In a previous article here at VeganSamurai.org, we talked about being Vegan Lite versus being a Vegan Samurai. [Read Five Ways Being Vegan is More than Not Eating Animals].
In that article, I mentioned that a Vegan Samurai opposes all forms of animal exploitation and abuse, not just animal exploitation and abuse found in the food industry.
Circuses, zoos, aquariums, and animal theme parks are businesses that imprison, exploit, and abuse animals.
But because those facilities provide “entertainment,” and sometimes education, it’s harder for some people, even some vegans, to give them up and oppose them.
In a recent CNN article about the impacts of the movie Blackfish on SeaWorld, we read the following revealing segment:
But plenty of parents also feel like Laurie Marshall, a mom of two, who has no plans to stop taking her kids to circuses, zoos and aquariums. Marshall, whose kids are 6 and almost 10, just visited SeaWorld two weeks ago and said it was “startling” when you see “how big these creatures are and how small the tanks are.”
Still, her SeaWorld experience didn’t change her mind about bringing her kids to places where they can see animals up close.
“First, I think it is OK to keep some of these animals in a contained habitat if it does not impede on their lifestyle,” said Marshall, who is the founder and president of Marshall Law Group. “Also, I am not the type to boycott as I don’t believe my sacrifice is going to make a difference and it would deprive my kids of their enjoyment.”
Laurie Marshall’s statements perfectly reveal the speciesism and deliberate selfishness that fuels most of the harms humans do to other animals and the planet.
Specieism is our belief that we’re the best species on the planet, and that this assumed superiority gives us the right to do whatever we want to other species and the planet.
Speciesism echoes the fact that humans are the most powerful, deadly, and consumptive species on the planet.
If by “best species” we mean to say “the species with the most power to imprison, exploit, and kill all other species,” then the description is accurate.
But might doesn’t make right, and just the fact that we can and do dominate all other animals and the earth itself provides zero moral justification to do so.
Marshall was being interviewed about notorious SeaWorld, which puts orcas and other marine mammals into small tanks.
Marshall is quoted as noticing how big the animals are, and how tiny their SeaWorld tanks are.
Thus, Marshall’s statement that it’s ok to “keep some of these animals in a contained habitat if if does not impede on their lifestyle” makes no sense at all.
The very definition of a “contained habitat” means the animals are having their natural lifestyle impeded.
I’m saddened by Marshall’s cluelessness and lack of empathy.
The article describes Marshall as the founder of a law firm. On the firm’s website, we read that Marshall for ten years was in-house counsel for Major League Baseball.
Surely an educated, wealthy woman like Laurie Marshall ought to have the brainpower to understand that if the imprisoned orcas were instead native orcas in ecosystems unspoiled by humans, the orcas would be swimming thousands of miles per year, enjoying all the benefits of open ocean and their natural social groupings.
How can anyone who even minimally understands wildlife biology believe that an orca in a tiny SeaWorld tank is living an “unimpeded lifestyle?”
We also see how Marshall’s statement reveals callousness, fatalism, a flawed sense of entitlement, and extreme selfishness.
For example, she describes it as a “sacrifice” if she was to choose not to bring her children to businesses where animals are imprisoned and harmed.
She wrongly says it won’t make any difference if she boycotts businesses where animals are imprisoned or harmed.
The actual truth is that the boycott of SeaWorld, just like boycotts that stopped rights violations such as South African apartheid, are often successful at achieving positive change.
Another animal imprisonment facility that should be boycotted is the Miami Seaquarium, where an orca has been imprisoned for many years in a tiny tank, exploited for entertainment.
In Marshall’s quest to provide “enjoyment” for her kids, she’s willing to be a customer of businesses that imprison and harm animals.
Marshall reminds me of parents who used to bring their kids to public lynchings.
Because American history has been sanitized, many of us don’t know that public lynchings of African-Americans used to be considered “family entertainment.”
Parents made picnic lunches, and a generally festive spirit abounded, similar to what you see at circuses, zoos, and places like SeaWorld.
Thousands of people partied and cheered as blacks and other minorities were tortured and killed.
There were popular postcards depicting lynchings, beatings, people tortured, dismembered, and burned alive.
When I hear someone defending zoos, circuses, SeaWorld, and similar businesses, I ask them the same question I ask people who consume meat, fish, milk, cheese, and eggs.
“If other animals did to you what you think is acceptable to do to them, how would you feel about it?”
I wonder how Marshall would feel if her two children were permanently housed in a small glass chamber where strangers paid to watch them perform tricks.
If Marshall objected to that, but doesn’t object to it being done to orcas, it’s a perfect example of speciesism.
You shouldn’t do it to her precious kids, but it’s ok to do it to other sentient animals… that’s her speciesist “logic.”
The true vegan knows that humans using animals for food is wrong for the same reason that SeaWorld, circuses, and zoos are wrong.
In all cases, it’s our species doing bad things to other species—things we wouldn’t want them to do to us.
The Vegan Samurai goal is to create a deep ecology, egalitarian world, where humans no longer feel the need to dominate, eat, imprison, experiment on, abuse, and otherwise harm animals.
It includes, but goes way beyond, dietary choices. It includes not giving your money to zoos, circuses, Vegas shows, SeaWorld, or any other business that imprisons animals.