Opposing Sanism as a Rhetorical Tool

I believe we should strongly oppose using the phrase "moral schizophrenia" as a rhetorical tool for nonhuman animal advocacy. We should oppose this term as much as we would phrases like: "moral blackness," "moral gayness," "moral obesity," "moral poverty," "moral stupidity" or any other term that uses a group's identity, condition or experience as a means of conveying a message that something is — morally or otherwise — wrong or problematic.

Since first introducing the term in his book Introduction to Animal Rights, Gary Francione has popularized "moral schizophrenia" as a term used when discussing ethical contradictions with regard to nonhuman animals. Recently, Francione posted "A Note on Moral Schizophrenia" to clarify — or, rather, justify — his use of the term. In his post, Francione attempts to placate those of us who oppose the way this term targets people who are different mentally. (Read more...)

Think Harder Before You Speak

Perhaps you've seen the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) PSAs titled "Think Before You Speak." The messaging of these ads was designed to discourage use of the slur "That's so gay." The ArnoldNYC agency which created the TV spots in partnership with GLSEN recently won the Ad Council's Gold Bell award, its top honor for PSAs.

There are three TV spots: one set in a drugstore, one set in a diner, and one set in a boutique. Of these three ads the first two undermine the message of the ad by promoting the ableist slurs "stupid" and "dumb" as acceptable replacements for the slur "gay."

Ableism and the Eugenics of Peter Singer

The so-called "argument from marginal cases," which is based on adultism, ableism, and speciesism, illustrates the unquestioned marginalization of human infants, mentally disabled humans, and nonhuman animals. This adultism, ableism, and speciesism is most vividly found in the works of bioethics professor and author Peter Singer.

Singer sees so-called "marginal cases" — that is, humans infants and mentally disabled people — as expendable and exploitable similar to how nonhuman animals are seen as expendable and exploitable. He argues that their oppression is justifiable simply because they are measured by him and society as meeting a lower standard. (Read more...)

The Argument that Marginalizes

A common argument made by philosophical theorists who write about other animals is the so-called "argument from marginal cases." The argument is used in an attempt to show that other animals are either deserving or undeserving of moral status. In terms of classification, the "argument from marginal cases" holds that a human animal is still a human even if they don't meet all the characteristics that are associated with humanness. That is, a human infant or mentally disabled human (the two most commonly discussed "marginal cases") may not meet the characteristics of rationality and intelligence associated with humanness, but they are both still humans. However, since these humans meet a lower standard or limited quality of humanness, they are considered "marginal cases." (Read more...)

Stupidity as a Quality or Condition of Oppression

Labeled "learning disabled" from the time I entered kindergarden, I've struggled with the label "stupid" for most of my life. Stupidity is used to identify some of us as belonging on the bottom of the social hierarchy. If we're "stupid" then we must naturally deserve whatever exploitation we experience. Of course, if we were "smart" then we supposedly wouldn't let ourselves be exploited. It's therefore assumed to be our own fault for being so "stupid."

In order to understand stupidity, it helps to understand the ableism that it is primarily based on. In 1976, the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation developed an anti-oppressive definition of the term "disability." That definition, as quoted in Eli Clare's book Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation (South End Press, 1999), states that disability is "the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organisation which takes no or little account of people who have physical [and/or cognitive/developmental/mental] impairments and thus excludes them from the mainstream of society." This definition of disability addresses the ableism from which it arises. (Read more...)

Ableist Ad Campaign

PETA, always the exploitative opportunist that it is, has a new anti-milk campaign titled "Got Autism" that, according to Autism Vox, is "providing misinformation about autism and oversimplifying what autism is, and what can be done to help a child."

Here's Random Radical's response to this ableist ad campaign:

"Got Autism?" Actually, yes, I do. And being vegan hasn't done anything about that.

According to Peta, though, not only do I have a "devastating disease," but it's caused by eating dairy products. Even though I'm vegan. And even though no one knows what causes autism. And even though the dietary theory they refer to is about reducing "symptoms," not preventing autism. And even though this theory advocates avoiding gluten (a wheat protein), as well as casein (a dairy protein).