the animal liberation movement’s sad state of affairs

Following on from my rush of recent posts with a similar theme, I have some thoughts on the response of the ‘audience’ to a scheduled seminar Lee Hall recently participated in at the London Vegan Festival. If the approach of the self-declared ‘animal rights activists’ in the room is the future of the animal movement (if I can use that term with any validity), the movement is in a very sorry position and the future is very bleak. The shambles that the seminar became are posted on youtube, and linked to at the bottom of this post.

With the start of the seminar, almost immediately Lee Hall was posed a rather loaded (and inaccurate) question. Aside from being one of the broadest conflations I have noted for some time (and Hall is guilty of this herself), the way the question was constructed indicates the intent was very much a set-up and disingenuous. From reading the comments of some people to this set of 3 youtube clips, this may not be overtly obvious. As the seminar progress, if becomes more and more clear that the intent of some was to disrupt. Even further, the intent was not to discuss rather to attack with clear, though likely not noted by the poser of the initial question, masculinist undertones. The (initial) audience response further exacerbated this. The level to which later comments were framed were much more overtly masculinist, predicated on ego stroking, and very patronising (in a broad sense).

I had started to explore the (limited) content of the seminar, though consider the actions taken to more worthy of reflection given the implications. For example, Lee Hall responded to the first question (which was off-topic of the seminar) with a description of Donald Watson’s, founder of the vegan society back in 1944, ideas on veganism as direct action (and conscientious objection in the context of the war) as a basis for her own. The individual who posed the initial question interjected that they did not know who Donald Watson was and not interested in him at all. This is an indication of the level to which exceptionalism dominates contemporary activist circles — that the situation today is so different, so exceptional, that we need not know anything that has happened in the past. That this person, by implication, is vegan and does not have an awareness of the history indicates a very sad state of affairs. Added to this, such notions are widespread…

Exceptionalism (many, including Hall, are guilty of this) and egoism are serious issues that I think we need to be concerned about. The masculinist approach — albeit not noted in their actions (is it worse for this?) — of a number of outspoken men in the room (and some women) add another layer to this. How far we have to go is mind-boggling…

If you want to see how bad some of these issues are, watch the 3 clips — the seminar really starts to fall apart (in small part based on the misdirected actions of the seminar organisers) about mid-way through the second clip.

The videos, on YouTube, have been made private: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.

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