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July 30, 2010 / V A Nichols

Response to Criticism of Silencing the Lambs

SILENCING THE LAMBS Fundraising for the Animals by Serving
Them for Dinner: The Myth of Humane Agriculture in Today’s
Animal Advocacy Movement

On “Silencing the Lambs”

Thank you to all of you who have expressed support for our releasing “Silencing the Lambs.” We found making this video a painful, though unavoidable, matter of conscience. We’ve been heartened by the level of response it has generated, which has been mostly positive.

Our goal in making this video was to spark discussion and rational debate on matters of great importance to the animals’ cause, matters that are too often being discussed and decided by a handful of people behind closed doors. Since it was released, several people have asked me to respond to criticisms made by Farm Sanctuary, one of the two organizations mentioned by name in the video. We believe that some of the things being said by Farm Sanctuary are inaccurate, and equally important, run the risk of shifting the discussion in a far less productive direction. We request that those on all sides of these issues avoid making wholesale judgments and/or directing harsh language toward any individual or organization. It is far more helpful to use this as an opportunity to encourage organizations to be accountable to the values they have publicly stated.

Certified HumaneFor the last several years, many of us have watched with growing concern as the language, affairs and public message of animal advocacy organizations and the animal-using industry have become increasingly intertwined. The public understandably becomes confused, and the industry takes advantage of this confusion. For example, an animal farmer named Joel Salatin, famous for slaughtering chickens in the movie Food, Inc., recently said in the media that he is in the “healing industry” and called his farm a “sanctuary”. Contributing to this confusion, some animal protection organizations now use romanticized imagery of animals on bucolic “humane” farms which can easily give the public the impression that voting for a given legislative initiative or purchasing the “right” kind of animal products will lead to a life for exploited animals not much different than that at a sanctuary. Many of us working in animal advocacy feel that this trend is disastrous, and represents an ongoing victory for the meat industry in its effort to co-opt animal advocacy by steadily shifting the public dialogue away from whether or not it is right to use and kill animals to what is the right way to use and kill animals.

We have now reached a point where serving meat and other animal products to raise money to “protect” farm animals is something that the largest animal advocacy organization in the US will not only promote, but do so using the photo of an individual animal over the phrase “Respect our Food” on an invitation with their logo. We feel the time has come to ask ourselves, how much is too much? How deeply must animal advocacy organizations become enmeshed in the affairs of those who make profits from using and killing animals before more of us stand up to object?

We have now reached a point where serving meat and other animal products to raise money to “protect” farm animals is something that the largest animal advocacy organization in the US will not only promote, but do so using the photo of an individual animal over the phrase “Respect our Food” on an invitation with their logo. We feel the time has come to ask ourselves, how much is too much? How deeply must animal advocacy organizations become enmeshed in the affairs of those who make profits from using and killing animals before more of us stand up to object?

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