Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nonviolence: humans and animals

Gary Francione, a vegan arguing against violence:

"throughout history, we have engaged and continue to engage in violent actions that we have sought to justify as an undesirable means to a desirable end. Anyone who has ever used violence claims to regret having to resort to it, but argues that some desirable goal supposedly justified its use."
"Violence treats others as means to ends rather than as ends in themselves. When we engage in violence against others—whether they are human or nonhuman—we ignore their inherent value. We treat them only as things that have no value except that which we decide to give them."
"Animal exploitation is pervasive in our society. This is the case because we think that the ends (the supposed benefits we derive from animal use) justifies the means (imposing suffering and death on billions of nonhumans every year), and because we treat animals exclusively as commodities and ignore their inherent value."

I hear echoes of John Howard Yoder.  Though the arguments come from a different place (Francione as an animal rights advocate, Yoder as a Christian theologian), Yoder also rejects logic which justifies horrible means to achieve imagined ends.  Yoder, too, insists upon the individual's inherent dignity, and criticizes war advocates that view human beings as means to be used (or destroyed).  And I think Francione rightly extends the logic of pacifism to treatment of animals (and applies the logic of veganism to other human behavior):

"in my view, the animal rights position is the ultimate rejection of violence. It is the ultimate affirmation of peace. I see the animal rights movement as the logical progression of the peace movement..."

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