In my studies of Francione's ideology, I have noticed that he often accuses others of that which applies to his own claims in one respect or another. This is called "hypocrisy." Yesterday I collected more than 20 of these together. I call them "boomerangs" since he sends them out as accusing shots at his opponents, whom he mislabels "new welfarists," but they rebound back at him. If one is not careful, a boomerang can come back and knock one upside the head. However, he seems to be unaware of his theoretical predicament. Indeed, logical implications cannot be physically felt, let alone seen, heard, smelled, or tasted unlike physical boomerangs. Thankfully, Francione himself remains safe, however, the same cannot be said for the logical status of his position.
Francione’s Claim: “Welfarist” reforms are futile.
BOOMERANG!-1: His proto-rights recommendations sometimes overlap with “welfarist” proposals, e.g., banning the leg-hold trap. So why is such a proposal “futile” when a “welfarist” supports it, but a potent part of abolitionism when coming from the mouth of Francione?
BOOMERANG!-2: Logically speaking, his proto-rights proposals that protect 100% of animals' interests must be super-futile to pursue if much less stringent "welfarist" proposed laws are futile to seek approval of.
Francione’s Claim: Animal “welfarism” promotes complacency.
BOOMERANG!-1: Since Francione does not advocate any legal changes for animals now this creates complacency with total animal misery on the legislative front.
BOOMERANG!-2: His proto-rights proposals would create even more complacency. For then people would say that it is as though part of animal rights is achieved, with the entire protection of an animal’s interest. People would be much more complacent with something strong like animal rights over a weaker “welfarist” law that is enacted.
Francione’s Claim: Animal “welfarism” laws boost animal consumption.
BOOMERANG!: His proto-rights, if passed into law, would boost consumption even more by implication from his reasoning. That is because they promote more complacency or satisfaction with the state of animal law, as argued above, so fewer consumers would boycott the animal industries.
Francione’s Claim: We should not instrumentalize animals (which I can define as treating sentient beings as though they are merely useful while not respecting their interests).
BOOMERANG!: Francione opposes reforming laws because this will create complacency. The unstated (because embarrassing) logical implication here is that keeping laws so that animals are miserable will reduce complacency, since then people will be upset by all of the cruelty. This way of thinking perversely uses animal misery as a mere means towards reducing complacency.
Francione’s Claim: Many other animal rights advocates are “new welfarists.”
BOOMERANG!: He himself is a kind of animal “welfarist,” as I substantiate in my blog entry for June 1, 2008. And while mixing animal rights and animal “welfare” approaches is not new in general, his kind of “proto-rights” welfarism is indeed a relatively new form of welfarism, ironically enough.
Francione’s Claim: Animal “welfare” laws just mean that animals will be exploited more efficiently and profitably.
BOOMERANG!: Francione recommends abstaining from legal reforms at this stage. This gives animal exploiters total freedom to exploit animals more efficiently, e.g., through factory farming, which saves money by treating animals miserably (less space = less rent money, and crappy food is cheaper, as is lack of veterinary care, poor air quality, leaving animals in filth, no amusements, not letting them move around, etc.).
Francione’s Claim: His abolitionist approach will eliminate the root cause of animal suffering (as though this is unique to his approach).
BOOMERANG!: His opponents, the animal rights pragmatists will not only eliminate that cause too, but will do so sooner since a kinder legal culture is far more conducive to animal rights, as I explain in my journal article, “Animal Rights Law.”
Francione’s Claim: Animal welfarist laws are complicit with speciesism.
BOOMERANG!: He would approve of a law banning dehorning of cattle, which would join a body of speciesist laws. It is also conducive to speciesism in law to refuse to try to ameliorate speciesist harms through legal reform at this stage in history.
Francione’s Claim: We must reject the Great Ape Project since it favours animals who have “similar minds” to humans.
BOOMERANG!: He would save a human over a dog in an emergency, other factors being equal. This is presumably due to the different minds of the two, not their different bodies, although Francione merely states he “intuitively” favours this idea.
Francione’s Claim: We do not accept abolishing child abuse by degrees, as the “welfarists” advocate, so we should not accept this in animal law either.
BOOMERANG!: Francione’s proposals would also abolish exploitation by degrees, e.g., protecting some entire interests but others not at all, or banning dehorning but not necessarily hot iron branding.
Francione’s Claim: “Micro” animal welfare action is acceptable, but “macro” animal welfare practices such as laws must be rejected.
BOOMERANG!: If everyone should pursue “micro” animal welfare practices, as Francione seems to support, that automatically becomes a “macro” phenomenon.
Francione’s Claim: Seeking political “insider status” is counterproductive.
BOOMERANG!: Nothing could produce less benefit for animals than staying outside the legislative process for a long time to come: that guarantees zero productivity in that particular respect.
Francione’s Claim: We should not pursue legislative reforms since animal rightists will not be taken seriously by legislatures.
BOOMERANG!: Francione’s crew is among those taken the least seriously by legislatures since they do not even try for legislative change. By contrast, animal rights advocates such as Martin Balluch of Austria, as I have reported earlier, are taken so seriously that laws are signed into effect banning battery cages, fur farming, vivisection of apes, etc. This is accomplished without hiding long-term aspirations for animal rights.
Francione’s Claim: Animal “welfarism” laws play into the hands of animal exploiters by failing to advocate animal rights.
BOOMERANG!: Advocating that animal rightists abstain from legislative change plays into unmitigated animal exploitation more than any other approach. Or Francione’s accepted converse of proposing only laws that finance 100% protection of animal interests, which would obviously be defeated by speciesist legislatures, would also play into exploiters’ interests since then again no animal law reforms would result, a very happy outcome for animal industrialists.
Francione’s Claim: We cannot sacrifice animals’ interests today in the hope of winning animal rights tomorrow.
BOOMERANG!: He agrees to banning dehorning of cows while hot-iron branding would still be permitted. That manifestly sacrifices the protection of whole interests.
Francione’s Claim: It is “morally schizophrenic” to reject unnecessary suffering of animals while accepting practices that involve needless torment.
BOOMERANG!: Again, banning dehorning but not hot-iron branding accepts unnecessary suffering in a legislative proposal and is therefore “morally schizophrenic.”
Francione’s Claim: Do not support groups that claim that some forms of animal abuse are worse than others.
BOOMERANG!: Presumably his banning of dehorning rests on the presumption that it is worse abuse to have cattle industries which permit dehorning.
Francione’s Claim: Animal rights pragmatism does not focus on vegan education unlike his own approach.
BOOMERANG!: Usually animal rights pragmatism not only focuses on veganism, but does so more effectively since Francione condemns all non-vegans equally, and this negative approach discourages—through self-righteous condemnation—those who might only gradually work their way towards veganism.
Francione’s Claim: "New welfarism" is far from most conducive towards abolishing speciesism in the long-term.
BOOMERANG!: Animal rights fundamentalism, as I have argued, is far from most conducive towards animal rights in the long-term since fundamentalism promotes crueler culture in the legislative realm, and such a culture is obviously less conducive to respect for animal interests than kinder culture.*
Francione’s Claim: Animal rights pragmatism is unethical, since its proposals go contrary to animal rights and anti-speciesism.
BOOMERANG!-1: His own proto-rights proposals are also short of animal rights and anti-speciesism, while, like the pragmatists, claiming to affirm animal rights and anti-speciesism as much as possible.
BOOMERANG!-2: His philosophy goes contrary to promoting what is best for sentient beings in both the short-term and the long-term and on that basis, can be judged to be unethical.
These shots with the boomerang Francione perceives as demolishing the pragmatists' argument. Instead they reflect badly on his own stance (once the full implications are understood) while leaving the contentions of his opponents completely unscathed, as I show in "Animal Rights Law."
* I would like to thank Ian, who prefers his last name to remain anonymous, for taking the time to write to me and to discern and point out that the way I originally phrased this "boomerang" was not exactly in the logical form of a boomerang. I have corrected this problem thanks to Ian's feedback on Tuesday, August 5, 2008.
FURTHER READING ON ANIMAL RIGHTS INCREMENTALISM
A Selection of Related Articles
Sztybel, David. "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism". Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37.
Short version of "Animal Rights Law".
Sztybel, David. "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".
Sztybel, David. "Sztybelian Pragmatism versus Francionist Pseudo-Pragmatism".
A Selection of Related Blog Entries