Hello and welcome to another episode of Coexisting With Nonhuman Animals.
I always like to start off by saying hello to people who well, said hello to me.
First of all
Mitch Bennett, who is a photographer, you can find his work at earthlightandcolor.com, thats color spelt the
American way, C O L O R, absolutely no U involved.
Mitch mentioned why he decided to promote Veganism.
"...after having signed and forwarded literally thousands of animal
rights , environmental and social response emails to various and
sundry private and government addresses from 1999-2006 I stopped.
Then I became abolitionist. I realized that, although it won't fix
everything, nothing will be fixed (with any real assurances) without
veganism. That's when I started putting all that "incomplete" effort
Mitch has also linked to my blog which I really appreciate.
Second I have Anouk, who lives in, forgive me, Sarasota, Florida in the USA.
She mentions meeting another New Zealand Vegan, Nichola Jones in New York, and enjoying the New Zealand accent.
I'd like to say hello to Gordon, who often posts nice comments on my blog. Gordon, I'd like to know who you are, and where you live in the world. Please email me, email@example.com
Patrick Thomas from Pittsburgh, Pensylvania in the United States also sent me an email. Patrick mentioned listening to my show, as well as every other podcast I mentioned! I normally suggest NZ Vegan Podcast and Sam's Food For Thought show, being from New Zealand. I really like promoting New Zealand as some kind of Vegan utopia, I really want to boast of having the highest number of vegans per capita, shouldn't be hard with only four million people in this entire country. If anyone has any knowledge of Vegan-ising chemicals to drop in municipal water supplies, let me know, j a y w o n t d a r t @gmail.com . Until then, our podcasts will have to do.
I also mentioned Veganacious, and hopefully there will be other Abolitionist shows to promote soon!
Patrick mentioned listening while at work, I know that I listen to every Animal Rights show I can gather into my iPod, it makes my own menial job pleasurable.
Its great that people like myself and Patrick listen to every show, its not like television where every show on every channel competes, there are no scheduled air times, the more shows promoting Veganism, the better.
Its great to think that theres this Vegan community, all throughout the world.
I'd like to talk about the effectiveness of violent videos. I'm sure most people listening have heard about, or seen the video of Dairy cows being abused in Ohio. These animals are shown being stabbed and hit by farmers. The group behind the video, Mercy For Animals mention visiting their website at the end of the video, a typical PR move on these gruesome videos. I really don't understand why they wont just say "Veganism is the only way to treat animals with the respect they deserve". If you do see the video, and remember to visit the groups website, you will get a message that mentions Veganism. Quote "Compassionate consumers can end their direct financial support of farmed animal abuse by rejecting dairy, and other animal products, and adopting a vegan diet." Well, thats a lot better that what most Animal Welfare groups would do, although you shouldn't need to visit a website to find out about Veganism. It should be part of the video itself. I would assume most people who see the video will NOT visit the groups website, and will not consider Veganism.
Tim had a very useful blog post about the video, On The Turning Away - Violence on Video. Tim mentions how most people who see the video will believe that what is shown was not typical, and that their animal products come from a "humane" farm.
Perhaps I am alone on this issue, but I do believe that shockingly violent footage can be useful to promote Veganism. I don't mean holding up large colour photos of butchered animals, and chanting "meat is murder, meat is murder", which is just annoying or offensive. Instead, I think its important for people to see, to KNOW what actually happens to animals, when you peel away the "Happy Meat" marketing. I would never start off any talk about Veganism by offering to show gory videos, but I do ask people "do you know what actually happens to animals?". I find most people who are not vegan have very little interest in learning more, they know enough that they don't want to know more. So, that would make violent videos a very bad starting point for any serious conversation about Animal Rights. But for me, seeing violent videos, and by that I mean the mundane run of the mill slaughter of animals, that was what got through to me personally, this was the truth, the business end of Animal Agriculture. No matter what justifications I might have come up with about larger cages, seeing how young, healthy animals are killed, was the final straw. I don't think its justifiable.
Now, I realise that most of my Vegan friends refuse to watch any more videos, after seeing Earthlings, they really dont want to see any more. I am different in that way, I think I've watched seemingly every video on the internet about Animal Agriculture. I think its important that I understand what I'm talking about, what really happens. It doesn't seem to affect me, I can see the colorful pixels on my iMac or iPad, and I know that theres nothing I could do to help those poor animals. I could never actually visit a slaughterhouse though. To just stand by and watch it really happen, to have the blood splash onto my shoes would just be unbearable. I could never stand by and film such horrific acts as slaughter, or quote "Artificial Insemination" of dairy cows, or the debeaking of chickens. But I understand some people can, and why they do it. I really don't want to see it for myself, in person, but I feel I must know what really happens.
I am not an educated person, I am "lower working class", a "prole" or some other label I havnt learnt, not having attended University. My family have been farmers, my family have been slaughtermen. My own father worked for a decade at The Freezing Works, a slaughterhouse. My mother, who I am very distant to, works with seniors, she takes them to the bathroom, as Americans might say, she showers them, cleaning up their messes. I know what its like to quote "get your hands dirty", and many of my friends from school grew up to get a job in the "Real World", as farmers or Slaughtermen or Slaughterwomen.
New Zealand is heavily invested in Animal Agriculture, farming, its what we do. Almost all our exports are to do with Animal Products. Southland, where I live, is a rural area, known for dairy farming, hunting, Duckshooting and seafood.
I do feel that violent videos can be informative, although they certainly should never stand on their own, nor should they be forced upon people who refuse to watch. I care and love a family of Chickens, and I know how most people feel about them, they might like to pat my little Chicken Friends, but then they will go home and eat quote "Chicken", as if its something different than my Mr Rooster or Ms Hen Friend. From watching violent videos, I know very well that it is in fact NOT a "Mr Rooster", because he would be killed on day one, by being thrown in a blender. I've seen the videos of debeaked chicks, and I know they are no different than the chicks Ms Hen cared for, they look EXACTLY the same to my eyes.
I don't see Animal Rights as an academic exercise, like justifying Free Trade or alternatively Protectionism. I'm damn well fine with admitting its an emotional issue for me, my emotions tell me to be kind to other animals, because I respect and admire them. I've been challenged before online, essentially "what credentials do you have to tell Animal Welfare experts what to do?". I always have a straightforward and honest answer, Absolutely no credentials, I would disagree that I need a piece of paper, or a series of letters before or after my name to talk about why I care for animals. I think any small child could see that animals are friends, and should not be hurt.
I know I sound very immature, but I've always thought of animals as our friends. I call the Chickens in my backyard "Chicken Friends" simply because I wouldn't know how else to describe them honestly, I don't think of them as "pets" or quote "Companion Animals". They are simply my friends, I like them very much, and I show them respect.
I also tend to call other animals "Mr" or "Ms", I presume you've realized how I distinguish the terms, although I sometimes slip up and say "it". For example, I had the silly name "Ms Elephant" for a New Zealand circus Elephant, and as stupid as my name for her was, its better than what the circus called her, starting with J, ugh, I hate even saying it, Jumbo. She now lives at a zoo, from the looks of it, behind an electric fence, but she does look much healthier than when I saw her while protesting the circus. I joined the SAFE protest against circus animals, I wouldn't have asked for a larger trailer for her, or for larger pens for the other animals, but on this occasion, SAFE were asking for a ban on ALL circus animals. Of course, being an elephant and worth about a million dollars, apparently, Ms Elephant was the star in the SAFE campaign, nobody really mentioned the goats or dogs. Ms Elephant is meant to be sent to an Elephant Sanctuary overseas, to finally live with other elephants. Now I don't know how I feel about protesting circus animals, I think I'd generally be against single issue campaigns, and would prefer to promote Veganism. That way, all animals are helped, not just The Elephant.
You've had to hear me talking about my feelings for long enough. I have plenty of clips to play for this episode.
I think my overall theme for this episode is the line we've drawn between animals that are to be killed, and those which are special, for magical reasons, such as Whales or Dolphins, or because they are pets, like cats and dogs. Or, Rabbits.
I've looked after rabbits before, and surely, not to the same extent as Chickens of course, they are quite nice.
But in many parts of the world, apparently, its common to eat rabbits. I understand people in New Zealand shoot rabbits, because they see them as a pest, and perhaps they have "rabbit stew" afterwards. But the general idea of raising rabbits to eat them, is just…very weird for me.
I noticed a caller to the Medved show featuring Gary Francione mentioned Rabbits.
Rabbits featured in an early Michael Moore movie, "Roger And Me" as well as "Pets Or Meat: The Return To Flint".
We meet a woman who apparently sells rabbits, with a sign saying "Pets or Meat", you can either have a rabbit to love and care for, or as meat.
I'm going to play part of one of the clips, I think its from Roger And Me, I'm not sure. I wont include the rabbits death, by being beaten with a heavy pipe.
The woman is talking with Moore, and in the background we can see dogs, who appear to be whining, the production makes it seem as though the dogs know she is an evil woman for what she does to Rabbits.
She is holding an adorable looking rabbit, and patting him, a few times he struggles in her arms or apparently bites her, and she complains. I'll stop before she hurts the Rabbit.
I personally find it very hard to imagine wanting to eat any animal now I'm Vegan, I feel like I've been Vegan all my life, although in reality, I've only been a strict Vegan for about a year and a half now. But especially to kill an animal, to hurt an animal like a Rabbit, who I see as being very firmly in the "pet" category, it feels even more disgusting to me. I guess its just how you are brought up, you learn how to group animals.
I think thats the main barrier to Veganism, the perceptions we have about animals, that some are to be eaten or otherwise used, others are to be respected.
A big fuss was caused last week about "Hug A Ginga Day". For people who are unsure about the term, Ginga is a fairly recent term for a person with auburn hair, or "a Redhead". Ginga, I really think its an ugly sounding term, and its always very offensive in my mind. I suppose worldwide people with redhair are discriminated against, as if they are obviously different from the rest of society, I know what it was like here in New Zealand for my red-haired friends. I don't think girls were ever bullied in the same ways as red-haired boys, who seemed to be the butt of every joke. Even at high school, people in their teenage years would mock the "ginga". I remember making what I thought were well humored jokes, until one day I decided I didn't want to tease people with so called "red hair" anymore. I think its a very immature, and hurtful behavior. I apologized to anyone I remember teasing, no matter how lightly. I've always found red-haired women to be very attractive, something my friends make fun of me about. No matter what other people called "redheads", I decided I didn't want to be apart of it.
But apparently, its still very common in New Zealand to treat people differently, based on the colour of their skin, or hair. Hug a Ginga day, as it was named, is promoted by a radio station, The Edge. I grew out of their programming by the time I was in my mid teens, but the hosts are presumably in their late thirties.
One Christchurch father with brown hair in particular was very concerned about this "hug a ginga day". He had two red-haired boys, and he made an appearance on Close Up calling it discrimation. I would agree with him. One of the radio hosts, Dom also appeared, and he described the day as a sort of "amnesty period", as if its ok to tease people with red hair 364 days of the year, but today, you would make up for it by hugging them instead. Which, in my mind, is just another form of discrimination. All sorts of figures are thrown about, it seems every person in this entire country with red hair ends up being hugged at least 20 times on Hug A Ginga day, many are said to be hugged over a hundred times.
I'd like to play a few clips. I'd like to point out that the father against Hug A Ginga Day brought his two sons into the program, I think they were very nervous and they essentially say nothing, they froze up. This made their father look bad, but also Dom, the radio host who promotes Hug A Ginga Day. When little red haired children ask you to stop bullying them based on the colour of their skin, you really should stop. You shouldn't pretend to be shocked "oh, what, people make fun of you gingas? well, we never meant for that to happen!". Especially when they then are too nervous to say anything in return, while you yourself are a radio host, who gets paid to talk.
The radio host Dom managed to throw in a few terms, which I thought was really going for viewer laughs. He used the term "Ranga" which I only heard about recently, I've heard its common now, Ranga, as Orangutang. Also, to even use the term "gingerballs", I think thats highly inappropriate, its not a term I'd use around little redhead boys.
A poll was taken on the second appearance, and apparently over 30,000 New Zealanders had a txt message vote. At a whopping 75 cents, thats about 50 US cents I guess, the show would have taken in about $24,750, all for a stupid poll. Where would that money go? Well, TVNZ, a state owned television company really needs the money, but still, people wasted over 20,000 dollars, when they should have been able to vote on the shows website for free. $20,000, thats enough to buy William Paul 10 MacBook Pros. Unless they are like Peter Singer, demanding 10,000 each, perhaps that kind of money could bring a few overseas Vegans to New Zealand, for the Inaugural "New Zealand Abolitionist Vegan Day".
The end results were 61 percent thought Hug A Ginga Day was good fun, 39 % thought it was mean. Lets make that 60/40. I actually think that was a high turnout for the side against, it seems that people who speak out against this "hug a ginga day" are seen as being "PC", Politically Correct and trying to spoil everyone elses fun.
Of course, on the day itself there was coverage of an entire "ginga" family. Some of the family members joked about their hair colour, but the ultimate message was the children really hated this Hug A Ginga Day. It looks like they were truly bullied. Theres a section where one of the red haired boys is hugged in front of the rest of his class by a staff member, and you can just see how embarrassed he is.
Really, I think treating people differently based primarily on hair colour is just stupid. Even if many people are proud to call themselves "ginga", I don't think its a very nice word, I find it a hateful word, and I don't want to use it. I think the boys father did a terrible job when he starting talking about "the redhead tribe", and "these people" as if they are vastly different, but I do agree that we shouldn't have a day where we single out people based on their hair colour.
I think this is very similar to how we tend to see animals as being one of two things, Pets, or Meat. For whatever purpose, we've invent a reason to distinguish animals, some are to be respected, others are there to be used for our pleasure. The same with redheads, they are somehow "different". With both scenarios, it seems obvious to treat all equally, all animals are equal, although Chickens are more equal than the others, just as people are equal, regardless of hair or no hair, hair length, or hair colour.
And like promoting Veganism, you will be mocked as being whiny if you promote equality among the hair colours.
To really hammer my the message through, I have one last clip about some Otters at a Zoo.
I do find it sad that they are just going to replace the Otters, as if they are some product "yeah, this is the zoo, send over a couple S18K series J32's"
How can we allow these exotic Otters feelings of friendship, but deny those very same emotions to Cows, Chickens, Sheep, Goats, Pigs…who are all seen as just items of property. I've heard of people saying Chickens are incredibly stupid, that they have essentially no intelligence. Well, I just cant imagine believing that, my little friends in the backyard live together, they talk almost nonstop, they all have different roles and positions in the family unit, and I'm absolutely certain they love and care for each other. Some of my friends were very angry that I didn't stop them breeding, but I'm glad they did, and not only because of the musical peeping chicks make. Like Peaceful Prairie, I now break any eggs and leave them to be eaten by the chickens, they really enjoy eating Ms Hens eggs, which I find disgusting, but thats up to the chickens to decide. We initially were given three chickens, two female, and one male. The second hen died after becoming sick. I would hate to think what would have happened if Mr Rooster died and left Ms Hen all alone, I really do. She is almost completely dependent on him, he is the main bread winner, quite literally, he brings bread to the others, but they all love each other. I'm glad there are more than just two, in case any more are killed by cats.
I don't know how nonvegans would feel about my chickens, if they would disagree that they feel true love and caring for each other. I know I've spent a lot of time around them, and theres no doubt in my mind that they have emotions. If a mainstream news channel can run a story about one otter dying naturally, and the other then presumably dying out of grief, why can we not admit that other animals, Farm Animals, also have feelings?
I've said it before, and I know its very immature, but to me, animals are friends. I see Veganism as the only way of respecting all animals, as treating them as our friends.
Thank you for listening to a silly, emotional episode of Coexisting With Nonhuman Animals.
You can find the script for this episode, as well as downloads for every episode of Coexisting With Nonhuman Animals at coexisting with nonhuman animals . blogspot.com
If you want to contact me, even just to say you listened, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter, twitter.com/ j a y w o n t d a r t, I'd appreciate it.
Thank you for listening.
Tim Gier on Ohio Dairy video
"Roger And Me" Michael Moore
"Pets Or Meat: The Return To Flint" Michael Moore