Two Garys – Big League Players in Vegan Animal Rights (Part 2)

Gary Yourofsky and Gary Francione who gets my vote and why

So in Part 1 we saw that both guys are big hitters in veganism and Animal Rights, with quite a bit of overlap between them, though they’ve travelled very different life journeys.

Now we’re going to look at the gaping ideological chasm between these two champs. I’m pretty sure we’ll see that however good our mental rope-throwing, we will never be able to bridge it.


Gary Francione

318px-PP1010410 Urcomunicacion Wikimedia Commons

We’ll give Gary F the first shout this time – here are his

6 Principles of the Abolitionist Approach (they do merit a read, I promise!)

1.The abolitionist approach to animal rights rejects all animal use and maintains that all sentient beings, humans or nonhumans, have one right: the basic right not to be treated as the property of others.

2.Recognition of the one basic right means that  we must abolish, and not merely regulate, institutionalised animal exploitation—because it assumes that animals are the property of humans. We recognize that we will not abolish overnight the property status of nonhumans, but we will support only those campaigns and positions that explicitly promote the abolitionist agenda. We will not support positions that call for supposedly “improved” regulation of animal exploitation.

3.The abolitionist approach sees abolition as the goal of animal ethics and sees creative, nonviolent vegan advocacy—and not welfare reform—as the means to that end. The abolitionist approach regards veganism as the moral baseline and maintains that we cannot draw a morally coherent distinction between flesh and other animal products, such as dairy or eggs, or between animal foods and the use of animals for clothing or other products.

4.The abolitionist approach links the moral status of nonhumans with sentience alone and not with any other cognitive characteristic. Sentience is subjective awareness; there is someone who perceives and experiences the world. A sentient being has interests; that is, preferences, wants, or desires. If a being is sentient, then that is necessary and sufficient for the being to have the right not to be used as a means to human ends, which, correlatively, imposes on humans the moral obligation not to use that being as a resource. It is not a matter of “humanely” using that animal. Although less suffering is better than more suffering, no use can be morally justified.

5.Just as we reject racism, sexism, ageism, and heterosexism, we reject speciesism. The species of a sentient being is no more reason to deny the protection of this basic right than race, sex, age, or sexual orientation is a reason to deny membership in the human moral community to other humans.

6.We recognize the principle of nonviolence as the guiding principle of the animal rights movement. Violence is the problem; it is not any part of the solution.

I hope Gary F will not object to my highlighting axiomatic phrases in each Principle. I’m really looking forward to an in-depth look at these Principles, but that will have to wait till a later date, because Gary Y is waiting impatiently in the wings for his turn to take the stage.


Carla Lopez [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Gary Yourofsky

It’s pretty clear that the foundation of Gary Y’s approach to veganism and AR lies in his belief that humans treat other animals in an exactly comparable way the Nazis treated the Jews in WW2 – “In relation to them [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.”

It’s a comparison that some find offensive, although in Israel Gary Y actually has a huge following. I’m not the only vegan to have had the self-same thought. But there he leaves me. The following quote from him most people will find profoundly shocking:

“Deep down, I truly hope that oppression, torture and murder return to each uncaring human tenfold! I hope that fathers accidentally shoot their sons on hunting excursions, while carnivores suffer heart attacks that kill them slowly. Every women ensconced in fur should endure a rape so vicious that it scars them forever. While every man entrenched in fur should suffer an anal raping so horrific that they become disembowelled. Every rodeo cowboy and matador should be gored to death, while circus abusers are trampled by elephants and mauled by tigers. And, lastly, may irony shine its esoteric head in the form of animal researchers catching debilitating diseases and painfully withering away because research dollars that could have been used to treat them was wasted on the barbaric, unscientific practice of vivisection”.

“I’m not happy that violence has to be used to achieve those goals,” he adds, “but there’s a myth out there that love conquers evil, that peace will conquer insanity and stupidity. It doesn’t always. If we break into a slaughterhouse and point guns at employees saying, ‘Put down your knives!’ − that’s not violence, we’re trying to stop the violence. But please remember that I spend my time educating people − I’ve never committed an act of violence.”
(read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/is-vegan-superstar-gary-yourofsky-an-animal-savior-or-a-mad-militant-1.463267)

However, this is not strictly true, is it? This is his own account of what occurred at one particular anti-fur demonstration

“I had a confrontation with a motorist who stopped his vehicle to offer me a $20 donation. When I approached the car to accept the donation, he pulled the money back and laughed. So I spit on his passenger seat. He drove away but came back a few minutes later in an attempt to spit on me. He missed and took off. I chased his car around 100 yards down 16 Mile Road. After I stopped chasing, he made a u-turn and drove up to a nearby parking lot. I ran towards him, removing my shirt, and challenging him to a fight. He was visibly scared and begged me not to do anything. I obliged, only wanting to scare him in the first place. He got in his car and started laughing. So I kicked in his car door. I kicked the door so hard it took me a few seconds to remove my foot from the crater.”

So Gary Y, although you have limited your physical violence to property rather than people, in my opinion violent thoughts and words are every bit as bad as violent actions. Let’s cast a glance back at Gary F’s Principle No.6

We recognize the principle of nonviolence as the guiding principle of the animal rights movement. Violence is the problem; it is not any part of the solution.

To me Mr Yourofsky, it actually makes a nonsense of what you are trying to do – how can you make it your life’s work to free all those animal species from the slavery and cruelty to which they are subjected, and at the same time express violence towards humans, another animal species.That’s a massive crack in your thinking.

And I worry that because you are so well-known and influential, your more violent views must inevitably cast a dark shadow over the cause of Animal Rights. Thus you validate that stigma with which we all seem invariably to be lumped together and branded – “Animal Rights Extremists“, a group that can be rightly feared and hated, rather than one that should be applauded for its compassion and humanity.

So Gary Y, yes you’ve opened the eyes of thousands, but it’s a close call whether you have done the cause more harm than good.


Gary Francione– you get my vote. I can’t argue with any of those 6 Principles. They were what opened my eyes all those years ago and inspired me to be passionate about veganism and Animal Rights


A final thought Gary Yourofsky. I’ve read that you would gladly give your own life if it would free all the animals from the ‘holocaust’ they endure.

So would I Gary, so would I.

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