Wednesday, 22 September 2010

exclusionary language; or, we're not all coming from the same place

Being an outrageous vegan, I am against the slaughter of animals. I am hip to all those rallies and I am all there for signing your petition. I am already boycotting those shitty animal products, and I am talking about the crappy things done to animals. But I can't get behind the language that is frequently and commonly used, that is exclusionary, sensationalist and othering. Sometimes it's subtle, and sometimes it's overt, but it is always totally unnecessary, and demonstrates just how easy it is for single issue vegans to gloss over the fact that there is diversity amongst us.

For example, this petition currently up at The Australian Government Must Ban Brutal Ritual Slaughter Right Now. I can ignore the odd and slightly unprofessional presentation of this petition, because to expect perfect grammar from everyone would be for me to assume that everyone has the same level of education as me, which is classist (for example); or to assume that nobody can be ESL or be unfamiliar with my dialect of English.

What I cannot ignore is language like this: NO, instead it allows this abhorrently cruel ritual slaughter to continue, a practice that should never have been accepted in Australia in the first place. When this language is used in a discussion of religion, particularly in discussion of a religion that is currently being maligned, marginalised and attacked in the media and constructed as a religion of foreign otherness, it creates the suggestion that the religion itself doesn't belong here. More directly, it ties the act (barbaric slaughter) to the religion (Islam), and finishes with the phrase 'should never have been accepted in Australia in the first place.' You can claim all you like that it clearly talks about the practice, but the reality is that it is an othering, unnecessary addition to the petition, and it assumes that all in AR are coming from the same place.

In addition, it ties this practice with 'foreign' in a way that is not necessarily correct - there have been some pretty shitty slaughtering practices in Australia, unrelated to slaughtering for halal, and to claim these practices only exist in Australia because of those dirty filthy foreigners is presumptious.

It is hardly the first AR campaign to do so, and it is unlikely to be the last. There was the PETA 'Save the Whales' campaign, that clearly came from a place of assuming that no veg*ns are fat, and that fat is shameful.

Veganism and the AR movement are often seen as white/Anglo-saxon, middle-class movements, and stuff like this just contributes to it.

After all, there's a reason why I use 'single issue vegan' as an insult.

s.e. smith wrote a blog post a while ago, I Used to be That Annoying Vegan, that talks about the baseline assumption that everyone has the same access to things, and the same social class, and the same privileges.

On ableism, there was some discussion in the comments of this post at VoC that really highlights it - lots of people basically erasing the experiences of people with disabilities by saying 'well you were doing it wrong,' rather than acknowledging that not everyone is operating from the same base level.

Royce posted at VoC on resisting invocations of coloniality, on the way in which the AR movement often approaches indigenous groups re: treatment of animals; ie, in a really shitty way.

One of the earliest posts on this blog was about the exotification of non-Anglo cultures in the vegan movement, and the othering use of language.