MY ANIMAL RIGHTS LECTURE (Transcript)
During the recent Animal Rights 2002 convention in
Washington, D.C., I was given the opportunity to address
700-800 activists. I approached the podium with mixed
feelings. I was emotional, and many themes ran through my
head, but there was a film crew finishing up the fourth day
of their NotMilk documentary, so I tempered my temper. I had
no idea exactly what I would say, or how I would communicate
NOTE: A talk is delivered in a different style than a
written essay. There are errors that I would have liked to
edit, but here follows a verbatim transcript.
Tonight, we're talking about turning compassion into action,
and I want to change the terminology a bit.
I want to warn us all about turning passion into inaction,
because I've seen too much of it.
Two years ago, before the election cycle, I was lucky enough
- it's a real big ego boost, to have three hundred dairy
farmers give the NotMilkman a standing ovation, and that's
what happened when I lectured in Washington with Ralph Nader
about genetic engineering and biotechnology -taking an
stance to farmers who are also against genetic engineering.
Imagine...if I go to one of their conferences, you are never
going to have me applaud a cheesehead, it just isn't ever
going to happen. I will sit in the audience and maybe be the
only one sitting there not applauding whatever they have to
say. I am anti-milk one hundred percent, and the abuse that
occurs to these animals.
Last night, I had a very interesting perspective because I
sat right next to Lorraine who is from the other side, and
next to a man, Dan Murphy, who is the editor of a pro-meat
magazine. I love to play poker. I'm a good poker player
because I watch people's faces, and over the course of an
evening's play, I watch tells, I watch faces, I watch eyes,
I watch fingers, I watch tapping on the table, and blinking,
and I know what they're holding by the end of the evening.
I watched the man very carefully. When he applauded, they
applauded. He was the leader of the group. When he smiled,
they smiled, and there's two things that really disturb me.
One is...were you here to hear Ingrid Newkirk's speech? It
was magnificent (APPLAUSE). It was the single best speech
that I have ever heard in my life. As a matter of fact, it
is the only time that I've gone and bought somebody's tape
(LAUGHTER) this morning. It's worth sharing with somebody--a
But what disturbed me was this man gave her a standing
ovation. He stood and applauded...with enthusiasm. And
earlier in the evening, we got some questions to ask, and
this has to be a defining moment in our movement. His
answer. One word answer. Do you know what he said to the
question? He said "yes," and the question was "Are you guys
producing more meat for consumption?" Isn't that disturbing?
The answer is yes. Does that mean that something that we're
doing is not working?
I left last year's AR-2001 with a great amount of emotion,
with mixed feelings because, on one hand, everybody stood
and applauded after Wendy's when one man was arrested. This
man made a movie about pigs and it was wonderful. It was a
wonderful feeling, and shortly thereafter Wendy's changed
their policy thanks to the People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals and others and our actions. Wendy's announced
that they were going to support more compassionate raising
For God sakes, these poor birds are allotted eight by eight
inches of floor area, and PETA got a great victory. They
gave them 8 and a half by 8 and a half. Now come on, that's
not a victory to me. Is that a victory to you? (APPLAUSE)
As Ingrid spoke last night, and I sat in the front row, and
I was watching these people...I imagined...I love Ingrid, I
really love Ingrid. Her book, Free The Animals was an
enormous inspiration. That's why I'm here tonight. That's
why I rescued my dog. That's why I am writing about animal
rights issues, and it's why I do from five o'clock in the
morning until midnight or later, seven days a week.
That's why I do what I do, researching the lies that come
from the other side. But, boy, oh boy, I just for a second-
just imagined after Ingrid spoke, and we were applauding, I
imagined a pig following, and coming up, and putting his
forelegs up here and saying..."But I'm still going to die."
Compassionate slaughter? I reject compassionate slaughter. I
hate compassionate slaughter. I had an Internet chat with a
woman of Islamic faith who said to me,
"Allah is perfect. We have Halal slaughter, and we measure
their pain, and there is no pain. These animals feel no
pain. They die. Allah is perfect. He wouldn't allow the
pain. These animals die."
If you think that they don't have pain - if you think that
we're going to lobby Congress and get them to pass laws,
what are the laws accomplishing? They're telling Mr. and
Mrs. Smith and Jones that it's okay to eat meat. I reject
Ingrid's statement that we have to go from A to R and then
from R to Z. (APPLAUSE)
We're telling them that eating meat is cool, and you know
what else? Our own movement - I'm looking at vegetarian web
sites and vegetarian newsletters and vegetarian magazines
and newspapers and I'm reading articles that say we have to
get the calcium, that meat eaters have better bone density
When I look at the studies, I know what phonies they are. My
life's work. I used to do research. I ran a lab. I've held
death in my hands. I know how to read scientific studies. I
taught statistics. I know how to work with the numbers. I
get the original studies. I look at their faces. I talk to
scientists. I know how flawed these studies are.
In 1997, the Journal of the American Medical Association
hosted a nutritional conference, a conference that was
sponsored by, guess who? The dairy industry. And in 1998,
Peter Holt's September 23rd - go to the library and look
this study up - September 23 in JAMA. Peter Holt did a study
about colon cancer, and said that people who eat low fat
cheese don't get colon cancer, and what did he do? He
measured over a five year period - he gave free low fat
cheese to people over a five year period and there was a
tiny - not even a statistical difference that was
significant. A millimeter of growth more for the people who
didn't eat the cheese. A millimeter of cellular
proliferation, and the dairy industry has been using that,
since the study was published in 1998 to say that drinking
milk prevents colon cancer.
I went to one of the junior authors of that study and said
"What happened between 1995 when the study ended and 1998,"
and I learned that the people who actually ate the cheese
got the colon cancer.
That issue of the Journal of the American Medical
Association contains one of the great commentaries. That's
really comedy, and not science, because the cellular
proliferation AND GROWTH -an additional doctor wrote an
editorial called "Proliferation Happens," like shit happens,
criticizing that study. You can get the article. They knew
it was a fraudulent study, and nobody else in America
reported it. When I saw the study - you know how I learned
about it? Reading the press releases put out by the dairy
industry learning that they had a press conference set for
the Plaza Hotel in New York, and that week every newspaper
in America reported: "Drinking milk prevents colon cancer."
TVs and radios and magazines repeated...and I went on the
New York stations and said "The study was a fraud." I got in
the way of them to show that it was exactly the opposite.
And study after study, that's what these people do.
Recently, I wrote about a study in Denmark, Annette
Hjartaker, breast cancer - saying that drinking milk as a
child prevents breast cancer. This study was so
significantly flawed, and people within our own movement
have been attacking me for it, I don't know where this is
coming from, and there's something wrong. We're getting the
message that you've got to have Vitamin B-12. That being a
vegan does not work. You're not healthy if you don't get
Vitamin B-12 which comes from rendered animal intestines
from the bacteria that grow within. You're flawed if you
don't take calcium pills. We're not getting enough calcium,
we're not getting enough protein. Something's wrong.
They're giving us a message that being vegetarian or vegan
is not healthy. Our own people. You see somebody giving you
that advice, that being a vegan does not stand on its own,
go into your organic garden and pick a carrot and you're
going to get all the Vitamin B-12 you need. Doctors take
your vitamin B-12 measurements from your bloodstream when
it's stored in the liver, not in the bloodstream.
And they say you have very low levels of Vitamin B-12
compared to meat eaters. You shouldn't have any, according
to their theory. You've got to take these pills? That's not
the way it works.
When we get organizations that tell us that we are going to
get these animals slaughtered compassionately, I scratch my
head and I wonder, and I ask everybody the same damned
"Is there too much violence on television? Tell me, is
there? (THE AUDIENCE SCREAMS A COLLECTIVE "YES.")
Geez, you're all wrong. No! There's not enough violence on
television, because when we see somebody die, bang, you're
dead, they fall over, that's it, in real life, ouch, it
hurts. Ouch, it hurts for a long time. It takes ten minutes
to die, and during that period, twenty square feet are
filled with blood.
I want people to see that. I want people to see un-
compassionate slaughter. I want them to see what it's really
like. That's our responsibility. Our responsibility is to
take this message. More people are eating meat, and what
we're doing isn't working.
So, take that compassion and turn it into passion and let
the world know that we don't believe in compassionate
slaughter. We don't believe in any slaughter. These animals
are dying, partially, because of some of our misdirected
efforts. We've got to make the effort to say that no animal
deserves to die.
Buy two books today. One is Eternal Treblinka, which will
have you crying, and the other is Ingrid's Free the Animals,
and get Ingrid to get back to the original message. Thank