And to me the answer is a simple one :)
And that is, is that too many people just see things in ‘black and white’ and can’t think deeply about animals’ their suffering, the sheer heartfelt emotion it brings out in people and the subsequent actions carried out by people in defense of animals as a result of that heartfelt emotion.
If you mention the term ‘animal rights’ or ‘animal rights activists’ to people chances are pretty high they would automatically conjure up images of irrational or violent actions carried out in order to defend animals by people and their subsequent response verbally to these thoughts could very well be “those idiots” or something along those lines.
As we charge forward into the new millennium at full speed ahead the stereotype or stigma that has accompanied animal rights the animal rights movement and animal rights activists is one that has managed to stick even though some of the sheen of this stereotype has been wiped off through advancements in technology i.e.: the advent of the internet, better access to information and a somewhat better universal understanding of animal rights because of that. But as with all stereotypes they all manage to stubbornly endure themselves and adhere to society’s pre conceived ideas for as long as people embody the lifestyles actions or ideals that warrant or welcome such a stereotype.
Animal rights is not immune from this with the people who defend them physically and academically being forced to endure a lot of mis-understanding from people (particularly the ones they are fighting against) and perhaps even more so from people as I’ve referred to earlier in this article who just see things in black and white when it comes to animals, showing empathy for them and defending them.
In my tenture as an animal rights advocate I’ve heard many things from people who I think just don’t get the animal rights movement such as :)
“anyone who has more empathy for a whale then a human can leave the gene pool” or
“stupid animal loving hippies” and the most powerful statement the other side of the animal rights movement has and uses which is :)
“the humans are more important then the animals”
Now this is where it all gets out of hand because too many people think that just because you believe in something and embody a lifestyle as a result of those beliefs ie vegetarianism or veganism that you don’t or are unwilling to understand or accept the way things are. Which in some cases may be true, but with a lot of people is not.
What you’ll find with lots of animal lovers is that they’re deep thinkers they can think deeply about things (see the bigger picture) the way things were before, they way things are, and the way things should be, and even though there’s no guarantees in life it’s almost safe to say they the greatest majority of them are non-violent people who embody a lifestyle and a way of being mentally and physically based on their beliefs.
Lots of people love animals and animals mean a lot to a lot of people emotionally, physically, spiritually, and religiously and when you love animals and believe whatever you believe in their defense, it can be very hard sometimes to accept understand or want to accept anything other then what it is you believe to be true, and if you take the above paragraph and flip it upside down that’s exactly what the people who don’t get the animal rights movement think? "well why cant the animal lovers see this?" or “why do they go upset at what were doing here killing animals or culling animals I just don’t understand these people” and because of one side's or one person's inability to understand another? that’s why the animal rights advocates / activists will always be met with criticism contentiousness and un-acceptance? because people just don’t understand the others point of view and way of looking at things?
In an ideal world animals wouldn’t need protecting but they do and the animal rights ideal is one that will always be here for as long as animals inhabit the earth, and for as long as there are compassionate and empathetic people in our world (which there will always be) people who want to uphold the morals and ethics we’ve set as a civilized society and strive to live by, by wanting to protect animals.
I believe in the new millennium people have developed into a new breed of animal rights activist or advocate one who is better informed on the issues relating to both sides and one who has a better understanding of both sides of a particular animal rights issue, but having said that though, one who still remains very staunch in their beliefs pertaining to animals.
People who don’t understand animal rights and why the animal rights activists / advocates do they things they do in defense of them simply as mentioned before just cannot, don’t have the ability to understand? or don’t want to understand and if they do and are willing to accept the animal rights activists way of looking at things, them, just as the animal activists will remain staunch in their beliefs as well (which could perhaps change if they’re exposed to the issues in a gentle non-threatening way and then left to make up their own mind in relation to it) and vice versa.
The bottom line with all of this is simply standing up for what you believe in and protesting in many different ways and through many different mediums to express a primal scream theory of sorts with you expressing your anger concern and compassion brought out by the injustices and atrocities committed against defenseless animals in many different ways?
What makes people believe a stereotype and adhere to it is a consistent reinforcement of that stereotype by people for example if animal rights activist always use violence in order to achieve an objective in defense of animals then that stereotype of animal rights activists as violent irrational people will never cease to go away because it is constantly being reinforced. But sometimes in order to achieve a morally right objective it’s acceptable to do something bad or extreme and this is an action animal rights activists have had to use when diplomatic avenues have failed or when legality is used as a cover for morality.
Just as there is a stereotype as animal rights activists being irrational violent people, there is also one as vegetarians or vegans being lazy, void of energy, and irrational which is an exaggerated stereotype that few embody.
Passion for something inspires the passionate defense of it and when your passionate about animals you’ll passionately defend them and when you love animals greatly is safe to say that you can draw or connect on an emotional level far greater then people who don’t, and because of that connection you’ll understand them a lot more, their plight, the injustices that face them, their place in the world, what they mean to people, and be more inclined to help in any way possible to help them because you understand them, connect with them, and are interested in them.
Animal rights is an ideal that will always have it’s stigmas attached to it such as “the animal lovin hippies” or you animal rights freaks” and an enduring unfortunate but often justified stereotype as irrational violent people ; and because animals do not share the same relevancy as human beings (a big reason why people cant get drawn in on the same emotional level to animals) and because people cannot get drawn in on the same emotional level as someone who loves and appreciates animals greatly these stereotypes will always be there.
But in a world as ugly as it beautiful we have no choice but to protect animals and as responsible custodians of the planet and as people who wish to uphold the morals ethics and tenants of a civilized society we will always have that reverence for life and because of those beliefs animals will always be defended and stuck up for and whether the people who rag on animal rights activists have or don’t have the ability to understand our actions in defense of animals is irrelevant.
Because it’s not and has never been about them, it’s always been about the animals and how important they are to the state of the world emotionally, physically, religiously, spiritually and environmentally and perhaps if the opponents of the animal rights advocates and activists could understand that statement then perhaps our jobs could be made a little easier to defend them.
But in a world where every problem is caused by human beings it’s wishful thinking at best.