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Friday, September 27, 2013

Do we have to talk about every vegetarian/vegan issue in the news?

I am torn about even writing this post. What has prompted it is something I’d prefer not get any attention. And yet, what has happened is something that I have spoken against publicly for years now.  

It is about Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Now, I am not writing this as a diatribe against him and his racist and lethal policies. Being a Chicana, these hit close to home for me and, frankly, I admit I am annoyed that his name even graces my blog yet again. Instead, this is about asking my fellow vegan advocates to not use his name as anything but something aligned with disgust. 

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, instituted a policy that all of the inmates in his prison only receive vegetarian meals. When the news came in, I immediately worried that those who promote vegetarianism would talk about it. 

And unfortunately, I was correct.

Instead of allowing the media to promote this issue (which is happening just fine without our help), veg organizations and publications have chosen to do so. 

Are we so desperate in our desire to promote vegetarianism that we need to stoop so low as to promote Sheriff Joe?

 Because I fear sounding like a broken record, I have pasted below some of what I wrote on the issue regarding Arpaio's participation in the Prop 204 campaign:

[I]t certainly doesn’t help the plight of the animals when large animal groups use racists to further their campaigns. It is no wonder that environmental justice activists questioned the goals of animal advocates when animal groups engaged the assistance of Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio, well known for targeting people of color. Anyone who claims to be compassionate should have known about his notorious treatment of human animals, which should have made him someone to stay away from.  

Many white advocates who actively fight for animal rights understand they are coming from a place of power—after all, animals really have no rights—but they seem ignorant regarding that place of power when it comes to race, gender, class, and sexual orientation.

Animal groups have a responsibility to be the frontrunners for justice and compassion, and our case is stronger without the likes of Sheriff Joe.

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1 comment:

  1. Seems to me that, if folks felt the need to comment on this news story, it would be possible to do so while problematizing rather than lauding him. What is this policy about anyway? My guess is that it's part of his longstanding strategy to shame male prisoners by taking away markers of masculinity. If so, then it expresses his contempt for women and animals, not to mention vegetarians. He's using the logic of domination: Real men eat meat. Questioning that logic in the context of this news story might lead to productive, rather than fruitless or even counterproductive, conversations with other social justice activists.