Why I’m openly criticizing Francione (final post)

Some people asked me why I’m criticizing Francione (and the franciobots) like this, and are telling me I’m making the same mistake he does: going against people who basically have the same purpose.  Or they are saying that it is a waste of time and energy. In part, these are sound objections, and I’m sure part of me is driven by some amount of frustration – rarely a productive emotion – by what I see happening.

You see, I feel it had to be done.

I feel that there is not enough criticism of Francione’s approach and his behaviour out there. Maybe it is because the organisations and individuals he targets are more civilized than he is (and than I am, apparently). Maybe they don’t want the movement to seem even more divided than it already is. And undoubtedly, they are investing their time in things that are more effective.

But I feel that especially new activists, when falling for Francione’s tirades about how awful and ineffective animal rights organisations are, should be able to hear some other voices too. These few posts are my modest contribution to the body of material critical of Francione and those who mindlessly follow him in his negativiy. And if especially the post on the Rise of the franciobots may be seen as slighly rude towards some people, I hope it gives those same people an impression of what it is to be on the receiving end of criticism.

I do not think that Francione is all bad. Like I said, his books have their merits, and if put to good use, he has the charisma and eloquence to do real good in this world. And personally I support his stance against violent tactics. But there’s so many buts. The way he maintains and widely publishes that organisations are counterproductive and that their staff have sold out, the way he opposes all welfare reforms, the way he personally attacks people and groups, the way he has everyone blocked from his Facebook who disagrees with him (go ahead, try!), the way he even tries to block speakers from conferences… Those are all things that I think cannot and should not be condoned. I feel I should not tolerate that kind of intolerance.

Anyway, I’m finishing this series of posts here, because indeed, there are more productive and peaceful things to focus on. But I’ll finish with expressing some hopes…

mapI hope that activists can see that rather than betraying the vegan message and selling out to the industry, most organisations are pragmatic and strategic (rather than overly ideological and purist, like Francione is), and this is nothing to blame them for. Quite the contrary. Maybe the animal industry’s response to, for instance, HSUS is an indication. Francione, on the other hand, does not even feature on this map the meat industry puts together.

I hope that activists can take note of how damaging the divisive attitude of Francione is, and how the industry profits from it.

I hope we can all believe in each other’s good intentions, in spite of differences in approach.

I hope that, even when people don’t actively support them, they at least stop opposing welfare reforms

And I hope, most of all, that someday we can be the united, undivided movement that the animals need and deserve.


In case you want to read more, here’s just a small selection of resources critical of Francione:

On the road to liberation: scroll down to the very bottom, to the related posts

Suppremacy Myth

Ok then, Francione (see also the links under the article)

Science weighs in at last (by the late Norm Phelps)

Banned by fellow vegans

Vegan activism and the effectiveness of the abolitionist approach

Or read how Francione even fights with The Abolitionist Vegan Society here and here

11 thoughts on “Why I’m openly criticizing Francione (final post)

  1. I think there is significant value in having a reasoned voice pointing these things out. Not that any of the franciobots will change their mind. But because so many new activists get pulled into that orbit, drawn in by the loud, black and white absolutism and certainty. It is good to have a resource like this for people to read.

  2. Very interesting for me to read, I began following Gary and very much appreciated how he would settle for nothing less than the best for animals. Anything sending the message that any killing is OK is not the message… I still value this. However, one of his followers did tell me I could not be an abolitionist due to my belief that ahsima ( non violent) milk may help NZ out of it’s dairy- backbone economics, towards cruelty free.

    I think I value Gary as a great reminder of what the end vision actually is. Pure untainted freedom for animals. Yet as you say, untangling this world geared up to exploitation takes a lot of steps, and everyone improving life for animals helps

    It makes me think of early Christianity, all following the same Christ, but creating all these subsets in shades.

    Hopefully we can become multi-layered. Perhaps always reminding people of the end vision of 0 harm, but then also telling them what small step they can start right away. This way we can teach the pure idea and final goal
    whilst also being patient and offering easier baby steps that are accessible and improve lives in the meantime

  3. I understand your concerns about Francione. But I disagree that disagreeing with him means we have to turn our backs on him or make wild claims about how he’s bad for the animal rights movement. I think it is important for us to remember that we need to keep on moving toward abolition of animal abuse, and cannot rest on our laurels. THAT is what the animal industry would like us to do. They want us to say “well, I eat free-range, happy cows and eggs, so my job is done now.” Or the ridiculous number of omnivores who are satisfied with the mere idea that supposedly there is a way to raise and kill animals humanely, and therefore feel justified in continuing to frequent McD’s.
    Francione’s main ideas are true. I think he is at times unrealistic about the feasibility of abolition, but I share his concerns that welfare leads to complacency. Even if you think an incremental approach is the way to go, we cannot forget the main goal.
    Also, I have not read his critiques of all the organizations you have listed, but I do know that PETA is a problematic entity for more reasons than incrementalism. As a feminist, I do see how the exploitation and objectification of female bodies can be justified in the animals rights movement.

  4. I found this, i realize this post is about 3 years old, because i was in tears for hours yesterday, after trying to ask some questions to the Fb page of Francione. After being told I was a narcissistic brat, a blathering person, and other things, i was then told by the admin never to comment again or it would be deleted. To add insult, anytime comments were added, i got a notice which took me back to it, and i noticed they (admin) followers, and Francione himself continued to leave comments about my “uneducability”.

    I have never felt so belittled online, the irony being that it seems compassion is only for non human animals.

    I followed his writings and podcasts for over 8 years, and finally decided to go vegan. I also follow other activists and advocates, but he stood out as a no BS, no one is spared, speaker, who was really magnifying so my ingrained hypocritical ideas about human/non human interaction.

    He has really damaged trust that I had in his movement, and although personally offended, I’m trying to see past that. I’m so disappointd this is how is ended.

    I felt like a witchhunt victim, literally they were just one after another typing these incredibly long answers seething with vitriol and abvious indignation in the tone. Because i compared veganism to maslow—that until people realize/are told that they can live healthy, happily, and tastefully vegan, that they would not normally seek deeper ethical issues, in the beginning of their journey. They first need to know they arent gonna die of protein deficiency etc. I was using Maslows hierarchy as an example, that basic “needs” have to be met before there is an inclination/will to explore ideas of the mind.

    Anyway, their response, as i thought later, was so cold and calculated, that i got shivers. So incredibly cold. I looked and see they have over 80k followers on fb, but normally only receiving 7-20 likes per post; that means they are not reaching an audience. And now i know why. As i scrolled it hit me that every post was negative, not a single one celebrating anything. i also looked at the page of the admin woman—same, filled with negative posts, very few likes.

    His fb banner says, The world is vegan, if you want it”, sounds so inclusive and positive…I can mo longer support his methods. This article was good to read—you did not write it for naught.

    The idea that his vision is the end goal is very enlightening. I had asked, “we have all this information about cruelty, but how do we make meaningful moves, that are inclusive and non-threatening”, basically asking, what do we really do with this information, if u dont think incremental veganism is adequete. ? admin response was to read more of his books.

    They should not be placed in an activism/vegan category, but rather he is a philosopher, and as such does very little actual hands on work—grassroots level to actually help the movement. I have no doubt he has actually turned people away by the bitterness of his answers and of the people working for him.

    ?, Elle H

  5. He rightfully criticizes many animal organizations for having a non-rights moral theory underlying their actions. Speaking just from experience, many vegans and animal organizations I interact with fall into the Singer camp of moral theory (that is, the consequentialist blend that denies the moral rights of both humans and non-human animals). The non-rights view is morally bankrupt and intellectually vacuous. If you’re an actual animal rights activist, you would, at the very least, actually see the merit of Francione’s critiques when it comes to theory.

  6. Abolitionist theory is mostly correct and I have little objections to it. It’s an ideal state of affairs certainly to work towards, whether (1) by solely supporting abolitionism, or (2) hand-in-hand with all the other vegans, groups and organizations out there who are disdainfully dismissed and broadly labelled “welfarist” – no matter what their actual practices or methods. “Welfarist” is the tired, vastly overused insult that the camp of Francione drones defensively lob at anyone and everyone who even dares to question anything, even when just seeking more information or clarity. As correct as abolitionist principles are however, they are unfortunately spearheaded by the worst kind of narcissistic “leader” (another class of humans insulted on a regular basis) in this case, Mr. Francione himself. In addition to him, just about every single abolitionist vegan I’ve tried to have a conversation with, are all abrasive, rude, condescending, argumentative, angry, illogical and insulting franciobots. The least offensive among them simply refer you to read Francione, as if his words are the Bible and he’s Christ. Like fundamentalist cult followers, they will incessantly reference, over and over, to Mr. Francione’s words and works, and insist you just aren’t “getting” it. If you don’t quietly agree immediately or have any questions, you aren’t “getting it.” In the end their collectively elitist, arrogant, impervious, overly-defensive, hypercritical approach will continue to do more damage for veganism and the animals, and also upon unsuspecting or already brainwashed humans, those who are needed most to network and be effective for the animals are undermined greatly by association with that insular cultist. People sure do flock to sociopathic leaders, don’t they ? Nothing changes, in that regard. I even had someone defend Gary’s right to be the colossal asshat that he is to individuals, as if somehow he “suffers” more than the rest of us by having to deign to answer questions and be required to live up to his principles and do the very grassroots kind of effort he continuously espouses in words. Abolitionist purist people seriously need to learn how effective movements actually spread- which includes behavior of kindness, integrity, compassion and inclusiveness. They need to stop attacking and turning away people who actually give a damn about the animals on whatever level they’re at, because there are so many more who don’t give a damn about animals at all. The “welfarists” they disdain are the (pardon the pun) hunting grounds of people they should be recruiting and cultivating, grooming them to be effective members of the communities they’re in who augment the reputation of abolitionist veganism and therefore increase the numbers of abolitionists out there. That’s not going to happen until they can effectively and compassionately practice the grassroots approach they so aggressively preach.

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