Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Violent vegans

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” - Isaac Asimov

This guy has a piece of celery in one ear, a carrot in the other ear and a zucchini up his nose. He goes to the doctor and asks him what’s wrong. The doctor tells him, “Well, for one thing, you're not eating right.”

Okay, maybe not the funniest joke in the world but I just wanted to show you that I do have a sense of humour. But what I read last week wasn’t funny to me at all. In fact, I thought it was quite appalling.

The incident I’m referring to is the pie-ing of Lierre Keith, former vegan and author of The Vegetarian Myth, by three hooded vegan extremists.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the assault took place at an anarchist book fair, where Keith was promoting her book, and the pies thrown at her were reportedly laced with chili peppers. For the complete story, click here:

A similar occurrence happened here in Canada a few months ago, when a pie-wielding PETA member attacked the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans because she supported the annual east coast seal slaughter. PETA claimed responsibility for the pie assault and the woman, an American from New York City, was charged. Here’s the link to that story:

Now there are a lot of things that people say and do that I disagree with, but I don’t go around throwing pies at them. It’s not only childish; it’s an act of violence. Veganism is supposed to be about NON-violence.

And while a number of people have applauded the pie-throwing episode in San Francisco, some vegans don’t even consider it an act of violence. According to a person who witnessed the assault:

“I was there and perhaps I should have snickered in silence, and I am the first one to condemn ‘violence’, but I firmly feel that this was not a violent act, but a clever and effective direct action. The only thing the pie throwing ninjas bruised was her ego. Lierre Keith's book is very dangerous to the vegan movement.”

For the record, hitting someone in the face with a pie IS a violent act. It’s a display of force meant to embarrass or humiliate someone else, and it’s doing something to someone else against their will - a violation. It doesn't matter that Keith wasn’t physically or seriously injured.

So what are these people trying to prove? Do they think they’re going to win the public over or be taken seriously by hitting people in the face with pies? What message do they hope to impart on society, other than if you support acts of violence against animals (or even write against vegetarianism/veganism), you will become the target of violence?

Some animal activists used to do the same thing to people who wore fur, but instead of throwing pies, they threw red paint (and apparently still do on occasion). But the tactics, and the message, are still the same: the use of violence to raise awareness of violence. It’s all pretty stupid if you ask me.

And it’s counter-productive. Throwing pies at people doesn’t make them think about animal suffering or animal rights. It will however, make them think that animal activists are a bunch of crazy idiots.

Since 99% of the population doesn’t see anything wrong with using or eating animals, a lot of people will use this stunt (and others like it) to denounce veganism, and label us all as angry, militant and irrational hypocrites, even though it's not true.

If these violent outbursts continue, the progress we’ve made as agents for peaceful change will suffer. We’ll be branded extremists and terrorists. Never mind Lierre Keith’s book; it’s the pie-throwings and other senseless acts of violence that could do the vegan movement the most harm.


Morgan Dunbar said...

I 100% agree with you on the topic of violence within this or any other movement. It's unacceptable full stop.

The LAST thing the animal rights movement needs are acts such as these tainting public image and appreciation of the fundamental respect and compassion for all life.

aggie said...

Who says veganism is supposed to be about non-violence? For some it's simply working to liberate the oppressed, end of story.

Daniel K. Vegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel K. Vegan said...

Aggie, I think you're confusing animal liberation (like the ALF) with veganism. Look up Donald Watson (the man who came up with the term vegan)'s definition of veganism (it's on this site somewhere). You'll find it has more to do with reducing and ending violence than committing violence.