A call for papers has been sent out by folks "looking to anthologize the voices of queers involved in animal liberation." I think it would be wonderful to see more interaction between queer theory and veganism. But some of the questions suggested as topics for this book really bothered me, specifically:
Why do queer activists in Uganda but animal activists in the USA bear the brunt of police suppression in their respective countries? Are they similarly subversive of "cultural" practices that turn out to be critical to the maintenance of state power?
First, "animal activists" 1 do not "bear the brunt of police suppression" in the U.S. This is so ridiculous that it would funny if not for the fact that it is such a deadly serious issue.
It is overwhelmingly evident that people of color are disproportionately overrepresented in the prison system and under the control of the criminal justice system. Thus, the "brunt" of police suppression is experienced specifically by people of color; followed, perhaps, by poor people in general. Also, while I'm not well informed on the queer movement in Uganda, I do know that queer and transgender or gender nonconforming people in the U.S., particularly those who are people of color and/or poor, receive more police suppression as a collective than "animal activists" do.
Second, "animal activists" promote more police suppression than they receive. As a general group, most "animal activists" are more "critical to the maintenance of state power" than they are "subversive." The questions in this call for papers ignore how activists are manufacturing increased police suppression that targets oppressed groups by actively promoting stiffer sentencing for anti-cruelty laws, and specifically criminalizing "animal cruelty" identified with poor people and people of color (i.e., dog fighting and cock fighting). Consider these sessions from a conference of "animal activists" that took place just this past weekend:
Protect and Serve: Working with Law Enforcement
The panelists will discuss how making training and other resources available to local animal services and law enforcement agencies can help ensure that laws protecting animals are enforced. The presentation will include a discussion of the legal landscape as it applies to dogfighting, cockfighting, and farm animals—including working with law enforcement officials and the limits and opportunities of substantive animal cruelty laws and procedural avenues for taking action. The presentation will also include information on establishing and operating a humane enforcement agency for farm animals.
After Michael Vick: Combating Animal Fighting
Since NFL quarterback Michael Vick was indicted last year for his role in a large dogfighting operation, animal fighting arrests have increased, tougher laws have been passed throughout the nation, and grassroots campaigns have sprouted to tackle dogfighting and cockfighting once and for all. Yet many animals are still suffering at the hands of these criminals. What efforts are under way to eradicate animal fighting in the U.S., and what can you do to help?
"Animal activists" have long been directly involved in Humane Law Enforcement divisions of the police force, often working as Humane Officers. (The president of PETA, a former Humane Officer, is a prime example.) And Animal Planet's "Animal Precinct" is now in its seventh season. I've never heard of an equivalent LGBT Law Enforcement division or LGBT Officers, and the last time I checked Logo didn't have a "Queer Precinct" program.
The questions seem to imply that "animal activists" are somehow special targets of police suppression. So I have to say it, "animal activists" are no more "political prisoners" and any other prisoner in the U.S. While the term "political prisoner" isn't used in the call for papers, it is used often enough by "animal activists" that I feel the need to address it here. Applying this term to "animal activists" implicitly claims that there are nonpolitical prisoners. It ignores how the prison-industrial complex is a political system, and how all people within it are in fact political prisoners.
If the editors of this anthology really want to know, "Why have both homosexuality and veganism been dismissed as 'white things' beside the point of real liberation struggles?" or "Why, within the USA, are both the queer and animal liberation movements less diverse than they should be but portrayed as more white than they are?" then I think they only need to consider their own call for papers.
I would have much rather seen questions that better dealt with the problematic issues of law enforcement. For example, questions that ask: How do hate crime laws and anti-cruelty laws similarly harm oppressed groups, further state violence, and undermine movements for queer and nonhuman animal liberation? In what ways can liberation approaches to social justice like queer theory and veganism offer alternatives to the (neo)liberal strategies of well-resourced "gay" and "animal activist" nonprofit organizations that tend to favor law enforcement and marketplaces while ignoring the lived experience of people of color and poor people? How do these well-resourced "gay" and "animal activist" nonprofits perpetuate cultural practices of heteronormativity and human supremacy (e.g., "gay marriage" and "responsible pet ownership")? How does queer theory and veganism problematize these same cultural practices?