Monday, February 25, 2019

Veganism and Animal Rights, and Vigilantism and Farming Communities in Western Australia

I sent this letter to the Western Australian Police Commissioner and the Premier of Western Australia early last week. I want to add that the W.A. mainstream media coverage of veganism and animal rights issues in Western Australia has generally been rabid and paranoid, and part of a disturbing far-right stirring of nationalism that aims for aggressive suppression of any challenge to the industry.

Dear Police Commissioner

I wish to protest the ‘support’ given by police (as seen in today’s news) to a member of the public who discharged a weapon near people who were filming animals on his property. The moment the use of a weapon in any capacity is given the okay, you have opened the door to injury or worse — advertent or inadvertent.

I have no connection to the activists in question; I do not know them.

To side with the animal farmers against the vegan animal rights activists is not the police’s remit — the police’s remit is to uphold the law. There is no room for moral intrusion in this process — you cannot take sides. Doing so contributes to polarising and hardening differences, rather than helping toward understanding.

Activists’ intrusions can be legally dealt with according to law — and should the activists wish to change things, they need to work to change the laws. No one should feel threatened in this.

One could argue that animals’ rights are part of this as well, and I would, but I recognise that until laws are changed there are ways to go about these things that respect people as well as animals. No doubt. But not to charge someone using a weapon in the vicinity of people no matter how enraged, or even if the weapon-user feels ‘threatened’, is unacceptable by the laws you yourself uphold.

I have been a vegan for approximately thirty-three years, and my wife for twenty-five years, and we live in the wheatbelt. We live alongside others amicably, which doesn’t mean we all always agree on everything. Ours is not to bully or cajole others, but to live our lives decently and offer an example of a different way of living on the planet. Many have been influenced by our choices, not because we have bullied them, but because we haven’t. As such, animals benefit as well.

It is not right to threaten, deride, or humiliate others in any circumstances, even if one feels they are doing wrong. It’s s slippery slope in both directions.

So I would ask you to stand up against vigilantism and respect non-aggressive vegans and animal rights people as much as you do those who farm animals, and certainly more than those who are armed and make threats (and yes, wielding firearms around people is a form of threat).

Police actions in this have made us feel vulnerable, as if farmers are being encouraged into aligning against vegans, and we shouldn’t have to feel that way. We don’t make others feel vulnerable, and are known to respect difference. Your job surely is to uphold the law, and not to cast judgement.

John Kinsella


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