AREAS OF ANIMAL ABUSE:
MS: "Back to your book.... okay, you make
your case for animal rights, then you deal with additional misconceptions about
animals rights/activists, and you do this quite concisely. Then you move on to
the four main areas of how animals are being abused that are unacceptable. There
are many interesting aspects to how you approached this, but I noticed you wrote
topically in the order of "Food, Fur, Entertainment, and Tools." Did
you choose this order for a particular reason?
I certainly did."
MS: "...the most acceptable to the least
and also somewhat of a body count [largest to smallest]. Obviously,
food is a big deal."
MS: "You cite some statistics I hadn't
seen yet: 70% of the hogs slaughtered have pneumonia, 40% of
TR: "...that's why the opposition to the "Downer
coming in that were "downers" were dairy cows."
MS: "Just amazing.... then you go into "animals as clothes" which
is a little less acceptable to some, but it seems to be getting
ground. The statistics on the number of animals it took to
make a coat floored
TR: "Well, that I got from "Friends
of Animals." They
did the arithmetic."
MS: "Sixty lambs to make one standard-sized
coat. That's one of the ones I remember. I think those kinds
can't tell you the number of ARAs who have said "Wow,
I didn't know this [expletive deleted] about Merino
MS: "...not only what happens to the
sheep physically in Australia, but then they're all shipped
Mideast for mutton...
and you describe how
TR: "..and of course, it's all "humane.""
MS: "Yup, I went to some related websites (following resource info
on your website and in the book)... I was shocked. They talk about "humane
not the first to be surprised. Animal Rights Advocates know where against
wool for some reason, but most don't know why."
MS: "...I had no problem understanding
about leather, but I thought wool was just a haircut."
MS: "...and what you describe about
minks is unbelievable."
as clothes," you move into "animals as performers." I've
noticed a growing awareness in the U.S., particularly with
elephants, that they don't belong
in zoos. We've seen elephants being taken out of zoos as
they clearly were not
In your book, you do a great job of describing the abnormal
behavior in psychological terms, and then again, there
are those wonderful
statistics. When you mention
that a dolphin in the wild swims 40 miles a day, and then
one thinks about
a dolphin in a tank at SeaWorld..."
you imagine that?"
MS: "...man... and then you cite
the range for lions was 150 square miles, and note that
miles in size. They
put these animals in these small spaces and they wonder
why there's problems."
TR: "Especially when you put the facts out there about home range
and elephants walking 50 miles a day [their home range can be over 1300 sq. miles],
dolphins swimming 40 miles a day, and then you say, "wait a minute, this
can't be where they belong, obviously." They have
to pay a really serious price in terms of the depth of
the deprivation, even though the
folks who come
forward they're all going to say the same thing, that they're
In some sense, in the case of dolphins and perhaps, it's
not like somebody's putting a torch to them or electrocuting
in the cases of performing animals in a circus we have
really good evidence that they are doing really terrible
MS: "You cover that so well. I remember
seeing some of Steve Hindi's (SHARK) footage of rodeos
at one of the AR conferences, and thought I'd seen it all.
you describe what really happens in "bucking." I
don't want to give it all away here... but you talk about
these macho cowboys roping, what you term
as "babies," these calves that are only 4 to
5 months old?"
TR: "That's right."
MS: "..and the phrase you use "roping babies," that's
really what they're doing!"
TR: "Here we have today's "brave cowboy." What
cowboy you are, buddy!"
MS: "...what a man you are... you
can go out an rope a baby... and then you do a wonderful
racing, as well... "
TR: "... oh, what an abomination..."
MS: "I had no idea... and it's not
well publicized, yet you mention that it's the sixth biggest
in our country."
it's a high revenue sport, that's for sure..."
MS: "..but what happens to these
greyhounds is just incredible..."
it's not just in America that it's a terrible tragedy...
what happened to [hundreds of] greyhounds in Spain, if
you remember, they hung
them so their feet won't touch the ground.
MS: "But, you are graphic in
the book, but I noticed not to the extent that
one would want
whole policy all through the book was to not lose the
reader. I wanted to have a conversation
with people who are animal rights advocates, too,
obviously, but especially with people who aren't who have
this misconception of who we are, and why
are, and all this. I wanted to have a conversation
with them. To have a conversation, you can't hit somebody
over the head with a 2 by 4, it ends
up that you're
the only one talking and no one's hearing you."
MS: "... you also don't give me,
as a reader, 15 pages of these horrific examples... I have
been "overkilled" by
some books, I think "okay, I've just read 10 pages
about the detailed slaughter" you
made your point 9 pages ago. However, you do provide
significant information on the website, and if I need
to read more,
TR: "...that's what I meant about having a conversation. The idea
always is that less is more. I know the motivation that goes like this: "that
in order to get somebody to pay attention to what I'm saying, I have to tell
say everything." But that's exactly the wrong way to get somebody
to pay attention. If I try tell them everything, they're going turn off
and tune out.
They're not going to be part of the conversation. What you have to do is
find some middle ground where you're saying something, oh, about Merino
know where to go to find out more."
MS: "In the last section about how animals are being used, as "tools" and
for experimentation, is a difficult one. And you
acknowledge that it was a tough one for you. What
pushed you on
this one? What made
to you, as it seems to be a major turning point in
TR: "It was. When I started writing "The Case for Animal Rights" in
1982, I was not an abolitionist when it came to animal research. My position
was that we shouldn't do any research that caused unnecessary suffering to animals,
which is kind of a standard middle-of-the-road position that people have. But
as I worked through the arguments, and I thought "well, I can't believe
that any longer... I have to give that up." And the reason I have
to give that up, is that animals have rights, you can't justify taking
injuring their bodies, stealing their freedom... because somebody else
is going to benefit."
MS: "It is one of the hardest arguments to deal with, I would suspect,
because it gets to some fundamentals, the issue of "can experimentation
on one species be justified by the many more lives saved of another species." It's
a loaded topic."
are two positions to take here, and in the book I basically concentrate
on one, and that is that animal have rights, they shouldn't be used
this way, because the only way you can possibly justify it is that people
benefit. And even if they do, that's not a justification for violating
Their rights are trump.
But, on the other hand there's the question of human's benefit because
of animal vivisection, the more reason we have not only to be skeptical,
to doubt then that, in terms of overall cost benefit analysis of vivisecting
in the name of human health, longevity, vitality, it's been a significant
contribution to public health. It's a delusion."
MS: "It's a toughie... my mother
had polio, but after reading your book, I did some
that at it's
was only around
3000 cases per year. An ARA friend of mine told me
that there may have actually been a six-year loss
misleading nature of animal subjects. There's a big
controversy about the Salk Vaccine, and I do think that... well, it's
somebody who's not medically credentialed to make
judgments about facts of scientific or biomedical methodology,
we're standing outside the field. It seems arrogant
of us to say,well, we know what's going on. I've
always been tempered by that realization that I'm not a
credentialed person, but what's really been encouraging
to me is that, more and more, people who are credentialed,
Americans for Medical
Committee for Responsible Medicine, those people, obviously, but people, like the
equivalent of the U.S. National Institute of Health, in
Britain saying "we're not sure of this way of
doing research really benefits people."
MS: "You really opened my
eyes, though, and your summaries of the levels
numbers of animals
So, having covered these four areas, you postulate
what I, as a reader leaning towards supporting
called that Chapter "Yes, but...." You
did a fine job of anticipating many questions that
but I wanted
ask you about the
one that gets
the most press. I think you know where this is
MS: "..the issue of violence..."
TR: "I'm not a pacifist and, 99.99% of the people in the world are
not pacifist. We all think that sometimes violence is justified; the question
is when, under what circumstances. We can present a skeletor argument, that says, "look,
suppose the innocent are at risk and suppose you've done everything you can to
prevent a bad thing happening, but under the circumstances the only thing you
can do to help the innocent, save the innocent, protect the innocent, is to use
violence, and you use it in a proportionate way, you don't use it disproportionately.
think that 99.99% of the people in the world are
going say, "well
then, reluctantly, I have to agree, if this is what you have to do." I give
the example of trying to save some children who have been kidnapped by their
estranged father who has kidnapped them who threatens to kill them. What are
you going to do in a case like that? I don't think that 99.99% of the people
say "well, whatever we do, we're not going to use violence." People
aren't like that.
So, the issue then, I think, about whether violence
is justified in name of animal rights, it's not
an issue of principle, it's an issue of fact.
use it are part of that 99.99%, and the people
disagree with them are also
part of that. So, okay, you say that animals
are the innocent. Yes, they are. Have
you done everything you can to prevent using
violence? And the ARAs who use violence say "Yes,
we have." And the people like me who don't
support that, are saying: "No, you haven't...
you haven't even remotely done what needs to
MS: "You make
it clear in several places in your
that you do not
support that violence."
I don't support it. We have not done
remotely enough in an open democratic society."
MS: "I get the impression
that the violence really helps those who want
media a bad impression
yes... not only does it play into their hands,
but as I said in the book, and I'll say it clearly
here, there's no question in my mind
that there are people being paid the major animal
exploiters who have infiltrated the Animal Liberation
Front and other groups."
MS: "You give a great example
where somebody hired somebody else to kill them....
want to give it
all away, but ..."
have to be so politically naive to think that
the FBI... the FBI identified the Animal Liberation
Front and the Earth Liberation Front
as the two major terrorist organizations in the
U.S. I'm not making this up. Do you think that
the FBI hasn't infiltrated these organizations?
that they're not out there trying to encourage
them to commit violent acts so that you can confirm,
verify these are terrorist organizations?
My view is that anytime that ALF says that we've
done something, or the ELF says we've done something,
I always think "who was the driver?" My
guess is probably somebody paid by the government
or the animal abuser industries."
MS: "I looked at your website,
and it's fantastic. There's a wealth of information,
I also looked at the
Regan Animal Rights Archive, and was most impressed.
I noticed there's a picture of you with President
happened when I was at the National Humanities Center as a Fellow there,
and I was writing a book about philosophy and he came by."
MS: "You also established,
with your wife, a foundation?"
TR: "It was roughly in the middle of the 1980s, and Nancy and I
were thinking about where to go in terms of our activism. We looked around at
the movement, and realized there's a hole in the movement! The hole in the middle
of the movement was that we had great resources historically, in terms of our
poets and our painters, our composers, our writers.... great resources. Nobody
was promoting that, getting the word out about Plutarch, and Pythagoras, Leonardo,
and others that were on our side. Nobody was trying to get that out, and at the
same time, there was nobody who was supporting our contemporaries in poetry and
painting and theater and music. Nobody was doing that and we thought: "Wow!
That's a kind of activism."
I think I said this before, our goal, in a nutshell, was that animal rights
advocates should be 'inside the theater performing' or 'outside the theater
That was the idea, was to take animal rights to a level within the culture
where art and letters, theater.... is appreciated. So we worked at that
the last 28 years, and we have funded hundreds and hundreds of "cultural
activists" as we call them, in terms of both their research and performance.
We've also hosted a festival every year (this will be our third)."
MS: "I noticed that there's
also a grant application form on your website."
asked me the other day about what I'd do with
a million dollars, well we'd put a lot of it into the Culture
and Animals Foundation so
we could give more money away. What I know from
my life as a writer and a scholar, is that if
you give me chunk of free time, where I'm not
responsibilities, I can create something. I know
that, I've done that three or four or five times
in my life, when somebody gives me that freedom.
reason to think that I'm unique or any way unusual.
All creative people, what they need is time,
so that they can work on whatever is they are
That's what the CAF tries to do for our cultural
MS: "That's really important...
it's a well-rounded approach that helps get rid
of the view
are a bunch
of people who yell
The whole point of the publicity arms of the animal abuser industries is
to present animal rights with an ugly face."
MS: "What's the future
of the animal rights movement?
are two really important challenges we face. The first challenge is: how
do we attract more people to the movement? Because the movement
isn't going to go anywhere unless we reach a critical mass, this kind of
tipping point, where what we say and do makes a difference to what other
and what they do. How do we attract new people? This book is my effort
The second thing is, how do we keep old people in the movement? Because...
the movement is like a revolving door. People come in, and then people
go out. It's
a great challenge we have amongst our leaders, especially, to keep people
in the movement, to help people keep thinking that their presence, their
what they're able to give is important. If people are not given this validation,
not just once, not just twice, but when they wake up in the morning, they're
going to leave the movement. The movement is a tough place for people to
stay unless they get validated."
MS: "I've seen a bit of the "Mad Cowboy Documentary" (in
final editing), and in it you use this
marvelous analogy about walls and equate
it to the
animal rights movement.
TR: "In a lot of my thinking, I think in pictures. And one picture
I think of is where we are in terms of what's being done to animals, and I see
it as a big wall, a gigantic wall. What we know tomorrow morning when we wake
up, it's not like that wall is going to be gone. It's not like that wall is going
to be toppled the next day, month, year, or years... in my lifetime. But what
we can do is to identify some brick in that wall and say "let's get rid
of that." So let's get rid of pound seizure, or let's get rid of puppy
mills, or let's get rid of greyhound racing... let's get rid of keeping
in captivity... let's get rid of elephants, lions, and tigers in circuses.
These are all achievable goals, they really are achievable goals, we can
there's no question about that. But what it's going to take is collaboration
and cooperation between major and national organizations."
I have this other picture I talk about where you sitting at your window in the
winter time, and you feel the sun come through, it gives you warmth, and that's
good. It's a nice feeling. But, if you take that same energy that's coming from
the sun and put it through a magnifying glass you're going to start a fire.
What the animal rights movement needs to do through it's leadership, is
to learn how to turn sunlight that warms, into sunlight that is combustible.
we're going to destroy property, but just that we're going to be focussed,
so that our power is not diffused... our power is concentrated. And when
that's when we'll see change. All the national organizations are competing
for the same dollar. They're all trying to present themselves as doing
the most important
work. That's so they can get the dollars and go on with their work, but
in terms of a political movement, what we need is much greater cooperation,
collaboration where we share the burden, share the benefits, and help the
animals. And that's going to be a major focus of our Festival
here in Raleigh in October."