Growl: Compassion, Truth, Nonviolence, and Justice in Animal AdvocacyPosted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on September 18, 2014
Kim 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.
And 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.