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Posts Tagged ‘Animal Rights Movement’

Growl’s Foreword by Brian May

May 11th, 2014 3 comments
Brian May

Brian May

It’s my great honour that Brian May has very kindly written the Foreword to Growl. In the last few years, Brian has spoken out against the present UK government’s threat to repeal the Hunting Act and bring back fox, stag, and deer hunting as well as the government’s policy to kill badgers allegedly to halt the spread of TB among cows raised for their milk. He established the Save Me campaign, named after his song, to champion all, but predominantly British, wildlife.

Around the world he is, of course, known and beloved as a founding member of Queen and a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, producer, and performer. He’s also a Doctor of Astrophysics and an authority in 3D stereoscopic photography. Officially, he is known as Dr Brian May, CBE, PhD FRAS; but to Britain’s wildlife, he’s known as our friend Brian.

Growl‘s Foreword by Brian May

I was honoured to be asked to write a foreword for Kim Stallwood’s definitive book about the journey of men and women towards decency. Did I say ‘definitive’? Yes, I believe this book is important enough to be essential reading for anyone who has begun to listen to what their conscience says, as regards how we, as humans, behave towards the other beings on Earth, whether human or nonhuman.

There is, in human evolution, a time for ideas to germinate and become powerful social movements for change. It is highly significant that Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, in a foreword he wrote for The Global Guide to Animal Protection,

I have seen first-hand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.

This, from Tutu, a man who spent most of his life fighting against injustice to blacks, women, and gays, is a signal that our sensibilities are growing up. It is a call to us all to stand up for what most of us believe is right, on a larger stage than ever before.

The fact that you are reading this foreword is probably an indication that you are already in that group of humans who feel profoundly uncomfortable with vast areas of our everyday treatment of animals, and would like to make a change. I count myself in that group. Yet, for most of our lives, busy and ambitious as we are, and concerned with providing for a growing family, we turn a blind eye to that inner dissatisfaction. How can we turn ourselves into an instrument for change towards decency in human behaviour?

Kim Stallwood’s fascinating account of his ongoing journey towards this goal is the best answer to this question I have ever seen. Although Kim is modest and self-critical, his life has already inspired many of us in our quest to give animals a voice. In this book, he chronicles his own passion as he makes a journey that is both real and symbolic, towards true decency. The only good parallel I can think of for his often painful honesty and sharp perception is John Bunyan in his Pilgrim’s Progress. This book explodes many myths and bubbles; it levels all the high ground that many have believed they stood on, and plainly beckons us in humility and simplicity to a better way of thinking, in which we cause no unnecessary pain to any creature. Better than this, it opens the door to a world based on compassion, our greatest hope for us and our children, and our children’s children.

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World Day for Laboratory Animals 1984

April 23rd, 2014 No comments
In London's Trafalgar Square on World Day for Laboratory Animals in 1984.

In London’s Trafalgar Square on World Day for Laboratory Animals in 1984.

Thirty years ago in London’s Trafalgar Square, I was the lead organiser of a national demonstration to recognise World Day for Laboratory Animals, when I was Campaigns Officer at the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

The protest was at that point in time the world’s largest animal rights demonstration with nine thousand people, with the greatest number ever involved–six hundred–in street theatre.

Under BUAV’s hallmark slogan of ‘Every Six Seconds an Animal Dies in a British Laboratory’, we constructed a large doorway, which was painted to represent an entrance to a vivisection laboratory. We dressed a couple of people as vivisectors, with bloodstained white coats, and stationed them by the doorway. From the plinth at the Square, we announced that for the ninety minutes of speeches and music a tape loop would play the sound of a bell chiming every six seconds. Each time the bell rang, large numbers were turned on the stage to count to six hundred while one of the vivisectors took a protester through the door, ‘killed’ them in front of the plinth, and laid them on the ground as dead animals. Eventually, the area was filled with 600 ‘dead animals’.

At the 1984 World Day for Laboratory Animals demonstration in London's Trafalgar Square, I help Sue Croshaw speak out as a disabled person against animal experimentation by holding the microphone stand.

At the 1984 World Day for Laboratory Animals demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square, I help Sue Croshaw speak out as a disabled person against animal experimentation by holding the microphone stand.

This protest was part of a coalition, the Mobilisation of Animals, which opposed the government’s proposed legislation to replace the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. The coalition consisted of Animal Aid, Scottish Anti-Vivisection Society, National Anti-Vivisection Society, and BUAV. We opposed the proposed law because it wouldn’t even ban particularly egregious examples of animal experimentation—such as using animals for testing the negative effects of tobacco and alcohol, and the toxicity of cosmetics, as well as employing animals in research for military and psychological purposes. These experiments had been the focus of the 1979 and 1983 General Election Coordinating Committee for Animal Protection campaigns I helped to lead. We organised a lobby of Parliament, which was attended by seven hundred people, and a rally, emceed by myself, with sympathetic Members of Parliament of all political parties, and others.

Although the government ignored our demands on the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, I believe BUAV and its companion organisations succeeded in highlighting what needed to be done when the new legislation was enforced. For example, the U.K. government subsequently banned the testing of cosmetics on animals in 1997 and the LD50 oral toxicity test in 2001. In 2003, the European Union agreed to a membership-wide ban on cosmetics animal testing by 2013.

The Talon Conspiracy, an online archive preserving the history of protest movements for animal rights and environmentalism, offers an opportunity to read back copies of BUAV’s ‘campaigning newspaper,’ The Liberator, which I co-edited. Here’s the link to the issue which included a report on the Trafalgar Square demonstration.

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Henry Salt Died April 19, 1939

April 22nd, 2014 No comments
Henry Salt 1851-1939

Henry Salt 1851-1939

It’s important to remember the passing of Henry Salt in Brighton, England on April 19, 1939. He lived an extraordinary life championing social justice that had at its heart animal rights. He wrote his own eulogy, which was read out at his funeral,

When I say I shall die, as I have lived, rationalist, socialist, pacifist, and humanitarian, I must make my meaning clear. I wholly disbelieve in the present established religion; but I have a very firm religious faith of my own—a Creed of Kinship I call it—a belief that in years yet to come there will be a recognition of brotherhood between man and man, nation and nation, human and subhuman, which will transform a state of semi-savagery, as we have it, into one of civilisation, when there will be no such barbarity of warfare, or the robbery of the poor by the rich, or the ill-usage of the lower animals by mankind.

I’ve written here about Salt on previous occasions (here and here and here) but a wonderful resource about Salt and all things related is here.

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Radio Interview with Caryn Hartglass

April 14th, 2014 No comments

REALPlease listen to my radio interview with Caryn Hartglass of the NYC-based Responsible Eating and Living.

We discussed many issues, including being vegan and my forthcoming book, Growl, as well as reminiscing about an infamous protest at an animal rights conference some years ago!

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Best Animal Rights Books 2013

January 7th, 2014 1 comment

There were many fine books about animal rights and related matters published in 2013. So many, in fact, that I’ve had to devise two lists: my five favourites and four noble mentions. So, let’s deal with the latter group first. I’m cheating a bit with the noble mentions. I’m reading them or they’re on my to read pile tottering by my side of the bed.

The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights by Stephen F. Eisenman (Reaktion Books)

The impact of art on animal rights fascinates me. Just started this book and can’t wait to read his study of my favourite living artist Sue Coe.

Animal Oppression and Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism, and Global Conflict by David Nibert (Columbia University Press)

This progressive perspective is refreshing in the era of blandness. It will be like a breath of fresh air albeit a strong wind that will knock my thinking sideways—no bad thing.

Defiant Daughters: 21 Women on Art, Activism, Animals, and The Sexual Politics of Meat edited by Kara Davis, Wendy Lee, with a Foreword by Carol J. Adams (Lantern Books)

Carol J. Adams and her books have earned themselves a place in my life in which they have significantly shaped my thinking. Discovering her impact on the lives of others will be interesting.

Entertaining Elephants: Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus by Susan Nance (Johns Hopkins University Press)

One unfinished project is to write a contemplation about the life of Topsy, the elephant electrocuted to death in Coney Island, NY in 1903. Susan Nance’s book is part of my research.

Onto my top five animal rights books of 2013.

Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police by Paul Lewis and Rob Evans (Faber & Faber)

During the 1980s when I organised the campaigns of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and U.K. animal rights movement came into its own with many actions of different kinds, I suspected there were undercover police, agents provocateurs, and corporate spies in our midst but never had the evidence to prove it. At the end of one national demonstration I organised which attracted thousands of protestors, I went to the local police station to check on some activists who had been arrested, and witnessed demonstrators emerge as on-duty police officers as they walked past me standing at the counter, started chatting with their colleagues in uniform, and take off badges from their coats and drop placards onto the floor. Researched and written by two Guardian journalists, Undercover documents Britain’s secret police forces and how they infiltrate and influence not only legitimate social movements like ours but also act morally reprehensibly by initiating long-standing, intimate relationship with activists, including fathering children. Every activist has to read this book and understand that much worse goes on around and among us.

Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering by Mark Hawthorne (Changemakers Books)

Mark Hawthorne is a writer of integrity. If he says it, you can trust it. This is why Bleating Hearts is so important and deserves a place on every animal activist’s bookshelf. It’s encyclopaedic in its summary description of all the different ways in which we treat animals. An important resource.

A Theory of Justice for Animals: Animal Rights in a Nonideal World by Robert Garner (Oxford University Press)

Living in an imperfect world, how do we go from moral rights to legal rights for animals? This is the question that Robert Garner, professor of politics at the University of Leicester, seeks to answer. Not everyone will agree with his conclusions and that, I think, doesn’t matter, as we have to have this debate. For example, he writes: “[i]t is my contention that moral obligations regarded as being outside of the sphere of justice collapse, in practice, into the realm of charity and voluntarism precisely because there is a much weaker link with legal compulsion.” (8) (emphasis in original)

This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology by Will Anderson (Earth Books)

The big picture view of animal rights and veganism and their relationship to environmental protection are the issues explored by Will Anderson, a long-standing social justice campaigner. There is so much to learn from this well-researched book. One of its special attributes that I appreciate is that it presents the problem as well as the solution.

Polar Bear in the Zoo: A Speculation by Martin Rowe (Lantern Books)

Martin Rowe, who is my editor at Lantern Books, is such a thoughtful and provocative writer that I would want to read anything he writes. I read The Polar Bear in the Zoo as an ebook but its richness deserves another read in the flesh, as it were, as a paperback. Prompted by the evocative photography of Jo-Anne McArthur and one in particular of a polar bear in a zoo, Martin Rowe embarks on a journey of contemplation and questioning as to what it means to care and act for animals as well as the relationship between us. “Do we open our eyes and stare or do we look away?” he asks.

Changing the Game: Why the Battle for Animal Liberation Is So Hard and How We Can Win It by Norm Phelps (Lantern Books — ebook only)

This book deserves a wider readership than I fear it has received so far. With precision and insight, Norm Phelps takes a cold hard look at the animal rights movement and our strategies and tactics. His analysis is always insightful and, when necessary, challenging. This is one of those rare books about animal rights strategy that reaches beyond cliches and stereotypes. It breathes wisdom into the discussion that preoccupies activists of all sorts. He concludes with a seven point program to change the game of animal rights advocacy. “And because neither animal rights nor human rights can be achieved alone,” he writes, “we need to set about building a universal rights movement that will win both together.”

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IARC 2013

September 15th, 2013 No comments
The IARC 2013 was held at the Kulturfabrik that was originally a slaughterhouse. Here, we look up at the ceiling to see the large hooks that moved the carcasses along the production line.

The IARC 2013 was held at the Kulturfabrik that was originally a slaughterhouse. Here, we look up at the ceiling to see the large hooks that moved the carcasses along the production line.

The International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg is an impressive event. It attracts animal advocates from across the world and produces an impressive program of speakers. It is also well organised and comprehensive and welcoming. Generally, the attendees are younger activists. They are thoughtful and passionate.

The conference is held at the Centre Culturel Kulturfabrik Esch which was formally a slaughterhouse and is now an arts complex with a restaurant, galleries, offices, and studios. I was not aware of this until I arrived and it was pointed out to me. So, attending the conference becomes a bizarre but creepy positive experience in that animal rights was being discussed inside an old slaughterhouse.

I was honoured with making the opening plenary presentation. I decided to present the paper I had written for the academic journal, Relations. This is because the paper, ‘Animal rights: Moral crusade or political movement?’, summarised my critique of the animal rights movement. Other presenters also addressed related issues about the movement’s ideology and strategy.

The conference organisers have opened a page in YouTube where it is possible to watch many if not all of the presentations made. These recordings are a valuable resource into the different views and perspectives made about animal rights and its ideology and strategy.

You can watch my presentation here. Please share with me your thoughts and comments on my thesis that the animal rights movement should be less like a moral crusade and more like a political movement. Thank you!

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Interview with On Human-Nonhuman Relations Podcast

July 12th, 2013 No comments

Sociologist Roger Yates, who I’m proud to say is a respected animal rights colleague I’ve known since the 1980s, recently recorded an interview with me for his podcast, On Human-Nonhuman Relations. Here’s Roger’s introduction

My special guest for podcast 31 is long-time animal advocate, Kim Stallwood, who has been vegan since 1976 – his journey to veganism began with a summer job in a chicken slaughterhouse. Kim Stallwood and I first met in the early 1980s when he was a central figure of the radicalisation of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV). Kim quickly transformed the BUAV’s magazine from its rather weak and washy format, “Animal Welfare” to “The Liberator,” regularly reporting on the activities of the Animal Liberation Front and the various Animal Liberation Leagues. In the podcast, Kim provides a brief summary of the origins of political campaigning in Britain, greatly influenced by Lord Houghton, and expounds his view that political campaigning in the 21st century is increasingly important if the animal movement is to achieve it’s goals. I have never been keen on political campaigning, preferring vegan education initiative in civil society and on the cultural level. As you’ll hear, our conversation gets a little heated at times – but respectfully so! Kim Stallwood is appearing at the 2013 Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg, and he has outlined his case for political engagement in a 2012 Critical Perspectives on Animal In Society conference.

Roger and I share many views but we don’t agree on everything. Our differences become apparent as our conversation develops. Even though we do disagree on some, we discuss our differences with passion and humour.

Listen here to the podcast, Growling with Kim Stallwood.

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Elephants, Politics & Animal Rights

July 9th, 2013 No comments

What do these three things have in common?

They all relate to new projects I’m currently working on and want to bring you up to date with.

First, my colleague at the Animals and Society Institute, Bee Friedlander, challenges us in the ASI Diary to find the “S” in the Animal Movement which exists in other social movements in the USA: Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall. In doing so, she explores the common ground among social movements, including animal rights. Bee refers to my paper, “Animal Rights: Moral Crusade or Social Movement?,” which emphasises, as she puts it, going “from philosophical to political, from theory to practice, as the underpinning of the movement.”

Second, in my new paper, “The Politics of Animal Rights Advocacy,” I investigate further the challenges the animal rights movement faces in embedding the values of animal ethics in mainstream politics. The paper is available to read in the journal, Relations–Beyond Anthropocentrism (Vol 1, No 1).

Finally, I am honored to have been invited by the Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests, to present a paper at the First International Elephant Congress in Delhi in November. The focus of my paper will be about Topsy, the elephant Thomas Edison electrocuted in 1903.

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News About My Work

June 27th, 2013 No comments

Approaching the midway point of the year provokes reflection on the current status of my work for animal rights.

GREY2K USA joins my roster of client organisations. I am honoured to be assisting them with their successful efforts to “pass stronger greyhound protection laws and end the cruelty of dog racing on both national and international levels.”

Also, I am pleased to announce that my responsibility has expanded as Editor of A Compassionate World, the blog of Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion In World Farming. I am now also the blog’s Project Manager and will be working with Compassion’s talented staff to improve and expand A Compassionate World.

My book, GROWL. Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate, is scheduled for publication by Lantern Books in October. Look out for changes here that will feature GROWL!

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NCSU Libraries Recognises My Animal Rights Work

June 4th, 2013 No comments

I received recently a much appreciated letter from Greg Raschke, Associate Director for Collections and Scholarly Communication at NSCU Libraries, recognising my work in support of the Tom Regan Animal Rights Archive at North Carolina State University.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you personally for all of the hard work you have put forth towards helping us build the Tom Regan Animal Rights Archive here at the North Carolina State University Libraries. As you know, the animal rights archive at NCSU is one of the best venues for scholars and activists to conduct research on the history and development of the animal rights movement. We hope to continue growing the collection and to encourage even more frequent use of the materials.

Your pivotal role in helping NCSU obtain the records of the Animal Rights Network was a key part in generating the momentum we needed as we sought to expand our animal rights collections. We are equally grateful that you have brought other collections to our attention, such as the Animal Rights/Animal Welfare Pamphlet Collection that we recently acquired. In April we released a press release announcing this acquisition and soon thereafter received a larger number of inquiries from researchers wanting to access the materials. No successful archive is built in isolation, and we are grateful for the collaboration of leading scholars such as Dr. Regan and leaders in the field such as you. Your contributions in connecting us with materials for purchase that are appropriate for the archive are most appreciated. We would like to build on these successes as we continue to grow the Tom Regan Animal Rights Archive.

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