Does violence have a place in the animal rights liberation movement? Vegan activist Gary Yourofsky thinks so and is a very controversial figure within the vegan community- particularly for a specific quote from on of his essays on violence.
Is violence ever truly necessary? Does it have a place within the vegan animal rights movement? vegan activist Gary Yourofsky thinks so and thus is a very controversial figure within the vegan community, particularly for a specific quote from on of his essays on violence. In this interview, Gary shares the full explanation of his stance on violence and when he feels it is necessary.
We are reaching the end of my interview series with vegan activist Gary Yourofsky and starting to hit the really hard topics. Today we’re going to hear Gary’s full take on violence and whether it has a role to play within the vegan animal rights movement. If you’re someone who was offended or appalled by the passage in question, I’d be interested to know if, after hearing Gary’s full explanation, you feel any differently about the matter. (And I thought the veganism and religion video was going to be a controversial!)
To hear Gary’s full answer, check out the video above, but here are some select nuggets:
“Think about this: this has been going on for at least 2600 years. Pythagorus wrote about veganism, condemn[ed] speciesism 2600 years ago. And people are still killing animals. I’m telling you it’s getting to a boiling point.
“You have to look at this from the victim’s point of view. I don’t think that the cows, the pigs and the chickens are opposed to violence on their behalf. You might be opposed to violence on their behalf, because you’re not looking at it as a victim, you’re looking at it as a victimizer.
“There wouldn’t be a need to kill all these evil people that were oppressing humans if people just treated each other equally and with respect. So, basically I said this before and I don’t want to take credit because I think some philosopher said this: ‘you don’t oppose violence, you just oppose whom I propose to be violent for.’ Again, we can kill on behalf of blacks, and kill on behalf of Jewish people, and kill on behalf of children—but nobody want’s to kill on behalf of chickens and cows and pigs.
“Don’t ask me to have empathy to victimizers. My heart hurts enough for the victims. I’m not gonna weep over a victimizer being tortured and killed. I care about victims, and victims only—and that’s where everybody should be on this planet. Forget about victimizers.”
And if you’re not at all a fan of Gary’s stance, he reminds us that:
“You don’t have to agree with any group or activist 100% of the time.”
I hope this provided a more comprehensive picture of Gary’s stance on violence than any excerpt you may have heard. As a note, Bite Size Vegan itself is a peaceful educational mission, but I don’t pull my punches and I don’t BS, and I will kick @ss educationally in the name of the animals! I want to make clear that Gary, much like me, believes that education is where we are going to make the greatest change in our movement. And education is where we should focus our energies the most.
This video post is not to incite needless violent actions. But I do think it’s important to realize that vegans, on the whole, are not the violent ones. Even those breaking into labs and farms to free animals. We are not the ones killing 150 billion sentient beings every year. We are not the ones stealing babies from their mothers moments after birth or killing day-old babies because we have no use for them. We aren’t the ones anally electrocuting conscious beings to take their fur and skin. We aren’t the ones torturing them in the name of medical progress despite ample proof of the inaccuracies of such methods. That is violence. And it is not excusable—especially for something as trivial as a meal, a fashion statement, or faulty science.
Now, I’d love to hear from you on this controversial topic. Do you think there is a place for violence in animal rights and liberation? If you are opposed to violence in any situation, what did you think of Gary’s examples of the use of violence for the liberation of people? Did you position change at all after hearing Gary? Let me know in the comments. I truly value your input!
— Emily Moran Barwick