Friday, 9 April 2010

President Priscilla Feral: a special formative influence on Clowns' Corner

My cookbooks didn't undermine the liberties that foxes deserve. - President Priscilla Feral

Priscilla Feral (henceforth President Priscilla), President of the new welfarist organization Friend's of Animals (FoA), was recently interviewed by MikeyPod, whose real name is Micheal Harren, on Meat Free Radio. In the following, we comment on the interview.

In the interview President Priscilla and Micheal discussed FoA's open letter to Johnny Weir, a figure skater who had announced that he planned to wear fur as part of his skating costume. This open letter was critiqued by Gary Francione in a blog essay where he identified it as an example of single issue activism which is problematic. Why? For two reasons: first because, in a society like ours, where animal use is considered normal and natural, if a campaign focuses on, say fur, it sends the confused and confusing message that fur is relevantly different from (i.e., morally worse than) leather or wool or other animal products; and second because animal advocacy is a zero-sum game: time and energy spent on single issue campaigns necessarily is not spent on clear and unequivocal vegan education.

Now it appears as if Micheal was referring to these arguments (with what precision, readers can judge for themselves) when he asked President Priscilla the following:

There's another argument that I'm curious, sort of, what your response to is, that, that it's sort of – see I'm trying not to name names -it comes from the same general area that the other complaints came from, that, that it's basically saying that if you – this also isn't a victory because Johnny Weir's still gonna be wearing leather skates and probably a wool sweater or some other animal products and maybe even he's gonna continue eating meat – so do you have a response to that, sort of?

She replied:

If somebody who defines himself as a Law Professor, somebody with a lot of credentials, who's tenured, ya know, at Rutger's, whose job is safe and who is paid very, very well by the taxpayers, doesn't have to work a lot of hours each week, when that person falls into the clutches of Weir's publicist and takes her at her word because it suits his agenda - and his name is Gary Francione, this person I'm talking about - when he writes an essay and says, Jeez, "it's not a victory" – course he doesn't understand that foxes actually appreciate this – "it's a defeat" and then goes on to say because the guy was intimidated by threats of violence - I mean, Gary, are you now gonna go clean that up, ya know, you've just misspoken because you have your own agenda, undermining the people who aren't under your spell, who aren't controllable or some such thing.

The truth is, I've known Gary Francione for more than twenty years. He worked for PeTA, when I met him, he was trying to get on the board of directors at FoA in the mid-80's and he was also trying to become its president. And when he first spoke to me then, he called me and said, "I am gonna be the next president," and I'd just had a child, so I had a one year old running around the FoA office in Connecticut, and he said, "I just want you to know that I don't like old people and I don't like children." And the next thing he said was, "I want you to get Alice Harrington to bring over Ronnie Lee from the ALF," who had written a book about bombing buildings or some such thing. And I mean, I knew then that Gary Francione was, ya know, a pain in the keister, on multiple levels. To this day, he remains that [...]

What Gary is trying to do is get people to sit on their hands and just repeat his speech and stop thinking of activism in the dynamic way it has to be expressed. He really defeats the energy that people need to be in a social justice movement. It's not just sitting around there and listen to someone lecture to you and then parroting back what they say: it's expressing the kind of organizing that needs to go on, the evolution of ideas that take shape through actions, this is what it's about [...]

I am sure there could be a vegan skating boot […] Why doesn't Francione see these possibilities? Because he doesn't want to because he wants to harm the independent people and groups who aren't marching to his drum here.

He replied in turn:

I didn't know all that back story; that's interesting to know too.

How rarely is complete enthrallment in this kind of thing actually achieved? Yet Micheal managed to do it - something that is beyond our powers of comprehension to explain.

As for President Priscilla herself: we have heard it said that Micheal's razor-sharp questioning stimulated her to the highest intensification of her intellectual powers the result of which can be summarized as follows:

Law Professor...publicist...violence...board of Directors...old people and children...Alice Harrington...Ronnie Lee...bombing buildings....pain in the kiester...dynamic activism[blahblahblahGOOOOO].

P.S.: President Priscilla said that Lee Hall's "IQ is really right of the charts." We just hope that Lee will use her IQ which "is really right off the charts" to follow up FoA's open letter to Johnny Weir with a book titled "Capers on the Ice Rink: Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Triple Axles and Toe Loops."