Tuesday, January 24, 2006

ALF/ELF controversy, part two

this is interesting to say the least. mostly i just wanted to create a space where people could get on-line and find out what the deal was with different restaurants from a vegan perspective. that's why i started the blog. it was actually going to be a zine my wife and i were going to start when we lived in chicago, but it never really happened. then when it did start as a blog, i thought maybe people were tired of restaurant reviews and so i started putting up other things, like recipes and weird vegan tidbits (not to be confused with tofu tidbits). then, the other day, when i saw on CNN something about how vegans and vegetarians who agree with the aims of the ALF can consider themselves members, i figured it was time for a little cover-your-ass excercise. see, i understand the current political climate in this country, i read the crucible, i saw goodnight and good luck, and the last thing i need is someone seizing my computer the night before the big paper is due, right?

well, what i didn't count on was jeremy, who i hope won't be offended if i refer to him as an ALF sympathizer. he's giving me a run for my money in the comments section, and has engaged me in what i think is an important conversation (even if we did get off to a rough start) regarding tactics. it's a conversation as old as MLK and Malcolm X, i suppose, but the issues have changed (because, you know, racism is over, right?) and so must the discourse.

there's a chance i know jeremy, if he lives in minneapolis (or ever did), but i worry that if i ask too many questions i'm going to look a little bit like the law, so we'll have to just leave it at that. here's what he has to say:

"big deal so my puctuation wasnt spot on. it doesnt change the base of my argument argument. the point if actions fromt the a.l.f. or e.l.f. should be to stop whatever harm is being done. second is to cause economic damage. corporations and even countries stop what they are doing when they suffer enough economic or physical damage. not from asking them nicely. EVERYONE supports either economic or destructive sabatoge. the only points at which opinions differ are the situations in which to utilze them. just for the sake of argument lets change the beings at question.
if tomorrow brown eyed children were suddenly placed in the very exact same situations as animals are
in laboratories, who would stand outside and ask nicely for them to stop hurting the poor little children? are you going to advocate spending the next several decades leafleating and blogging about it and distancing yourself from someone who said enough is enough and broke in to rescue the children? who would not call the rescuers heroes? anyone who said otherwise would probably get a much deserved ass kicking. the only reason more people dont support the a.l.f. and the e.l.f. is because they dont deem the causes worthy enough. not because they disagree with the tactics. right wing morons everywhere justify economic sabatoge and direct action and even go further to advocate murder to "liberate" people in afghanistan and iraq. but are against using the exact same tactis sans the murder used by the a.l.f. and e.l.f. because of the beings being liberated arent human.

one more thing...while you didnt actually say yes these people are guilty of said crimes....you did say.. "They did, however, use plastic milk jugs to burn down other factories and developments, such as the one in Vail" which is libel and the same thing as calling them guilty."

here's me:

i understand that the ALF/ELF aim to stop whatever damage is being done. my point is that if in doing so, more damage is caused, perhaps theirs is too narrow of a perspective and needs to be reassessed. i make no apologies for the developers/factory farmers, strictly the methodology as it relates to animals/the environment.

i'm not sure that you can say with any degree of confidence that "EVERYONE supports either economic or destructive sabotage." i'm constantly re-evaluating my own position on this issue, and i imagine i'm not the only one.

now, i have brown eyes, but if you read elsewhere in this blog you'll discover that i'm not shy about putting humans and animals on the same level. there was a discussion not long ago about whether it is morally sound to defend oneself against a bear if your life is threatened, and i suggested that it makes as much sense logically to lay one's life down for the sake of the bear. it's on here somewhere, i promise, and i apologize that i don't have time to find the link. my point is, if we're talking about whether or not i'm an idiot for taking the position that i did, it had nothing to do with not understanding the severity of animal suffering, or needing to put a "human" face on it. again, i worry that when we become too "radical" (two words i never would have imagine myself placing next to each other) we alienate the people we would ultimately like to have as allies, and in so doing, harm more animals.

i do not nor have i ever supported this or any war, just for the record, and have put my time in marching against them, and i am certainly not right wing, in case that needed to be cleared up.

finally, as to the libel charge, the pronoun "they" in my statement which you quoted above was not in reference, necessarily, to those named by the authorities, but to whomever committed the acts of sabotage. i don't think there should be any dispute about whether or not plastic milk jugs were used, and as someone had to use them, i felt safe in using the pronoun "they" to refer to those someones, whomever they are. that's all i meant. sorry that wasn't more clear.

i mentioned mlk and malcolm x at the outset; as for myself, i'll always advocate for nonviolence (and i can already hear the arguments about whether or not arson should be considered violence), but i will also say that nonviolence needs to be strategic, thoughtful, and comprehensive, and unfortunately rarely is, which is why i suppose direct action is so attractive. i think this is a topic worth exploring further.


Anonymous jeremy said...

"i'm not sure that you can say with any degree of confidence that "EVERYONE supports either economic or destructive sabotage." i'm constantly re-evaluating my own position on this issue, and i imagine i'm not the only one."

yes i can. what i cant say with confidence is that everyone will support it in all instances. there is difference between saying that you would like to always choose nonviolence and saying that you absolutely 100% are against direct action. what it really boils down to is that you just dont feel as strongly about animal rights as you do human rights. heres proof. hypothetical of course. imagine that you are at home blogging away and you read your neighbors blog that he has a lot of human infants and toddlers locked up in his basement. every few months he takes the older ones and brings them out back and sticks electric probes in their anuses to electrocute them. you are of course dismayed at this so you peek over his fence to see for yourself. sure enough its actually happening. being that you want to be strategically nonviolent about it for some reason, you begin to tell others about it. after quite a bit of time some people are sympathetic to you while others dont want to listen to you. (sound familiar?) but really nothing has happened to stop the horrible man from doing his awful deed. he doesnt care if you say please. so next he ends up coming into your home and doing the same to your family. how many times would you ask him nicely and respectfully strategically nonviolently before you try to physically stop him? of course you couldnt ever try to stop him any other way besides saying please because that would be direct action and you want to distance yourself from supporting direct action or violence. but you wouldnt actually do that would you?

the problem with sn people is that they always use the argument that direct action distances social justice movements from widespread social support. although i have yet to find one scientific study to back up this claim. societies as a whole are violent. like it or not. another problem with the sn mindset is failing to seriously look at successful liberation movements throughout history. they all were won using a variety of tactics in combination. with violence being at the forefront. i think that the reasons that sn people think they are being more effective is that they never really encounter any serious opposition. in my experience sn by itself is really ineffective. if it were really more effective then caa surely would have made more progress than s.o.a.r. by now wouldnt it have?

9:03 PM  

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