Growl: Compassion, Truth, Nonviolence, and Justice in Animal Advocacy

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on September 18, 2014

kim-stallwood-article-240pxKim Stallwood is British animal rights scholar every advocate for animals should have on his or her radar. His latest book, Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate from Lantern Books, has been long-awaited by the Animal Book Club. Growl’s main drive is an exploration of how to co-exist with nonhuman animals using four main principles or “key values” of truth, compassion, nonviolence, and justice. The book also raises important questions about animal advocacy.

Can animals have rights? Growl investigates this question in practical terms and philosophical measure. Opponents claim animals cannot have legal rights because they cannot articulate reason or consciousness (although even this has been challenged). Yet, Growl asks readers to consider: moral and legal rights are commonly given to humans—such as infants and the mentally impaired—who don’t possess those requirements. So why not allow the same for the interests of nonhuman animals?

Kindness to animals, Kim notes, referencing Immanuel Kant, is a virtue worthy of human moral systems. And justice—as opposed to charity—is what is required for these moral systems. As he writes, “injustice characterizes our activities with animals. The animal industrial complex is injustice on a massive scale.” And this sense of justice distinguishes the seriousness with which one pursues animal protection. Many animal charities, he suggests, are based on “individual good-heartedness.” Justice, on the other hand, “reflects the sanction (in both meanings of the word) of society and the enforcement of law and order.”

And it is in this way that Kim’s work aligns with that of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Our mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals using the legal system. Animals need laws to protect them from harm and to advance their interests: animals need more than the kind-hearted generosity of few, they need the permanent protection of the whole. Kim writes:

I am optimistic for the future of animal rights in the U.S. because of the strength of the third branch of the government—the judiciary—and the ability to develop public policy through the courts.

kim-stallwoodAnd that is the work the Animal Legal Defense Fund continues to do, in the ballot box, the courts, and working with community and individuals to better protect animals.Growl (evocative of Allan Ginsberg’s famous poem Howl) encompasses the work of a lifelong animal advocate and complements Kim’s alter-ego blog and social media presence as The Grumpy Vegan. Kim describes five stages of effective social movements: public education, policy development, legislation, enforcement, and public acceptance.

Kim Stallwood founded the Animal Rights Network—the world’s largest library on animal rights—and was once national director of PETA, campaigns officer for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, and national organizer for Compassion in World Farming. For many years he was executive editor of The Animals’ Agenda and currently edits Speaking Out for Animals, and is the European director for the Animals and Society Institute, an organization he co-founded in 2005. He has also written Animal Dharma. Visit Kim’s website to learn more about the Animal Rights Challenge to make society’s treatment of animals the responsibility of society.


6 thoughts on “Growl: Compassion, Truth, Nonviolence, and Justice in Animal Advocacy

  1. Adriana Botero says:

    MUCH NEED IT !! EDUCATION IS KEY IN CHANGE

  2. Alice says:

    I wish I could feel optimistic about this. But our judges have shown over and over that they are not willing to uphold even the barest of laws which protect animals. Over and over and over they give less than a slap on the wrist for hideous crimes against animals. Parents are NOT teaching their children to respect all life and allow their kids to torture. Higher courts overturn even weak sentencing of lower courts. I do hope you are right, but I just don’t think it will happen in my lifetime or soon enough to protect our wildlife and pets.

    1. Lucy Muller says:

      You should be in our courts in Orange and Ulster Counties, NY. Our judges are very strict about animal abuse. You have to get the people to let the district attorney what you want. Lots of people.

  3. Thank you very much for this review of my new book, Growl. My goal was to write the book I wish I could’ve read when I became a vegetarian and then a vegan two years later as well as an animal rights activist. My intent is not to dwell on the horrors of animal cruelty and exploitation but to help deepen our understanding of what it means to care deeply about animals. Animal liberation is all about breaking through the species barrier so that everyone, regardless of species, enjoys compassion, truth, nonviolence, and justice.

    1. Kim, we are proud to carry your book on our shelves and encourage everyone to read this intellectual foray into the intersections of the boundaries of inter-species compassion and justice. A worthy read! Thanks for all you do.

  4. Tomi E says:

    According to multiple reports, via SI.com, Heat forward Michael Beasley, in his first game back with Miami after signing as a free agent this summer, had an incident in his first game. Despite scoring nine points and adding two rebounds, Beasley reportedly required “medical treatment” after punching himself in the head out of frustration. But if you are autistic and and punch yourself out of frustration or because of an underlying medical issue, and you seek help in American hospitals, you get no medical treatment…what a joke. Autistic people who present with severe self injurious behaviors are in medical pain from hitting themselves in the same way NON DISABLED like this sport’s star were after head punching…apparently if you are disabled you don’t get the same consideration or treatment???? This is discrimination. Where is protection and advocacy on this???

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