Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking Back on 2011, and Forward into 2012

Hi folks,

I think that 2011 was productive for me as an ideas-roots activist, a notion I elaborated in my November 17th entry.

  • January 16th I made my first appearance on AR Zone. Although I was leery about being attacked by Francionists, it was actually one of the most positive events in my life so far, overall. I figured Roger Yates would hate me till I die, but in my second appearance in a podcast chat just this last month, we found ourselves rather liking and respecting each other as people, a great thing I never would have predicted.
  • In February I also let go of my old home-made blog and surrendered to the superior design inherent in Blogger. I'm grateful for this terrific, free platform.
  • March was a really busy month for marching onward as it were:
    1. I offered a historical retrospective on rights laws for blacks, women, and children to show how that has all been incrementalist, and Bruce Friedrich (then of PETA, now affiliated with the Farm Sanctuary) a stalwart figure in this whole debate, said my essay is "essential reading."
    2. I wrote an essay for Toronto Pig Save entitled "Extending Our Circle of Compassion to Pigs."
    3. I made a suggested guide on how to deal with anti-incrementalists in animal rights groups so that they do not take over, as they sometimes try to do, de-railing important works or threatening to do so.
    4. I added a historical list of great achievements for animal welfare and animal rights to my web page.
    5. I wrote a new, one-pager sheet called "Animal Rights in Essence" in which I draw a connection to AR and non-violence.
    6. BioMedLib rated my peer-reviewed journal article in the Journal of Applied Philosophy, "A Living Will Clause for Supporters of Animal Experimentation" as the top of the top 10 articles on animal experimentation in terms of popularity of accessing papers.
    7. In a blog entry, I pretty much buried qualms about using the term "Francionist" because I pointed out how much the terms "Reganite" and "Singerite" are used without the negative connotations that the Francionists themselves seem to fear--they have a lot of fears upon closer examination...
  • In April, a large and super-active animal rights group called the Northwest Animal Rights Network adopted my peer-reviewed journal article, "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism," as a position paper for their group respecting incrementalist animal law.
  • Also in April, doctoral student Jana Crawford and I teamed up to write another short essay for Toronto Pig Save.
  • In May, wonderful activist Brandon Becker coaxed me to blog up my remarks on using the term "animal," and how it is sometimes stylistically and even theoretically better than "nonhuman animal"--depending on the context of usage. These remarks were a passage from my first AR Zone appearance, an answer to his question given to me before the interview.
  • In August I announced that albeit I felt obliged to leave the Fellowship program of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, through my own choice alone, due to unsatisfactory treatment, I was coincidentally appointed the same day (as my official resignation with the OCAE) as a Research Fellow at the University of Vienna.
  • In the month of September I contributed a new chart to show the time-line for incremental laws pertaining to African-Americans, and also a new essay, "Anti-Vivisection and Anti-Violence".
  • The next month of October saw the release of a new paper, "Veganism versus Violence" and I also added a bit on public speaking to my website, offering my services thusly.
  • In November I put together an abridged version of "Veganism vs. Violence," which was officially adopted by a poster-campaign in Toronto modeled after a Mercy for Animals drive. Also in November a top journalist cited my views on PETA suing for orca personhood, and I wrote my "Ideas-Roots Activism" blog entry which Carolyn Bailey kindly cross-posted on the AR Zone.
  • Finally, in December, just last month, I made a second appearance on AR Zone, a chat-podcast that all participants enjoyed and learned from. I also effectively rebutted Gary Francione's three supposed critiques of my animal law views on anti-incrementalism, and pretty much mopped up the floor with the would-be-back-stabbing commentators on the Abolitionist Approach Forum. (Is such loving attention to the floor consistent with non-violence? You bet. If you are attacked, you may defend yourself vigorously. For a justification, see my discussion in "Veganism vs. Violence," for example, of what I name the principle of non-violent approximation, where in this case I have a choice between:

    1. refutation of libel, insults, degradations, and so forth and
    2. passively suffering these harms inflicted by others.

    A lot of these Francionist bullies are not accustomed to having others fight back.)

I was really quite surprised that there was so much activity to 2011 when I looked back through the blog recently. At any given moment there is only the one or few things one is working on, sometimes. And there is a whole lot else on the back-burner by way of potential books and essays. The year was tremendously fertile for a number of these projects too. I did a lot more grassroots activism here too, such as for the Toronto Veggie Pride Parade, where I was also a speaker, and at other events too. It was a fine year. I am an independent researcher and proud of it. Honestly, I see my not currently teaching at a university largely as a social consequence of speciesist hiring practices. It is oddly untoward in some ways to encounter academic colleagues at conferences who tell me with admiration that I should be teaching somewhere. I would gladly trade such noble sentiments for a decent job. Still and all, my blog is entitled "On the Road to Liberation," and I feel that in some sense perhaps I am on such a road, and I am by no means the only one. Indeed, not all of us are human.

I don't think the Mayans are correct that we will experience the end of the world in 2012 (these armageddonists have a way of being disappointed, thankfully), although hopefully we will see the end of some histories of oppression in the life-stories that constantly surround us.

May you and yours experience a great year in 2012, unlike any other, with much health, loving-kindness, and joy.

Happy New Year!


  1. You had a very productive year, looking forward to seeing what you accomplish for the animals in 2012! Happy New Year.

  2. Thank you, and a Happy New Year to you too. May you find rewarding avenues of fulfillment.