Thursday, August 1, 2013

Funding Undercover Investigations Doesn't Buy Liberation

This just in from Mercy for Animals [Edited for space; Important points in bold]:
Dear Corey,
To the pork industry, Stella will remain just a number. What happened to her was business as usual. But to anyone with a heart and a conscience, what Stella was subjected to was nothing less than blatant cruelty and abuse. 
Please watch MFA’s powerful new video that shares some of my stories and the stories of other investigators, and then consider making a generous donation to enable us to continue to help animals like Stella. 
We can’t let other animals suffer like Stella did. These factory farms must be held accountable. The abuse these animals endure must be exposed. And ended.
That’s why I choose to do this difficult work. 
Without undercover investigations, there would be no effective watchdogs protecting animals from egregious cruelty in these facilities. 
I ask that you share our video and be a voice for the animals suffering in silence behind the locked doors of factory farms. And please show your support by making a donation on behalf of these pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals living in fear and desperation. 

So please, give as generously as you can to help us bring hope to the nine billion animals like Stella who are languishing inside the dank, dismal confines of gestation crates, battery cages, and filthy stalls and pens. 
Being an investigator is the hardest work I’ve ever done, but I know it is the most effective action I can take to help animals like Stella. Because of my work with MFA, laws have been changed to protect animals, workers who beat, stab, and kick animals have been punished for criminal animal abuse, major corporations have improved their animal welfare policies, and countless people have ditched meat. 
These successes are making a real impact. They are bringing hope to animals nationwide. Your support makes the difference. 
With compassion,

MFA Undercover Investigator
Notice the hyper-focus on factory farms and egregious "cruelty."  Notice the complete absence of veganism.  At one point they offhandedly mention that "countless people have ditched meat."  Close, but no cigar.  It's thrown in as one of several ways one can legitimately help animals.  It comes after their preferred options of reforming the abuse.

Imagine if an anti-rape feminist group fundraised behind women who were severely beaten and raped in an institutionalized setting.  Rape is not the problem, it's the fact that women are held in intensive housing and beaten more than other free-roaming rape victims.  Imagine if this group asked its constituents not to stop raping, but to just donate so the organization could keep an eye on especially cruel rapists with undercover footage.

Also, notice the language of "kindness" and "compassion" in regards to their potential donors, but the language of  "criminal" and "abusive" put on the factory farm workers (who are vulnerable, hurt, and exploited themselves).  It's not about justice, it's about being "nice."  It's about making a horrific genocide "compassionate," and pointing the finger at impoverished undocumented workers, first-generation workers, sexually assaulted women, and poor persons of all backgrounds who experience astronomical rates of occupational injury and who enjoy no job security, pitiful work conditions, and little pay.  It's easy to make the bad guy out of those occupying the lowest rungs of society who are already ostracized by the public.  It's also easy to fundraise behind Nonhuman Animals who can't speak up for themselves and demand liberation instead of reform.

Some people go vegan because of watching these videos, it's true.  But, these undercover videos have become so entrenched in the fundraising tactics of professionalized organizations, I seriously doubt that many people will watch them and think, "I should go vegan," when they are being told over and over, watch this and donate, watch this and support reform.  Really, the only reason they ask you spread their video is not to push people to go vegan, but to push people to donate more to end "blatant cruelty."  Regular cruelty that is part and parcel to raising and killing animals for food is not the focus here. If they were interested in creating vegans, not raising more money, they would have the rhetoric of veganism interweaving their sad story about Stella, and they would have vegan messages in the film.  As it stands, the link to their video takes you to their webpage, where the video is framed by a form to donate.  The video's website only reinforces the focus on cruelty and factory farms.  No mention of veganism.
Your gift will help us continue our vital investigative work, which has led to landmark cruelty convictions against factory farms, major corporate animal welfare reforms, and a steadily growing awareness among consumers of the powerful impact of their food choices.
The "powerful impact of their food choices" that remains unnamed.  Who knows what that can mean?  It likely includes shopping for "happy" corpses at Whole Foods.

Your gift will help them continue their completely unnecessary investigative work (we already know that Nonhuman Animal agriculture entails unspeakable torture), which functions not to liberate animals, but to give professionalized organizations something pitiful and sad to fundraise behind.  Paying for undercover videos is paying for major organizations to do the work for you, to do the work in a way that favors state and industry interests, not the animals.  When a large organization professionalizes and fundraising becomes their number one priority, compromises are made.  See my piece on Effective Animal Advocacy for more information.

Want to help Nonhuman Animals?  Go vegan, encourage others to go vegan, adopt.