Pi, Dorothy, and the qualities of humane leadership

Editorial from ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2013

By Kim Bartlett & Merritt Clifton

The title character in Life of Pi, possibly the most memorable film in years with a pro-animal theme, is a Hindu vegetarian boy raised in Pondicherry, India, whose parents run a zoo on leased land in the city botanical garden. Pi in adolescence becomes preoccupied with a spiritual quest which leads him to become also–simultaneously– Catholic and Muslim. As Pi explains, “There are 33 millions gods in the Hindu religion..We get to feel guilty before hundreds of gods, instead of just one.” Read more

EDITORIALS: Why boycotts are not the answer to cruelty called "culture"

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2012:

Editorial feature: Why boycotts are not the answer to cruelty called “culture”
Animal people at this writing has received a barrage of e-mails from both irate individual activists and several international online activist networks soliciting a boycott of Spain over the torture-killings of “fire bulls” at village fiestas.
There are few less defensible public practices involving animals than the ancient and widespread custom of attaching a flammable material to the horns of a bull, setting it alight, and then further tormenting the bull as he strives to escape the fire. Read more

EDITORIAL: Politics, personal conduct, & the Vegan Police


From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  October 2012: (Actually published on November 1,  2012.)

Long before the Scott Pilgrim comic series introduced the Vegan Police duo,  a male hippie and an apparent Buddhist monk who metamorphized into a more conventionally police-like pair in the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World;  long before there was a Vegan Police blog site discussing the interface of race,  politics, gender,  and diet;   and decades before the term “vegan police” entered mainstream usage,  the vegan police vigorously critiqued animal advocacy. Read more

EDITORIAL: Pit bulls & political recklessness

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  September 2012:

Editorial feature: Pit bulls & political recklessness

A well-funded and aggressively promoted ballot measure meant to repeal the 23-year-old Miami-Dade County pit bull ban went down to an upset landslide defeat on August 14, 2012, attracting just 37% support–the most lopsided failure of a ballot measure endorsed by major national humane organizations in at least a couple of decades. Read more

EDITORIAL: Agribusiness, green politics, & the art of compromise

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2012:

Editorial feature: Agribusiness, green politics, & the art of compromise

KFC sells dead chickens from 17,000 sales outlets in 105 nations. Part of the $66.5-billion-a-year PepsiCo. empire, KFC boasts revenue in the U.S. alone of $4.6 billion.

Founded by honorary Colonel Harlan Sanders in 1952 as Kentucky Fried Chicken, KFC would not appear to need much help defending itself in any defensible cause. Even a 10-year-old PETA “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” campaign, attacking abuses in the KFC supply chain that were captured on video camera, appears to have accomplished relatively little against KFC corporate intransigence. Nonetheless, the far-right advocacy front Consumers Alliance for Global Prosperity on June 11, 2012 appealed to supporters and media to “Help Fight The Attack On The Colonel!” Read more

EDITORIAL: Seeking an end to animal sacrifice

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  June 2012:

Editorial feature: Seeking an end to animal sacrifice

Among all the many uses and abuses of animals which persist for a cultural pretext, animal sacrifice is perhaps the most widely practiced,  in a variety of different forms and contexts,  and the most difficult to address in an effective manner,  leading to fewer animals being killed–or ideally,  none.

The difficulty of stopping animal sacrifice occurs in part because the perspective of people who practice animal sacrifice tends to be almost incomprehensible to those who oppose it.  Opponents are sometimes many generations and often oceans away from any ancestors who ever sacrificed animals.  Killing animals to be eaten at traditional holidays remains as ubiquitous as the slaughter of turkeys at the U.S. Thanksgiving.  Yet,  from the perspective of people who believe in a just and merciful god, which includes about 85% of humanity according to recent global surveys of religious belief,  the theology of practitioners of overt animal sacrifice might seem to many to be blasphemous.

What sort of god would demand that animals be killed?  Even the priests of the Spanish Inquisition,  who accompanied the conquistadors to the New World and “converted” Native Americans to Catholicism through genocidal use of sword and flame,  theorized that animal and human sacrifices were so self-evidently evil that the gods of the practitioners of such sacrifices must be diabolical.

From a secular perspective,  animal sacrifice is relatively easily recognized as a set of rituals which permit the practitioners to kill and eat animals without guilt–whereas,  in other societies,  killing and eating animals is rationalized by arguments which draw exaggerated distinctions between the sentience of animals and humans.    Read more

EDITORIAL : Exporting lab animal use does not help to end it

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  May 2012:

Editorial feature: Exporting lab animal use does not help to end it

Respectively representing the National Association for Biomedical Research and public relations firm Berman & Company, speakers Matt Bailey and James Bowers opened the 38th annual conference of the Animal Transportation Association in Vancouver on March 19,  2012 with flamboyant warnings that animal advocates threaten the future of biomedical research by inhibiting the international exchange of animals for use in laboratories. Read more


From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2012:

Editorial feature:
Don’t let irrational extremists define the cause

    This April 2012 ANIMAL PEOPLE editorial is written amid an unusually fiercely contested series of primary elections and state caucuses to select the Republican nominee for U.S. President in the November 2012 national election.
Animal issues have barely surfaced during the many months of speeches,  debates,  and electronic media commercials through which the candidates seek to rally the electorate.  Almost the only mention of animals so far has come from a web site called Dogs Against Romney,  posted to publicize and decry how front-runner Mitt Romney in 1983 hauled his family’s English setter Seamus on a 12-hour drive to Canada in a carrier tied to a roof rack.  Several Dogs Against Romney viewers demonstrated against Romney on Valentine’s Day outside the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City. Read more

What’s the difference between eating plants and animals?

BY KIM BARTLETT, Animal People


A common objection posed by meat-eaters to considering a vegetarian diet is that “plants have feelings” which may be comparable to the feelings of animals, or that the result of a vegetarian diet is for more plants to die than animals and thus the net amount of killing is somehow equal.

While it is essential to realize that these arguments are virtually always made by people as a way to dismiss the idea of not eating animals without having to seriously consider the moral advantage of a vegetarian diet, the vegetarian advocate must be prepared to respond to these objections.  There are three main points to understand. Read more

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