Francione, that is. From Google alerts that keep landing in my mailbox, I've learned he's an absolute master of the ad hominem, and at grandstanding, and demanding apologies instead of answering criticism, and putting excerpts from private email on the internet, and misinterpreting them to begin with. One of his ad hominems has to do with Temple Grandin endorsing my book. May as well consort with the devil, he seems to think. But I'm thrilled with the endorsement.
Temple Grandin is a hero in my eyes (and by the way, also in the eyes of PETA, who gave her an award a couple of years ago). That's so even if she's more accepting of the whole practice of animal consumption than I am. Here's the kind of change she's brought about in slaughter houses: under her auditing system, stunning has to work on the first attempt 95% of the time. That's a significant improvement over past success rates (data here). Without stunning, a cow will be conscious when hoisted up by her back leg and getting her throat slit. When stunning is unsuccessful on first attempt, the animal endures much more pain.
Now Gary (and he has to be just "Gary" because back when we were using honorifics, he thought it was right to address me as Adjunct Professor Kazez) thinks this is just a trivial improvement. That's his general assessment of all "humane" reforms. They're no more of an improvement than "being tortured with electrical shocks while strapped into a padded chair rather than a chair without padding." (See here--and note the ad hominems. Just what "welfarist corporations" does Peter Singer "lead"?!)
The trouble with Gary is that he's "abstractifying," to use a lovely term coined by Temple. He's focusing entirely on killing itself, as the fundamental wrong we do to animals--or treating animals as property, which he considers our primary mistake. He's not getting inside the minds of animals, which is what Temple Grandin is so good at (her book Animals in Translation is fantastic). There's a huge difference between being effectively stunned and going to your slaughter, and being unstunned, or struggling after an initial improper stunning and being stunned again. The difference is by no means trivial, and given how many animals will in fact be slaughtered in the foreseeable future, we've got to take it seriously.
Of course, if Grandin's auditing system did do something trivial for animals, that wouldn't be a reason to object. An animal activist has no reason to care if animal scientists and meatpackers are just wasting their time and money. What bothers him, really, is that he thinks with reforms like this, people are going to eat more meat. So there's going to be more killing, and more of all the abuses that go along with animal agriculture.
Even if that were the case, I'd still have a hard time believing we don't have an obligation to make animal slaughter as gentle as possible. We should not use animals' suffering strategically, leaving some of it in place in the hopes of discouraging animal consumption. In effect, this is what Gary would have us do. (My saying this is what's got him hurling so much abuse at me. Too bad he hasn't just responded with a clarification of his true aims or a defense of this sort of strategy. It might have been interesting! I might even have retracted the criticism if he'd directly responded to it with some convincing argument.) We wouldn't use the suffering of death row inmates, or slaves, or starving children that way. If we're serious about animals being entitled to respect and compassion, we shouldn't use them that way either.
But all that's really just theoretical, because I don't buy it that Temple Grandin's reforms are going to make people consume more animal products. There have been a number of humane reforms in the US in the last several years, and even more in the European Union, but the overall amount of animal food being consumed in developed countries isn't increasing, according to the UN report Livestock's Long Shadow (pg. 16). I've seen no evidence that the trend toward humane standards is attracting people toward animal consumption who wouldn't otherwise be engaging in it. (And here's where Gary's responding to argument might have been helpful. What's his evidence? Why does he think there's a trend like this?)
An aspect of Gary's approach is its categorizing of animal advocates as either "abolitionist" or "new welfarist." Abolitionists see a problem with the basic practice of killing animals and using them as our resources. Then there are welfarists (and he may as well say "demons," since that's how he sees them) who care only about animal welfare and favor incremental change. This is really a hopeless taxonomy because there's no reason whatever that bits of the two positions can't be combined (and supplemented with other ideas). It's a combo view that many advocates actually embrace.
Like me, for example. I think there is a problem with killing (I don't buy Peter Singer's "replacement argument"), but it does not eclipse the problem of suffering. We ought to address the problem of suffering and we ought to address the problem of killing. It's not that one is just a matter of "how" and the other is the essence of the matter. It's really important for cattle to be effectively stunned in slaughter houses. Bravo for Temple Grandin that she's tackling the problem of suffering.