Monday, October 10, 2011

ARZone Podcast 17: Bruce Friedrich - Farm Sanctuary.

Episode 15 features Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary. Bruce Friedrich recently left PeTA after 15 years working there. The ARZone team were interested to discover the reason for the move, and to explore issues about "farm animal" welfare, his film editing, and his veganism.

We experienced a thunderstorm during the recording which accounts for the abrupt ending as well as for the less than perfect sound quality.
You may also LISTEN HERE.


Lucas said...

So "colony cages in practice will still be extraordinarily bad" but "less bad than battery cages"? Is this really how we want to advocate on behalf of other animals? "What do we want?!" "Extraordinarily bad conditions that are said to be less bad than current conditions!" "When do we want it?!" "Fifteen years from now!"
Thanks, but no thanks.

timgier said...

Whether campaigns for larger or different kinds of cages for chickens make any real and meaningful differences in the lives of chickens is largely irrelevant. All that matters is that more people decide that humans ought not to take and eat eggs from chickens. Insofar as any campaign for larger or different cages is conducive to more people than not arriving at that decision, then that campaign is, on balance, worthwhile.

There is no empirical evidence that campaigns for so-called welfare reform increase the use or killing of other animals and there is some evidence that, as the general public becomes more aware of animal welfare issues, the rate of demand for animal products increases at a slower rate. Moreover, it stands to reason that when the United States' largest poultry industry group admits, as the UEP implicitly has, that the quality of the lives of chickens matter, then the general public is as likely as not to begin to understand that as well.

Finally, there's nothing stopping anyone from campaigning against all uses of chickens and other animals, no matter what HSUS and the UEP agree to, although I believe that campaigns designed to convince people, through some kind of information transfer alone, to become vegan will continue to be largely ineffective.

Carolyn Bailey said...

Hi Lucas,

I share your frustration, and also find it difficult to understand how we can justify advocating for conditions which are horrendous, but just a little bit better than conditions which are really horrendous.

As I mentioned in the podcast, my intuition tells me that by proclaiming this to be a victory, we are giving egg consumers our blessing to consume more and more eggs, in the comfort that they are doing so whilst the laying hens are treated in the lap of luxury.

I agree with Tim above, and Bruce in the podcast though, there is no evidence whatsoever to say that my intuition is right, and there is probably more to support Bruce's opinion.

There's a lot more to this HSUS/UEP alliance than most people are aware of, and I find this agreement to be historic for very different reasons than the HSUS do.

Lucas said...

Hi Tim,

I'm sure you are aware that there are many vegans who do not resort to promoting alternative methods of exploitation and also do not rely on information transfer alone (I'm assuming you are referring to relying solely on moral arguments). A big part of vegan activism, aside from education, is developing and promoting alternatives to exploitation, such as food and clothing alternatives to ease our reliance on animal use and in turn make veganism more accessible and practical, with the goal of eventually causing uses of other animals to become obsolete. In this respect veganism, still in it's early stages, has come a very, very long way in the mere 67 years it's existed, far too far to be considered ineffective. Plus there are many vegans working on dismantling the system that allows exploitation of other animals to take place. For example, aside from just "meta-campaigning" by just being vegan, some vegans are working on food justice issues (in turn making vegan food more accessible) while others are working on tackling USDA farm subsidies that allow animal products to be produced at "cheap cost" and allow them to be so affordable and accessible, while plant foods receive little to no assistance. Some vegans are even working on veganizing the standard American diet.

I see no reason to help industry function by promoting "extraordinarily bad" conditions, welfare reforms, (which actually ensure that exploitation continues well into the future by helping facilitate it by designing the methods of doing so) when there are so many vegan based approaches to ending the use of other animals that have yet to be tried by a large, unified movement and are, in my opinion, undermined by campaigning for and promoting animal welfare (the "lighter" use of animals).

In these debates about the effectiveness of animal welfare I find Francione's work to be useful. It convincingly shows that animal welfare does not and cannot lead to abolition of the exploitation of other animals, or even a reduced consumption, and that it cannot be shown that animal welfare reforms significantly reduce suffering (a pure abstraction) if at all. If anything, animal welfare has been shown to further entrench other animal in their exploitation.

As for the UEP implicitly admitting that the lives of chickens matter, so what? Mcdonalds, KFC, Whole Foods, etc. all claim that the lives of the animals whose exploitation they profit off of matter, usually explicitly. Hell, even Chipoltle is openly in favor of "animal rights". Clearly this is intended to have the effect of making customers feel better about their choices to consume their products and I'm not at all convinced that this leads folks to stop using other animals. It's great PR however, especially on the cheap. One can only imagine how impressed the late Edward Bernays would be.

timgier said...

Hi Lucas,

I am reasonably familiar with most of Francione's arguments and find them unconvincing so I pretty much reject everything you've said about welfare reforms and their effect on the exploitation of other animals. In any case, I appreciate what you've said about vegan activism and I agree with you about it. My comment was not, as you seem to think, about the effectiveness of veganism itself (I don't know what that means) but about the ineffectiveness of what you correctly identified as the "moral argument."

I'mLookingThruYou said...

I wish that I typed fast enough to detail how full of it this guy is. HSUS sold out the birds, and he is happy to clean up after them. He is too intelligent to be spinning out of ignorance, so it must be calculated. Almost every response is a spin. At least he admitted some shenanigans with the pictures in that red-herring debate about incrementalism vs abolitionism, there were other tricks in that debate, too. Maybe next interview he'll admit that he b.s.'d in this one. If we just keep up with him, we'll eventually know what he really thinks. I guess it is not surprising that someone who claims friendship with the dog and cat killer in Norfolk is not someone whose judgement is to be sought..

Lucas said...

Jerry Friedman said...

Why would the nonhuman-animal-killing industries accept "welfarism" unless they thought it was profitable? If it's profitable, how can it be good for nonhumans? The campaigns we pursue should be the ones that scare the industries, not the ones the industries co-opt.

timgier said...

Unless it can be shown that so-called welfare reforms either actually cause an increase in the wrongs committed against other animals or cause a decrease in the number of people who are or would become vegan, then there can be no principled objection against such reforms. Neither of those two things can be shown. The "welfare vs. abolition" debate is a waste of time.

Lucas said...

Different philosophies, different strategies, different end goals - I disagree that debating these things is a waste of time

How many billions of sentient individuals will be wronged in the future because "animal advocates" partner with industry to help facilitate the breeding, confining, raping, mutilating, torturing, and killing of them? Is not every animal brought in to that system being wronged and therefore "an increase in wrongs"? "Welfare reforms", such as the one mentioned here in this podcast, guarantee an increase in wrongs to other animals by not challenging the legitimacy of animal exploitation and killing for unnecessary human puposes (wrongs) in the first place, and instead actively help perpetuate them.

Nonetheless, this UEP partnership is nothing but scandalous, as one can see in the post I linked to above. Read the section titled, "Egg Products Inspection Act Ammendments of 2012".

Lucas said...

"Different philosophies, different strategies, different end goals - I disagree that debating these things is a waste of time"

I should also add "different allocation of resources" to that list.

timgier said...

I won't waste my time debating that which is a waste of time to debate.

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