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…
I 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
Ok then, Francione (see also the links under the article)
Science weighs in at last (by the late Norm Phelps)
Vegan activism and the effectiveness of the abolitionist approach
Or read how Francione even fights with The Abolitionist Vegan Society here and here
17 thoughts on “Why I’m openly criticizing Francione (final post)”
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.
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
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.
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
I’m 2 years late and release now you have put this behind you. But I’ll just highlight some of the words you said. Unfortunately, my comments don’t get published on here, because I’m probably saying something a bit to brutal. So I will be more careful in this reply:
These are your quotes:
“i was in tears for hours yesterday”
“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 felt like a witchhunt victim”
“their response, as i thought later, was so cold and calculated, that i got shivers.”
“So incredibly cold.”
“As i scrolled it hit me that every post was negative, not a single one celebrating anything.”
I don’t want to say too much, but I think how you have expressed your true feelings and reactions, says more about the small percentage of people who attach themselves (or are more prone to) attach themselves to the most extreme ways of thinking of an ideological movement, one being veganism. There are others, for example, Muslims are mostly peaceful, but then a small percentage get drawn into extreme islam, and what happens then (a terrorist group). Another ideological idea is communist – go to the extreme of communism and you get a dictatorship, also Christianity – there are extreme Christians, who also support Trump and what his thoughts are about racism.
So then you need to consider which personality types would lean towards the most extreme part of an ideology, and then you can, if it happens to someone else, protect yourself if you find that anything you say, even if you agree with them, will get dismissed, trod down on, and bullied until you get to the point you feel so guilty, ashamed and break down in tears. For some people, they don’t actually want to world to be vegan, for a small of people they just want to feel a bit morally superior than actual people who do have a lot of empathy.
Research has proven that people who are drawn to veganism and vegetarianism have a high level of empathy.
So yeah, veganism, is a cheap and easy option for, lets say ‘a bully’, to use that to appear morally superior and spend all their days, rather than find a proper job, bullying people and reducing them to tears. There intention was not to encourage you to stay vegan, there intention was to destroy you, because, perhaps you displayed a real compassion for animals and you displayed a deep level of empathy which made you a target.
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.
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.
Sorry about being a bit too late to your comment ‘Not a francibot’.
I’m not gonna repeat what I said in a previous reply, I have just typed, for Ellie H.
However, I’m just adding onto the comment I made for Ellie and will highlight some of your words.
“they are unfortunately spearheaded by the worst kind of narcissistic “leader” ”
“every single abolitionist vegan I’ve tried to have a conversation with, are all abrasive, rude, condescending, argumentative, angry, illogical and insulting”
“Like fundamentalist cult followers,”
“Their collectively elitist, arrogant, impervious, overly-defensive, hypercritical approach will continue to do more damage for veganism and the animals”
I would call this, quite simply, ‘bullying’ or more blunty, ‘abusive’.
The term non-violence, originates from Buddhist, and real non-violence is for everything, not just animals.
And I have actually a small number of these abolitionist, do they talk like this to meat eaters?, no, why? because there is no fun it that is there. It’s saved just for fellow vegans, who are doing it because they are actually nice people, who actually have a moral baseline anyway, about most things, including other humans, and have a lot of empathy.
If you are severely lacking in these areas, but you enjoy the pleasure of upsetting people and making people feel bad for being vegan, then yeah, be a internet troller and attach yourself to the most extreme way of thinking, must instead of encouraging others to join, you deliberately drive the existing, and new vegans away. Why, in reality, they don’t care too much about the animals, and certainly not other humans, especially humans that might serve a dent to their ego, i.e. others that actually have a moral baseline.
I’m not criticising the ideology, ok. Because any movement is based on an ideology, and the world needs some people that will stand up for what they believe in, i.e. Black Lives Matter.
However, extreme ways of thinking, do attract certain personality types and will use it, not because they care too much about the ideology, but use it for personal gain, to appear morally superior and use this to make others, that agree with the ideology for good reasons, to make them feel bad.
So take other ideologys as an example, look at religion, religion attracts people who want to be part of a community, who are very loving and compassionate for members in their community, and will pray for others, outside of it, for God’s love. Take that to the extreme, and you will form an ideology which is more about rules, and anyone else that falls slightly below, for instance, donating £50 to an animal charity, for instance a hedgehog rescue centre’, who is ‘welfarist’ because the owner has a pet dog.
And they will use that as an opportunity to accuse you of being a murderer or rapist. So then, in religion, when that happens, you get the terrorist groups, that are based on ideology, morally righteousness, but then if fellow people fall short, say they wear a head scarf instead of fully covering up, it gives them the right, in their group, to kill you.
Unfortunately, I do think GF had good intentions, and he was starting up a conversation of what he actually thinks, but unfortunately, it has attracted certain personality types to his cause.
I’m not sure what GF thinks about this, perhaps he is slightly annoyed, because they are doing a good job at preventing his message getting across and achieveing his goal of ‘the world is vegan’.
The best way to deal with bullies, is to walk away, avoid. As you won’t win in an argument with them. They might be able to get others on board with what they are saying, but even if you start to agree with them, after you have offered a slightly different opinion to there’s, it will likely to be dismissed.
The only possible way, if you can be bothered, is to start stroking their egos first ie. ‘that’s very intelligent’, and then offer a very very slight different opinion, and they might just accept it, but only, only if you continue to stroke their egos.
But otherwise, don’t even go onto their websites, don’t bother commenting on what they say, as one, you won’t change them, they won’t stop the bullying behaviour (it will just increase). The only way to deal is to avoid, until they get to the point when there is no one left to ‘play with’ and then they’ll get bored and focus on another ideology.
Sorry to keep on commenting, it’s just that this blog has got me thinking a lot.
The original comment by the owner of this blog, mentions something about ‘division’ and a comment made below talked about that it would be good for all vegans to come together.
However, after meeting some extrememly ‘extreme’ vegans myself (I had a friend who was an abolitionist, she was social worker and also campaigned for lots of other stuff because she had a good heart, a good soul, I’m not talking her and about all abolitionists, just the small number who are the most brutal and righteous). They definitely do not want other vegans to be part of them. What they want is to be on top of the pyramid in superiority.
My friend, who was a social worker, is doing it for good, compassionate reasons, but the small number of the ‘extremely extreme’ vegans weren’t not doing it to ‘make the world vegan.’ Rather they are doing it for their own needs which was more to do with a superiority complex.
So I wouldn’t worry too much about joining forces. I don’t think that’s what abolitionists want anyway. The fact that they will, without any remorse, accuse people of being murders and rapists, just because, say they donated £50 to a vet (welfarist).
At the end of the day do you think Muslims want to join forces with ISIS, do you think ISIS want to join forces with non-ISIS members – of course not.
I’m sorry for comparing ISIS to the abolotionist approach, but the way some of GF’s supporters feel and respond to other well-meaning vegans, is sloping towards more of a ‘terrorist group’.
I don’t think for one minute this was GF’s intention, but that’s what happens sometimes, with ideologies, I might attract people that have ulterior motives. Especially if their ideologies are done over the internet.
I’m basically going to share the same statements here as I did in the Ethical Omnivore Movement website – which is the fact that I wholeheartedly agree with the premise that it’s hard to take Gary Francione or any of his followers seriously at all (though I do at least support their good intentions about TRYING to help animals, nonetheless). I myself am not a full vegan, at least yet, but I am a vegetarian.
Factory farms comprise the vast majority of animal-based ag today, and they are undeniably both an ethical and environmental abomination. Of course, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that factory farmed animal products are notoriously detrimental to human health, but I do know that factory farms themselves are almost as abusive of their human employees as they are of their animals. Plus, those farms are also the reason why E. coli, salmonella, etc., spread as often as they do, leading to pandemics.
However, even plant-based ag is still never 100% cruelty-free either – because wild animals and the environment are harmed in the process, when crops are harvested to feed people. Yes, it is true that the TYPICAL plant-based diet causes less harm than the TYPICAL animal-based diet does – but there are still a few rare exceptions where this is not always true (i.e.; industrial veganic farming versus sustainable/pasture-based livestock farming OR hunting and fishing in moderation). Not to mention that hunting and fishing in moderation can help to prevent wildlife overpopulation. Also, most sustainable/pasture-based livestock animals actually have better and longer lives than most wild prey animals do too.
Additionally, while most people nowadays can survive on a vegetarian or vegan diet, that still doesn’t mean that EVERYBODY can. And even in general, a vegetarian or especially vegan diet still isn’t necessarily the 100% healthiest diet either. Of course, this is NOT to say that eating too many, or the wrong kinds of, animal products are any healthier either though. (But still, the only reason why veg[etari]ans on average live a bit longer than most other people do, is because they also tend to exercise more and do fewer drugs than most other people do too. Correlation =/= causation. Plus, we all know that documentaries like “What the Health” and “The Game Changers” have been thoroughly debunked; ditto with any health organization that has the word “dietetics” in it too.)
I wholeheartedly agree that we as a society should significantly reduce our current consumption of animal products, and continue promoting vegetarianism and veganism, for all of the reasons mentioned above. However, I’m still glad that the people on this website recognize that it won’t be a feasible option for everybody on this entire planet, anytime within these next several generations.
Will humans ever evolve to become natural herbivores sometime in the far, distant future? Will we ever find more ethical ways of preventing wildlife overpopulation aside from hunting and fishing? Will both the wild prey animals that we currently hunt and fish, and the livestock animals that we currently farm regularly, ever become extinct after several generations from now (in which case, we would no longer have to worry about killing or taking advantage of animals that no longer exist anyway)? Honestly, these are questions that none of us know the answers to just yet.
But yes, I think the fundamental reason why the “militant/extremist/abolitionist vegans” act the way they do, is because they know that eating meat is INEVITABLY an effect of killing a healthy, living animal who doesn’t want to die – and that eating dairy/eggs/honey is INEVITABLY an effect of taking advantage of a healthy animal against its will. I get why some people would feel this way – but at the same time, it’s still analogous in principle as a fox eating a squirrel or a crow eating a trout. Not that we humans are the same as foxes and crows, but you people get my point, of course.