The Phrase That Shocked A Nation

“As long as we’re drinking milk and consuming dairy products there’s going to be bobby calves. And again, if there’s a market out there for animals that can’t go back into the dairy herd, if they can be raised for another purpose, and we have that value adding – obviously the more valuable the animal, the better it’s going to be treated.”
Melina Tensen

Senior Scientific Officer – RSPCA

In an article regarding the welfare of bobby calves, these comments by the RSPCA’s Senior Scientific Officer, Melina Tensen, have caused a huge stir within the animal advocacy movement.

Is this condemnation warranted, or is it a case of a few ‘leaders’ suffering from the dreaded relevance deprivation syndrome?

If you have a look at the context that the statement was made, and the organisation that did, you cannot fault the logic that has been used, and as painful as it is for most animal advocates to accept, Ms Tensen is right. As we see repeatedly with the incremental reforms that animal agriculture accept, the better they are ‘treated’ the more ‘profitable’ they become. Whether the RSPCA should be increasing demand for a particular animal based product is another question.

Unfortunately, a one or two of the movement’s self proclaimed leaders appear to be suffering from the dreaded relevance deprivation syndrome, and have decided to add their $0.10 to the discussion without understanding what the RSPCA is about.

None more so than the legend-wait for it-ary, Gary Francione with this update to his page “Adventures in Animal Welfarists Promoting Eating Veal”. Giving the impression that he has no idea of what the RSPCA is about, he makes another statement that confirms to me how totally irrelevant he is in the modern animal advocacy movement by saying, “The RSPCA believes that by promoting happy exploitation, the RSPCA will get more donations. That’s all there is to their beliefs.”

Whilst these claims may elicit cheers from his ‘faithful’ they fail to take into account that Australia’s RSPCA has never claimed to be an organisation that wants to stop the consumption of animal products.

When the statement is viewed from that perspective, and understanding that the RSPCA has never claimed to be a vegan organisation, this condemnation is unfounded.

It is an unfortunate part of the use of other animals as a commodity, that if the commodity has no financial value, then that commodity won’t have anything ‘invested’ in it. We see this happen with the way that male chicks from hatcheries are ‘disposed of’, usually via maceration.

What the statement should do, is be used as a reminder to everyone that dairy isn’t a ‘victimless’ product.

4 thoughts on “The Phrase That Shocked A Nation”

  1. Your concept of the ‘relevance deprivation syndrome’ is a pretty amusing, but handy concept.

    I’m not sure if Gary’s post suffered from RDS, or is just making a statement that’s dismissive (maybe because, like you, he believes animal use is an issue of justice). Just before Gary makes the post you mention, someone else quotes the RSPCA: “The RSPCA believes people can eat meat or eggs and still care about the welfare of the animals that provide it.”

    Unless you believe that he can’t read, it’s harder to believe he’s oblivious to the nature of the RSPCA.

    As to the idea that he’s irrelevant to the modern animal advocacy movement, that would you on a pretty level field, since you draws heavily on basic concepts Gary has brought to the fore eg in this article, the idea that ‘better’ treatment may lead to increased profit; the commodity status of animals.

    Much of what you write is interesting – though i don’t necessarily agree with it. But i fail to see how Gary can be irrelevant, when you exhort people to focus on use rather than treatment – something he advanced years before you. How is it you’re presumably right for the times, and Gary is a has been, when you’re simply promoting ideas that in many cases are the same as Gary’s, just given an Australian spin?

    • Gary Francione states “The RSPCA believes that by promoting happy exploitation, the RSPCA will get more donations. That’s all there is to their beliefs.”

      First of all, how does he know what an organisation believes any more than I do? Unless he is able to provide a link to where that statement was made by the RSPCA, then he is just making comments that he knows will agitate his followers, further promoting his work.

      I would also love to get into a discussion with you as to why I believe Francione is irrelevant, except the article that we are commenting on is relating to a statement made by the RSPCA, and that it isn’t something that should have received the amount of condemnation that it has, so that is what I will continue to comment on.

  2. I don’t know what he might know. It’s an RDS question. As i suggested it was a dismissive comment – not one necessarily based on knowledge. In any case, it’s not important if, as you claim, your article is really about ‘a statement made by the RSPCA.’

    I personally wish he wouldn’t make hasty comments like this – but he does. He’s so active, it’s understandable that he makes some that are off centre. Claiming that he just makes them to ‘agitate his followers’ and to promote his work doesn’t ring true.

    Despite saying the article is really about the RSPCA statement, you didn’t seem to have much trouble entirely trashing the work of Gary in passing. So, likewise, in passing, i echo what i said in my earlier comment: if Gary’s work is so irrelevant, how is your writing so vital, when much of it is based on his ideas, and came much later?


What are your thoughts?