AR-FAQ - #87

#87 What are the forms of animal rights activism?

Let us first adopt a broad definition of activism as the process of acting in support of a cause, as opposed to privately lamenting and bemoaning the current state of affairs. Given that, AR activism spans a broad spectrum, with relatively simple and innocuous actions at one end, and difficult and politico-legally charged actions at the other. Each individual must make a personal decision about where to reside on the spectrum. For some, forceful or unlawful action is a moral imperative; others may condemn it, or it may be impractical (for example, a lawyer may serve animals better through the legislative process than by going on raids and possibly getting disbarred). Following is a brief sampling of AR activism, beginning at the low end of the spectrum. The spectrum of action can be divided conveniently into four zones: personal actions, proselytizing, organizing, and civil disobedience. Consider first personal actions. Here are some of the personal actions you can take in support of AR:

  • Learning -- Educate yourself about the issues involved. Vegetarianism and Veganism -- Become one. Cruelty-Free Shopping -- Avoid products involve testing on animals. Cruelty-Free Fashion -- Avoid leather and fur. Investing with Conscience -- Avoid companies that exploit animals. Animal-Friendly Habits -- Avoid pesticides, detergents, etc. The Golden Rule -- Apply it to all creatures and live by it.
  • Proselytizing is the process of "spreading the word". Here are some of the ways that it can be done:
  • Tell your family and friends about your beliefs. Write letters to lawmakers, newspapers, magazines, etc. Write books and articles. Create documentary films and videos. Perform leafletting and "tabling". Give lectures at schools and other organizations. Speak at stockholders' meetings. Join Animal Review Committees that oversee research on animals. Picket, boycott, demonstrate, and protest.

Organizing is a form of meta-proselytizing--helping others to spread the word. Here are some of the ways to do it:

  • Join an AR-related organization.
  • Contribute time and money to an AR-related organization.
  • Found an AR organization.
  • Get involved in politics or law and act directly for AR.

The last category of action, civil disobedience, is the most contentious and the remaining questions in this section deal further with it. Some draw the line here; others do not. It is a personal decision. Here are some of the methods used to more forcefully assert the rights of animals:

  • Sit-ins and occupations.
  • Obstruction and harassment of people in their animal-exploitation activities (e.g., foxhunt sabotage). The idea is to make it more difficult and/or embarrassing for people to continue these activities.
  • Spying and infiltration of animal-exploitation industries and organizations. The information and evidence gathered can be a powerful weapon for AR activists.
  • Destruction of property related to exploitation and abuse of animals (laboratory equipment, meat and clothes in stores, etc.). The idea is to make it more costly and less profitable for these animal industries.
  • Sabotage of the animal-exploitation industries (e.g., destruction of vehicles and buildings). The idea is to make the activities impossible.
  • Raids on premises associated with animal exploitation (to gather evidence, to sabotage, to liberate animals).

It can be seen from the foregoing material that AR activism spans a wide range of activities that includes both actions that would be conventionally regarded as law-abiding and non-threatening, and actions that are unlawful and threatening to the animal-exploitation industries. Most AR activism falls into the former category and, indeed, one can support these actions while condemning the latter category of actions. People who are thinking, with some trepidation, of going for the first time to a meeting of an AR group need have no fear of finding themselves involved with extremists, or of being coerced into extreme activism. They would find a group of exceedingly law-abiding computer programmers, teachers, artists, etc. (The extreme activists are essentially unorganized and cannot afford to meet in public groups due to the unwelcome attention of law-enforcement agencies.) DG

One person can make all the difference in the world...For the first time in recorded human history, we have the fate of the whole planet in our hands. Chrissie Hynde (musician)

This is the true joy in life; being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, and being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod. George Bernard Shaw (playwright, Nobel 1925)

Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life. Norman Cousins (author)

SEE ALSO: #05, #88-#93, #95