For the purposes of this post, I’m assuming you already know at least a little about the teen hunter/Texas cheerleader named Kendall Jones. Thus, I’ll get right to my question: What can we learn as activists from yet another episode of yet another human who finds pleasure in the murdering of non-humans?
“Don’t let her diminutive size fool you,” writes Ryan Grenoble in the Huffington Post, “Kendall Jones, a cheerleader at Texas Tech University, has faced down some of the world’s fiercest animals.”
Reality: Hunting and shooting an animal in the “wild” is not about “facing down” anything except sheer cowardice. Click here for a photographic explanation.
We must never stop challenging—using facts, not hyperbole—the enduring mainstream narrative of “fierce animals” and “brave” human hunters. Speciesism thrives thanks to propaganda. It’s our job to offer a documented and accessible alternative.
Lesson: Extinction is Forever
“Traveling halfway around the world to shoot some of the world’s most magnificent, and threatened animals is shameful,” says Nicole Paquette, the Humane Society’s vice president for wildlife protection. “Many of the species that Ms. Jones has killed face declining populations due to loss of habitat and poaching. Amidst this crisis, trophy hunting only adds to the threats to the survival of these iconic species and is nothing more than a thrill kill.”
Reminder: Each day, 150-200 plant and animal species go extinct.
Do you really wanna be part of the human generation responsible for the largest mass extinction event in 65 million years? If not, what are you willing to do in the name of preserving the future?
Lesson: Ben Tre Logic
“This is a conservation effort to assure [sic] that they never do become extinct,” Kendall Jones recently declared on Facebook. Where could she have possibly come up with such a paradoxical approach, you wonder?
It was during the Vietnam War that AP correspondent Peter Arnett, writing about the destruction of the provincial capital of Ben Tre on February 7, 1968, was told by an unnamed U.S. Air Force Major: “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
As a result, the phrase “Ben Tre logic” is commonly used to describe the logical [sic] conclusion to destroy something out of the perceived best interests of everyone involved.
Context: Kendall Jones did not appear, fully formed, out of a cultural vacuum. She is the product of a heavily conditioned society constructed upon a foundation of violence and hierarchy. What role can each of us play in taking down this entire system?
Lesson: White Supremacy
Playing into a long and sordid history of white invaders claiming to be motivated by an altruistic desire to “save” the backwards inhabitants of Africa, Jones posed in a photo with the carcass of a murdered elephant. She was surrounded by humans she claimed were “part of the village that showed up to take a little protein home.”
Crucial: Connect the struggle against speciesism with the struggle against racism (and all forms of oppression).
P.S. Protein is vastly misunderstood and overrated. Spread the word.
Lesson: How Not to Respond
Jones’ despicable behavior has presented animal rights (AR) activists with a powerful teaching/learning opportunity. We can and must use her example to reach out far beyond our own tiny, often marginalized circles. Of course, we can commiserate and vent our shared outrage on social media but how can we translate that outrage into some much-needed results in the real world?
How do we effectively connect with the vast majority of humans, people that rarely (if ever) ponder such issues?
As mentioned above, a good start is to cultivate and present a well-reasoned and accurate argument (not always a strong point within the AR crowd). But there’s another related and urgent angle we must address within our own ranks.
Since the story broke, I have witnessed AR activists hurling horrifically misogynistic insults at Kendall Jones. It’s sad to have to explain this in 2014 but here goes:
Words like c*nt and b*tch are unacceptable. They will not help our cause (or any cause seeking liberation), will not grow the movement, will not make women (or any non-cis-man) feel safe within our movement, and will not help save a single animal’s life.
Such a patriarchal response guarantees that both non-human and human animals will continue to suffer and die.
Crucial: Connect the struggle against speciesism with the struggle against misogyny (and all forms of oppression).
Lesson: Evolve or Perish
The time is long overdue for our activism and our vision to evolve, comrades. Which side are you on?
(Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism can be ordered here.)