannot provide any meaningful protection for animals because animals are regarded legally as property, and that rights are necessary if animals are to be more than the things that they are at the present time. Unlike Regan, who argues that only certain cognitively developed animals have rights, Francione maintains that sentience alone qualifies a being for what he has identified as the one fundamental right: the right not to be the property of another. In sum, Francione argues that all sentient beings--and not just the ones that are most "like us"--are necessarily self-aware and have an interest in their lives. Therefore, it is not enough to say an animal should be treated humanely on the way to our plates. Moreover, Francione has done more to link the struggle for animal rights with other social movements than has any other writer.   Gary L. Francione is Professor of Law and Nicholas de B. Katzenbach Distinguished Scholar of Law and Philosophy at the Rutgers University School of Law. Professor Francione taught the first course on animal rights and the law in an American law school in 1989. His most recent book is Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? (Temple University Press, 2000). His other books include: Animals, Property, and the Law (Temple University Press, 1995), and Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement (Temple University Press, 1996) Professor Francione co-authored (with Anna Charlton) Vivisection and Dissection in the Classroom: A Guide to Conscientious Objection, which has been used successfully by students across the country and around the world to obtain alternatives to animal use in the classroom. For ten years, he and Rutgers Adjunct Professor Anna Charlton operated the Rutgers Animal Rights Law Clinic, which provided free legal services to animal advocates and served as the nation’s animal law "think tank".
     
     
FoA: Do you maintain that the animal rights position means that animals should have all of the same rights as do humans?

Gary Francione: No. I argue that all sentient beings should have one right: the right not to be treated as our property--the right not to be valued exclusively as means to human ends. In my newest book, Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?, I maintain that if we do not accord animals this one right, then, despite what we say about how seriously we take animal interests, we will necessarily treat animals as nothing more than chattel property. And that is precisely what happens now: We all say that we take animal interests seriously, but in reality, our society treats animals in much the same way that it treats any other form of property. 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: What is your view of the current animal rights movement in the United States?

Gary Francione: 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. To bring about animal rights, it is essential to understand the basic legal and philosophical arguments for abolition. Logically, it is not possible to reform the system that exploits animals; we must abolish the exploitation. The abolitionist position is that the institution of animal property is morally unjustifiable, just as was the institution of human property that we called slavery.

Some who promote welfare reform maintain that it is acceptable for humans to use animals if they do so "humanely." Others seek welfare reforms because they believe reforms will eventually lead to abolition. I argue against these notions for two reasons.

First, as a theoretical matter, reform misses the primary moral point. It is, of course, always better to cause less suffering than more, but the real question is whether humans are justified in imposing any suffering at all on animals incidental to our use of animals as property. The 19th century reformers argued that it was better for a slave's owner to beat his slave four times a week rather than five. The abolitionists argued that all human beings had at least the right not to be the property of another; that to be property meant that a human had no value except that accorded the slave by the owner. The abolitionist position was that it was wrong to beat the slaves at all because the institution of slavery itself was morally unjustifiable and it did not matter how "humane" we made slavery. Pm a string quartet on the way to the gas chambers -- as the Nazis did during the Holocaust -- may make things more "humane" in some sense, but that misses the point, doesn't it?

If animals are morally significant at all, then we must abolish the institution of animal property. We must stop creating and owning domestic animals or using wild animals as means to our ends. My view is that we should abolish animal slavery and not seek to reform an inherently immoral institution.

The second reason for my rejection of welfarism is that, as a practical matter, it does not work. We have had animal welfare laws in most western countries for well over a hundred years now, and they have done little to reduce animal suffering and they certainly have not resulted in the gradual abolition of any practices.

Peter Singer was recently quoted as saying that the agreement by McDonald's to give battery hens a few more inches of cage space was the most significant development for farm animals since he wrote Animal Liberation. Twenty-five years of welfarist reform and the best we can show is a larger battery cage. Maybe Peter finds that thrilling; I do not. It is a clear indication of what I have been saying for a decade now: welfarist reform is useless.

As to why welfarism fails, this was the subject of my 1996 book, Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement. In a nutshell, the reason has to do with the property status of animals. If animals are property, then they have no value beyond that which is accorded to them by their owners. Reform does not work because it seeks to force owners to value their property differently and to incur costs in order to respect animals interests. Our legal and political systems are based on strong concepts of property rights. Thus, there is reluctance to impose the costs of reforms on owners when such costs will significantly decrease the value of animal property as far as the owner is concerned.

     
FoA: This theory is logical indeed. But what about putting your ideas into practice at the grass roots level?

Gary Francione: Before undertaking any practical effort, there must be a theory that informs the action. A social movement must have a theory if it is to have any action at all. Unfortunately for the present time, the welfarist position of Peter Singer is informing the movement. This position claims that advocates should support any measure that "reduces suffering." This theory has had disastrous practical results. Nearly any proposed change, such as giving an extra inch of space to a battery hen, or eating only non-crate veal, can be portrayed as reducing suffering. Singer's theory allows large, multi-million-dollar animal welfare organizations to come up with moderate campaigns and then to demand that we all jump on the bandwagon because this will "reduce suffering." Under Singer’s theory, it would make sense for animal exploiters to make things as horrible as they can for animals in order to be able to "reduce suffering" and thereby make small concessions to activists. That is precisely what the exploiters are doing, with McDonalds’ so-called "improvements" being a perfect example of the problem. And the "movement" is buying into this because Singer has declared that these insignificant changes will "reduce suffering."

I suggest that we need a new theory to replace the one that we have. I am not unrealistic. I recognize that even if we adopt an abolitionist theory, abolition will not occur immediately. Change will necessarily be incremental. But it is my view that the explicit goal must be abolition and that abolition must shape incremental change.

On the other hand, I can tell you what really is not realistic, and that is to expect that the industries who use animals to obtain profits will be able to police themselves. As I have often noted, "humane slaughter" laws are difficult to enforce, and the economic realities of the meat-packing business militate against conscientious self-enforcement of such standards. Moreover, such laws arguably increase overall suffering, because they make the general public feel better about eating meat or about any other regulated use of animals. This is the Catch-22 of animal welfare.

There will always be welfarists who promote longer chains for the slaves and call that incremental change. In Rain Without Thunder, I argued that the most important form of incremental change is educating the public about the need for abolition. We have not yet had that, for the U.S. movement has always been embarrassed about being "radical." We do not want to alienate the "mainstream." The problem is that the "mainstream" is polluted and we ought to stay far away from the "mainstream."

To those who claim that the abolitionist has no practical campaign to pursue right now, I have long argued that the contrary is true. Consider what would happen if the international animal movement had a sustained and unified campaign promoting a purely vegetarian diet. Imagine what could be done if a significant portion of our resources were channeled into making people aware of why they shouldn't eat animal products at all. At the end of five years, we would certainly not have achieved world veganism, but we'd probably have reduced the consumption of animal products considerably more than we have done with these "eat red veal" campaigns.

And what would we have given up if we were to pursue this route? Peter Singer claims that two inches of cage space is the best thing to happen to farmed animals in 25 years; arguably, making as few as 100 new vegans in five years would "reduce suffering" much more than that.

When will we begin? I understand, of course, that many people in leadership positions aren't vegan. Therefore they find it difficult to embrace animal rights as a movement in which a vegetable-based diet is an axiom. Veganism, however, is the single most important issue in the movement. Veganism is the abolitionist principle implemented in one's own life. Anyone who maintains that she or he is an "animal rights" advocate but is not vegan cannot be taken seriously.

     
FoA: Doesn't that exclude a lot of well-meaning people?

Gary Francione: Many advocates do claim that it is "elitist" to maintain that there are moral baselines, such as veganism. But that is like saying that it is "elitist" to say feminists must reject rape. It is simply inconsistent to maintain that you accept an animal rights position but continue to consume animals. Many advocates seem to think that veganism is optional and that it is only the "vegan police" who insist on veganism. That is no different from saying, in the context of advocacy for children’s rights, that those who condemn all pedophilia are "pedophilia police." If a children’s rights advocate is not a member of the "pedophilia police," she isn’t an advocate for children’s rights.

     
FoA: Are there further impediments to getting the movement off the ground?

Gary Francione: The animal rights position holds that institutional exploitation ought to be abolished and not merely regulated. But the various groups and institutions who involve themselves in animal advocacy are aware that the abolitionist perspective might offend some donors. Because of this, the position of many groups is defined solely by the donor dollars.

     
FoA: And if they do not work to abolish animal ownership, we inevitably get a doomed welfare platform?

Gary Francione: Exactly right. And animal welfare -- both as a moral theory and as a legal principle -- requires in part that we balance human interests against nonhuman interests to determine whether a particular animal use or treatment is "necessary." If the human interest outweighs the nonhuman interest, the use or treatment is considered "necessary" and morally or legally justifiable. If the animal interest outweighs the human interest, then the use is considered "unnecessary" and morally and legally unjustifiable.

As my 1995 book Animals, Property, and the Law explains, the problem is that because animals are property, what we really balance is the interest of property owners against their property. And that is absurd. It makes no sense to talk about the interests of property which has only the value accorded to it by its owner. That is precisely why the laws that purported to regulate race-based slavery in the U.S. completely failed to protect the interests of slaves. It was simply not possible to balance the interests of a slave against those of a slave owner. The slave was a piece of property, a thing that was owned. As a matter of logic, we cannot balance nonhuman' interests against ours, any more than we can balance our interests against those of our cars or wristwatches.

     
FoA: You are a law professor. What do you say to those who maintain that your views are specific to someone trained by the legal profession?

Gary Francione: I have no illusions about the usefulness of the legal system. Veterinary malpractice cases, cruelty cases, and cases brought under the Animal Welfare Act are pretty much meaningless in terms of reducing suffering, and have absolutely no effect on the property status of animals. But they have created job security for lawyers. Anna Charlton, who has taught the animal rights law course with me at Rutgers University for over a decade, often points out that the legal system will never respond differently to animal issues unless and until there is a significant shift in prevailing social consensus about animal exploitation. For the most part, the law reflects social attitudes and does not form them. This is particularly true when the behavior in question is deeply embedded in the cultural fabric, as our exploitation of animals undoubtedly is. As long as most people think that it’s fine to eat animals, use them in experiments, or use them for entertainment purposes, the law is not likely to be a particularly useful tool to help animals. If, for example, Congress or a state legislature abolished factory farming, that would drive the cost of meat up and there would be a social revolt! There are some lawyers, such as those involved with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, who promote the notion that law will be at the forefront of social change for animals. But these people make a living from practicing law and they are not likely to say otherwise, are they?

Nonhumans will continue to be exploited until there is a revolution of the human spirit, and that will not happen without visionaries trying to change the paradigm that has become accustomed to and tolerant of patriarchal violence. At this moment, the job of the animal rights lawyer is not to be the primary force for change within the system. As lawyers, we are part of the system that exists to protect property interests. William Kunstler, although the most prominent civil rights lawyer of the 20th century, nevertheless once said to me that I should never think that the lawyer is the "star" of the show. Our job as lawyers is to keep social activists out of harm's way. In my view, a useful "animal rights" lawyer is a criminal lawyer one day, helping activists who are charged with civil disobedience; an administrative lawyer the next day, helping activists obtain permits for demonstrations; and a constitutional lawyer the next day, helping students who do not want to vivisect as part of their course work, or helping prisoners who want vegan food. But the lawyer always serves and protects the activist. It is the activist who helps to change the paradigm. Without committed clients who reflect a growing social consensus, lawyers are useless.

Inasmuch as I maintain the necessity of revolution, let me make clear what I mean. I am absolutely and unequivocally opposed to any sort of violence directed toward humans or nonhuman. I am firmly committed to the principle of non-violence. The revolution I seek is one from the heart: I try to get people -- especially other men -- to question and reject violence. I am interested in overthrowing patriarchy and the idea that some beings -- whether white, rich males or white males or humans generally --have greater worth than other beings.

     
FoA: What about the work being done on the subject of ape personhood issues: wouldn't this be one example of movement within the system that moves us along toward a society that is serious about equality?

Gary Francione: There are at least two serious problems with the ape personhood campaign. First, the campaign reinforces the notion that some animals are better than others because they are more "like us." That is, instead of having humans at the top and all nonhuman on the bottom, we "allow" a few animals that are "like us" to come on over to "our" side. That leaves the vast majority of the "other" animals still on the bottom and without even a hope of moving "up" because they lack human-like characteristics that make "special" those animals given admission into the preferred category. In other words, the campaign for ape personhood threatens to substitute one hierarchy for another, and I am concerned that we eradicate the notion of hierarchy altogether.

Second, the "ape personhood" campaign is not only theoretically unsound, but has terrible practical consequences for animals. There is now an entire cottage industry of cognitive ethologists, inspired by Jane Goodall, who are urging that we must do more experiments in order to show how "like us" various apes are. I recently attended a conference at which various researchers were talking about the various experiments that they are presently doing and that should be done in the future to determine exactly how much "like us" apes are. How much more "research" will be necessary? How "like us" do these animals have to be before they get "promoted" in this hierarchy? I think that the "ape personhood" campaign has more to do with generating grants for researchers and certain "apes rights" lawyers than it has to do with animal liberation. Instead of insisting on liberation of animals from human constructs, a great deal of attention has focused on the idea, for example, of Koko the gorilla giving live chats on America Online. There is unprecedented interest in people who discuss intergenerational studies of language or some other form of cognition. Enough is enough.
The focus ought to be a respect for their home environments, not circus-like parading of apes who have been carefully trained to act the way humans do. Does the fact that this is done under a scientific gloss make this any less of a circus? Does the fact that this is done in a courtroom by a bunch of lawyers make it any less of a circus? These antics show a lack of sensitivity about the past four decades of grotesque mistreatment endured by apes in human-created settings. We already know that the other apes have complex lives and share a notably similar genetic build. So why do we keep imposing human communication tests, self-recognition tests, and numerous human social interactions on them?

     
FoA: But weren't you a contributor to The Great Ape Project?

Gary Francione: Yes. In 1993, I wrote an essay entitled "Personhood, Property, and Legal Competence" which was included in The Great Ape Project and I was one of the original signatories of the Declaration on the Rights of Great Apes. I was the first legal theorist to propose a theory of legal personhood for the great apes. But I was very careful in my 1993 essay to make the point that although the great apes were very similar to humans, that similarity was sufficient for their being legal persons but was not necessary. That is, I argued that the only characteristic that is required for personhood is sentience. If a nonhuman can feel pain, then we have a moral obligation not to treat that nonhuman exclusively as a means to our ends. If that being has other interests, then we ought to respect those interests as well, but a theory of rights should not be connected to this additional set of interests beyond sentience. To put the matter another way: just because a cow does not have the same cognitive characteristics as does a chimpanzee does mean that it is OK to eat cow any more than the fact that the cow may have different characteristics from a fish mean that it is OK to eat the fish. This is a central point in my newest book, Introduction to Animal Rights: sentience is the only characteristic that is necessary to have the right not to be treated as a thing or as property. Jane Goodall is currently urging that African people eat goats instead of chimpanzees. Why? Because chimpanzees are more "like us" than are goats? This makes no sense to me and Goodall's position is the antithesis of the animal rights view.

     
FoA: For other animals, what are the implications of this shift in focus (from sentience to knowledge)?

Gary Francione: We find animal advocates singing the praises of mathematically gifted parrots, perceptive rescue dogs, and other animals with impressive talents -- particularly those whose intelligence can somehow be put to our use.

     
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.

     
FoA: We have discussed, in previous issues, your views on the law known as the CHIMP Act. Tragically, your warnings were not heeded. And, as you had predicted, a law that further entrenches the property status of nonhuman apes has passed. What does this portend?

Gary Francione: This terrible law was supported by PeTA, the National Antivivisection Society, the American Antivivisection Society, and prominent board members of the New England Antivivisection Society. Such support was a clear signal to the scientists that they may proceed with their business of psychological and biomedical research, and that they may do so unhindered -- even supported -- by groups who have spoken out in the past against such things. We now see that the vivisectors can get PeTA, the "antivivisection" groups, and Jane Goodall on their side. What does this portend for the future? It is fairly clear that the use of animals in experiments may proceed without any serious critique from the animal movement; indeed, the animal movement is actually decreasing its opposition to vivisection.

     
FoA: We had better wake up the movement quickly then. You mentioned Peter Singer and PeTA as not promoting the idea of abolishing property status. But both seem central to the public idea of what animal rights people do. Can they be considered responsible for the advocacy movement's ineffective position?

Gary Francione: Ironically, Singer and PeTA together have eviscerated the animal rights movement in the United States. PeTA president Ingrid Newkirk has informed us that Peter Singer is an intellectual who looks at all nuances of an issue. Newkirk was defending an essay called "Heavy Petting," in which Singer had something nice to say about the idea of having sex with calves -- sex with baby cows. I quote: "They have penises and vaginas, as we do, and the fact that the vagina of a calf can be sexually satisfying to a man shows how similar these organs are." Now, I can appreciate a good nuance now and then, but I draw the line at baby cows.

And then we've got PeTA bringing Playboy models to Capitol Hill, to attract the attention of legislators. PeTA trivializes activism just as Peter Singer trivializes the theory of animal rights. Combined, these people have managed to turn a serious idea into a peep show.

I think some of these leaders need to take some time off to learn how to respect human personhood before they continue their campaigns. Instead of thinking about intellectual nuances, PeTA ought to pay attention to the rather obvious fact that to link animal rights with Playboy's philosophy sends a profoundly disturbing message. If animal rights can make room for pornography, what kind of social movement is that? Some critics have said that the animal rights movement is corroded by the attitudes of people who do not like other human beings. It's time to consider this criticism seriously. Fundamentally there is no difference between the idea of treating other human beings respectfully and treating other animals respectfully. Our campaigns must think in holistic terms.

I would encourage animals advocates to understand a fundamental principle: radical change -- change at the very roots -- cannot be imposed by large corporations or by the charities who court them. And be careful too of "experts." When we identify a particular person or group, rather than an idea, as the central focus of the movement, we give a great deal of authority to that person who can then do a great deal of damage to the movement. An example of this phenomenon is Singer himself. Advocates have allowed -- even encouraged and facilitated -- his putting himself forward as the definitive spokesperson for "animal rights." Anyone who has read Animal Liberation with care knows that Peter Singer does not endorse rights for animals or humans. He has consistently maintained that it is morally acceptable to eat animals and use them in other ways (as long as we take seriously their interest in not suffering). He also regards it as acceptable to kill disabled human infants and to use humans as unconsenting subjects in biomedical research in some circumstances. Recently, Singer condoned some acts of sex between humans and nonhumans. 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 the view 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 nonhuman animals.

     
FoA: You have spoken about "moral schizophrenia" in the human attitude toward other animals. What do you mean by this?

Gary Francione: Many of us live with dogs, cats, or other animals and regard them as family members. Yet we stick dinner forks into other animals who are no different from the ones we consider family members. This is odd behavior when you think about it. And on the broader social level, nearly everyone would agree that it is immoral to impose unnecessary suffering on animals -- which, by any definition of the term, means that it can't be right to impose suffering on them for human amusement, pleasure, or convenience. After all, a rule that says it is wrong to impose suffering on animals unless we find it pleasurable and amusing would sound silly. And yet, 99.9 percent of our use of other animals cannot be justified by any reason other than human amusement and convenience. It is 2002. No one maintains that we need to eat meat to lead an optimally healthy lifestyle. Indeed, an increasing number of health care professionals warn that eating meat and dairy is detrimental to human health. And animal agriculture is an ecological disaster. It takes between six and 12 pounds of plant protein to produce one pound of animal protein and it takes about 100 times more water to produce a pound of flesh than a pound of wheat. Our best justification for eating meat is that it tastes good. Our best justification for rodeos, circuses, zoos, hunting, and so forth is entertainment. In short, western culture claims to take animal interests seriously, and we all claim to eschew unnecessary suffering; yet we impose suffering and death on animals in situations that cannot be described as involving necessity of any sort. That is what I call "moral schizophrenia."

     
FoA: Have you changed your views on theory or activism over the years?

Gary Francione: I have changed my viewpoint, yes. I started by supporting the welfarist approach. That is, when I first got into this, I believed that we should pursue improvements in the animals' living conditions. I thought that the emphasis on their conditions would lead to the abolition of the use industries. Over the years it has become entirely clear to me that animal welfare leads us only to more animal welfare. If we were protesting the establishment of a concentration camp, would it be appropriate to ask for improvements to the camp? No, because at some level one is undoubtedly conveying the message that the camp is okay. The only appropriate thing to do in this circumstance is to get rid of the camp, because the idea of the camp is the fundamental problem. The issue is not how it goes about its business, but its very existence.

     
FoA: Many welfarists claim that your views are "divisive." How do you respond?

Gary Francione: To disagree is not to be "divisive." I disagree with the welfarists. I regard welfarism as ineffective and counterproductive. I think that the empirical evidence is absolutely clear that welfarism does not work. Despite all of the welfarist campaigns of the last century, we are using more animals now in more horrific ways than ever before in human history. But there is a deeper point here: There is no tradition of debate within the American animal movement. If one of the large groups announces some campaign, we are all expected to jump on board or be declared "traitors." Peter Singer and Ingrid Newkirk recently complained that I attacked their views but that we were all "on the same side." If there is one thing that of which I am certain, I am not "on the same side" as Peter and Ingrid. Our views are very different. Our goals are very different. We need more disagreement within the movement, not less. And we should not be afraid of being labeled as "divisive." That is a label used by those who have nothing of substance to say in response to legitimate criticisms or observations.

     
FoA: Some people would say that your theory of animal rights is an all-or-nothing approach, and that it is unfair not to provide welfare improvements for the animals who are alive and suffering now. Given that it will take a long time before animal rights are acknowledged and established, is there any way we can help animals who are suffering today?

Gary Francione: Become a vegan and spend at least one hour of every day educating your family, friends, neighbors, and anyone else who will listen to you about the moral and environmental arguments in favor of veganism. I can guarantee you that at the end of a year, you will have done more to bring about abolitionist change--and to set the stage for more abolitionist change--than you will have done spending time on getting battery cages made larger or working for more "humane" slaughterhouses. If you want to participate in legislative campaigns, pursue campaigns that are abolitionist and not reformist. In Rain Without Thunder, I discussed criteria for identifying abolitionist campaigns. But I cannot emphasize enough that the most important step is to go vegan and to support vegan education programs. Welfarist campaigns may make us feel better, but they do nothing to alleviate animal suffering.

     
FoA: What do you think about Burger King's new veggie burger?

Gary Francione: In the first place, the "veggie burger" is not "veggie" at all. The burger is cooked on the same grill as are the meat products, and the bun contains dairy products. But even if the "veggie burger" were vegan, it is my view that animal advocates have no business promoting outfits such as Burger King and McDonald's. I'm not recommending that we sit on the sidelines and rattle on about rights theory all the time. As I have stated, I'm intensely supportive of vegan campaigns. I would, however, urge activists to carefully consider where and how to implement these campaigns. There are better ways to promote a vegan diet than advertising huge fast-food corporations, which are exploitative of animals and the environment on so many levels. We should be promoting vegan restaurants and shops; we should not be encouraging people to eat at Burger King. The fact that Burger King has a "veggie burger" (that isn't even vegan) is no different from the fact that Burger King has salads. Should we all rush to Burger King because they have salads? Of course not. I have noticed in recent press that both Burger King and McDonalds are becoming to be viewed as allied with the "animal rights" movement. As far as I am concerned, corporations like that are not allied with any movement in which I have any interest.

     
FoA: Great advice. Would you have any more for us?

Gary Francione: I was recently asked by some animal advocates to write down a set of principles that might be used as shorthand for what I regard as the moral baselines of a real animal rights movement. I'm happy to share them with your readers.

  1. The animal rights position maintains that all sentient beings, humans or nonhuman, have one right: the basic right not to be treated as the property of others.
  2. Our recognition of the one basic right means that we must abolish, and not merely regulate, institutionalized animal exploitation -- because it assumes that animals are the property of humans.
  3. Just as we reject racism, sexism, ageism, and homophobia, we reject speciesism. The species of a sentient being is no more reason to deny the protection of this basic right than race, sex, age, or sexual orientation is a reason to deny membership in the human moral community to other humans.
  4. We recognize that we will not abolish overnight the property status of nonhumans, but we will support only those campaigns and positions that explicitly promote the abolitionist agenda. We will not support positions that call for supposedly "improved" regulation of animal exploitation. We reject any campaign that promotes sexism, racism, homophobia or other forms of discrimination against humans.
  5. We recognize that the most important step that any of us can take toward abolition is to adopt the vegan lifestyle and to educate others about veganism. Veganism is the principle of abolition applied to one’s personal life and the consumption of any meat, fowl, fish, or diary product, or the wearing or use of animal products, is inconsistent with the abolitionist perspective.
  6. We recognize the principle of nonviolence as the guiding principle of the animal rights movement.