There is so much bigoted venom for animal-rights activists and in general for people who advocate for animal rights that it sluices its way into unexpected places. In a not-so-recent column from Paul McNamara in Network World , not the first or even fifth place where one would expect a critique of animal-rights issues, the author claims, “No group of advocates … can muster the volume, vehemence and persistence of protest than can the animal-rights lobby.”
Maybe that’s true … but what would the world look like if animal activists actually won their battles? Or the majority of their battles? Sure, Prop 2 passed in California – but it had to get really bad before one of the most liberal states in the country took action. Meanwhile, the seal slaughter in Canada is ongoing. Japan and Norway are actively loosening restrictions on whaling. KFC is flourishing. Michael Vick could be back in the NFL within a year.
Measuring social and political efficacy is a soft target, but when you look at the actual impact of lobbying groups, the NRA, the energy companies, agri-business, the ones with money – those are the people writing the laws and ultimately affecting our lives in a meaningful way. By that standard, animal-rights groups seem on the low end of the efficacy scale – and maybe, just maybe, complaints against them and their tactics serve as simple-minded distractions for larger issues.
Granted, the activities of some have marginalized the movement as a whole. But Rush L. has gotten very little ink after saying some pretty divisive things. What’s the lesson there? No one would have known that PETA was at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show without the KKK reference.
I have a sneaking suspicion that lots of these complainants see a headline or two – PETA poses as KKK at dog show; Vick goes to jail (do people really think his fate was unjustified?) – and guess that advocates for animals are rolling over everyone’s rights and rationality. We should all look a little deeper.