Thursday, September 24, 2009

One 'right' approach?

In many ways, last Sunday’s Farm Sanctuary walk for farm animals was a model for public expression of opinion: participants were quiet and orderly, while firmly against factory farming; neither signage nor flyers was strident or inflammatory; peace prevailed as points were made.

It was all very civilized.

It was also worlds away from the anti-fur demos in New York City that I’ve become familiar with in the last few years: chants and bullhorns; gory (i.e., reality-based) signs and videos; critical exchanges with passers-by wearing fur; protesting from behind barricades (in front of stores that sell fur), with police protection.

There’s no argument that both causes – terribly abused farm animals and fur-bearing animals, both slaughtered for human use of their bodies or their fur – are equally worthy. And yet the two approaches to getting the message out are so different. Why? and which way is more effective at “winning hearts and minds,” at moving people away from eating flesh and wearing fur?

On reflection, Sunday’s walk was itself rather bucolic, peaceful. Was that a deliberate reminder of what we still idealize farms as being like -- before we let ourselves remember what factory farms are like? Then what’s to be said about how anti-fur demos proceed: angrily, from the start? Does the difference come down to being a matter of who’s heading up the event, rather than the issue itself – diff'rent strokes and all that?

It may simply require more experience with demonstrations to conclude which approach seems to work best – or even to decide which “style” participants are most comfortable with.

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