Establishing the Rights of Animals in Law and Human Consciousness

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Establishing the Rights of Animals in Law and Human Consciousness

Comments by David Cantor - 14 Jun 2006

Dear Frank & Mary,

Yes, I think the key conundrum is how to get people who would like the animals to have meaningful, enforceable legal rights to understand that nothing that's been done to "help" animals has advanced that cause and that there are built-in reasons for that.

Gary Francione's Rain Without Thunder may be the best book for making these distinctions. Joan Dunayer's Speciesism, too. Francione's Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? is probably the best book explaining animal rights. It, too, makes the key distinctions, but not with as much detailed analysis of the absolute impossibility that animal welfare activities can lead to animal rights, not as many specific examples as in Rain Without Thunder.

All these years of full-time work advocating for animals and working with countless activists throughout the U.S. and in other countries convince me that the desire to be popular quickly has been the single most crippling factor. Whether we associate popularity with funding increases, membership building, public support, name recognition, or anything else, quick popularity suggests what is being promoted is not a radical new paradigm like animal rights but things people more readily understand, like animal welfare, the antithesis of animal rights.

Despite my certainty about these things at this time, it took me years to fully comprehend why my work was not advancing animal rights and could not do so even if its support increased a thousandfold, and I don't claim to have all the answers as to how to advance and establish animal rights. I'm just going from what I think is an indisputable truism: No one will embrace a social cause they don't understand. If they embrace it without understanding it, they're really not embracing it and can't really help promote it. "Animal rights" then becomes words without substance -- as in the meaning of "rain without thunder."



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