Dear Mainstream Media,
Call off the dogs. That whistle you send out to get the dogs howling and lunging at vegans is pathetic at best, toxic at worst. Look, we get it – your masters are crapping themselves. They’ve got investments in the animal agriculture industry. They’ve got advertisers who have investments in the animal agriculture industry. You’ve been given your instructions – whistle up the dogs, and set them onto the vegans, whenever they raise public awareness of atrocity to farmed animals. It’s okay to be on the same side as vegans when there’s an atrocity to a pet or wild animal, but farmed animals have got money invested in them, so do whatever it takes to make the vegans go away.
Unless there’s film footage of farm animals living in execrable conditions, and/or being thrashed and thrown around, of course. Then you have to show a suitable amount of outrage, otherwise it doesn’t look good. But not so much outrage that you can’t let one or two people have their say about trespassing vegans, and how that’s just so against the law. Let’s not forget the old “bio-security breach” joke, either. You really think that animals crowded together in the hundreds – sometimes thousands – aren’t going to have rats, mice, fleas, cockroaches, lice, urine, faeces and flies all over the place as the normal course of events? Not walking through a disinfectant puddle prior to entry into this cesspit, is hardly going to send these particular animal kingdoms into bacterial overload. But it’s a good look and sound-bite to interview someone who grimly cites the bio-security breach as being of great concern.
How you, and the politicians looking for right-wing popularity, do love to sanctimoniously bang on about how trespassing onto these properties is against the law. As if we don’t know just how many laws are put in place for the convenience of industry, as opposed to justice. Farmers who are lawfully making a living can inflict horrific abuse onto the animals they farm, because it’s not illegal. Somehow, not being illegal makes it okay. They’re just making a living and providing for their families, and raising ‘food’ for the populace. These are bad laws, but are good news fodder and click bait when they directed against vegans.
If trespass was being committed to rescue human animals, what a different story that would be. Then the trespassers would be heroic, and you’d showering them with praise. But non-human farm animals are ‘food’, and opposing their incarceration is a direct threat to your gullets. Like all animals, human animals seem to be hard-wired to fight over food. We in New Zealand have access to enough food without having to eat animals for survival, but how easy it still is to manipulate meat-eaters into anger with your words that suggest they might get deprived of their ‘food’. For the first time in history, the concept of unnecessarily using animals as food is being challenged by vegans. The knee-jerk reaction of even seemingly intelligent, civilised people to this, is to bare teeth, extend claws, and launch into an attack. You rely on that, and play on it.
You’re feeling the centuries old privilege and entitlement to use animals in whatever way you want potentially slipping away, aren’t you? We get that the concept of not doing it anymore might be – gasp – a big step! God forbid that you actually have a real conversation with vegans about this. It could lead to you having uncomfortable and irreverent thoughts about our current system of callously using animals. Can’t be having that. Your masters, and their masters especially can’t be having that.
From time to time, vegans are invited to a media interview, but these tend to be conducted by ‘old’ SQWs (Status Quo Warriors) following a tatty old template, which loosely goes: mock, deride, scoff, discredit, question legality of vegans’ actions, defend legality of those who use animals for purposes of monetary gain, and then try to trip up the vegan with some lame questions. It’s predictable, and it’s boring. The two interviews conducted with vegans concerning the supermarket sticker activism in recent times, followed this template to a tee. If the interviewer does actually touch on the topic of farm animal abuse, it’s an atypically delicate and fairy-like touch, before they quickly move on. There can’t be any suggestion that they’re having seditious thoughts, like wanting to know the true story behind the ongoing and systemic abuse of farm animals.
The real problem is that vegans aren’t amongst The Persuadables*. So you have to target those who are more easily persuadable by using words like “terrorists”; “vandals”; “saboteurs”; “traitors” in the same sentence as vegans – i.e. send out a dog whistle to those who will be easily manipulated by these word associations, and the rest of the hate speech can be left up to them. Direct lies, and those stories that play loose with the truth, appear to be a perfectly acceptable form of manipulation.
One recent example is the story put about that vegans/animal activists have entered farmers houses and directly intimidated them and their families, is a cleverly worded lie. That has NEVER happened. The organised groups of animal activists have entered property and farm buildings, and had confrontations with farmers there, but have NEVER entered their houses, nor directly intimidated their families. And what about how you carefully leave out any mention that 70-80% of the world’s soy – and subsequent destruction of rainforest to grow that soy – is actually for farm animal feed. Just two examples, but the list of misinformation offenses is a lot longer than that.
So, the media’s narrative about anything to do with vegans has very definite malicious undertones. We know that whoever controls the narrative, has a huge amount of control. Maybe it’s time for Vegans to begin controlling their own narrative. Yep, you read that right – that’s Vegans with a capital V.
We have had enough of your lies and ‘dog whistle’ narrative. We might not have the resources that you have, nor the money to hire a PR firm and work the mainstream media. But Vegans are still savvy communicators – and we believe in the justice of our philosophy. The occasional setback will not make us go away. In the words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Watch this space.
*The Persuadables is a term used in the documentary The Great Hack, currently screening on Netflix. The Great Hack tells the story of the data-mining company Cambridge Analytica, and the influence it had in Brexit, as well as Trump’s presidential campaign. The documentary also refers the rise of extreme right-wing politicians and governments around the globe, and hypothesises that their rise may have something to do with winning by data-mining. Data-mining is basically gathering information from people’s entire online activity, and the activity of all those connected with them. The companies who do this then sell a service which uses the information mined in this way to manipulate those considered to be “persuadable”. They plant content – much of it fake – into The Persuadables online worlds, ensuring that they see and read stuff these companies want them to see and read. This content gets them thinking, and then voting, in the way to bring the right-wing to power. Data-mining services appears to have been recently used in the last Australian elections, and will likely be used here in New Zealand, too.