|Animal Defenders of Westchester||
We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.
Animal Defenders of Westchester
Campaigns THE IMPORTANCE AND USE OF DEMONSTRATIONS
THE IMPORTANCE AND USE OF DEMONSTRATIONS
In the last several months the efficacy of demonstrations has been raised, to the point that demo participation is sharply decreased. (Photo - 01)
It is my belief that demonstrations have a viable, important place in this (and all other) movements for liberation.
I wish to illustrate their importance by citing another situation having, at least peripherally, nothing to do with the animals: a recent case of high school hazing (a teen was tied to a bench, his pants removed and he was beaten with a belt buckle) brought stronger legislation and laws against hazing in that state. The boy's parents continued their efforts to raise awareness about hazing after the law was changed. (Photo - 02)
The point is, hazing is about so much more than improving the laws; people need to truly question the origin of such ugly, violent behavior, not dismiss it as a 'prank,' etc.
That, to me, is one of the necessities of continued demos, tabling, etc. - the animal rights movement is about so much more than legislation and laws (in addition to LEADING pols, the public, etc, to support various legislation).
For getting the message out I personally like the demos for the following reasons (but also keep in mind that demos work better up here due to the lack of foot traffic):
- They are a press op; even to the point if the press doesn't show up. The letter I got into THE JOURNAL NEWS was 'hinged' on the demo; the press sometimes balks at a general 'dissertation' without an occurrence to 'attach' it to (BTW I strongly recommend that everyone doing demos do the same and contact your local papers afterward if they don't cover your demos.)
- They are by nature attention-getting;
- They incorporate movement - we offer literature to car passengers, go around the block, etc;
- The public can HEAR us across the street, if they aren't in front of us;
- I think it is important for the public to actually see us, maybe get to know us; the abusers own the media (as we've seen so distressingly recently) students working against a political party in another country successfully did this when their adversaries portrayed them as 'terrorists' in the media: these kids took to the streets and were able to show the public how ridiculous this claim was;
- Public awareness and support factors in: in the NJ effort, all mainstream media were able to cite statistics that the majority of the public didn't want the bear shoot.
Again, I absolutely acknowledge the importance of tabling, and certainly of improved legislation and laws; but please please don't be short-sighted on this. I always try to be positive; be really, we are so 'not there' folks; please don't ignore any way to help. Below is a related article which was originally published on May 10, 2004:
The Victory of March of Dimes
By Kiley Blackman
On April 22, a SATYA article, entitled GOAL: THE MOST EFFECTIVE ACTIVISM FOR ANIMAL LIBERATION appeared on the internet. In addition to promoting legislation as an AR tool, it pervasively demeaned protests, with such lines as "...the momentary release we get from chanting in solidarity on a street corner and educating a tiny portion of of the mainstream is simply not the most effective way of reaching our goal, if our goal is to really stop animal abuse."
On April 25, the day of the March of Dimes Walkathon protest, no one - NOT ONE SINGLE ACTIVIST OTHER THAN MYSELF - showed up. This has never happened before; though MOD never drew many activists, a few showed up - and that few had MOD sweating. Could be coincidence; there's no way of saying. Either way, it's a pity - supposedly MOD support has been dwindling; and, from what I saw, the crowd did appear smaller...unless many were at a huge pro-choice (Horrors! Clutch the pearls!) PROTEST in Washington, held the same day. Last year we gave out almost 400 pieces of literature; this year, about 20. I stood alone with the signs, which were being read by marchers, in bewilderment and sadness for the animals suffering alone in the laboratories, victims of cruelty and of our negligence.
This is how the undistributed literature could have effected legislation:
- people who never thought about what happens to their MOD money might, horrified by MOD's animal abuse, be compelled to contact their legislators and demand better treatment for these animals;
- people who never realized that animal experiments don't apply to humans and are 'bad science' might have contacted their legislators and demanded use of more modern testing methods that utilize technology instead of living beings;
- School-age children were at the Walkathon; some of them are going to be future legislators. Perhaps our education could make them AR activists...and wouldn't it be better to have OUR OWN PEOPLE in office rather than, "...THEY recognize that THEY need us to help them get elected, and may do so again, so they want to help with what we ask for" as the article said. Why not make every effort to get US into public office - and what better way to do so than by education?
- and, of course, while waiting for legislation to improve/stop lab abuses, how great would it be if MOD were compelled by public pressure to use their funds more productively?
This movement has rightly been compared to the women's movement, the civil rights movement, etc. But the animals have it a billion times worst than any peoples, for several reasons. Unfortunately, legislation isn't infallible either. Legislation currently exists to stop foie gras production, puppy mill abuses and circus abuse; it is not enforced, as was recently mentioned on ar-nys. Two recent cruelty cases, one in New Jersey and one in Westchester, pointed up how the courts don't necessarily enforce laws we fought so hard to enact. Nadine just sent me a tv report from California, where shocking animals in entertainment is prohibited; the rodeo scum claimed there were no batteries in the electric prod; he walked free.
And its not so easy to get circus/rodeo legislation in place - if it were, they'd be springing up like mushrooms, and they're not. Though I'm still waiting for writing, we got 'no rodeo' promises from Mt. Vernon and North Salem (an ordinance meeting has never yet been held with North Salem; they terminated their rodeos after receiving an education) - and a blanket NO RODEO can be better than NO IMPLEMENTS in print. I expect rodeos and circuses to largely play themselves out over the next few years, at least in the northeast. Exploitative animal acts must of needs recede, as awareness of their cruelty expands; and anti-foie gras headway is being made in many parts of the world right now; California seems closer than us at this point in time.
The analogy of the NRA's supporters and organizational skills referred to in the article is only part of that story; the NRA gets what it wants because the vice-president goes hunting with his friend on the Supreme court. This is the first year a vegan ran for top office; it needn't be the last.
It is my belief that every effort for animal liberation is an empowering effort. This country was founded on protest in the streets, boycotts, and via the written word. In the time it took to write this, thousands of animals suffered alone and died in laboratories, factory farms and slaughterhouses...everything - EVERYTHING - done for the animals is important, worthwhile, and moves us one step closer. My only wish is that we do more.
Postscript: an activist just told me she didn't attend MOD because she was angry that the press ignored us at last year's Walkathon; but isn't that all the more reason to attend?
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