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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.


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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
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