Pretty self-explanatory, I suppose. So I was cautious about being ambushed by a bunch of Francionists, naturally. That's what happened when I dipped into ARCO, as I describe in my blog entry of Nov. 21, 2007, when I was verbally assaulted by Francionists. However, as the date of my "chat" session on AR Zone approached, it became clear to me that one of the main organizers, Carolyn Bailey, is thoroughly civilized and would not permit such attacks. They really only happened from one person, Professor Roger Yates, who is also an admin. person on AR Zone. More on that later.
Apparently Francione himself, who appeared in a chat on the AR Zone early on, typically tried to control the situation with that site. He objected to Bruce Friedrich of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) appearing as a chat guest. The Zone organizers let Francione sulk, however, and had Friedrich on anyway. Francione also issued directives to his followers regarding my chat. He instructed them not to participate. As for Roger Yates, Francione made him pay the price of excommunication, not talking to him for the rest of his life, because he referred to me as an animal rights person and was apparently one of the chief driving forces of my appearing in the Zone's chat room. I feel a teeny bit bad that Yates, a Francionist, was cut off from Francione himself since he valued the connection. But I was only the occasion, not the cause. Francione himself is responsible for his tantrums.
When it was posted on the chat site that Francione "instructed" people not to participate in a dialogue with me, I put in: "Well I would not mind if he 'descended' to join us, and anyway his followers are cordially invited to participate. But if Francione has discouraged that, well then I suppose it is a question of obedience." Or something very near to that. Actually, apart from Yates' exemplary rudeness, the whole thing felt like a conference with friendlies. They did honour to themselves with the way they conducted themselves. Yates got away with his behaviour since he is an admin. person who himself kicks people off, and I guess there is also the status thing: he is a professor of sociology somewhere.
Anyway, instead of the chat lasting for the set minimum and normal period of an hour, it took about four hours and twenty minutes by my reckoning! More than half a work day. Wow! And we spent half an hour saying good-byes, it seemed, even after all of that and it being late at night in my time zone (I go to bed relatively early). Eventually, after many hints that I had enough, I had to put in: "Signing off. Best, David." These people were SO nice, apart from Yates. We disagree on a lot of things for the most part but we agree to be civilized. They were more than that. Apart from Yates, they were very patient with me. Since a large bulk of the questions were about issues related to anti-cruelty legislation, I wrote a report summarizing my view of the state of that debate. Posting that took a very long time, and a long length of transcript. I was OK with it because it allowed sophisticated answers to sincere questions. But I am unendingly thankful to all involved for their patience with that: me posting little 250 word blocks of my report for a long time there, and a fair number of pages too. What a great bunch of AR folk! I love being able to say that, after all of the conflict I have had with Francionists over the years. To a significant degree, we really have common cause.
If you want to check out a transcript of the chat, please click on the following: CHAT
I learned from this exchange of ideas too. One important thing is that Francione has abandoned the part of Rain without Thunder in which he recommends incremental reforms for animals in which the law (impossibly, as I've made clear many times) protects 100% of an animal's interest. From what I have heard, too, his opposition to single-issue campaigns (imagine actually FOCUSSING on something to get something done!) might also exclude campaigns to outlaw animal circus acts for example. It is hard to imagine anything more retrogressive, but I will put out an assessment of this change to even more inflexibility in a later post.
I also posted new stuff from my own thinking: many criteria for animal law pertaining to ethics and also effectiveness. I'd like to fill out this thinking in the form of a book one day. But my wife's stained glass image of a snail that I use as part of my self-portrait on my Facebook page is just about symbolic of how the rate of my progress feels at times!
Brandon Becker, ever thoughtful, also asked me to elaborate on my idea that it is OK to use "animals" to refer to "nonhuman animals" without necessarily being speciesist as Joan Dunayer contends (and certainly without being stylistically tedious, as my mother-in-law points out!). I originally commented on this on my blog entry for August 12, 2008, one of the sources of Brandon's question. Another source, of course, was Dunayer's work.
I wish I could just praise everyone in the chat, but Yates disallowed that option. Still, he was in the minority, and he did not at all besmirch the shining example set by the rest of the Zone people. For that and the opportunity to dialogue, I sincerely thank them.
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