So when I have run ins with bunny huggers, its not because I disagree with everything they're saying. Its not. I actually think that the natural allies of people like me, those of us who believe in the importance of sustainable agriculture and ethical meat, are vegans; the two positions are not incompatible, they can be different responses to the same issues.
I was foolish enough to glance long enough at the animal rights campaigner stall in Cambridge today for long enough to be approached. I tried suggesting that... well, it doesn't matter. Thats not the point. I could have said that I'm from the planet Xygon and that I'm a scout for an invasion of Star Crabs. Wouldn't have mattered. What I WANTED to suggest is more important; what I wanted to tell her was that emblazoning her stall with 1970s images of monkeys being vivisected was misleading, and that in a relatively affluent city like Cambridge campaigning on factory farming (which causes more animal suffering and massively more environmental damage) is an open goal, its guaranteed to get support from people here. What I wanted to tell her was that in trying to campaign on every animal rights issue at once is foolish, and that the entire movement is de-valued by the use of misleading images and muddled values. I wanted to tell her that a hamster has got no concept of its 'rights', but if we're caring or it then we need to pay every attention to its welfare. I wanted to tell her that 'rights' are not bequeathed but fought for, and that with those rights comes a burden, being responsibility, and that therefore one cannot say that an animal has 'rights', which in turn means that one can make a stronger argument in favour of our responsibility for its welfare.
But none of that could happen. It isn't the role of animal rights campaigners to have reasoned discussion. Its not what they're out for. They're out to preach, and if they can't preach they want to sneer, and if you don't let them sneer they want to insult you. And thats the problem with the whole movement, its not based on rational logic from the ground up, its based on top-down bunny-hugging crap thats about as coherent as Paul Gascoine on a bender. And that makes their entire stance counter-productive; those who should be brought on board into animal welfare, those who with just a bit of a nudge would give up on eating factory farmed chickens, those who with some encouragement could be turned against tastelsess, pappy, pointless pork produced in conditions that barely make them better than torture, they're walking past to avoid the nutter animal rights people who will, rather than engage and try to convince, drone on with religious fervour.
So I didn't stand there for long.
I won't even BEGIN with the Cats Protection League people. They made the animal rights people seem positively intellectual.