Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Berkeley Whole Foods Store Obtains Restraining Order Against Vegan Activists

A Whole Foods store in Berkeley, California has filed for a restraining order in an ongoing suit against an animal rights activist organization and its co-founder, according to court records.

The Guardian reports that protesters from Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) will no longer be able to step foot in Whole Food stores. The activist group has protested outside of Telegraph Ave. Whole Foods — as well as other Bay Area supermarkets — over the last several years as a means to call action to the chain's suppliers' alleged "animal welfare violations."

"DxE members have repeatedly entered our stores and property to conduct demonstrations that disrupt customers and team members by blocking access to our aisles, departments and cash registers, interfering with our business and putting the safety of both customers and team members at risk," a Whole Foods representative said in a statement to the Guardian.

The vegan activist group espouses "total animal liberation."

But as Murray Rothbard put it:

It has lately become a growing fashion to extend the concept of rights from human beings to animals, and to assert that since animals have the full rights of humans, it is therefore impermissible — i.e., that no man has the right — to kill or eat them.

There are, of course, many difficulties with this position, including arriving at some criterion of which animals or living beings to include in the sphere of rights and which to leave out.

(There are not many theorists, for example, who would go so far as Albert Schweitzer and deny the right of anyone to step on a cockroach. And, if the theory were extended further from conscious living beings to all living beings, such as bacteria or plants, the human race would rather quickly die out.)...

It is more than a jest to point out that animals, after all, don't respect the "rights" of other animals; it is the condition of the world, and of all natural species, that they live by eating other species. Inter-species survival is a matter of tooth and claw. It would surely be absurd to say that the wolf is "evil" because he exists by devouring and "aggressing against" lambs, chickens, etc. The wolf is not an evil being who "aggresses against" other species; he is simply following the natural law of his own survival. Similarly for man. It is just as absurd to say that men "aggress against" cows and wolves as to say that wolves "aggress against" sheep. If, furthermore, a wolf attacks a man and the man kills him, it would be absurd to say either that the wolf was an "evil aggressor" or that the wolf was being "punished" for his "crime." And yet such would be the implications of extending a natural-rights ethic to animals...

There is, in fact, rough justice in the common quip that "we will recognize the rights of animals whenever they petition for them.



  1. But it is a real challenge to catch a fly on a window between your thumb and index finger and release it
    unharmed into the wild, wild world.

  2. Of course, Rothbard is correct in asserting that animals do not have the same rights (freedom of actions) as humans, nor should they be granted such; however, that doesn't mean it's OK to torture, kill, disembowel, raise inhumanely, consume their dead bodies for pure pleasure of it, or otherwise disrespect animals or their environment.

    Humans do not need to eat animals to survive. There is a moral argument to be made that humans have an obligation to reduce the amount of "psychic pain" (as Murray would say) in the world to the best of their ability.

    Just because we can kill doesn't mean we should. In the end, the animals get the last laugh anyways. The more meat and dairy you eat, the higher your odds of getting cancer and heart disease.

    1. Michael Huemer has been quite active in this part of philosophy.

      In my view, there are good arguments that animals don't have "rights" in the sense that humans do, for the reasons Rothbard articulates. But that doesn't fully resolve the question of how a human should be held to account for torturing an animal. If the animal were owned by someone else, and that person had not consented to the torture, then that owner would have a trespass action against the torturer. If the animal were unowned, or owned by the torturer, then I don't think that another human would be justified in using force against the torturer, as no human's rights would have been violated (unless the torturer were on someone else's property, torturing in violation of the property-owner's rules). But that doesn't mean such a person can't be ostracized by civil society.

  3. Crazy leftists are like crazy muslims: just get out of their way and they will be too busy fighting each other to be much threat to the rest of us.