Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nicole Sheth from Youth4Animals has requested that I post the group's website, which I am very happy to do: You would need to cut and paste the link.

These are exciting initiatives aimed at helping the helpless and will also, I think, serve a great role in educating youths about animals.

Bravo, Nicole!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Year for Saying "No" and a Brighter Future

I have had a challenging year. As readers may have noted, I have had my writing time radically reduced. As a result, I was not so free to blog. But the impact went way beyond that. I have had to turn down several invitations:
  1. an invited presentation to lawyers and others through the Ontario Bar Association on anti-cruelty legislation
  2. accompanying a few post-docs from Queen's University who invited me to come do a panel with them at the American Philosophical Association
  3. participating again in a Toronto lecture series known as the Animal Rights Academy, which I co-founded and named
  4. an invited book review for the journal, Society and Animals
  5. an invitation to be one of the main speakers at a conference at the University of Birmingham, England, on animal ethics and constructive ways forward
  6. On a related note, BBC Radio 4 contacted me to participate in a show, Agree to Disagree, in which case I would represent the anti-vivisectionist position (not that there is only one). The show is sophisticated and likes guests to explore areas of agreement as well as dissent. I actually wanted to do this, but they were wondering if I would be in London, England. It was not possible to do an audio only guest appearance. So time shortage did not dictate this lost opportunity. Just a lack of breezing through London! It was a special honour being asked to represent anti-vivisection, essentially, in the country where the movement was first started and sustained in earnest.
There may have been other things I had to nix.

However, I am pleased to report that there is a great change for the better, due to help from someone close to me who cares about the animals quite as much as I do. I am able once again to have significant time to write, and this help will be operative long-term indefinitely and in a secure manner. I cannot be grateful enough to this person. However, my lack of time to write has taught me more than ever about focusing. In short, I will not be blogging nearly as much as earlier. But I will be writing.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blog Stasis

I have been circumscribed by circumstances that have nothing directly to do with animal ethics or activism. Thus the details are not directly relevant to this blog and so are deliberatley omitted. I am well, but the fact is that I have an acute shortage of time to pursue writing activities at this juncture. It has nothing to do with discouragement by Francionists. That will never happen. Those who are not fanatically biased have expressed great appeciation for my blog, and those who are so prejudiced have done practically zero to refute its arguments. Sorry, but snide remarks just don't cut it. Unrefuted arguments have a certain cache in this world, and I am pleased with what I have been able to accomplish thus far. The other side though has suffered refutation after refutation - and never bounced back. I have not stopped writing by any means. But I am focusing more on writing for publication, aside from self-publishing in a blog that is. The blog is not dead, only in suspended animation, although I may drop some notes from time to time. And I anticipate a day when I can resume, but that will not likely be any time soon.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Denmark Claims Animal Rights Trumps Religious Freedom

The Danes have banned kosher and halal slaughter. The barbaric practice requires animals to be conscious while they are killed. As to be expected, Jews and Muslims have objected and denied there is any cruelty in slitting animals' throats while they are hanging upside down quite mindfully, often with flesh leaving the bone due to stress from the ankle shackle. When Minister of Agriculture and Food, Dan Jørgensen, was challenged, he replied: "animal rights comes before religion." Way to go, Minister Jørgensen! This is a huge increment forward which people of good sense will appreciate.

For more details, see article

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Demolishing the Absurd Myth of Complacency with 10% Support

The Francionists always rely on faulty arguments. You just wonder which ones they will come out with next. In his recent essay, "A Simple Question", Gary Francione reports:

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

And so Francione asks us all the following question:

Why is every animal advocate and every large animal organization not working to get to that 10% rather than promoting welfare reform, "compassionate" consumption, and "happy" exploitation?

So we are all supposed to rush out and follow Gary based on this "research finding"?

First of all, you have to wonder: what is the mental achitecture of the geniuses who came up with this this study's conclusions? The latter are falsifiable even by those who are not specialists in the field such as myself, so long as I give the matter a little thought using some commonplace facts that I happen to know.

In recent years I read that 33% of Americans are Christian fundamentalists. They are highly convinced of their positions and are unlikely to change. At least for the most part. According to this "study", all of Americans are destined to become Christian fundamentalist. That is utter tripe and nonsense. The researchers have not "proved" their findings. It is unsupported speculation that goes contrary to current, widely available data, probably on any number of fronts.

Take, for example, political parties. It used to be that a huge number of Canadians were Progressive Conservatives. Far more than 10%. They also won elections on a much greater electoral base. But they never become dominant. They went extinct, replaced by new conservative bodies. And many people would deny that conservatism is our evolutionary destiny. It would be foolhardy to assume that we all must become conservatives due to some false law posited by polytechnical researchers.

All of the other political positions have more than 10% following too, by people who probably will not change much in their lifetimes (surely those unshakeable of conservatism will number more than 10% of society, and will not vary from being conservative ever, thus fulfilling the "law" supposed here), and it would be senseless to be complacent that any of them are going to take over society based on this "finding" by this polytechnical institute.

Indeed, the liberals will have more than 10% of society too who are irrevocably of that persuasion. This means the research findings "prove" that society will eventually be all-conservative, and all-liberal. Really impressive findings! It is always impressive to do the impossible, such as an implicit self-contradiction, after all, isn't it? If we knew statistics as to how much of the population subscribes to certain philosophies, we could perhaps show that 10% are die-hards of one school. But determining who wins out in the end depends on real-world interrelationships at micro- and macro-levels, not polytechnical institute erroneous, statistical "laws". Probably again there is more than one school that can claim the "magical" staunch 10%. But you get the idea - that is, unless you are a rigid ideologist.

How about a more relevant example? Many years ago, I heard that 10% of British people are vegetarian. After the mad cow disease scare, based in tainted beef, I was told that number jumped up to 25%. But does this mean that animal rights is a shoe-in, and animal rights laws are soon to come, so we do not need to abolish factory farming? Complete nonsense.

Suppose we achieve 10% animal rights support. We cannot be complacent that the rest of society will "magically" follow due to some formula. It takes hard work and convincing appeals, not theories somehow "expressing themselves" in reality. Francione said even 20% is realistic to aim for. Eventually, yes. But even if achieved, animal rights laws are very far away. Look at how divided the United States was over slavery, with far more than 20% of the population actively favoring this misbegotten institution. It took a very long time for anti-racist laws to appear after slavery was abolished, 78 years in fact as I show in my paper, "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".

So the "finding" in question is useless to the anti-incrementalist cause. There is still a very long time to go before we get to animal rights laws, no matter how you slice it, or how you attempt to spin it. And we should be ashamed of ourselves if we do not abolish factory farming, one of the worst inventions ever - an atrocity in itself - long before animal rights laws shine from the books.

"A Simple Question", eh? Simple indeed.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Holocaust Memoirs by Maria Sztybel

Please read these excerpts that are a new part of the Holocaust Comparison Project. I received the translation of my Aunt Maria's diary a few months ago from her daughter, Lola Drach, who let us learn what was said in the original Polish.

This is not reading for enjoyment, but it is nevertheless important in my estimation.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Great Britain Bans Wild Animal Acts in Circuses

Significant incremental progress thanks to effective single-issue campaigning. Non-wild animals in circuses still need protection though. See article for more details.