Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Change.org – Cast your vote…

After Obama was elected, the buzz started going around about Change. He’s open to ideas, and while there are ways you can submit your own directly, there are also groups like change.org that have been soliciting ideas and getting votes on them. The top 10 will be presented to the president-elect after he has taken office.

The first round of voting is coming to a close, so read Stephanie’s post on voting strategy, and then go vote.

She reminds us to not just vote for our favored AR ideas, but also the other ideas.

The first round of voting ends tomorrow, December 31st, so the voting needs to be done asap. Some of the ideas are frustratingly not about animal rights at all, but about treating animals kindly as you continue to do all the same bad things. (And big surprise, most of the top vote-getters fall in that category.) But there are a few that have a fighting chance. My favorite for the “fighting chance” category is: Increase Funding for Non-Animal Research Methods and Mandate Their Use

The tens of millions of animals used annually in the United States as models in biological and medical research suffer immensely. In addition to the inherent cruelties, animal studies are unreliable:

“Natural differences in physiology, metabolism, and anatomy between humans and other animals lead to very different reactions to various stimuli. In addition, animals are kept in sterile, stressful environments that cause them to develop abnormal physiological and behavioral responses. Besides the obvious welfare implications, this also casts doubt on the validity of any results obtained using such animals” (AAVS).

Indeed, the problems with animal research are many (http://www.aavs.org/researchProblems.html). “Animal research is antiquated and cruel, often impeding discovery. In numerous cases, important findings have been or could have been made without the use of animals. . . . New technologies, alternatives, and clinical and epidemiological studies in humans can provide us with better, more relevant answers without causing animal suffering.”

Read more: AAVS, http://www.aavs.org/researchBG.html; NEAS, http://www.neavs.org/betterscience/bettersci_MAP_submitted.htm

The one I don’t think has much of a chance, but which I would love to see be presented: Rescind the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was enacted in November of 2006 at the behest of the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries. AETA restricts the freedom of speech and assembly of animal and other social justice activists. It unfairly brands as terrorism any activities that cross a state line and interfere with the operation of an animal enterprise or of any entity that deals with one. Such activities may include website posts, peaceful vigils, nonviolent civil disobedience, undercover investigations, and whistle-blowing.

Another great idea that has somehow migrated from Animal Rights, and over to Agricultural Policy is: Offer Vegan School Lunch Options

Require USDA to facilitate vegan school lunch options, in addition to the standard fare, in those schools where at least 5% of parents request them.

Yeah, it is pretty weakly worded – 5% of parents (not students?) need to request them – but it is a step, at least. When you calculate the incredible volume of food that goes to feed kids in schools, you can quickly see that from sheer numbers alone, this could have an amazing impact, weakly worded or no. (I’m guessing Alex Herschaft, who wrote this one, was canny in his very weak wording…weak enough to be palatable to a larger number of people and thus to have a chance to make the kind of impact it would open the door on.)

If you’re like me, you’re as cynical as you are hopeful. In a way, the cynicism is freeing. I’m happy to participate in these votes, and help have a say in what change.org will present. I expect nothing, or at best not-so-much, from the powers that be, so it is as a curious onlooker that I wait to see what will happen next.

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