Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Terrible Move All Around

Those of us who feel impassioned about animal rights should condemn - in no uncertain terms - the actions of the overzealous animal rights activist who threw a pie in the face of Canadian Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea yesterday in Burlington Ontario. The act was apparently a protest against the seal hunt in Canada. A lot of good it did!

This sort of thuggish behaviour is unacceptable. It hurts our cause for two reasons:

# 1 - The most important reason: This movement - our movement - is about celebrating all life, and when someone throws a pie in the face of someone else, that kind of act of desperation and bullying requires that the pie thrower dehumanize the victim. Animal rights activists are not in the business of dehumanizing or bullying others or making them feel bad. We're in the business of reminding people - over and over again - that animals are not ours to abuse and exploit. Animals have dignity. A cornerstone of our movement ought to be nonviolence. We're trying to show people that there is a different, more humane way of living. What a contradiction, then, for a movement that stands for dignity and an end to the exploitation and mass murder of animals to resort to such a thuggish act as pie throwing.

# 2 - The second most important reason: An act like this one steers public attention away from the most important issue, and that is the violence that human beings engage in - on a massive and systematic and daily basis - against our fellow animals. The woman who tossed the pie, Emily McCoy, did a real disservice to the animal rights movement because now people are focused on what she did, not on the brutality of the seal hunt, which should have been banned long ago. Now a Liberal MP in Canada wants to investigate whether this pie-throwing incident was an act of terrorism. The real terrorism that the Canadian government should be investigating is the violent slaughter of seals, which is part and parcel of a larger human effort to exterminate large numbers of animals in what amounts to an unjustified and immoral mass murder. Thanks to McCoy, rather than focusing on seals, people are focusing on pie throwing. That kind of activism is counterproductive.

Years ago, a local activist named Julian Ichim threw chocolate milk on Conservative Canadian politician Stockwell Day. Do you think anybody sympathized with Ichim or paid attention to the causes he claimed to be championing when he lowered himself to such a juvenile and creepy level? No. It was a completely ineffectual act that set back whatever cause or causes that drove him to do it by several years. The same could be said of the pie-tossing incident yesterday.

The animal rights movement does not need that kind of "help."

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