Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time

Archives

In Historic Ceremony, Activists Worldwide to Shine a Light on the Path to Animal Liberation

July 22, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

The treatment of animals is a great disconnect in the world today. We oppose animal cruelty in theory, but we support it in practice. We know that our daily choices contribute to animal abuse, but we find ways to rationalize them in order to maintain our behavior. We turn a blind eye to cruelty because bearing witness would force us to take action. In short, the human desire to maintain the status quo is more powerful than the desire to do what is right — treat animals humanely.

Wayne Hsiung shines a light on cruelty of "humanely raised" hens in a factory farm

Wayne Hsiung shines a light on cruelty of “humanely raised” hens in a factory farm

But there is hope. Every individual who has adopted a cruelty-free lifestyle was, at one point, a part of the complicit majority. But someone or something before us – a friend, a protest, a documentary – helped us to see the light.

On Saturday, July 25th, activists around the world will, in an effort to awaken the masses, symbolically shine a spotlight on animal cruelty and the path to liberation. Wearing blue shirts and holding candles, activists in 130 countries will take photographs in front of a places that represent violence toward animals and post them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. According to the organizers, a large coalition of animal rights groups, participants will “stand in solidarity with a promise to the animals that we will continue to expose the violence against them and light a path towards a better world.”

Ellen Ericksen of San Diego works to help consumers see the light

Ellen Ericksen of San Diego works to help consumers see the light

The path to animal liberation is dark and long, but it has been paved. On Saturday, let us all shine the light on the path and encourage people around the world to join us on the journey.

Your Turn

Please join the Facebook event #LIGHTTHEPATH and join activists around the world in being a voice for the animals.


Filed under: Food
Tagged with: , , ,

Exiting our Comfort Zone

February 10, 2015 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), the animal rights group that is conducting protests inside, is challenging activists to “exit their comfort zone” on behalf of the animals:

“We have found that speaking loudly and proudly in defiance of social convention inspires others to do the same. And that is why we encourage activists to step outside of their comfort zones, past the boundaries of tradition and into the stores that are selling the dead bodies of our friends.”

It’s a message that is resonating with many activists who have taken a more traditional approach by peacefully protesting on public property. Indeed, hundreds of activists in cities around the world are, for the first time, staging protests inside of restaurants and grocery stores.

Of course, courageous activists have put themselves in uncomfortable situations on behalf of animals since the earliest days of the movement – liberating animals from fur farms; conducting undercover investigations in factory farms; protesting naked; blocking entrances to laboratories; and storming onto runways during fashion shows.

Protesting at a Donna Karan runway show

Protesting at a Donna Karan runway show

Exiting one’s comfort zone is nothing new in the movement. What has changed, thanks to DxE and Collectively Free, is that it is going mainstream.

Donny Moss of TheirTurn.net took the DxE challenge, (nervously) speaking out during a Collectively Free protest exposing Whole Foods’ fraudulent marketing campaign, which claims that the animals who they sell lived happy lives.

“Pushing my own boundaries was cathartic. I could finally relate to the old saying ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,'” said Donny Moss. “More importantly, stunned customers who might have walked right by me during a street protest paid attention to my message.”

Just imagine how much more we could accomplish for animals if we all exited our comfort zone!


Filed under: Food, Opinion
Tagged with: ,

In Germany and New York, Provocative Calls to End Speciesism

January 28, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

Our relationship with animals is based on an ingrained – and misguided – sense of superiority that gives us license to exploit them. By observing the actions of adults, we are taught at a young age that animals exist to serve our needs and desires, not their own, and we are conditioned to regard them as objects — to be consumed with a fork, worn on our backs, viewed in a zoo or used in some other way. It’s called speciesism.

Captive gorilla (photo: Don Emmert /AFP - Getty Images file)

Captive gorilla (photo: Don Emmert /AFP – Getty Images file)

Activists around the world are beginning to use speciesism as a theme for provocative protests in order to jolt people into rethinking our relationship with animals.

In Germany, 24 activists wearing matching jumpsuits and holding the bodies of deceased animals recently staged a somber and powerful ceremony to educate the public about speciesism. In a chilling and inspiring video documenting the event, the narrator says, “Speciesism makes us believe that animals are worth less than humans. We are here to ask why.”

In New York City, Collectively Free recently stunned Whole Foods shoppers by staging an in-store protest during which farm animals slaughtered three humans dressed in flesh-colored costumes and distributed free samples of their “humanely-raised, free range” meat. Not everyone who observed this dramatic performance will reflect on what they saw, but some will.

In 2013, filmmaker Mark Devries made made a critically-acclaimed documentary called Speciesism: The Movie. In the film, Animal Liberation author Peter Singer says, “The fact that animals are not human isn’t a reason to give less consideration to their interests.”

Your Turn

To learn more about and get involved in the campaigns to end speciesism, please visit Direct Action Everywhere and Collectively Free.


Filed under: Food
Tagged with: , ,

Activism 2.0 – Entering, Agitating & Disrupting

January 11, 2015 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

All ethical vegans fighting for animal rights want the same thing — total animal liberation — but our paths to achieving it take us in different directions. In the past two years, a new and confrontational approach has gone mainstream in the U.S. and is spreading globally. Does the approach reflect the natural evolution of all social justice movements? Does it stem from the desire to expedite change for animals? Did it emerge to help activists stand out in an era of information overload? Whatever the motive, the approach is breathing new life into the animal rights movement, jolting  consumers where they least expect it; capturing the attention of the media; and triggering activists to exit their comfort zones on behalf of animals.

DxE protests Chipotle's for marketing animal farming & slaughter as humane.

DxE protests Chipotle’s for marketing animal farming & slaughter as humane. (Photo: DxE)

The big change, propagated by the global organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and embraced by NYC-based Collectively Free, is taking the protests inside of businesses that exploit animals. Let’s face it: many people pay no attention to activists demonstrating on a sidewalk, but they are a captive audience when seated in a restaurant or waiting in line at the grocery store. It’s an approach that, on the surface, appears ineffective or even counterproductive to some people. But in a compelling article about the approach, DxE’s founder, Wayne Hsiung, explains why disrupting and agitating inside are key ingredients in any successful social justice movement.

In his blog, Hsiung writes that Naomi Wolf, the pioneering feminist who studied dissent and protest in America, argues that, throughout history, activists have succeeded only when they disrupted “business as usual” and that today’s protests have become so “bureaucratized, institutionalized, and integrated into the fabric of ordinary life” that they are no longer disruptive.

Rosa Parks agitated by illegally sitting at the front of this bus, which is now a symbol of the Civil Rights movement.

Rosa Parks agitated by illegally sitting at the front of this bus, which is now a symbol of the Civil Rights movement.

Following are a few short excerpts from Hsiung’s blog:

“Dissent is vital to achieving social change, and that dissent is only effective if it is powerful, confident, and . . . disruptive.”

“Passersby, customers, and even multinational corporations can easily dismiss and write us off, if we do not push our message in the places where it is most unwelcome. But when we transform a space where violence has been normalized into a space of dissent, we can jolt, not just individual people, but our entire society into change.”

The AIDS activist group ACT-UP, which was comprised mostly of gay men in the 1990s, would have been ignored if they didn't stop traffic, chain themselves to fences and climb onto rooftops.

ACT-UP, an AIDS activist group, would have been ignored in the 1990s if they didn’t stop traffic, chain themselves to fences and climb onto rooftops. (pictured at the NIH)

“Because we have expressed that our cause is important enough to violate a powerful social norm [dining], we leave a mark on people: “Wow, what the heck was that! They’re so outraged by something that they felt the need to come into the store to register their complaint.”

animal rights protest at Chipotle

DxE breaks with the tradition of letting customers dine in peace.

“Speaking loudly and proudly in defiance of social convention . . . inspires others to do the same. And that is why we encourage our activists to step outside of their comfort zones . . . and into the stores that are selling the dead bodies of our friends.”

Your Turn

Please visit Direct Action Everywhere and Collectively Free to learn about, support and/or join their provocative campaigns to expose the truth about animal farming and promote a cruelty-free lifestyle.


Filed under: Food, Opinion
Tagged with: , , , , ,

Activists Use Provocative & Controversial Tactics to Shine Spotlight on Speciesism

October 26, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

By observing the actions of adults, we are taught as children that animals exist to serve our needs and desires, not their own. Our sense of superiority to other animals is so ingrained that society gives virtually no thought at all to imprisoning them in zoos, labs and factory farms, thereby stripping them of the freedom that they instinctually desire just as much as we do.

Our behavior can best be described as speciesist. As a word and as a concept, speciesism is not yet a part of the public discourse. In an effort to help animals, however, social justice groups are working to change that, employing creative methods from provocative street theater to dramatic protests.

Launched just two months ago, a NYC-based organization called Collectively Free has been stopping people in their tracks with their “Swap Speciesism” events. At Meatopia, a carnivore festival where whole animals were cooked, Collectively Free turned the tables – and turned many heads – by serving samples from a whole human.

free sample meatopia

 

On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops

On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops

Wearing a pig mask, Kate Skwire, a Collectively Free performer, used humor to capture the attention of passing carnivores:

“You look like you’d like a piece, m’am. Are you hungry?”

“These are humanely raised, grass fed, local, happy humans.”

“Now tell me that isn’t delicious.”

“This one had a very good life. You don’t have to feel bad about eating this meat.”

The execution (of the event, not the human), was so creative that some Meatopia attendees stopped to give them props. Robert Jensen, one of the participants, said, “A few people said things like ‘I’m not vegetarian, but this is really creative.’ Others said, ‘that’s sick!’ to which we responded ‘it’s sick the other way around too.’ Then they became lost in thought.'”

Collectively Free Meatopia Reactions

Photo: Collectively Free

Another participant, Miriam Lucille, said, “I was holding a sign that says ‘Why love one but eat the other’ showing a dog and a pig, and one man looked at the sign, nodded and said, ‘That’s very true.'” A lot of people took photos because it was eye-catching, and that’s always a good thing.”

photo: Collectively Free

photo: Collectively Free

A San Francisco based group, Direct Action Everywhere, is also aiming to “Disrupt Speciesism” through dramatic and controversial actions inside of and in front of restaurants and grocery stores around the world. A video of one such protest not only went viral but also made national news. In the video, activist Kelly Atlas enters a restaurant and delivers an emotional account of her baby girl Snow, who is an injured chicken rescued from a battery cage.

In 2013, filmmaker Mark Devries made made a critically-acclaimed documentary about the issue. In Speciesism: The Movie, Animal Liberation author Peter Singer sums it up nicely: “The fact that animals are not human isn’t a reason to give less consideration to their interests.”

Humans might be more powerful than other species, but we are far from superior. In fact, because we are the only species that is destroying the planet, some might argue that we are inferior.

Your Turn

To learn more about and get involved in the provocative #DisruptSpeciesism and #SwapSpeciesism campaigns, please visit Direct Action Everywhere and Collectively Free.


Filed under: Food, Opinion
Tagged with: , , , , , , ,