“Fat Shaming” has No Place in the Animal Rights Movement

There is so much I respect about the animal rights movement–the compassion, a determination to stop unnecessary suffering, and more. Thus, I was really disappointed to learn of a billboard ad PETA placed in Detroit with the motto “Save the Whales.” Please don’t mistake me- I’m all for saving whales. The problem was this ad wasn’t literally about saving whales.

Rather, next to that slogan was a full-figured woman in a bikini. Thus, the slogan was comparing her to a whale because of her body-type. Underneath was a message saying “Loose the Blubber. Go Vegetarian.” Here’s a link: http://jezebel.com/peta-assholes-to-detroit-well-pay-your-water-bills-if-1610490630 . In a Facebook discussion, I read that PETA had this billboard taken down 5 years ago so it is no longer up–which I hope is true.

This ad was very insensitive to body image issues and animal rights must never be used as a platform to promote “fat shaming.” This makes a mockery out of the cause for animal rights and draws attention away from the important goal of stopping the unnecessary suffering to non-human animals caused by humans.

I’m not against posting billboards encouraging a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle considering that organizations in various social movements advertise their positions. My problem was with how PETA did it in this case. It’s also disturbing that an animal rights organization would post a billboard using an animal (in this case a whale) to insult a person’s body-type. In addition to insulting people with a certain body-type, it expresses negativity toward the species of non-human animals that people are compared when such negative comparisons are made.

Supporting Exit Strategies Doesn’t Justify Denying Sex Workers’ Human Rights

This blog entry expands on the previous one about the current prostitution policy debates in the Canadian Parliament. I was reading over the transcripts some more ( http://openparliament.ca/bills/41-2/C-36/?tab=mentions&singlepage=1 ) and further noticing a disturbing trend in which people expressing the importance of getting people out of prostitution while speaking in support for C-36 (proposed legislation described in the previous blog entry) tend to trivialize efforts to support sex workers’ human rights while doing sex work. It doesn’t have to be an either-or thing since it is possible to support people looking to leave sex work while also supporting the human rights of people while doing sex work.

If anybody I’m referring to reads this and to anybody else who may have such attitudes, please stop acting like human rights do not matter while we’re doing sex work. Even if you find prostitution to be inherently oppressive, you don’t speak for all sex workers and it’s not okay for you to act like we need to leave sex work in order to be allowed basic human rights. We deserve them while we’re doing sex worker. As I expressed in the previous blog entry, hatred and oppressive policies against sex workers put sex workers at increased risk for violence. This includes, but is not limited to, the violence of forcibly hand-cuffing sex workers and forcing sex workers into jail cages under oppressive anti-prostitution laws. Though these are structural issues that extend beyond only sex work, misogyny, racism, transphobia, homophobia, and classism can permeate into sex work, affecting levels and frequency violence.

Also, arguing that there’s no way to guarantee safety in prostitution doesn’t justify trivializing efforts to increase degrees of safety. We’re never guaranteed to be perfectly safe in this world no matter where we are or what type of work we do. Thus, unless the world ever becomes perfectly safe, we need to consider safety in degrees rather than as absolute. Not all prostitution is equally as dangerous and there are safety precautions sex workers can take to decrease the likelihood of experiencing violence, such as screen clients. This includes not only indoor workers gathering names, phone numbers, checking references, etc. before ever meeting the client in person, but also street workers doing initial assessments of clients before getting into cars with them. The Swedish or Nordic model being promoted by many supporters of C-36 interferes with this by criminalizing the clients. As has been mentioned in testimony to the Canadian Parliament against C-36, Vancouver police have attempted this method and sex workers reported feeling more rushed by clients and less able to do screenings. Swedish sex workers reported similar experiences ( http://www.petraostergren.com/pages.aspx?r_id=40716 ).

Additionally, decreasing the client pool does not protect sex workers and has the opposite effect by putting sex workers in a position where it is harder to be selective about the clients they service, thus being more likely to go with clients they get a bad feeling about because they need the income. They are put in a position where they can only hope that these clients don’t turn out to be violent or take advantage of them, despite the bad vibes they got from the clients and how they would probably not service them if they had a wider client pool.

Considering how C-36 endangers sex workers when compared to decriminalization, it is not surprising that I have not noticed anybody identifying as a current sex worker supporting it. On the Contrary, Amy Lebovitch, a plaintiff in the Bedford v. Canada case that ruled Canada’s anti-prostitution laws unconstitutional, testified to Parliament against C-36 while identifying as a current sex worker Her testimony is in the first video on the left side of the screen in this link (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/bill-c-36-hearings-told-not-to-conflate-prostitution-and-trafficking-1.2702095).

Violence is Violence, Not Just an Inherent Part of Prostitution–Canada at a Crossroads on Prostitution Policies

A major contemporary debate surrounding prostitution policies exits between advocates for decriminalization (the removal of laws prohibiting the exchange of sex for payment from the books, and does not decriminalize violence) and proponents of the end demand tactics, also sometimes referred to as the Swedish or Nordic model that criminalize the clients rather than the sex workers. Yet, sex workers still reported being adversely affected by this legislation (http://www.petraostergren.com/pages.aspx?r_id=40716).

Such a dispute is underway in the Canadian Parliament. In 2007, three Canadian sex workers filed a lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of Canada’s anti-prostitution Laws. Before then, prostitution was legal in Canada to a limited degree–though some of the activities surrounding prostitution were illegal. Specifically, the sex workers challenged the criminalization of running a brothel, third parties who made a living at least in part off prostitution (such as bodyguards, drivers, accountants, etc.), and street solicitation. Under the latter of these, communication in public for the purposes of prostitution is illegal–which criminalizes street-based sex workers. As Nikki Thomas explains, this provision criminalizes not only communication between sex workers and clients about the exchange of sex for payment, but also sex workers publically communicating with each other about safety issues related to prostitution ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GIoTV9ypn8 ).

On Dec. 20, 2013, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled these anti-prostitution laws Unconstitutional under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees the right to life, liberty, and freedom. Yet, there’s a catch. The Supreme Court gave the Canadian Parliament a year to review the legislation and pass alternative prostitution laws. Parliament is in the process of doing this and if Parliament doesn’t pass new prostitution legislation by the deadline, then Canada will have no prostitution laws (basically, a decriminalized system that the sex workers who filed the lawsuit are advocating for) or Parliament can request an extension.

Parliament is considering C-36, which will further criminalize clients and still criminalize street solicitation if anybody under the age of 18 is around. Though supporters tend to sugarcoat over how this would still criminalize sex workers and act like it is mainly about going after the clients, opponents argue that such legislation will further endanger sex workers and is no better than the legislation deemed Unconstitutional. For example, this would keep street workers in isolated, more dangerous areas because they may not necessarily know if anybody under the age of 18 is around when they’re in public or somebody under this age may come by while they’re communicating even if they weren’t there at first.

I’ve been following the hearing on this legislation, reading the transcript (http://openparliament.ca/bills/41-2/C-36/?page=3) and watching videos. Something particularly disturbing is how supporters of C-36 consistently treat violence like an inherent part of prostitution, though this attitude is nothing new and not specific just to Canada. This treating of violence like just part of the job description promotes and encourages violence, even if that’s not the intent. It can give people who commit violence against sex workers the message that their violence is just something to be expected in prostitution. Attitudes like this trivialize violence against sex workers and promote a climate where sex workers who experience violence are subject to a “what did you expect” type of attitude rather than being taken seriously.

Such attitudes bring to mind a quote by Gary Ridgeway, who committed the largest known serial killing spree in U.S. history. He killed at least 48 people, targeting street sex workers. He said that he targeted sex workers because he hated prostitutes and could get away with killing as many as he wanted. This happened under a criminalized system of prostitution and for about two decades, he was right about being about to get away with killing sex workers. It wasn’t until almost two decades later that he was charged with the murders.

Ridgeway’s comments illustrate how violence against sex workers, including murder, is not just inherent to prostitution. Rather, hatred against sex workers and oppressive policies promote such violence. Arguments that violence is an inherent part of prostitution are dangerous, overly simplistic, and do nothing to address such factors that lead to violence against sex workers. These include the factors already mentioned as well as how they intersect with misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, and classism to create a climate where violence is perceived as just a natural part of prostitution. Yet, this is not natural. It’s based on oppression. Such oppressiveness promotes violence, not prostitution in and of itself. Here is a very powerful testimony from Naomi Sayers of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform Her testimony in a Parliament hearing on C-36 is in the second video on the left side of the screen in this link (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/former-sex-workers-make-their-cases-in-prostitution-bill-debate-1.2698425). .

The situation in Canada is a microcosm who global debates concerning prostitution policies. Yet, in Canada, sex workers filed a lawsuit challenging anti-prostitution laws which made it to the nations highest court, which ruled unanimously in the sex workers’ favor. Also, in Canada, this dispute concerning prostitution laws has extended beyond the blogosphere and public as well as private discussions outside of political arenas, and made it specifically into Parliament.

Stop Burying Chickens Alive

This is one of many reasons why I’m a vegan and encourage a vegan lifestyle: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/397/718/818/tell-major-restaurants-and-grocery-chain-dont-support-supplier-who-buries-chickens-alive/?z00m=21300182&redirectID=1411438171 . As cruel as this is, it’s not the only horrific form of cruelty against chickens in the animal industry. Other cruel practices that have been documented include debeaking chicks without anesthesia and running male chicks through grinders alive or tossing them in a dumpster while still alive because they are of no use to the egg industry. Cramming chickens into battery cages so tightly that they cannot spread their wings is another cruel practice that has been documented. Their wings may get caught in the wire if they attempt to spread their wings.

While Pro Football Players Make Millions of Dollars, Cheerleaders Fight for At Least Minimum Wage

Blogging about sports isn’t something I often do. Yet, the lawsuits brought about by some National Football League (NFL) cheerleaders citing unlawfully low pay really caught my attention. With so much publicity about how much money players make, there appears to be a lot less on how little cheerleaders are paid.

The first such lawsuit was filed by an Oakland Raiders cheerleader this past January and since then, two more Raiders cheerleaders have filed lawsuits. Yet, this extends beyond just the Raiders. Cheerleaders from additional teams, such as the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Cincinatti Bengals, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have filed similar lawsuits this year.

The lawsuits allege that when all the hours the cheerleaders are required to work are taken into account, their pay balances out to less than minimum wage. Though they get paid for games from what I’ve learned anywhere from $75-$150 per game depending on the team, they do not get paid for the hours of required practices they put in, for putting in overtime, nor do they get paid for all appearances or for calendar photos shoots. They also don’t get paid for teaching at cheerleading camps run by the teams to the best of my knowledge.

With such little pay and putting in so many hours on a regular basis they don’t get paid for, the cheerleaders still incur a lot of out of pocket expenses and the powers that be have a lot of control over them while paying them such little money. Thus includes controlling everything from how they look to what they post on Facebook pages, who they date (as most teams have policies against cheerleaders fraternizing with players), and even where the go. For example, I recall reading an interview with a New Orleans Saints cheerleader where she said that if a cheerleader where in a club and a player were to come in, then the cheerleader would have to leave.

Consultants or directors of the squad decide what type of a look the cheerleader must maintain for the season and with at least some teams, the cheerleader has to pay to maintain this look. This could include tanning, hair coloring, styling, or extensions; and manicures. There are also very strict weight requirements that extend beyond health. Cheerleaders are subject to weekly weigh-ins and could be benched for the next game or removed from the squad if they don’t maintain a certain weight.

Cheerleaders are subject to weekly weigh-ins and in some cases, it extends beyond this. For example, Buffalo Bills cheerleaders reported having to go through “jiggle tests” where they have to do jumping jacks while those in control watch and scrutinize their bodies and if any parts of their bodies jiggled, they could be benched and not allowed to perform the next game. Raiders cheerleaders also reported having body parts routinely scrutinized and Cincinatti Bengals cheerleaders described a “fat camp” in which cheerleaders deemed to not be thin enough had to stay thirty minutes after practice and do more exercise.

This leads to the topic of body image. Though NFL cheerleading squads promote the image that this is about health and fitness, this is really putting unhealthy pressure on women to be thinner than many women can be in healthy ways. Though I don’t get cable and haven’t turned on my TV in a few months, I used to rent a room in a home where cable was included–which is where I first saw a show on the Country Music Chanel called “Making the Team.” It’s a reality show focused on trying out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, with much of the focus being on the director of the squad. This show is so disturbing largely because of body image issues that I could not stand to watch it anymore even if I did have cable and watch TV. However, for anybody who’s interested, episodes of this show are posted on hulu.com .

It was the same old clichés over and over again–treating women who didn’t have a really narrow body frame like they were too “fat” to wear the uniform. Even though the uniform is revealing, that’s not the point here. It’s more about very rigid, narrow beauty standards. Though many people seem to find wide hips sexy on women, the director and choreographer of the squad act like there’s something horribly wrong with this body-type.

Women don’t even need to have thicker body frames to be treated this way. The director of the squad reprimanded some cheerleaders who were very thin because their weight was not as low as it was the previous season. One of these very thin cheerleaders mentioned that the body-type they were pressured to maintain was not realistically maintainable. While women trying out for the cheerleading squad who are nicely toned and not medically overweight are being treated like they’re too “fat”, players over three hundred pounds can go out on the field and play in really tight pants with their guts hanging out over the top.

Amidst all I have written so far in this blog entry, I reflect on my experiences as an exotic dancer and make comparisons to what I write about here. Unlike with the NFL cheerleaders, I was never made weigh-in as an exotic dancer nor was I ever told that I needed to loose weight in order to dance. This is considering that though I am a healthy weight for my body type and get a lot of compliments on my body, I would still be thicker than all or almost all NFL cheerleaders and above the acceptable weight range.

I also never had to do any “jiggle test” as an exotic dancer, such as doing jumping jacks with my body parts being examined for any jiggling and then denied being able to work if I jiggle anywhere. None of the clubs I worked at ever asked me how much I weighed nor did anybody tell me I had to tan or how my hair had to look.

The pay was also a lot better as an exotic dancer. Though there wasn’t an hourly salary at most of the clubs where I’ve worked, I wasn’t expected to make appearances or do any required work for free. Even at the clubs where there were hourly wages, most of my income came from tips. Tipping was expected and common on stage, and required for lap dances and VIP rooms. Some customers even tipped for sitting and chatting with them.

As an example of the lawsuits filed, here is one filed by two Oakand Raiders cheerleaders: http://www.scribd.com/doc/228300494/Raiders-Lawsuit-2 . The lawsuit filed by a Cincinatti Bengals cheerleader cited the Seattle Seahawks as an exemplary system for cheerleader pay, in which cheerleaders are paid an hourly wage for the work they put in, including practices. Here is an online petition in support of NFL cheerleaders being paid more justly for their work: http://www.change.org/petitions/roger-goodell-nfl-commissioner-petition-to-provide-nfl-cheerleaders-with-a-livable-salary?utm_campaign=new_signature&utm_medium=email&utm_source=signature_receipt#share

Please Support Jill Brenneman

Some of you reading this may know Jill Brenneman. She is trafficking survivor and activist who has been open about her experiences in both the forced and consensual sectors of the sex industry, expressing the importance of distinguishing between these. Jill is a very resilient, insightful, caring, and compassionate person. She also founded Sex Workers without Borders ( http://sexworkerswithoutborders.org/ ). She was also a regular contributor to the “Bound Not Gagged” sex workers’ rights blog where she posted many thorough and informative comments: http://deepthroated.wordpress.com/?s=jill+brenneman .

Jill has been hospitalized with a chronic circulatory system condition and plans to undergo heart surgery. There is an indiegogo.com campaign to raise funds for Jill and I’m glad to see all the support. It’s great that the campaign, which has at the time I write this message has raised $2595. This exceeded the goal of $2500. Yet, there is still time to contribute as you are willing and able to. The campaign with last until July 17. Here is a link where you can donate and learn more about Jill as a person: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-for-jill-brenneman . Thank you to all who donated!

Brutalizing Animals Violates Bodily Rights

Is human consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs simply a bodily rights issue as some non-vegans may argue? That is, accusing people speaking out against cruelty toward animals in these industries of interfering with their bodily rights while acting like other people shouldn’t care what they eat since this is (according to them), an individual issue. I have noticed such an argument used before. If only this issue were so simple, but it isn’t…..

If this were simply an issue of being able to make a choice about what they put in their bodies without animals being routinely brutalized, forced to live in horrific confinement, and killed, then I would agree with the argument that this is just an issue of people making choices for what to put in their own bodies. However, that’s all too often not the case and this isn’t mainly an issue about people’s bodies. Unless the animals are choosing to be brutalized and forced to live in extreme confinement before being killed, this isn’t simply a choice issue. My concerns aren’t simply based on caring about animals. Rather, they are based on being against brutalizing animals.

My focus isn’t mainly on what people choose to eat in and of itself, but on stopping the very unnecessary brutalization of non-human animals for human consumption. Though I cannot control what other people eat and am far from perfect myself, I will still lead by example and unapologetically encourage a vegan lifestyle. Peacefully encouraging a vegan lifestyle is not imposing on anybody’s bodily rights. Rather, it promotes bodily rights which extend beyond just people.

Supporting Monica Jones, Opposing Transphobia and Coercive “Diversion” Programs

Monica Jones is a trans woman actively involved in supporting the human rights of sex workers and trans*-identified people. In the Phoenix area where she is located, an anti-sex work “diversion” program called Project ROSE conducts round ups to arrest sex workers. Yet, because sex workers are given the “option” of going through the Project ROSE program in lieu of serving prison time, a report I read said “the powers that be” are denying that this is arrest. However, if they’re forcibly handcuffing sex workers and forcibly taking sex workers to the police station even if they do meet with people from Project ROSE, I don’t know what else to call this other than arresting.

Though Monica Jones is a self-identified sex worker, this doesn’t mean she’s doing nothing but sex work 24-7. She asserts that when she was arrested, she was just out in public, wasn’t doing sex work, and was profiled for being a trans woman of color in a low-income neighborhood. She was charged with a vaguely defined crime called “manifestation of prostitution.” She also reported having been subject to transphobic statements from police on repeated occasions.

The next phase of her trial is set for April 11 and her case is among many illustrating the harmful intersections of transphobia and oppressive laws against sex workers. The way Monica Jones described it in an interview, she was told to either go through the Project ROSE Program or be criminally charge with prostitution–where she risks prison time and being stuck with prostitution on her permanent record. Then, she explained later being told she couldn’t go through the Project ROSE program because she had already been in a prostitution “diversion” program years before. She has become an outspoken opponent of Project ROSE.

Though I do not support arresting any sex workers for prostitution, the horrible situation could be magnified for trans* sex workers. Monica Jones explained that if sent to prison, she could be forced into the men’s jail, even though she identifies as a woman. This could make here even more vulnerable to harassment and violence than if she were cis.

Here’s my perspective on diversion programs: I am not against providing voluntarily programs to sex workers wishing to go through such programs. Yet, to tell sex workers that they either have to go through diversion program or face criminal charges for prostitution where they could face prison time if convicted is coercive. This is coercing sex workers into diversion programs who may not want or need such programs.

My understanding is that such programs are also used as a way to discourage sex workers from fighting the charges and oppressive laws. For example, scaring sex workers into thinking that if they fight the charges, they will be convicted and have to spend time in jail as well as stuck with prostitution on their permanent record for life. Monica Jones also explained that she wasn’t given the option to speak with a lawyer after being arrested and made to meet with people from Project ROSE. Yet, the right to a lawyer is a Constitutional right in the U.S.

Furthermore, though there may be some variations between programs, my understanding is that various coercive “diversion” programs require sex workers to be there all day long 5-days a week like a 9-5 job. Yet, being coerced into spending this amount of time in “diversion” programs they are not getting paid for dismisses how various sex workers are people with bills and living expenses to pay who need to make a living. The time spent in the coerced “diversion” programs thus interferes with sex workers being able to do this at any job and may subsequently create additional financial strains for the sex workers.

Also, what about sex worker who may have other “square” jobs or schooling during the hours they must spend in the diversion program. Though I don’t agree with coercing people into such programs even if they don’t have jobs outside of sex work or are not going to school studying to do something else, if the intent is to divert people away from prostitution, then keeping them away from schooling or “square” jobs to go through this program seems counterproductive. What if sex workers loose other jobs or fall behind in school because of time conflicts with when they have to be at “diversion” programs. Furthermore, I don’t know of the diversion programs providing or covering the costs of child care for sex workers who are parents and may need this while they attend the “diversion” program they were coerced into.

It’s very disturbing that Arizona State’s School of Social Work (where Monica Jones is also a student) is part of the partnership with Project ROSE, Catholic Charities, Bethany Bible Church, and the Phoenix Police in this arrest sex workers program. The coerciveness of such a program violates social work codes of ethics: http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Affilia-2013-Wahab-344-9.pdf.

Please check out this Facebook page in support of Monica Jones: https://www.facebook.com/SupportMonicaJones .

Yes, Policies toward Sex Workers Do Matter

To former and non-sex workers:

Please don’t act like policies toward sex workers don’t matter.  You aren’t the ones currently doing sex work, so it’s not your place to decide this for current sex workers.  There are sex workers globally putting themselves on the line to tirelessly advocate against being criminalized–which would not be the case if policies didn’t matter to the sex workers.  To various sex workers, the fear of not only dangerous customers, but also that the next “client” will be some undercover cop who arrests them and may further humiliate, rape, or sexually assault them before forcing them into handcuffs, a police vehicle, and a jail cage is a very real fear.

I’m not saying that all police are bad people and have no doubt some are great people.  The same holds true for people in various industries. My main issue here isn’t just with the individual police officers, but with the oppressive laws and attitudes that lead to such abuses.  Thus, I’m viewing this issue systematically rather than just individually–looking at the big picture.  This isn’t to excuse harms individuals (whether police officers or not) commit against sex workers.

Yes, I agree that laws and policies aren’t the only issue.  There are an intersectionlity of issues that could affect sex workers and not all sex workers are subject to these equally, such as sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, migration status, and probably many more.

I unapologically assert that laws and policies toward sex work are part of the intersectionality, not a totally separate issue.  Anti-prostitution laws give authorities another tool to unjustly go after marginalized groups of people and makes it a lot easier to do so–such as profiling certain groups of people as sex workers and using this to harass them for perhaps just being on the sidewalks whether they are sex workers or not.  The authorities don’t even have to be creative enough to come up with another reason for doing this under anti-prostitution laws–they could just use such laws as a way to excuse this behavior.

Additionally, I don’t mean to conflate former and non-sex workers together.  A difference is that former sex workers have experience working as sex workers while non-sex workers do not.    Yet, former sex workers are not currently doing sex work and are not presently affected by policies in the same way current sex workers are–such as having to worry about whether your next client is an undercover cop or that your next client could be violent because the hatred against sex workers and oppressive laws combining to make sex workers “easy targets” for perpetrators of violence–as they may rest assured that they could just get away with it.  After all, under criminalized systems, sex workers in prostitution cannot report the violence without incriminating themselves in the process.  Yet, I realize that former sex workers may still be affected by anti-prostitution laws, such as being denied other jobs or finding it tougher to rent an apartment because prostitution is on their permanent record.  This is another example of how policies toward sex workers do matter–affecting not only current sex workers but also people who used to do sex work.

Various former and non sex workers recognize the importance of policies affecting sex workers and some are great allies to current sex workers.  If this describes you, then I have two words: Thank you.  To former and non-sex workers who dismiss sex workers’ efforts to decriminalize prostitution by using the argument that working towards decriminalizing prostitution is a privileged perspective, I ask you to do some introspection and look within yourself, being mindful of your own privileges and how expressing such an attitude toward sex workers while not currently being one represents a privileged perspective.  Also, please consider if you would make the same claim about any other marginalized group advocating against their unjust criminalization.

Brutality against Animals Vs. Shooting Clay: A Vegan’s Perspective

Are there contradictions between being anti-violence and eating meat?  This is something I think about a lot.  I cannot figure out why some people who identify as anti-violence, anti-guns, and anti-drones still eat meat, and largely or entirely ignore the violence and killing in this industry. Though I wasn’t a huge supporter of either mainstream candidate this election, I encourage anybody who eats meat while identifying as pro-peace and opposes Obama on the grounds that he authorized the  use of war drones to please apply the same standards of peace and anti-violence to animals.  I say the same to people who eat meat, but are anti-guns on the grounds that guns are violent. Though I realize guns have been used in very violent ways and am not disagreeing with you here, the cruelty that happens to animals on factory farms and some other types is often even more inhumane than guns–though I’m not supporting either form of violence.

Also, the thought that anybody would be outraged by skeet shooting on the grounds that it involves using a gun without the same level of outrage against animals being brutalized disgusts me. Hanging animals upside down by their ankles on an assembly line and slitting their throats (which seems to be common practice in cow and chicken killing for meat) is far more cruel, inhumane, and horrific than shooting at a piece of clay. Forcibly taking a mother cow’s children away from her so people can have her milk is also far crueler than shooting at clay. Personally I do not own a gun nor do I engage in skeet or any other form of shooting. Yet, I can’t figure out why anybody who is anti-violence would be more outraged by shooting at clay than by horrific abuses against animals that happen routinely in the meat, dairy and egg industries, even if practices may vary on different types of farms.

Even outside of factory farms where the brutality may not be as bad (but  could be in some cases), I still see the unnecessary killing of animals for meat as a form of violence. There are plenty of other things we can eat and humans can live very healthy lives as herbivores. Some may argue this position is culturally insensitive because in some cultures, raising animals for meat and hunting animals is an important part of their culture. Looking at this from strictly a cultural perspective is only focusing on the people, but I’m also concerned about the animals.

I spent time in Mexico and some people in my group attended a bull fight. I declined because I don’t support brutalizing animals for entertainment no matter what culture is involved. There are many other forms of entertainment that don’t involve brutalizing animals for us to enjoy. Also, bull fighting isn’t native to Mexico, but the Spaniards brought it over–not that this would make a difference in whether I attended either way.

To anybody has trouble believing the cruelty in the meat, dairy, and egg industries is really so bad, please watch a documentary called “Earthlings” : http://earthlings.com/ .