Open dialogue is an important tool for moving discourse forward and gaining a better understanding of the issues we face in our time. In the spirit of open dialogue, the following is my response to the essay Animal Rights and the Challenge of Activism.
In the essay, the author describes the different tactics used by animal rights activists to persuade non-vegans. She emphasizes the importance of free speech, open inquiry, and debate, in particular the importance of non-vegans’ ability to challenge vegans. But in doing so, she also unwittingly exposes how her own rhetoric might influence people in such a way that might undermine the animal rights movement. My response isn’t an attempt at a ‘take-down’ of the author, but instead it is a way to show how important language is in animal rights activism and how even those of us with the best intentions can fall into these traps.
“How do you know someone is vegan?” “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!” We all know it. Animal Rights activists are annoying and pushy. They will ‘shove their beliefs down your throat’ when you are just trying to enjoy your lunch. Whether How I Met Your Mother or South Park is your show of choice, you will have seen this notorious creature represented on screen, and given the recent growth in the movement, you probably know someone in your own life who always ruins a dinner party. Maybe you, like me, are the annoying vegan.
Trigger moments in human history awaken us to injustice and turn the tide of public perception. What happened in Waterloo, Iowa may not have been a watershed moment but as far as human folly, it was a doozy.
Between March and mid-April 2020, as the pandemic surged, managers at the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo lay bets on how many employees would fall prey to COVID-19. This, while the brass told workers they had “a responsibility to keep working in order to ensure Americans don’t go hungry.”