NB: Links to Carnival entries are here
“What do strip mining and child sexual abuse have in common? Vivisection.”
That’s how I started my presentation on the “commonalities of oppression” panel at the recent AR2008 conference. I’ll post the whole talk next week as one of my two contributions to the blog “Carnival Against Vivisection” that I’ll be hosting here at SuperWeed. I’ll also be contributing a look at vivisection of chickens over at the new Eastern Shore Sanctuary blog.
Here’s what I want you to do: Blog about vivisection. Send me the link by 06 September and I’ll include and publicize your post in the roundup of entries.
I especially want you to do this if you’re an animal advocate who usually doesn’t think about vivisection. I especially want you to do this if you’re a proponent of veganism who usually focuses on food rather than animal-tested products. I especially want you to do this if you usually blog about environmental or social justice issues and haven’t written (or perhaps even thought) about the ways that spiritual and actual vivisection intersect with the problems on which you usually focus.
Why September 6th? As reported by Indymedia UK, “In solidarity with Sean Kirtley, who was imprisoned by the state for supposedly organising legal demonstrations against Sequani’s vivisection laboratories, activists will be making a stand for the animals with a march and rally against Sequani labs on September 6th in Ledbury, Herefordshire. ”
In Austria, the UK, and here in the USA, opponents of vivisection have been the targets of enhanced state repression — the subject of my next post — in recent years. At the same time, the mainstream animal advocacy movement seems to be swinging away from active struggle against vivisection and the mainstream anti-vivisection movement seems to be swinging away from animal rights. The anti-vivisection societies used to be at the national animal rights conferences — I don’t see them in the exhibit hall anymore. At AR2008 I heard one too many advocate of personal veganism as the path to animal liberation assert that farmed animals must be the focus of our activism because they represent the greatest number of exploited animals.
Now, I know all about that. I founded and run a sanctuary in the heart of a rural region where the local poultry industry kills and cuts up more than a million chickens every day. But we can’t afford to see activism as a zero-sum game in which attention to one problem detracts from another. What we all have to do is develop an integrated analysis in which we understand how all of the problems are linked and then find ways to show solidarity with those working on different issues (or by means of different tactics) while using not only utilitarian [bringing the greatest good to the greatest number] but also strategic [e.g., where can *I* do the greatest good, given my own resources and positioning? where are the best opportunities for decisive intervention right now? what needs doing that nobody else is doing? etc.] and compassionate [whose suffering is unbearably acute?] calculations in deciding how to spend one’s own limited supply of time.
At the GARC conference back in 2005, an activist I respect recalled the history of the US animal rights movement — in which initial focus on fur and vivisection often left out farmed animals — and wondered if we haven’t gone too far in the other direction, with the emphasis on farmed animals and on personal veganism perhaps driving out people who might have helped us to actually win the struggles against fur and cosmetics testing. We’ll never know what might have happened if different choices had been made in the past but, going forward, I’d like to see those who focus on farmed animal issues refrain from asserting that those are *the* issues on which we *all* should be working and those who focus on personal veganism to maybe be a bit more verbal about the aspects of veganism that don’t have to do with food (i.e., not only avoidance of animal-tested products but also avoidance of products produced by means that exploit human animals or despoil the habitats of nonhuman animals.)
There’s one more reason why I want to contribute something to the struggle against vivisection right now: The country vet came to my house last week for an extravaganza of examinations and vaccinations, in the course of which dog Madeline became very afraid. Soothing her so that the vet could draw blood, assuring her that this was to keep her healthy and only happens once a year, I suddenly flashed on all of the dogs in all of the vivisection labs who endure much worse procedures repeatedly, with nobody to comfort them, and for purposes that are decidedly not in their own best interest. I cannot adequately describe the mixture of empathy, nausea, and rage that surged through my veins.
Let’s do something for those dogs. To paraphrase my pal Livi: Ready… Set… Scribble!