Viewing entries tagged
chipotle

9 Comments

Chipotle: We communicate with pigs via telepathy!

IMG_1578.JPG

Chipotle: We communicate with pigs via telepathy!

by Wayne Hsiung

There were a lot of inspiring, powerful, and poignant moments at AR2014. But perhaps the most bizarre -- and the instance that most aptly illustrated the near absurd deceptions put out by Chipotle -- involved an initially hostile customer who transformed, for one afternoon, into an animal rights investigator! 

The man in question was struck by the evocative display of human beings wrapped in foil, with a looming butcher standing over them, and stopped to gawk. After he began to jeer -- "Go Chipotle! I love meat! -- I stopped to talk to him. 

"What are your thoughts on the protest, sir?" I asked. 

"Well, it's a protest against meat, right?" he replied. 

This Chipotle customer and heckler transformed into an animal rights supporter -- and fact-checker -- in a span of 5 minutes due to our protest. 

This Chipotle customer and heckler transformed into an animal rights supporter -- and fact-checker -- in a span of 5 minutes due to our protest. 

"It's a protest against violence."

The man stopped smiling and looked at me quizzically. I went on to ask the man about his interactions with animals. He told me that he had a dog that he loved. I asked him how he would feel if someone hurt his dog. He responded that he wouldn't let it happen. 

"We're doing the same thing -- we don't want to let these terrible things happen to gentle animals -- and we're asking for your support." 

We continued talking for a few minutes, and by the end of the conversation, I had him sold.

"I haven't gotten to that enlightened point that you have already, but I hope to achieve that one day," he explained. 

"It's not about enlightenment. It's about showing that you don't support these violent corporations and traditions." 

He told me he'd go into the store and ask about the animals. And he did. 

What he brought out caused my jaw to drop to the floor. He came back out, almost frantically, laughing and waving a card in the air. 

"You've gotta see this. They say they're telepathic!" he said. 

For a moment, I thought the man was mocking us again, or had gone insane. But when I looked at the card, I saw what he was laughing and waving about. Chipotle, in response to his concerned question, had handed the man a free burrito coupon. On the back, the card described the wonderful conditions its animals are raised in -- standard fare. But that was not all. The card also claimed that the company was able to communicate telepathically with pigs, a breakthrough in trans-species communication that would probably win the company a Nobel Prize! 

The bizarre Chipotle card. 

What did the pigs have to say, in the moments before they were butchered and torn to pieces to serve the company's rapidly-growing empire of violence? Not that they were scared. Not that they were in terrible pain. Not even that they would really really rather not die. No, no, what the company wants you to believe is that, in their moment of telepathic connection with pigs, the pigs told them they were happy to be raised so humanely. 

You know a company has gone off the rails when it starts talking about telepathy with its victims. But I suppose when your entire business model is founded on a fraud, there's not much else you can do.

A house of cards is bound to collapse, though. And as my new friend told me as he walked away, shaking his head. "This company is completely ridiculous. And somebody has to point that out." 

We will, sir. We will. 

9 Comments

Comment

Chipotle is Watching You

Chipotle is Watching You (by Kelly)

PANO_20140526_123525[1].jpg

These photos of Chipotle's subway ads for the "Cultivate" festival they brought to San Francisco look like a scene out of George Orwell's 1984. "[Chipotle] is watching you." 

And even for this blatant indication of their corporate model and effort at infiltrating the public consciousness, they still have people buying their image of being a small, foodie company, comprised of impossibly bucolic farms, and run by well-meaning people who just want to make the world a better place. Their marketing department is just that clever.

The humanewasher is intent on making people identify as strongly with their brand as possible, because when a brand becomes part of your identity -- becomes a part of your conception of you -- you feel compelled not just to hold onto it (to go there all the time), but to promote it (to tweet about it and wear shirts advertising it), and even to defend it (to walk by protestors calling out "I love Chipotle!" or "Go protest at McDonald's!").

Like I said, their marketing department is clever... but no amount of manipulative propaganda can stand up against the force of truth now can it? It's violence, and they can't distract people from that forever.

But we take a page from their playbook, by learning to enable and empower people with a liberationist identity that they feel so strongly attached to that they have to hold onto it, promote it, and fight for it with every watt of energy they have. Chipotle has doting fans because the company is skilled at selling those fans a hip identity... but Hipness will never inspire the commitment and drive that Justice can.

I am a liberationist, and will be until every animal is free.

(Thanks Darren Chang for the photos!)

Comment

2 Comments

How Two Nobel Prize Winners (and one Iron Giant) Shaped DxE

PALS interviews Wayne Hsiung on the Origins of DxE, Creative Disruption, and How Two Nobel Prize Winners (and one Iron Giant) Shaped the DxE Model

by DxE

PALS organizer Saryta Rodriguez is writing a book about the animal rights movement. But she recently published a sneak preview of an interview about DxE.

In the interview, Saryta explores the origins of DxE, the importance of "disrupting business as usual", and the influence of two Nobel Laureates in establishing DxE's model of activism. 

Here's an excerpt: 

SR: What inspired you to start this particular coalition? Why not just join any of the many pre-existing animal liberation organizations out there? What did you hope to bring to the table that others perhaps do not?

WH: There are a million animal groups out there; but what makes us different is primarily that we are squarely focused on movement building. Most animal rights groups attempt to shift particular actors (whether corporate or state) or the public. While we don’t neglect those objectives, we also are keenly aware of the importance of building a stronger and more robust movement to effect real change. I was influenced in this by my studies of intervention into human rights causes. It turns out that most attempts to fix problems have little to no effect. The reason, as Nobel Prize winner Douglass North found, is that institutions—particularly “soft” institutions, such as culture and trust—are the ultimate cause of (and solution for) most social ills.

Check out the full interview here

2 Comments

Comment

What a Little Hen's Bloody, Deformed Leg Can Teach Us About "Humane" Farming

A band embedded into a hen’s deformed and crippled leg is just one brutal example of so-called “humane” farming. (Left: normal leg of a chicken rescued from a battery cage facility. Right: swollen and deformed leg of a hen rescued from a "humane" and pasture raised facility.) 

A band embedded into a hen’s deformed and crippled leg is just one brutal example of so-called “humane” farming. (Left: normal leg of a chicken rescued from a battery cage facility. Right: swollen and deformed leg of a hen rescued from a "humane" and pasture raised facility.) 

What a Little Hen's Deformed Leg Can Teach Us About "Humane" Farming

by Wayne Hsiung

 

Chipotle and the “meat” industry want the world to believe that there’s a kind way to raise and kill animals.

But the reality is that the animals Chipotle kills are often raised and tormented in exactly the same conditions as every other fast food chain. The company admits in its own regulatory filings that it sources from “conventional” farms (search for “conventional” here) -- code speak for factory farms -- and that its brand is vulnerable to damage by activist groups. And even its so-called “responsibly raised” nonconventional suppliers offer little more than a window dressing difference from a factory farm. For example, Bob Comis, a pig farmer who has been haunted by the screams of the animals he raised and killed, discussed recently how a “deeply bedded pen” facility is an industrial, concrete shed with disgusting conditions and brutal crowding -- an industry average of 4 x 2.75 feet of living space for a 250 pound animal that is 4 feet long. (Imagine a 250 pound man living his entire life in a bathtub.) The only difference from a CAFO is that the farmer throws in some straw…. and, of course, charges a huge price premium.

Even on "humane" farms, pigs are intensively confined in as little as 5 square feet of space. 

Even on "humane" farms, pigs are intensively confined in as little as 5 square feet of space. 

But there are a small number of farms that genuinely raise their animals in pastures. Small scale and exorbitantly expensive, these farms are, in fact, growing in number, as niche foodie products of all types have exploded in the past 10 years. Does pasture raised farming present a reasonable alternative to conventional factory farms?  

Resoundingly, no.

First, we have no land. One illustrative example: giving a reasonable living standard to a single pig requires more than 2000 square feet of land (the size of a large-ish apartment), according to pig farmer Comis. This would require devoting almost 200 times more space than even a so-called “humane”, "free-range" farm, where the pigs (on average) receive 10.7 square feet of space. That's not feasible in a world where 30% of all land mass is already devoted to animal agriculture. Truly humane farming, in other words, is a physical impossibility.

Second, even pasture raised suppliers are horrifically cruel. Exploitation of animals, it turns out, necessarily requires… exploitation.

DxE activists saw one vivid example of this at a chicken rescue over this past weekend. Two hundred fifty gentle souls, depleted by three years of egg production, were about to be rewarded with a violent death, for the years of toil on behalf of a cruel master. Taken from a truly small scale farm that raised its chickens on pastures, you might think that they would be in good health.

A hen with a bloody, deformed, and crippled leg due to a band embedded into her by a callous master. 

But you would be wrong. Afflicted with all manner of ailments, from vent blockages to respiratory infections to parasites, the chickens were far from happy and healthy. But perhaps most disturbingly, dozens of the hens were limping severely or completely crippled because, it turns out, their master never bothered to remove the leg bands from their young feet. As the chickens grew, the bands constricted their legs, causing bloody and grotesque deformities, swelling, and permanently crippling many of them. We spent hours grooming, cleaning, and carefully clipping the leg band off of these poor souls, hours that a farmer at ANY scale simply would not have. Because caring for an animal properly, it turns out, requires…. well, time and care. Time and care that a for-profit business of any size simply does not have.

At this point it seems almost unnecessary to offer a third reason that “humane” animal farming is simply an impossibility: the inevitability of killing. We have noted previously that almost all of the animals killed in animal agriculture are killed as children -- babies, in some cases. A “broiler chicken” that might have a natural lifespan of 8 years, for example, is typically killed at 6 or so weeks. Pigs that can live for over a decade are murdered at 6 months, when their still juvenile bodies are young and supple. Even dairy cows, whom farmers have an incentive to keep alive longer as milk producers, are typically slaughtered at 5 years of age, a mere one fourth of their natural lifespan.

Each of these animals did not want to die. They were welcomed into the universe of stimulation and experience, meaning and fulfillment, that we all call life. And by killing them, we take that from them -- we take everything from them -- for the sake of a juicy piece of flesh.

And when an individual animal -- scared and alone -- sees that her life is about to be taken, as Bob Comis notes, she completely loses it. Scrambling desperately to free herself from her tormentors, wailing in terror at her impending doom, and even engaging in self harm in a desperate attempt to escape her fate… this (and not Chipotle’s Orwellian happy meat fantasy) is the reality of humane farming.

And this is why DxE’s campaign to bust the humane myth is so absolutely vital. We cannot allow violent corporations to take everything from the weakest and most vulnerable among us… and pretend they are doing the oppressed a kindness. 

With 37 cities, increasing public attention, and a shift even in the largest animal non-profits (PETA and COK, for example, have recently taken a stand against "humane" farming), our story is finally gaining the traction that the animals desperately need. But we need your help in keeping our momentum going. So join us, and activists all over the world, in speaking clearly and loudly

Pastured raised or battery caged. Free range or factory farmed. Small scale or industrial-sized. It matters not a bit. Because it's not Food. It's Violence. 

Comment

Comment

(Video) A Memorial for Animals Appears (DxE Bay Area - April)

Gone but not Forgotten

by Ronnie Rose

This is for those who are gone. For those whose cries were drowned out in the dark night, whose terror and screams are stuck inside the slaughterhouse walls. The endless pain that you have suffered, the lonely days you stared at the cold walls of your prison, without any hope—this is for you. 

These words won't bring you back, nor will they fix what has been done to you. Your body has been abused, your feelings have been ignored, your dreams of freedom have been shattered...

But what these words do is carry the truth—and that can never be forgotten. Every animal who has been cut-up and treated as no more than a meal by companies like Chipotle, did not want this fate. Each moment they were prodded, kicked, forced into a crate, or loaded onto a truck—they wondered to themselves: Why is this happening to me? When will it end?

That is why we are here: to tell Chipotle and to tell the world your story. We are here because we know that your lives have meaning. We know that your desires to love, to play under the open skies, to live in the comfort of a community—are real. And even though your time here was brief, it will not be forgotten. We will NOT let it be forgotten!

We will not forget! We will NEVER forget! It's not food, it's violence!

Comment

Comment

Chipotle to Employee: Victim of Domestic Violence? You're Fired!

chipotlelogo2.png

Chipotle to Employee: Victim of Domestic Violence? You're Fired!

by Wayne Hsiung

The New York Daily News wrote yesterday about a woman who was fired from her job at Chipotle... for being assaulted by an abusive boyfriend. The company, of course, regales the public with tales of workplace integrity and enthusiasm. It describes every one of its employees, other than its lowest crew member, as a "manager." And CEO Steve Ells talks in a recent Netflix documentary about how he cares for every employee that his corporation -- a 1600+ location monstrosity -- hires. 

But when it came to Natasha Velez, a line worker who chopped vegetables and made guacamole, Chipotle's conception of care apparently did not run very far. And this is par for the course. Chipotle talks a big game -- emphasizing its sustainability (while refusing to make any sort of accountability report), killing millions of animals (while talking about how much it loves them), and promising to never exploit its workers (while paying them a pittance... and then punishing them for being hospitalized by abusive boyfriends). 

We will be writing more about this in the weeks to come. But Chipotle's lies, in short, extend far beyond animal cruelty, as horrific as the animal cruelty is. In more ways than one, Chipotle represents everything that's problematic about corporate America -- a focus on appearing to do good, rather than actually doing good. And by confronting Chipotle, we help to build a vision of the world where we are no longer dependent on, duped by, and even desperate for corporate illusions. We help to build a truly better world. 

Comment

Comment

RGB Vegan Interviews Ronnie Rose on DxE's Origins, the Dangers of Corporate "Values Integration," and Advice for New Vegans

Ronnie (on the right) at a recent It's not Food, It's Violence demonstration. 

Ronnie (on the right) at a recent It's not Food, It's Violence demonstration. 

Ronnie Rose on RGB Vegan

by DxE

Ronnie Rose, co-founding organizer of DxE, is not a name you'll necessarily know. But he did the remarkable video work that launched DxE into the world, with a splash, in early 2013. And it was conversations with Ronnie that shaped, and created the momentum for, the formation of our grassroots network. 

Since that time, Ronnie has been, in many ways, the theoretical voice of DxE. You might have read his powerful piece, The Soul of the Animal Rights Movement is Up for Grabs, or heard about DxE's graphic images study, which we commissioned in part because of a relationship Ronnie struck up with the brilliant political scientist Tim Pachirat. But in more ways than one, Ronnie has continued to be a key contributor to not just DxE's growth but, perhaps even more important, its anti-speciesist integrity. Ronnie has helped us maintain our strong commitment to animal liberation -- in our words, in our practices, and (especially) in our tactics and strategy. 

Ronnie recently had the opportunity to give a wonderful talk about the It's not Food, It's Violence campaign with our Phoenix chapter, PALS. And afterwards, one of the attendees, Joshua at RGB Vegan, was so impressed that he interviewed him for his podcast. In the interview, you'll hear about: 

- DxE's founding story
- the sinister marketing strategy -- "values integration" -- used by Chipotle and other humane washers to twist popular values in favor of eating animals
- some simple advice for new vegans. 

Check it out, and make sure you subscribe to RGB Vegan on iTunes

Comment

Comment

(Video) Unexpected Connections: UCSF Patient Blasts Chipotle's Humane Washing

Sharing Petra's story with a UCSF patient led to a surprising turn of events. 

Sharing Petra's story with a UCSF patient led to a surprising turn of events. 

Unexpected Connections: UCSF Patient Blasts Chipotle's Humane Washing

by Wayne Hsiung

Wherever the animal rights movement has had success, industry's response has been to say that they care about animals. This is a common theme across campaigns and even nations. And we saw it recently in our Not Ours to Use campaign against the University of California, when UCSF -- in response to public criticism and protest -- announced that it had received gold standard accreditation for its "commitment to the highest ethical standards in animal care." (Just a few weeks before, a press representative came out to our protest with similar points to make. She was befuddled when we responded that animal testing was intrinsically unethical.) If you went by UCSF's rhetoric alone, you'd think that their animal research facilities were a luxurious hotel and spa! 

This is why we at DxE focus so much on maintaining the integrity of our message. Powerful institutions and norms will constantly attempt to co-opt our message and lead to backsliding of even significant reforms. Targeting the abusers that most ostentatiously display their moral credentials is a crucial part of this strategy. If even the so-called "humane" animal exploiters are engaged in fundamentally wrongful acts, then we can make a case for truly systemic shifts, shifts that are real and robust. So, while it may be true that UCSF is better than some of its peers, as its "gold standard" suggests, that should not confuse the public from the nonetheless brutal reality of what happens in UCSF's labs: mutilation, poisoning, enslavement, and, ultimately, killing. 

The strands between our campaigns should be obvious to anyone who follows DxE. UCSF and Chipotle are engaged in exactly the same practice: whitewashing violence as "humane." And in doing so, they are representative of the dominant (and until now, successful) response by animal-abusing industries. But it is even more gratifying when a random member of the public sees the same connections. I was surprised to hear the reaction, therefore, when I asked a UCSF patient (to protect his anonymity, we'll call him "Bob") what he thought of the contradictions between the university's statements about caring for animals, on the one hand, and the "gruesome" and "chilling" conditions that the animals are actually forced to endure, on the other.

Bob has a serious respiratory issue and has to come to the hospital on a regular basis. I am always hesitant to push people in such interactions, as they have understandable loyalty to the institution that is saving their life. However, upon hearing the story of Petra, a poor rhesus monkey who was left to languish for two years with a bloody hole in her head, Bob quickly joined us in criticizing the university. 

Even more astonishing, however, was what came next. When asked about whether he had heard about UCSF's shameful whitewashing, Bob responded. "Not about UCSF. But we heard about Chipotle."

At first, I assumed that he had heard about Chipotle through one of our protesters. But that was not the case. Apparently, Bob (who is naturally an affable person who strikes up conversations with people on the street) had just heard about Chipotle across the street at the UCSF cafe. A woman who was an organic (vegetable) farmer, and a former Chipotle employee, had just educated him about Chipotle's horrible humane washing. And he was as scandalized by what he had heard as we are. 

Two lessons to draw from this: 

1. Our campaign is starting to have an impact. When random passersby on the street can identify the problem with a corporation, it shows that your message is cutting through the haze. 

2. Even ordinary people -- especially ordinary people, in fact -- can see the problems with Chipotle's bloody lies.

Our movement has been so acclimated to the self-serving, consumerist model of activism that we don't always see the pernicious influence of corporate marketing. When a brand has given you something, when you love their products, it's hard even for activists to hear someone say something bad about the company. But we can't allow ourselves to be deceived by corporate marketing tricks. Chipotle has no real interest in helping animals, or even serving vegan food. They have one and only one interest: making profit. And we have to be as astute and skeptical as Bob if we want to effect real and permanent change, not just on Chipotle, but on their ilk (whether in the food industry or otherwise) all over the world. 

Comment

2 Comments

Why DxE Brings the Message Inside

Fotor0408133650.png

Why DxE Brings the Message Inside

by Wayne Hsiung

There has been an unusual sight over the past few months in fast food chains around the country and (increasingly) around the world. Animal rights activists, with DxE and otherwise, are taking their message inside the places that serve animals' mutilated bodies.  Why?

Speaking out while others are eating, while not illegal, is a violation of one of our most important social traditions: breaking bread. When we sit down to eat, we seek nourishment, and comfort, and peace. We bond with those who are around us, and set aside our differences. Michael Pollan, among others, has written about the importance of “table fellowship” and how socially uncomfortable and alienated he felt in his brief spell of vegetarianism.  Pollan’s solution? Don’t just give up on saying anything about the ethical problems with eating animals; give up the vegetarianism, too!

The mainstream animal rights movement has, until this point, mostly accepted Pollan’s framing of the issue by admonishing us for speaking honestly about eating animals… while animals are being eaten. And there are superficially plausible reasons for this. The sociology that Pollan discusses -- the importance of eating to social cohesion and identity -- is undisputed. Food restrictions have been used for thousands of years as tools of oppression and exclusion.  Many religious traditions would forbid even the presence of those who handled foods that were deemed “unclean.”  And there is an undercurrent of intolerance, and even outright racism, to many of the criticisms of foreign food practices.  In a free society, diverse eating practices -- like diversity in our other basic needs such as autonomy or physical intimacy -- should be not just tolerated but positively encouraged. As Chipotle emphasizes, vegans and carnivores (including, apparently, multinational corporations) must… unite!

DxE activists around the world taking the message of animal liberation inside the spaces that profit off their exploitation. 

But is there something missing in Pollan’s beautiful story? Why are activists all over the world breaking this ancient tradition, and speaking out in defiance of “table fellowship”?

Disrupting Business as Usual

The first reason is that dissent is vital to achieving social change, and that dissent is only effective if it is powerful, confident, and yes, even (morally) disruptive. One of the ironies about the conventional discourse in animal rights is that it’s so far removed from the debate among those who actually study social change. There, the question is what form of confrontation -- violence or nonviolence -- is more effective. (At last year’s Farm Sanctuary hoe down in Orland, it was not surprising to me to see that the only social scientist among the panelists -- the brilliant political scientist Timothy Pachirat -- embraced the necessity of direct action to effecting social change.) But in animal rights, our allegiance to decorum and Pollan’s “table fellowship” leaves us paralyzed, and we are not supportive of, and even outright hostile towards, honest and heartfelt dissent. “Don’t say that here,” we say to ourselves. “People are eating!”

This is a huge problem if our goal is to make a world good, not for vegans, but for animals. Pioneering feminist, political consultant, and Rhodes Scholar Naomi Wolf commented on this recently after spending a year studying the history of dissent and protest in America. Activists through our republic’s history have achieved their demands only when they were not afraid to “disrupt business as usual.” Wolf notes that demonstrations today have become so bureaucratized, institutionalized, and integrated into the fabric of ordinary life that they don’t serve this disruptive function any longer. They don’t convey to the public that “all is not well.”  

One example of this. At our last SF protest on the It’s not Food, It’s Violence campaign, a San Francisco police sergeant politely approached me, in front of the closed Chipotle, and asked, “Does anyone want to get arrested?” The notion behind this was that civil disobedience has become so domesticated that the police tolerate and even encourage it, and want to assist activists in making it happen! Protest, when so cleanly integrated into the status quo, becomes mere theater, and the inspiring demonstrations of the 1960s are transformed, in Wolf’s words, into a bizarre Disney-land fantasy.

It is precisely because speaking out when others are eating is a disruption of conventional social norms, then, that it is such an important and powerful tool for social change. Passersby, customers, and even multinational corporations can easily dismiss and write us off, if we do not push our message in the places where it is most unwelcome. But when we transform a space where violence has been normalized into a space of dissent, we can jolt, not just individual people, but our entire society into change. And because we have now expressed that our cause is important enough to violate a powerful social norm, we leave a mark in people. “Wow, what the heck was that! They’re so outraged by something that they felt the need to come into the store to register their complaint.”  

Creating Viral Stories

Going inside a restaurant, and breaking the rules of Pollan’s table fellowship, does not just convey a stronger and more confident message, however. It also feeds a cycle of viral storytelling that has been vital to every movement’s growth.

There are too many examples of this from previous social movements to even count. But here are a few that come to mind. The first four students to perform a nonviolent sit in were met with hostility even by fellow people of color. “Fellows like you make our race look bad.” But though controversial, their story took off… and eventually triggered a massive wave of sit-ins around the country. The pioneering feminist Emmeline Pankhurst was widely criticized for her astonishing acts of defiance, including arson and vandalism on the British Parliament, against a patriarchal society that denied her the right to vote. But strangely, for all the hatred against her, people could not stop talking about her and her campaigns. Finally, and more recently, a seemingly ordinary Tunisian fruit vendor, in defiance of social norms, doused himself with gasoline in front of the governor’s mansion and burned himself alive. People said he was “crazy.” But his small act of defiance, triggered a movement, the Arab Spring, that changed the face of the world.

Conflict and controversy, in short, feed a campaign cycle. “Young people distribute information calmly about economic inequality” would never have reached even a college newspaper. “Protesters Occupy Wall Street!”, in contrast, took over the New York Times.

Direct Action Everywhere’s own growth is an example of this phenomenon. Despite being a grassroots network with no resources and only a handful of founding Bay Area members, we have seen explosive growth over the past few months In part because we have been willing to tread where other groups refuse to go, figuratively and otherwise. We have been willing to breach the traditional rules of table fellowship and confront animal abuse in the space where it’s most regularly and obviously glorified. Love or hate us, that helps us get our issue on the table, and in a strong and uncompromising way that sets our movement up for long term growth and success.

Empowered Networks

The third and perhaps most important reason to go inside, in violation of the rules of table fellowship, is that it gives our activists, and other activists who watch our demonstrations, the inspiration to speak more strongly in their personal lives.  It offers support for others who can now say,  “Well, if they can speak out inside of a restaurant, then surely I can offer a few words to my friends!”

As social animals, we humans are heavily influenced by the behavior of our peers. And this as true of activists as it is of other people. So when we see a movement comprised entirely of passive action, we become passive ourselves. When we have a movement that socializes its adherents to “not make too much of a fuss about this,” then we will be inclined towards complying with the social norms of the day. And worse yet, as the groundbreaking psychologist John Jost has shown, subconscious biases will allow us to rationalize this sort of accommodation as good for the world.  

Going into stores, rather than merely standing outside, is a way for us to send a jolt of electricity through our own movement. So many individual activists have shared with me the empowering effects of demonstrating in places where they had previously been scared to demonstrate, of speaking in places where they had been previously been scared to speak. And there have been powerful empirical demonstrations of this effect, even for viewpoints and movements that have little substance behind them, e.g. the Tea Party.  Speaking loudly and proudly in defiance of social convention, it turns out, inspires others to do the same. And that, perhaps more than anything else, is why we encourage our activists to step outside of their comfort zones,  past the boundaries of tradition and the table fellowship, and into the stores that our selling the dead bodies of our friends.

Summing up

One of Direct Action Everywhere’s biggest supporters in the Bay Area, the wonderful Diane, does not look like a radical activist. She does not talk like one either. Soft-spoken and always polite, there is a kindness and calmness that runs off of her like water. And yet Diane has come with us into places of violence for the past 6 months, and, more recently, has even begun to lead the charge by seizing the megaphone and leading our chants: “One struggle, one fight! Human freedom, animal rights!”

Something Diane wrote, many months ago when she first began to participate in DxE’s events, has resonated powerfully with me over the past few months. I don’t remember the exact phrasing, but the words were something like this: “Change begins when you push yourself out of your comfort zone.” Those words wonderfully summarize my thoughts on the matter. We simply have to push boundaries -- indeed, create a movement that pushes boundaries -- if we want to see change.

But it is also vitally important to recognize that everyone is on a different path, and that there are ways to push ourselves that do not involve aggressive protest or even public advocacy. For example, Jeff is an organizer for DxE South Bay who, by his own admission, is not a prototypical street protester. He is not comfortable around new people, or with public speaking, and until very recently, he’s never spoken at one of our protests.

Diane and Jeff both show the power of pushing boundaries in making change. 

But Jeff started pushing boundaries, in a different way, many months ago when he joined DxE South Bay. A fledgling group that had small numbers, after many of us moved to Oakland and SF, Jeff decided to make a greater commitment to helping DxE behind the scenes. The result is a marvelous set of videos that have been watched by thousands of people around the world.

While we encourage and support our activists in pushing boundaries, then, stepping inside a Chipotle is just one way to do that. And even a simple leafleting, in a city without the numbers and presence of the Bay Area, can be a powerfully effective and disruptive form of direct action. Because, as we have always emphasized at DxE, direct action is not about being hardcore, or underground, or even brave. It’s about empowering yourself to speak more regularly and powerfully and honestly for the animals, in whatever way that we can each most effectively do so.

For Diane, that has meant regular participation in our demonstrations and an increasingly vocal role. For Jeff, that has meant helping us with technology, cutting back on his hours as a software developer, and dedicating even more of his time and skill to helping us build our network and platform. Both Diane and Jeff have crossed boundaries. Both of them have, in a metaphorical sense, "stepped inside." But they have broken the rules of Pollan’s table fellowship in very different -- and equally important -- ways.

We want you to do the same. Because it’s only with your support that we can overcome the inertia of the table fellowship -- and finally bring direct action for animals everywhere. 

2 Comments

Comment

(Gallery) Stories of Liberation at a Place of Violence

Stories of Liberation at a Place of Violence

Chipotle wants them imprisoned, enslaved, and dead. One by one, our activists tell the animals' stories... and promise to fight to set them free. 

The largest Chipotle location shut down its operations for the afternoon in response to our protest. See our press release here

Comment