Hello ARC attendees! Thank you so much for your interest in my panel presentations and for coming to see me speak (if you were able to make it). I wanted to be sure to provide the transcripts for two of my three panel presentations below (just click the title) for anyone who wasn't able to attend and those wanting more information.
For my Social Deviance panel, please find the full bestiality video and article analyzed within my presentation here.
Thank you so much again for attending. You can also sign up for the free Nugget Newsletter at the top of the page (and get a Free ebook to boot) for ongoing updates on what all I'm up to. :)
In its most ideal manifestation, the construct of social deviance serves to stigmatize behaviors that violate universal values while reinforcing those behaviors that fall in line. For example, maliciousy harming a child is widely viewed as criminal-level deviance—in fact, intentionally hurting any vulnerable, innocent, and defenseless being is generally seen as the lowest and most despicable form of violence across cultural divides—within context.
One need only reference the standby examples of a dog’s status as friend or food based on nothing more than her geographical location, a pig’s individuality hinging on his having a human-assigned name, a horse valued in the millions one moment and discarded by a dumpster the next, a cow’s milk perceived as fit for humans while that of a donkey or dog elicits disgust.
In reality, social norms often directly oppose the very values the majority of society purports to hold. It is within this framework that veganism—essentially behaving inline with the professed universal values of protecting, defending, and certainly not harming the innocent and vulnerable—is an ethical deviance with punishment ranging from social ostracism all the way—at least in the United States—to a formal level of domestic terrorism.
The absurdity of the latter consequence should not overshadow the impact of the former—social pressure to conform and fear of rejection are incredibly powerful—and far more common—deterrents to veganism.
Thus, rather than encouraging ethical deviation, many within the vegan movement focus on the social normalization of veganism—making a vegan lifestyle approachable, affordable, easy—even mainstream. After all, the spectrum of social deviance to social norm is entirely fluid—today’s deviance could be tomorrow’s norm in-the-making and social movements have succeeded in shifting social norms before: the abolition of human slavery, women’s suffrage, LGBT rights. With proof that what’s criminal can become not only legal but socially reinforced—and the reverse—working within the system—however faulty it may be—to make veganism more accessible presents a perfectly logical approach.
But is it a desirable outcome for the objective of animal liberation? In attempting to “bridge the gap” and meet the general public where they’re at, there exists the risk of diluting the ethical objection for deviation.
The rise of the “humane” movement provides a powerful cautionary tale, offering the veneer of social responsibility over the hollowed out shell of vegan principles. The option to appear as if acting in line with core values and avoid any stigma of social transgression is essentially winning the human social lottery. If we can keep doing what we want to do and feel good about it, what reason is there for change?
Of course the individuals at the core of veganism’s ethical deviation remain just as—and, in most cases of human regulations even more—exploited.
Vigilant ongoing self-assessment is vital [for activists?] when seeking progress within a socially-dictated system. Along the path of transitioning between social deviance and social norm lies the trap of social diversion: something seen as an acceptable variation in lifestyle. In the case of veganism, the reduction of an ethical imperative to a socially acceptable choice—essentially “you eat how you want to eat, and I’ll eat how I want to eat.”
Granted, acceptance in place of ostracism is undeniable evidence of progress—but towards what and for whom?
The focus has shifted from liberation to lifestyle—from their rights to our comfort. A victory for vegans is not by default a victory for non-human animals.
Is society’s generous “allowance” of the “acceptable option” to not murder, rape, enslave, and torture innocent beings truly something to celebrate?
So if normalizing veganism internally is problematic, what about emphatically rejecting any attempt to engage with or change the system or those within it—even viewing vegan outreach and education as wasted energy.
These are, of course, two extremes within a wide range of activism and advocacy styles. An alternative approach I’ve explored and found to be effective within my own educational activism is, rather than focus on integrating the logical ethical imperative of veganism into an arbitrary and fickle social construct, or forgoing any engagement with said construct, attempt instead to disarm its power through helping non-vegans dismantle it themselves, leaving space for reconnection with core values.
This is a nuance of my entire approach to educational activism: rather than pandering to or rejecting a given system of social norms, using people’s familiarity with and unquestioned acceptance of selected norms to expose the absurdity of the system within and through which they’re constructed.
I’m far from the first activist to show that some of the most “normalized” and unquestioned habits and behaviors run counter to “universal” and personally-professed values, while veganism—a perceived deviance—proves to be the true manifestation of values which norms are ideally meant to enforce and sustain.
This tactic I’m describing takes a slight variance, revealing universal deviances—supposedly practiced by only a fringe minority of society—as the norm: supported, demanded, and engaged in by the very majority that has rejected them.
I find it most effective to use values and deviances that are as universally-held and long-standing as possible—across cultural, social, class divides—whether vegan or an adamant meat-eater. It’s human nature—and a testament to the power of social norms—to always find a reason why unpleasant truths don’t apply to us: “It was an isolated incident”; “My friend treats her chickens really nice”; “I only buy free-range and humane products”; “That’s only in America.” Or China, or anywhere but here.
I thought it might be helpful to walk through an example for illustration. Earlier this year, I utilized this approach, when to address perhaps the most ideally suited topic for its purposes—a universal deviance with a multi-century history of formal and informal enforcement across countries and cultures: bestiality.
I’ll be incorporating excerpts from my video in addition to commenting upon my navigation of the topic for my intended target audience of non-vegans and using, as I did in the video for sake of familiarity, the Americanized pronunciation of bestiality.
I opened with a provocative implication of bestiality being a common everyday practice supported and enjoyed by the vast majority of society, then proceeded to provide supportive examples backing up my claim before issuing the next provocative statement prompting further exploration.
Ancient mythology is rife with gods taking the form of animals in order to copulate with humans, among many other bestial themes we readily teach children in middle school. But were a teacher to hand out a story involving sex between humans and animals written in the modern-day, suddenly a cultured appreciation of the Classics would become a potentially criminal distribution of pornography.
And while many states in America have strictly-enforced laws against as much as photographing a child posed with an animal in even a remotely suggestive manner, kids in America’s farmland can participate in wholesome afterschool programs with lessons in boar semen management,  and how to sexually stimulate a pig.
If we attempt to evaluate these examples objectively, the division between the educational and the immoral or criminal becomes largely a matter of cultural context. Which begs the question: what, exactly, is so bad about bestiality?
This question still sounds absurd this early into an analysis and was intended to recapture focus and facilitate transition. As exposing the true core objection to bestiality is the primary focus of this progressive analysis, the repetition of the thesis at progressive levels of insight allows the viewer to re-approach the question from a slightly altered perspective. I proceeded from here into a legal summary before posing the question a final time and entering the heart of the video’s logical breakdown:
[I started with] the rather inadequate parameters of what was traditionally considered the legal benchmark for sexual violation: penetration.
Criminologist Piers Beirne points to the Mosaic commandments as “the earliest and most influential justification for censures of bestiality.”
Remnants of this moral origin are evidenced in the language of some of today’s secular legislation [and] bestiality remained punishable by death throughout the early modern period Given it’s even pre-biblical censure, it may be surprising to hear that many countries still lack any laws addressing sexual contact between humans and animals.
In the United States, bestiality remains legal in at least eight states, and Washington D.C., with about seventeen of the remaining 42 having only enacted legislation since 1999.
The modern resurgence of legislation has revealed a shift in the conceptualization and legal classification of bestiality from “a crime against public morals,” to an act of animal cruelty, with California and Oregon even going so far as to call it “sexual assault of an animal.” Attorney Rebecca F. Wisch…proposes this terminology “may reflect these states' assessment that animals are incapable of consenting,” essentially granting non-human animals “victim” status.
With the extreme variation from state to state (much less country to country!) we’re once again left with the question of what precisely makes bestiality so objectionable.
All bestiality legislation includes exceptions for accepted animal industry practices. So by eliminating any permissible actions, we can hopefully hone in on the root wrong of bestiality.
This may appear to offer a clear-cut line in the sand, until we consider the long list of farming practices, not to mention animal experimentation and fur “harvesting” methods involving penetration.
So if penetration itself isn’t the issue, what about harmful penetration? That can’t be the issue either, as animal experimentation and fur harvesting and common farming practices involving penetration can and do cause harm.
Even in the food industry, the vast majority of farmed animals today are bred via artificial insemination. Cows in the dairy industry are repeatedly impregnated through AI in order to maintain the flow of milk for human consumption.
Aside from the psychological and emotional …[trauma] the insemination process itself can be physically damaging, especially when considering that most are performed by non-veterinarians. Since AI training involves practicing on live cows, some courses are held at slaughterhouses, though one UK vet advised “novice inseminators should not practice on cows unless they are to be slaughtered on the training day.” 
Perhaps the objectionable element separating routine farming practices from bestiality is the deliberate use of force during penetration?
For this I quoted author Jim Mason’s account of working in a turkey breeding facility as he described standard industry practice of “breaking” hens before moving into the pig flesh industry, where “even in the EU, where tethering stalls in which pigs were chained in place were outlawed, artificial insemination is one of a number of built-in exceptions wherein pigs may legally be chained in place.
So, if forceful penetration of an animal’s vagina, anus, or cloaca resulting in physical and/or psychological harm and eliciting clear signs of distress is not what’s objectionable, maybe it’s when the action performed upon an animal is itself overtly sexual, not just the body part(s) involved.
Take the following account:
“Each boar had his own little perversion the man had to do to get the boar turned on… He might have to hold the boar’s penis in exactly the right way…and he had to masturbate some of them in exactly the right way. [For] one boar, he told me, “I have to stick my finger in his butt, he just really loves that,” ….He’s one of the best in the business.”
Without context where would you place this on the line between the pornographic and permissible?
Would your answer change if I told you the passage was written by an internationally renowned and well-respected specialist in livestock handling and animal welfare? If so, what changed about the account itself?
That excerpt comes from Dr. Temple Grandin’s book, “Animals in Translation,” wherein she’s described in the “about” section as “a role model for hundreds of thousands of families and people.”
At this point I provided something of a check-in point for the viewer, saying “if the highly individualized, manual masturbation of male pigs to completion and sexual stimulation of females prior to the insertion of boar semen are acts openly recounted by a respected professor and role model to families, I fear our common sense assessment may be an exercise in futility.
The only element we’ve yet to assess, is the intention and experience of the human committing the act. This is the determining factor in several state bestiality laws, like Delaware’s, which specifies the contact be “for purposes of sexual gratification.”
But if that’s really the root of our objection to bestiality, then we’ve essentially gone full-circle to the original moral basis for its censure, despite the modern shift towards animal cruelty classification, and establishment of animals as victims.
How exactly does the intention of the person involved, or whether the act is part of their job description, or carried out in a medical context, help the individual being violated? I would imagine that someone’s job title would be of little comfort to the cow restrained and forcefully penetrated for her next round of heartbreak. And the enjoyment or lack thereof derived by the worker operating the anal probe wouldn’t do much to dull the painful electric current shocking a bull’s pelvic nerves.
Such absurdities are the result of our arbitrary shifting of animals from property to family to victim to profit margin, depending on our needs. And as their roles shift, so too do the kinds of harms we may inflict upon them.
In her response to philosopher Peter Singer’s controversial book review essay Heavy Petting, my esteemed co-panelist Dr. Karen Davis addressed this progressive commodification:
“Historically, animal agriculture has facilitated bestiality, not simply because of the proximity of farmed animals, but because controlling other creatures' bodies invites this extension of a license that has already been taken.”
When it comes to our relationships with non-human animals, we posses a remarkable level of cognitive dissonance complete with ample blind spots.
Far from having the animals’ interests at heart, it appears that, as Dr. Davis wrote, “the primary mainstream objection to bestiality…is that sex between humans and nonhumans, regardless of the circumstances in which it occurs including rape, is ‘an offence to our status and dignity as human beings.’”
That’s the power of human perception. That our violation of their bodies is an affront to our “dignity.”
Davis describes how, in regards to bestiality, some animal advocates advanced the argument that “nonhuman animals are not in a position to give informed consent…by virtue of [their] presumed inherent intellectual inferiority to humans.” Even in their supposed defense, we insult them.
This is why, in “Rethinking Bestiality,” one of the few essays focusing on the issue of bestiality from an animal rights standpoint, criminologist Piers Beirne calls for “a concept of interspecies sexual assault,” independent of moral outrage, empty allusions to victim status, and lack of consent through idiocy. Referencing Carol J Adams, he lays the foundation for a truly victim-centered approach to the sexual assault of animals:
“For genuine consent to sexual relations to be present…both participants must be conscious, fully informed and positive in their desires… Bestiality involves sexual coercion because animals are incapable of saying yes or no to humans in forms that humans can readily understand…
If we cannot know whether animals consent to our sexual overtures, then we are as much at fault when we tolerate interspecies sexual relations as when we fail to condemn adults who have sexual relations with infants or with children or with…[others]—who, for whatever reason, are unable to refuse participation.”
I hope this was a helpful illustration for a potential approach to the challenges posed by the social constructs of norms and deviance. May you stay fiercely deviant.
➣ The Extremism of Veganism [Censored Speech]
 S. 3880, 109th Congress, “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act,” accessed July 20, 2017, https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/s3880/text.
 For an in-depth examination of the actual impact and effect of “humane” legislation and regulations for the non-human animals they’re meant to benefit, see: Emily Moran Barwick, “The Best We Have To Offer? | Inside Ireland’s ‘Humane’ Farming” (Dublin, Ireland, September 28, 2016), http://bitesizevegan.org/ethics-and-morality/the-best-we-have-to-offer-inside-irelands-humane-farming/; For a brief and more informal summary, this excerpt from a live Q&A session also addresses this issue: Emily Moran Barwick, “Why I’m A Vegan Against Animal Welfare,” BiteSizeVegan.Com, November 16, 2016, http://bitesizevegan.org/ethics-and-morality/why-im-a-vegan-against-animal-welfare/.
 Midas Dekkers, Dearest Pet: On Bestiality, trans. Paul Vincent (London; New York: Verso, 2000), http://amzn.to/2j8M6JB.
 Pork Checkoff, “Semen Knowledge – Activity – Senior” (National Pork Board Pork Quizbowl, n.d.).
 Pork Checkoff, “Semen Management,” accessed January 24, 2017, https://porkcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/sites/all/files/documents/Youth/SemenMgmt.pdf.
 Pork Checkoff, “Artificial Insemination Video Series,” Pork Checkoff, May 6, 2010, http://www.pork.org/youth-and-education/educational-materials-videos/artificial-insemination/; Mary Roach, Sow Stimulation, in “10 Things You Didn’t Know about Orgasm,” TED Talks, 2009, https://youtu.be/7jx0dTYUO5E?t=10m51s.
 Robert E. Mikesell, “4-H Breeding Swine Project Reference Guide” (The Pennsylvania State University, 1998), http://extension.psu.edu/4-h/projects/swine/4-h-breeding-swine-project-reference-guide; Pork Checkoff, “Artificial Insemination Steps,” accessed January 24, 2017, https://porkcdn.s3.amazonaws.com/sites/all/files/documents/Youth/AI.pdf.
 BEIRNE, “Rethinking Bestiality.”
 Jonas Liliequist, “Peasants against Nature: Crossing the Boundaries between Man and Animal in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Sweden,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 1, no. 3 (1991): 393–423, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3704309.
 Connecticut State Archives, Crimes and Misdemeanors, 2nd ser., II, 87a, 87b, 87c, 88a (Connecticut State Library, Hartford — emphasis in original); Albert E. V an Dusen, ed., *The Public Records of the State of Connecticut,* IX (Hartford: Connecticut State Library , 1953), 437-38; as cited in: John M. Murrin, “‘Things Fearful to Name’: Bestiality in Colonial America,” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 65 (1998): 8–43, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27774160.
 Wisch, “Table of State Animal Sexual Assault Laws.”
 Wisch, “Table of State Animal Sexual Assault Laws.”
 Annotated California Codes, “§ 286.5. Sexually Assaulting Animal; Misdemeanor,” CA PENAL § 286.5 § (1975), https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ca-cruelty-%C2%A7-2865-sexually-assaulting-animal-misdemeanor.
 Oregon Revised Statutes Annotated, “Title 16. Crimes and Punishments. Chapter 167. Offenses Against Public Health, Decency and Animals.,” 167.333. Sexual assault of animal OR ST § 167.305 – 390 §, accessed January 23, 2017, https://www.animallaw.info/statute/or-cruelty-consolidated-cruelty-statutes#s333.
 Wisch, “Table of State Animal Sexual Assault Laws.”
 For anal elecrocution footage, start at 5:30 – Matt Rossell, Illinois Fur Farm Investigation, Skin Trade, 2008, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6USMWEhbFQ4.
 Hannu T. Korhonen and Hanna Huuki, “CODE OF GOOD PRACTICE FOR HUMANE KILLING IN FOXES” (Kannus, Finland: MTT Agrifood R esear ch Finland , Animal Production Research, April 15, 2013), http://www.fureurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Good-practice-foxes-15042013.pdf.
 Fur Europe, “Animal Health and Welfare,” Fur Europe, accessed January 22, 2017, http://www.fureurope.eu/fur-policies/legislation/animal-welfare/.
 Farm Animal Welfare Council, “Report on the Welfare of Dairy Cattle,” 1997, http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121007104210/http://www.fawc.org.uk/reports/dairycow/dcowrtoc.htm.
 Tony Vernelli, “The Dark Side of Dairy – A Report on the UK Dairy Undustry” (Viva!, 2005), http://www.whitelies.org.uk/sites/default/files/dairy_report.pdf.
 “Abattoir Based DIY AI Training Is Best,” Farmers Weekly, September 12, 1997, http://www.fwi.co.uk/news/abattoir-based-diy-ai-training-is-best.htm.
 “Influence of the Number of Days Spent Training in an Abattoir with Access to Live Cows on the Efficiency of Do-It-Yourself Artificial Insemination,” ResearchGate, accessed January 23, 2017, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/vr.144.12.310.
 Government of Ireland, “S.I. No. 91/1995 – European Communities (Welfare of Pigs) Regulations, 1995.” (1995), http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1995/si/91/made/en/print.
 “Pig Welfare Requirements: On Farm and In Transit” (Department of Agriculture and Food), accessed September 1, 2016, http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/animalhealthwelfare/animalwelfare/Pig_Welfare_Booklet.pdf.
 Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior, 1 edition (New York: Scribner, 2004), http://amzn.to/2iXVdfU.
 Wisch, “Table of State Animal Sexual Assault Laws.”
 Dr. Karen Davis, “Bestiality: Animal Liberation or Human License?,” United Poultry Concerns, April 22, 2001, http://www.upc-online.org/010422bestiality.html.
 Davis, “Bestiality: Animal Liberation or Human License?”; in which she quotes: Peter Singer, “Heavy Petting,” Archived from the original March 4, 2001, Nerve, (2001), https://web.archive.org/web/20010304173452/http://www.nerve.com/Opinions/Singer/heavyPetting/main.asp.
 Davis, “Bestiality: Animal Liberation or Human License?”
 BEIRNE, “Rethinking Bestiality.”
As a one year old, despite my mother’s persistent encouragement to “use my words,” I insisted on pointing and grunting at things I wanted. Not because I didn’t know the terms, but rather out of fear of saying anything at all until I could execute a full sentence and do so properly. It’s only now, decades later, that I’ve come to understand my hesitation and careful forethought prior to speaking, and pressing need to further study the appropriate parameters and protocols of human interactions was not the presumed neurotic perfectionism I’d spend the greater part of my life trying to shake, but rather a necessary survival instinct.
Nothing instills the gravity and sheer power of language quite like the inability to effectively navigate the dominant method of communication. Just ask any traveler having to simultaneously navigate a foreign language while carefully attending to cultural considerations of nuances in body language, gestures, and tone.
While this may sound like an overly dramatized reflection on a childhood anecdote, it’s a common survival mechanism of autistic children, especially girls. We become—by necessity—child anthropologists.
The autistic has to processes intellectually the countless co-occurring non-verbal cues of communication that the vast majority of our species does in milliseconds on a subconscious level.
My process for communicating with non-vegans effectively in my educational activism is the same careful analysis of all available and inferable information of the audience or individual, discernment of the method/approach/rhetoric best suited for their specific set of circumstances and painfully arduous choice of precise language that I’ve had to navigate from my very first words—in every single communication I have—no matter how minor—with a non-autistic person. It’s a process I refer to as “translating into Humanspeak”—an explanatory term I developed.
In very many ways, the new vegan is thrust into aspects of the Autistic experience—at least as I know it—and this has put me in a unique position in my educational activism to help them learn to “use their words” all over again. Because now they have to think about language and communication like an Autistic—start to learn‑at least in part—what I personally call Humanspeak.
In navigating language and rhetoric within animal rights activism, education and advocacy, there are numerous potential pitfalls, distractions, diversions, and counter-productive “traps.”
The most dangerous are those that present as effective communication tactics. Yesterday on a panel addressing veganism as an ethical deviance, I spoke about the formidable power of social ostracism and rejection as a deterrent to veganism and how naturally—and even logically—a major approach within the vegan movement is to focus on the social normalization of veganism—making a vegan lifestyle approachable, affordable, easy—even mainstream.
In attempting to “bridge the gap” and meet the general public where they’re at, there exists the risk of reducing the ethical imperative of veganism to a socially acceptable lifestyle choice.
And the choices we vegans and activists make in our language and rhetoric are incredibly vital factors in this determination.
The rise of the “humane” movement provides us a powerful cautionary tale. It’s a concept seductive to all sides—for the vegan afraid of coming across as militant or extreme to have a less intimidating suggestion to offer: “Meat-Free Mondays” “Local Free-Range Eggs”; for the animal activists wanting even the slightest relief for the billions of enslaved individuals they’ve fighting to liberate, and certainly for the non-vegan. The option to appear as if acting in line with core values and avoid any stigma of social transgression is essentially winning the human social lottery.
But our responsibility as activists lies with the individuals enslaved—not the comfort of their captors or vegan victories of lifestyle acceptance. In saying this, however, I want to clarify that I do not mean that more confrontational, unapologetic “in-your-face” “call it what it is” rhetoric is necessarily appropriate in all situations and for all audiences.
This is another area Autism presents a gift through its profound challenges. While non-autistics tend to be global thinkers, Autistics not only can’t see the forest for the trees, we’re up in the mitochondrial level of the plant cell. Termed “poor central coherence” in psychology, this hyper focus allows Autistics, among other things, to easily accept that there’s rather a pure dichotomy in anything.
I wanted to offer an illustrative example from a video and article of mine. My intended audience was—as usual—non-vegan audience. The subject matter was incredibly unpleasant. I used a firm tone, even angered. I had no feedback of my audience feeling attacked or judged. It’s certainly possible some did and simply did not comment, but after 3 years on YouTube, I can say that usually if someone is upset, you will hear about it.
In one of the unfortunately numerous cases of extreme sexual abuse of animals within the food industry that fall so far outside of the prescribed norms they lead to criminal charges, undercover footage and detailed notes from the investigators showed routine abuse at a pig breeding facility in Iowa, where thousands of mother pigs are kept in cramped gestation crates. Workers beat pregnant pigs with blunt metal objects, kicked them in the stomach and head, forced rods into their vaginas and anuses, and attacked lame and injured pigs with an electric prod, among other offenses.
The video also captured workers cutting off the tails and tearing out the testicles of piglets, “including some with…scrotal hernias, whose intestines would fully protrude when snipped”—all without any anesthetic. And, in one of the most-cited offenses by the media, workers were shown slamming sick or deformed piglets against the ground, leaving them, according investigators, to die slowly, their “skull[s]-crushed, paddling their legs and twitching, gasping for air, as others were piled on top of them in giant bins.”
An article on NBC News includes comments from none other than Temple Grandin, described as “a leading animal-welfare expert,” who “said that while those are standard industry practices, the treatment of the sows on the video was far from it,” calling it “atrocious animal abuse.”
At this point in the video, I pause and address the viewer directly:
Just to clarify, in case it wasn’t obvious, beating and violating the mother pigs was the “atrocious animal abuse.” The “standard industry practices” Grandin refers to are the unanaesthetized mutilation of newborn piglets and brutal slamming of “defective” babies against concrete. Not only are these practices legal, they are government-sanctioned methods within, but not limited to, the United States, Canada, and European Union.
The most powerful examples of the severe danger of humane language I’ve ever encountered come from the European Unions landmark legislation following their historic declaration of non-human animals as legally sentient in the Treaty of Lisbon. Officially and tellingly entitled COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing. The following is an excerpt from my recent speech in Cleveland, Ohio:
You may have heard the big fuss about the European Union’s 1999 directive banning “barren battery cages” by 2012—part of the groundbreaking animal welfare legislation following their historic declaration of non-human animals as legally sentient.
From the media coverage, you’d think EU layer hens are living in luxury—a delusion astoundingly perpetuated by countless animal rights and vegan organizations. But as the devil is truly in the details.
In reality, the directive merely replaced barren battery cages with “enriched,” meaning furnished, battery cages. In the end, this most “revolutionary” advancement for the rights of layer hens granted each of them an additional 50cm2.
Understanding the true impotence of this legislation makes its pathetic implementation all the more baffling. In 2012, thirteen countries told the European Commission that their farmers would not or were unlikely to meet the deadline for conversion. They had over 12 years to grant the laying hens they enslave a meager 50cm2.
And all the while the media celebrates the victory for animal welfare. And the public eats more and more eggs, reassured by their higher standards. And the very individuals this entire charade is supposed to benefit, remain just as exploited.
Confronted with this reality, most people propose a shift to free-range and truly cage-free facilities. But as we’ve seen, the only comfort these labels bring is to our own conscience. Cage-free birds are crammed into tiny sheds and have twice the mortality rates of battery caged hens. And because they still suffer the same predisposition to osteoporosis from their inbred overproduction of eggs, the increased opportunity for movement results in an increased incidence of fractures.
Even within our presentation of undercover exposes we activists can defeat our own purposes. In the speech I wrote for and delivered in Dublin, Ireland, which focused intensely on the Humane Myth, after explaining the routine “maceration”—meaning live grinding—of male baby chicks in the egg industry I included that:
If you’re wondering why this hasn’t been exposed on the news, it has. And every time people are appalled, outraged, disgusted. They wonder how anyone person or industry could be so barbaric. And they continue to eat eggs, not realizing they’ve just answered their own question.
While this was framed for a largely non-vegan audience, this matter is also a lesson for activists.
Yes it’s human nature for non-vegans—(and vegans!)—to always find a reason why unpleasant truths don’t apply to them—“it was an isolated incident”—but when a codified “standard practice” is reduced to a sensationalist media sound bite expose, it undermine the power and necessity of exposing the truth. It’s what’s not said here that is most damaging.
When the media presents shocking footage of baby pigs slammed into the ground and baby chicks ground alive without any mention or emphasis from the activists involved that these horrors are standard, legal practice,  the public only sees isolated incidents of malicious sociopathic workers. In my speeches, I always emphasis that only are these practices legal, they are government-sanctioned methods, including cited references to relevant government documents—especially for the specific state and country in which I’m speaking.
Activists and organizations decry the routine abuse of farmed animals, calling for stronger regulations, like those of the European Union. But we need only read through that groundbreaking legislation and supplemental documents to discover those very same abuses not decried, but rather codified and endorsed.
This is how profoundly illogical our thinking is when it comes to animals—even us vegans and activists, myself included in a big way.
I’ll close with a final quote from my speech in Dublin:
It goes against all basic human understanding. Knowing better but doing wrong anyway is worse than having no knowledge. Yet we have the audacity to hold this legislative recognition of non-human sentience on high as a giant step forward for the rights of animals. As if systematically exploiting individuals with fully admitted knowledge and comprehension of their capacity to suffer is something to commend.
Just look what we offer ourselves as evidence of progress: an organization dedicated to ending animal suffering celebrates a reduction in cows falling on their way to slaughter through the use of non-stick flooring in one slaughterhouse in one country. When we look at our actions from the other side, the perverse absurdity of our deluded self-congratulations is astounding. If you were in the place of these beings, how grateful would you feel if your captor laid down a bathmat on the ramp to your execution?
Is this really the best we have to offer? Being the most courteous murderers? The most considerate rapists? Pouring untold resources into these convoluted laws and regulations, all the while completely blind to the fact that there’s another option entirely.
I hope that this was helpful and that perhaps you start to think about language a little more Autistically. Thank you.
➣ The Extremism of Veganism [Censored Speech]
 Amelia Hill, “Doctors Are ‘Failing to Spot Asperger’s in Girls,’” The Guardian, April 11, 2009, sec. Society, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/apr/12/autism-aspergers-girls.
 Psychologist Tony Attwood writes that autistic girls “may be more difficult to recognize and diagnose due to coping and camouflaging mechanisms,” explaining how “the child adopts a social role and script, basing her persona on the characteristics of someone who would be reasonably socially skilled in the situation, and using intellectual abilities rather than intuition to determine what to say or do … The strategy is to wait, observe carefully, and only participate when sure what to do by imitating what the children have done previously. If the rules or nature of the game suddenly change, the child is lost.” Quote from: Tony Attwood, The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, 1 edition (London ; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008), http://amzn.to/2uThBjX.
 “The person with Asperger’s syndrome can begin employing this strategy in early childhood, by closely observing other children, to try to decipher how they seem to understand each other so well, and play together so enjoyably and harmoniously. This can involve trying to identify, by careful observation, the patterns and sequences in social behaviour and the unwritten social rules and conventions. Thus, some children who have an ASD become natural “child psychologists,” frequently observing, and intellectually analyzing, interpreting and trying to predict the behaviour of their peers, family members and adults.” From: Tony Attwood, Been There. Done That. Try This!: An Aspie’s Guide to Life on Earth, ed. Craig R. Evans and Anita Lesko, 1 edition (London ; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2014), http://amzn.to/2u1BV3D.
 The following are but a few examples of sexual abuse within the food industry – Hormel Pig Abuse: Ted Genoways, The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food, Reprint edition (Harper Paperbacks, 2015), http://amzn.to/2jBzHji; “Investigator 1 Log Notes – IA Sow Farm” (Outside Bayard, IA, 2008), https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/1314070/investigator-1-log-notes.pdf; “Investigator 2 Log Notes – IA Sow Farm” (Outside Bayard, IA, 2008), https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/1314069/investigator-2-log-notes.pdf; Ted Genoways, “‘Hurt That Bitch’: What Undercover Investigators Saw inside a Factory Farm,” Mother Jones, accessed January 21, 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/10/hog-hell-inside-story-peta-investigation-mowmar-farms; Associated Press, “Undercover Video Shows Workers Abusing Pigs,” NBC News, September 17, 2008, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26757660/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/undercover-video-shows-workers-abusing-pigs/; PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), “Mother Pigs and Piglets Abused by Hormel Supplier,” PETA Investigations, accessed January 21, 2017, http://investigations.peta.org/mother-pigs-piglets-abused-hormel-supplier/; Amy Lorentzen and Associated Press, “Charges Filed against 6 in Iowa Pig Abuse Case,” USA Today, October 24, 2008, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-10-24-467433543_x.htm; Bettencourt Idaho Dairy Cow Abuse Case: Mercy For Animals, “Idaho Ag-Gag: MFA Releases Shocking New Video of Dairy Cow Sex Abuse,” Mercy For Animals, February 19, 2014, http://www.mercyforanimals.org/idaho-ag-gag-mfa-releases-shocking-new-video-of-dairy-cow-sex-abuse; Andrew Crisp, “Bettencourt Dairies Worker Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty Charges,” Boise Weekly, accessed January 21, 2017, http://www.boiseweekly.com/CityDesk/archives/2013/01/17/bettencourt-dairies-worker-pleads-guilty-to-animal-cruelty-charges; Nathan Runkle, “Idaho’s ‘Ag-Gag’ Bill: Shameful Attempt to Hide Animal Cruelty on Factory Farms,” Huffington Post, February 26, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-runkle/idahos-aggag-bill-shamefu_b_4848923.html; “Breaking News: MFA Investigation Leads to Guilty Plea by Dairy Worker for Animal Cruelty,” Mercy For Animals, January 16, 2013, http://www.mercyforanimals.org/breaking-news-mfa-investigation-leads-to-guilty-plea-by-dairy-worker-for-animal-cruelty; Belcross Farms Pig Abuse Case: The Associated Press, “PETA Probe Spurs Indictment of Three for Cruelty to Pigs,” The Free Lance-Star, July 8, 1999, https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=FewyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fQgGAAAAIBAJ&pg=6661%2C1729672; PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), “James Cromwell Narrates PETA’s Pig Farm Investigation,” PETA, accessed January 20, 2017, http://www.peta.org/videos/james-cromwell-narrates-petas-pig-farm-investigation/; Mary Beth Sweetland, “Letter to Frank Parrish Camden County District Attorney Regarding Belcross Farm Cruelty,” February 9, 1999, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/709095/peta-letter-to-parrish-nc-belcross-investigation.pdf; British Columbia Dairy Cow Abuse Case: Laura Kane, “Guilty Plea in ‘Shocking’ Animal Abuse Case at B.C. Dairy Farm,” The Canadian Press, December 16, 2016, http://bc.ctvnews.ca/guilty-plea-in-shocking-animal-abuse-case-at-b-c-dairy-farm-1.3206694.
 Genoways, The Chain.
 Exceprt available: Genoways, “Hurt That Bitch.”
 Associated Press, “Undercover Video Shows Workers Abusing Pigs.”
 Lorentzen and Associated Press, “Charges Filed against 6 in Iowa Pig Abuse Case.”
 Genoways, The Chain.
 “Investigator 1 Log Notes – IA Sow Farm.”
 “Investigator 2 Log Notes – IA Sow Farm.”
 Associated Press, “Undercover Video Shows Workers Abusing Pigs.”
 National Pork Board and American Association of Swine Veterinarians, “On Farm Euthanasia of Swine – Options for the Producer,” Revised 2016, https://www.aasv.org/aasv/euthanasia.pdf.
 Dr Gail Golab and American Veterinary Medical Association, “Hot on Facebook: Euthanasia of Suckling Pigs Using Blunt Force Trauma,” AVMA Work Blog, July 21, 2012, http://atwork.avma.org/2012/07/21/hot-on-facebook-euthanasia-of-suckling-pigs-using-blunt-force-trauma/.
 Steven L Leary and American Veterinary Medical Association, AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2013 Edition, 2013, https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Documents/euthanasia.pdf.
 “Blunt Force Trauma Ensures Humane Pig Euthanasia, Says Veterinary Council,” The Pig Site, October 25, 2016, http://www.thepigsite.com/swinenews/42569/blunt-force-trauma-ensures-humane-pig-euthanasia-says-veterinary-council/.
 Emily Moran Barwick, “Do Animals Want to Be Eaten?,” BiteSizeVegan.Com, May 16, 2016, http://bitesizevegan.org/ethics-and-morality/do-animals-want-to-be-eaten/.
 The Council of the European Union, “COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1099/2009 on the Protection of Animals at the Time of Killing,” Pub. L. No. Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009, 30 (2009), http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:303:0001:0030:EN:PDF.
 Council of the EU, “Council Directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 Laying down Minimum Standards for the Protection of Laying Hens,” Official Journal of the European Communities (L 203), March 8, 1999, 53–55, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:1999:203:0053:0057:EN:PDF.
 Jason Lewis, “French Farmers Ignore Battery Hen Ban,” January 1, 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/8986255/French-farmers-ignore-battery-hen-ban.html.
 Chase Purdy, “Egg Industry Yielding in Cage-Free Fight,” POLITICO, September 21, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/egg-industry-hands-animal-advocates-big-win-in-cage-free-fight-213905.
 Terrence O’Keefe, “Egg Producers See Big Shift to Cage-Free Eggs by 2025,” WATTAgNet, February 11, 2016, http://www.wattagnet.com/articles/25650-egg-producers-see-big-shift-to-cage-free-eggs-by–.
 Terrence O’Keefe, “US Cage-Free Egg Layer Flock Is Rapidly Increasing,” WATTAgNet, November 16, 2015, http://www.wattagnet.com/articles/24914-us-cage-free-egg-layer-flock-is-rapidly-increasing.
 Sara Shields and Ian JH Duncan, “An HSUS Report: A Comparison of the Welfare of Hens in Battery Cages and Alternative Systems,” 2009, http://animalstudiesrepository.org/hsus_reps_impacts_on_animals/18/.
 Gregory Barber, “Cage-Free Eggs Aren’t What You Think They Are,” Mother Jones, February 10, 2016, http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2016/02/corporations-are-going-cage-free-whats-next-hens.
 British Hen Welfare Trust, “Enriched Cages,” BHWT, accessed March 31, 2016, http://www.bhwt.org.uk/egg-industry/enriched-cages/.
 Lewis, “French Farmers Ignore Battery Hen Ban.”
 “Cage-Free vs. Battery-Cage Eggs,” The Humane Society of the United States, accessed April 11, 2016, http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/cage-free_vs_battery-cage.html.
 “How to Decipher Egg Carton Labels: The Truth Behind ‘Cage-Free,’ ‘Free-Range’ and Other Common Terms : The Humane Society of the United States,” accessed March 31, 2016, http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/guide_egg_labels.html.
 Jennifer Chaussee, “The Insanely Complicated Logistics of Cage-Free Eggs for All,” WIRED, January 25, 2016, http://www.wired.com/2016/01/the-insanely-complicated-logistics-of-cage-free-eggs-for-all/.
 Coalition For Sustainable Egg Supply, “Final Results (See First Linked PDF),” Coalition For Sustainable Egg Supply, accessed March 31, 2016, http://www2.sustainableeggcoalition.org/final-results.
 Sandra Higgins, BSc (Hons) Psych, MSc Couns Psych, “Enriched Cages and Embodied Prisons: A Report on the EU Directive Banning Battery Cages for Egg Laying Hens,” 2015, http://edenfarmedanimalsanctuary.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Enriched-Cages-and-Embodied-Prisons.pdf.
 C. C. Whitehead and R. H. Fleming, “Osteoporosis in Cage Layers,” Poultry Science 79, no. 7 (February 7, 2000): 1033–1041, http://ps.oxfordjournals.org/content/79/7/1033.short.
 Higgins, BSc (Hons) Psych, MSc Couns Psych, “Enriched Cages and Embodied Prisons: A Report on the EU Directive Banning Battery Cages for Egg Laying Hens.”
 By Sean Poulter for the Daily Mail, “The Disturbing Conveyor Belt of Death Where Male Chicks Are Picked off and Killed so You Can Have Fresh Eggs,” Mail Online, November 3, 2010, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1326168/Secret-footage-shows-millions-British-chicks-killed-year.html; “Video Shows Chicks Ground Up Alive at Egg Hatchery,” Text.Article, Associated Press, (September 2, 2009), http://www.foxnews.com/story/2009/09/02/video-shows-chicks-ground-up-alive-at-egg-hatchery.html; “The Chick Sexer Story Is More Gruesome than You Thought,” The Independent, March 5, 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/hatched-discarded-gassed-what-happens-to-male-chicks-in-the-uk-10088509.html; “Chicks ‘Ground Alive’ by Poultry Producer,” NewsComAu, September 3, 2009, http://www.news.com.au/world/chicks-ground-alive-by-poultry-producer/news-story/3bb097d7539f03466e62624aaab4873e; “Video Shows Chicks Ground up Alive at Iowa Egg Hatchery,” NY Daily News, accessed April 29, 2017, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/video-shows-chicks-ground-alive-iowa-egg-hatchery-article-1.406395; “Male Chicks Ground up Alive at Egg Hatcheries,” CBC News, accessed April 29, 2017, http://www.cbc.ca/news/male-chicks-ground-up-alive-at-egg-hatcheries-1.823644; A. O. L. Staff, “Warning: Baby Chicks Ground Alive so We Can Eat Our Omelets,” AOL.Com, accessed April 29, 2017, https://www.aol.com/article/2009/09/03/warning-baby-boy-chicks-ground-alive-so-you-can-eat-eggs/19148729/; “Chicks Being Ground Up Alive Video,” Huffington Post, October 17, 2009, sec. Green, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/01/chicks-being-ground-up-al_n_273652.html; mercyforanimals, Watch: Secret Video Shows Baby Turkeys Ground Up Alive by Butterball, accessed April 29, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJovxS9-RTQ&has_verified=1; mercyforanimals, Undercover Investigation at Hy-Line Hatchery, accessed April 29, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ–faib7to&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DJJ–faib7to&has_verified=1.
 Joseph Vining, “Animal Cruelty Laws and Factory Farming,” SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, October 10, 2008), https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1282251.
 Emily Moran Barwick, “The Best We Have To Offer? | Inside Ireland’s ‘Humane’ Farming” (Dublin, Ireland, September 28, 2016), http://bitesizevegan.org/ethics-and-morality/the-best-we-have-to-offer-inside-irelands-humane-farming/.
 “Humane Slaughter: How We Reduce Animal Suffering,” Australia World Animal Protection, accessed April 29, 2017, https://www.worldanimalprotection.org.au/our-work/animals-farming-supporting-70-billion-animals/humane-slaughter-how-we-reduce-animal.