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On Their Own Terms Paperback – May 29, 2010
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Lee Hall argues in On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth for a vegan world, in which all animals roam free. Her perception of the central problem in animal/human relations is that humans exercise dominion over animals. Her strategic approach is "abolitionist, meaning that she believes every campaign activity should work toward the ultimate goal...
In Hall's view, animal captivity should only be regulated in a manner that proceeds toward ending it. Though many animal advocates might agree, reality is that this seriously constrains and perhaps entirely precludes pursuing many reforms that might significantly reduce animal suffering.
Hall is not insensitive to this conflict. Much of On Their Own Terms considers it, often explaining why her employer, Friends of Animals, frequently opposes the campaigns and views of the majority of animal protection societies.
... All animals would be free-living animals in a society that accepts animal rights, so there is every reason for the advocate to appreciate their autonomy rather than remove it."
Hall accepts--and advocates--surgically sterilizing pets and feral cats. But, though advocating morally based veganism as central to resolving most social, economic, and environmental problems, she questions both pursuit of personal purity at the expense of larger goals, and the whole notion of keeping pets. "Today, we can find 'vegan horse riding boots' advertised, Hall writes. "Is the material the big question here? We'll ask about the customs that put the bodies of horses under our behinds. Similarly, the idea of vegan cat food only looks at the surface issue: the components of the product. Is it our role to press cats into becoming herbivores? Our real concern is whether the very concept of pet cats makes ethical sense. If we can't bring these matters up with other vegans, then maybe we are singularly focused on ingredients at the expense of the overall picture of our interactions with animals."
Hall does not reject caregiving as a part of animal advocacy, at least in the here and now. "Animal autonomy does need defending, and dependent animals do need caregiving, Hall accepts. "Yet it's worth noting that a vegan, by being vegan, spares more animals in a year than most any sanctuary in the world can take in."
This is Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth. So is Hall's approach to protecting wild horses: "If we want to spare free-roaming horses from being rounded up and auctioned off, the answer cannot be limited to closing horse slaughtering plants.
Confronting slaughter makes sense, but as part of a broader perspective. In the U.S., campaigners have allowed the public to become outraged over the idea that horses are the wrong animals to eat, Hall writes. "If Italians do think eating horse meat is proper, and U.S. residents continue to eat the flesh of pigs and cows, the argument becomes on some level one of cultural superiority. Only if the demand for the closure of horse slaughter operations comes as part of a whole vegetarian view is it consistent, respectful, and sensible."
Hall succeeds as well in Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth in her discussion of campaign tactics. "Attempting to design a campaign or community around a regular diet of blood and every imaginable suffering, she writes, "probably won't attract most healthy people to our cause. That reality is often forgotten when groups excuse sensationalism, sexism or any kind of insensitivity to human experiences by insisting such advertising brings a lot of attention, and thus supporters. We have no way of measuring how many people that insensitivity chases away from the same cause."... --Merritt Clifton. Animal People October --VegNews April 2011
Attorney Lee Hall s On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth is one part study guide, one part vitamin pill for anyone with an interest in assisting animals, or understanding those of us who do. It s that rare book that is simultaneously compelling narrative and reference-worthy, and will be returned to again and again. --VegNews April 2011
From the Inside Flap
What does it mean to be human? Do we really rule this world, or are we members of a larger community on it, our destiny inevitably woven with that of other animals? Do unexpected interactions and untamed places worry us or excite us? What do our answers tell us about the meaning and future of life on Earth? Sensing the need for fresh ideas in advocacy, and the importance of making animal-rights theory relevant in a time of biotech, rapid extinctions and climate change, On Their Own Terms is a challenge to think of ourselves and other conscious beings in new ways. It calls for a merging of ecological awareness and animal advocacy. It asks us to imagine and appreciate the dignity of free communities of animals thriving in their habitats, as well as the dignity that resides in the soul of all vital movements for rights.As a society shifts to respect animals on their terms, its judges and lawmakers will stop regarding the environment as props and scenery on the stage of humanity's drama. They will begin to take the interests of all its living inhabitants seriously. This shift is within our reach. It will come through an animal-advocacy movement that's no longer limited to generating pity for Earth's other beings, or looking for ways to show how cruel we are to them, or taking steps to make their controlled lives less stressful. On Their Own Terms is an invitation to a movement that can ensure the triumph of animals' natural freedom and power."In this fascinating and illuminating book, Lee Hall calls for a holistic animal-rights movement: one that ensures the viability and autonomy of free-roaming deer, elk, horses and burros; one that fosters tolerance and respect for cougars, bobcats and jaguars, bears, coyotes and wolves and other risky animals. This work calls upon us to seek and celebrate a world where fish can swim, free in clean waters, and bees and birds can fly in peace. And it offers a plan to make it happen.Hall's work challenges us to examine long-held personal biases, prejudices and ideas, and pushes us to ask hard moral questions of ourselves and those around us. To shine the light of day upon our better selves and burn away the ego that prevents us from allowing true freedom to exist.Not content with the well-worn anti-cruelty concept, this daring view of animal rights would stop abuses before they could start. Rather than use certain animals' response to training, or to the conditions of a farm, as proof of moral or legal worth, the project of connecting animal rights with genuine freedom supports the interests of all conscious beings to live liberated, unmolested, uncontrolled, untracked and peacefully on their own terms." Harold Brown, former beef and dairy farmer; founder of FarmKind.org
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Defined, Hall say "[A]nimal rights means the right to live on our own terms, not the terms of the people who have subjugated you." Rarely does this clarity emanate from animal activism, but this book effectively spells out this message, and with the oppressive lens removed takes a deep look at our behavior and activism.
As a manifesto for positive change, it challenges both new and experienced readers, implores a new way of thinking. Hall effectively progresses existing animal rights theories and ideas, asking many of the questions, quandaries and dilemmas faced by most activists, and provides positive, meaningful direction for progress.
One particular highlight is that it's one of the few books that discusses the roots of veganism and what was intended by this message, widely quoting vegan founder Donald Watson. So much thought and vision that was imparted into veganism in the 1940's has been ignored and swept under the table today, but Hall passionately revives this, bringing us back to a much broader and holistic attitude towards veganism. The vegan philosophy isn't just about ending factory farms, but speaking up for all animals, and ensuring that there is space and consideration in the world for all free-living animals and their communities.
Further to this, Hall asks deep and critical questions. One such question is whether or not farm animals and other dependent domesticated animals like cats and dogs actually benefit from a "sound theory of animal rights"; or does their dependence require a different strategy? Is Gary L. Francione's focus on the abolition of property status really broad and thorough enough to address all issues relating to animal dominion? How can we emancipate those who are dependent (or can we?)
Do small steps count, and what might those steps even have to be? Hall answers this in a revealing statement: "Our relations with other animals on Earth do not need incremental change; we need a complete paradigm shift."
On Their Own Terms leads us towards and important and necessary mindset that respects other animals and the planet we all share, and I encourage all interested and invested in living in a world that truly embraces peace and respect as core and essential values to make sure they read this book!
Dave Shishkoff, Victoria BC
One of my favorite chapters in One Their Own Terms is Chapter 4: The Vegan Paradigm. Lee shines the light on the fallacy of free-range & cage-free myths and connects the environmental reality of promoting such concepts. The last few pages of the chapter under the headline `Confronting the "happy meat" backlash' are a seriously empowering and enlightening read.
This passage from Chapter 7 was particularly striking for me in regards to the environmental movement and how it relates to free-living animals: "Perhaps we'll be told there's already an environmental movement focusing on free-living animals. In reality, however, environmentalists rarely see non-human beings as appropriate right-holders. That's a key reason environmental laws so often miss animals' interests, and are so weak and easily repealed. It's a lot easier to make loopholes for mansions, resorts, roads and farms if animals are just part of the landscape, rather than understood as consious beings in their own right, living beings with individual personalities, aware beings to whom the landscape is home. How can free-living animals ever have a chance if we may create property rights in the lands on which they live, and they are not seen by us as having any such protections at all? As we widen our roadways and expand our shopping malls, how on Earth can they live?"
These are but a sliver of the gems to be found inside On Their Own Terms. Owning a copy is a must!