Blog for Choice Day: On being a pro-choice vegan.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010


Blog for Choice Day 2010:
Trusting Women, Honoring Dr. Tiller

I wrote the bulk of this post last June, in the days and weeks following the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Initially – and still – intended as part of a series called “Killing in the Name of,” this piece attempts to reconcile my pro-choice and vegan beliefs, which as it turns out, isn’t a difficult task at all. Harder still is defending some of the “terrorist” tactics employed by the animal rights movement while condemning similar tactics when used in service a “pro-life” agenda. It’s an emotional and confusing endeavor, and one I’m still working on. If ever I do figure it all out, I’ll post Part 2 of this series.

In the meantime, I’d like to share my thoughts “On being a pro-choice vegan” as part of today’s Blog for Choice Day (5th annual, bitches!). It doesn’t exactly fit with this year’s theme, but seeing as “Trusting Women” was chosen in honor of Dr. Tiller, I think it’s appropriate anyhow. If you disagree, hop on over to Animal Rights & Anti-Oppression; my post there follows the assignment to a “t” (“v”?).


“Killing in the Name of”: Introduction

My apologies for the brief blogular absence. I’ve got a ton of posts lined up in the queue, but my attention has turned elsewhere – from animal rights to reproductive rights (which aren’t completely unrelated) – since the murder of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday.

News of Dr. Tiller’s death came like a kick in the gut. The last time an abortion doctor was murdered was in 1998; I was only 20 at the time, and somewhat apolitical. Even though Dr. Barnett Slepian’s murder occurred not far from my hometown, I really can’t recall what I felt – if anything – at the news. But now – now I know better. Dr. Tiller’s murder, far from an isolated crime committed against a single individual, was intended to terrorize abortion providers and reproductive health clinics all over the United States. Doctors and clinics that provide vital health care, primarily to women. Scared women, marginalized women, women in need, women with nowhere else to go. To this end, it was an atrocity perpetrated against women everywhere, women who want nothing more than control over their own lives – and bodies. Women who simply want to be regarded and treated as fully human.

Dr. Tiller was one of a handful of doctors who perform abortions in the later term of pregnancy (whereas “late term” defies definition, and may mean anything from 3 to 6 months on). He saved countless women’s lives, even in the face of unrelenting threats and danger, including an assassination attempt and the bombing of his clinic. Dr. Tiller was a hero – a hero who became a martyr. It’s difficult to describe, but Dr. Tiller’s murder – and all the anti-choice rhetoric that’s littered the media since – well, it’s hit me. Hard. It feels like women are under siege, our very bodily sovereignty up for grabs.* We’re so, so much worse off without him.

Of course, our collective loss pales in comparison to the loss suffered by his family, which includes his wife, 4 children and 10 grandchildren. My heart bleeds for them.

Naturally, many on the left have labeled this an act of domestic terrorism, and criticized the media and government for not doing so. They also point to the extreme right wing rhetoric that inflamed passions against abortion providers, implicating it in the murder. Scott Roeder may have pulled the trigger, the reasoning goes, but pundits and anti-abortion crusaders put the gun in his hand.

All of which has brought to the fore related issues with which I’ve been grappling for quite some time, particularly those involving parallels between the animal rights and anti-choice movements. For example, while animal rights “terrorists” have never killed a human, they do engage in campaigns of harassment and intimidation against individuals involved in animal exploitation – campaigns that are uncomfortably similar to the forms of “protest” carried out by “pro-lifers” against abortion providers. While animal rights activists are deemed the #1 domestic terrorist threat, anti-abortion groups (not-so-)curiously slip under the radar. And yet, is the answer to label them “terrorists” – or to rethink the very definition of “terrorism”?

(More below the fold…)

Yo-ho-hum & a bottle of rum.

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Dear MSM:

The pirates who hijacked the Maersk Alabama last week, taking the ship’s captain hostage and demanding ransom for the vessel, its cargo and the captain, are just that – pirates. Call them criminals if you prefer, or armed robbers and kidnappers. International men of mystery. Swashbucklers, if you will.

But terrorists, they aint:

Terrorism is, most simply, policy intended to intimidate or cause terror. It is more commonly understood as an act which (1) is intended to create fear (terror), (2) is perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a materialistic goal or a lone attack), and (3) deliberately targets (or disregards the safety of) non-combatants. Some definitions also include acts of unlawful violence or unconventional warfare, but at present, there is no internationally agreed upon definition of terrorism.

Emphasis mine, in order to highlight the common conception of the term “terrorist” – think al-Qa’ida, Hamas, Hezbollah (and not the Tofu kind) – armed militant groups, seeking to overthrow the government in order to enforce their own ideology, in part by targeting civilians.

Twist the term as you might

“There are statements in international law that say pirates are the ‘enemies of all mankind,’ and that goes back to the 1600s,” said Linda A. Malone, director of the human rights and national security law program at the William and Mary Law School in Virginia.

“It’s a form of terrorism, but it’s not done for political reasons. It’s done for financial gain, although those lines are starting to blur,” Malone said. “It’s one of the oldest international criminal law offenses.”

– crimes committed solely for financial gain are…well, crimes: murder, theft, kidnapping, etc.

Twist the term enough, and you’ll render it meaningless.

I can see the headlines now: “Sexting Terrorism Paralyzes US Economy.” Mike Galanos will have a field day with that story.


2007-12-05 - Cpt Kaylee's Booty - 0025 [4x6]

A band of merry heathen veg*n pirate/terra-ists.

P.S. For more, see: Best, Steven and Anthony J. Nocella II, eds. 2004. Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals. New York: Lantern Books.

Don’t worry, I’m sure y’all can write it off as a business expense, given how you toss the term around with abandon.

(More below the fold…)

In which the right wing celebrates an act of terrorism.

Sunday, April 12th, 2009



What I most love about these tea party protests – aside from their being an unintentional comedy goldmine – is that much of their support comes from the right wing: Republicans and conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity (all of Faux News, really), Alan Keyes, and Missouri’s own Peter Kinder. The same group of people who are quick to label acts of theft and property destruction acts of eco- or animal rights- terrorism are – wait for it – emulating an old-school protest which would most certainly qualify as an act of terror under their definition of the term.

And then we have Chuck Norris, right wing godbag extraordinaire, advocating an armed revolution against President Obama on World Net Daily.

Oh, the irony, it burns.

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"This is the oppressor’s language." *

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Photo via KayVee.INC

Will Potter wonders, Why Aren’t the EPA’s Most Wanted Fugitives Labeled “Eco-terrorists”?:

The brilliance of the “Green Scare” and the War on Terrorism more broadly is how the government and corporations have twisted language to push a political agenda. When environmentalists put their bodies on the line to stop environmental destruction? That’s “eco-terrorism.” When corporations destroy the environment for personal gain? That’s just business as usual. […]

Now, which is more worthy of receiving the “eco-terrorism” label? Crimes that indiscriminately put humans, animals and the environment at risk, for personal profit? Or narrowly-targeted actions (not all of which are even criminal) intended to stop environmental destruction?

Who do you think is the “eco-terrorist”: The tree sitter or Boise Cascade? The Earth Liberation Front or Monsanto? Tim DeChristopher or mining corporations? Earth First or General Motors?

Since ours is indeed the oppressor’s language, those who terrorize the environment are “smart businessmen,” while defenders of the earth and its inhabitants are labeled “violent” “terrorists” and punished with disproportionately harsh prison sentences – even though the former’s so-called “white collar” crimes destroy far more lives (human and non) than the latter’s so-called acts of “terrorism.”

* Adrienne Rich, quoted in Animal Equality.

It’s worth noting that Rich’s observation comes from a feminist perspective, however, the same applies to the relationship between human and non-human animals, and humans and the earth. Humans [in Rich’s words, men] are the oppressors, and our language necessarily legitimizes and reinforces the misdeeds we [men] commit against non-human animals and the earth [women]. Notice how the same processes are at play in each pattern of exploitation?

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Veg*nism & Pop Culture: But does Costa Rica have an extradition treaty?

Thursday, March 12th, 2009


Very minor spoilers ahead.

I’m a few months late on this – for some inexplicable reason, my DVR “forgot” to record this Very Special episode of CSI, and for an even more inexplicable reason, it took the Mr. and I months to notice – but in the interest of closure, I just have to mention it anyway.

Early on in Season 9 of CSI, vegetarian and animal advocate Jorja Fox left the show; a few weeks after her departure, the writers dropped a subtle hint that her character, Sarah Sidle, had joined up with Paul Watson and his band of sometimes-merry eco-terrorist pirates at the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (if you’re not a regular visitor to Sea Shepherd’s website, you probably would have missed the URL).

Fast-forward a few months, to the Season 9 episode “One to Go” (9×10). Sarah’s on-again, off-again, is-he-her-fiance-or-isn’t-he? love interest, Gil Grissom (William Petersen) is quitting CSI as well. Most of the episode focuses on Grissom’s last case with Las Vegas CSI, and also serves to introduce Gil’s replacement, Dr. Langston (Laurence Fishburne!?).

However, in the last few minutes, we see Grissom

walk the halls smiling to himself as he looks in each room at the lab and sees Brass, Hodges and Wendy, other CSIs, Robbins and Riley, Stokes and Greg. He catches Catherine’s eye in one room and she winks at him. He smiles broadly and turns and walks away. The screen blurs, fades to white and cuts to Grissom wandering a jungle, dressed in a hat and sweaty gear examining a GPS marked Costa Rica. His eyes light on a bug for a moment. He walks into a clearing where a woman, whose back is to the camera, is taking a picture of a monkey in a tree. The woman turns and it’s Sara (Jorja Fox). They take each other in for a moment and then embrace and kiss, passionately.

As Cindy pointed out in the comments to a previous post, Sarah mentioned in an earlier episode that she planned to travel to the Galapagos; and indeed, Sea Shepherd’s activities include an effort to save the Galapagos, so that’s probably where she was (or was heading) when we saw her email Grissom. So why on earth are the two now in Costa Rica, hmmmm?

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I’m a "terrorist"; who are you?

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Which Western feminist icon are you?

The survey says that I’m Angela Davis, probably due in no small part to my response to third question, “What is the most important feminist issue?”: “Race, class, and gender must be examined, recognized, and the power redistributed.”

Angela Davis

You are Angela Davis! You were the THIRD WOMYN IN HISTORY to appear on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. You are a communist, black power-lovin’ lady who shook up the United States when you refused to lie down quietly to oppression. You WENT TO JAIL! Wow. You kick so much more ass than Foxxy Brown.

I was kinda sorta hoping to have animal rights, animal welfare or even plain ole environmental ethics or ecology figure into a question or two – certainly, the above answer could have done so seamlessly, i.e., “Race, class, gender and the human/animal dichotomy must be examined, recognized, and the power redistributed.” – but no go. Nor did Carol J. Adams, Alice Walker, Josephine Donovan or company make the list of iconic Western feminists.

Interestingly, the results do include Susan B. Anthony and Gloria Steinem, two iconic feminists who were/are less well-known for their vegetarianism. Still, nary a word about animal advocacy in the quiz; even though non-human animals vastly outnumber the human ones, they and their concerns are practically invisible. Sigh.*

On a lighter, more serendipitous note, I am wearing my Foxxy Brown tee today.

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On the war on The War on Terra.

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

So let’s get this all straight. Two activists board a ship, with a letter of intent, because the whalers refused to respond to radio communications. Whalers rough them up, tie them up, and then Yasuaki Sasaki, the captain, makes a series of demands, including activists must stop filming the whalers’ activities and not come within 10 nautical miles of the whaling ship.

But the anti-whaling advocates are the terrorists?

Will Potter, commenting on the recent capture and subsequent release of two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society terrorists anti-whaling activists.

Is it just me, or does something stink?