Letter to the Editor re Oregon National Primate Research Center

OHSU Tortures Animals 2

Letter to the Editor re Oregon National Primate Research Center
Date submitted: April 25, 2013
News outlet: The Oregonian

Sometimes we are slow to do the right thing; reluctant to make a bold decision even if it would significantly benefit others or make the world a more peaceful place.  Sometimes we wait for others to chart a course and are only comfortable following their path toward social justice.  In extreme cases, we drag our feet and actively resist the birth of a just world.

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is not going to lead the way toward a more compassionate world for animals.  It is simply not.  But with the recent announcement by Harvard Medical School that it will be closing the New England Primate Research Center perhaps wheels are in motion.  OHSU would be wise to follow their lead by making a similar announcement with respect to the Oregon National Primate Research Center.

Justice demands that every facility dedicated to imprisoning and tormenting animals be shuttered.


source: PETA.org

Some People Have Blogs, Others Have Matches


“Fire has shut down fur farms, closed slaughterhouses, and destroyed years of animal abusers research. It is the A.L.F. tactic abusers fear most, precisely because it is the biggest threat to their work. That should be sufficient as a selling point for anyone serious about animal liberation.”
Peter Young

Walter Bond is a prisoner in the Control Management Unit (CMU) at Marion federal prison.  His anticipated release date is currently set for March 21, 2021.  He received a 12 year sentence for three arsons carried out as an Animal Liberation Front operative targeting the Tandy Leather Factory (Salt Lake City, Utah), the Tiburon Restaurant (Sandy, Utah), and the Sheepskin Factory (Denver, Colorado).  Fires set at each location resulted in damages that collectively totaled over half a million dollars.

I have been corresponding with Walter since 2010 when he was arrested for these actions.  In the course of this correspondence and from Walter’s public writings, I was excited to learn that Walter is an individual with a very broad perspective.  He identifies as an anarcho-primitivist and therefore in addition to uncompromising support for veganism, he also condemns domestication, mass society, advanced technology, and civilization.  As I have argued before, animal liberation requires such far reaching goals even if most vegans and animal rights advocates fail to trace the consequences of their own position that far.

Walter therefore has the potential to link two fringe communities that could benefit from dialogue and collaboration but frequently tend to be dismissive of one another: the animal rights community and the primitivist or anti-civilization community.  Drawing out those connections has been, in part, what has motivated me to create the Uncivilized Animals blog.

Finally, I share this information today because today–April 16–is Walter’s birthday.  It is another birthday that he will spend it in a cage because he took concrete action to defend our animal relations and lashed out at those who torment them.

Please consider providing some tangible support to Walter.  That may be in the form of written correspondence, sending money to his commissary fund, or getting him a book from his wish list.  Checking out his book list is also a good way to learn about some of his current interests which may be useful when writing a letter.

Walter risked—and ultimately sacrificed—his freedom for the sake of others.  It is vitally important that he receive our support both for his sake and so that those considering similarly bold actions know that if apprehended that they will likewise be supported.


“Made Up” Stories

“I suspect that practice of the wild coverprimary peoples all know that their myths are somehow “made up.” They do not take them literally and at the same time they hold the stories very dear. Only upon being invaded by history and whipsawed by alien values do a people begin to declare that their myths are ‘literally true’.”

-Gary Snyder


The above passage is from Gary Snyder’s essay “Blue Mountains Constantly Walking” which appears in The Practice of the Wild (1990).  It is not quite clear to me what to make of his claim that “primary peoples all know that their myths are somehow ‘made up’.”

Is this a way to salvage (itself a somewhat derogatory or at least dismissive term) such myths and to thereby defend the integrity of the people to whom they belong?  If so, it is probably a failed effort that is itself rather insulting (“Surely they know better!  They cannot genuinely believe what they are saying!”).

The difficulty seems to arise from equating genuine belief with literal belief; in prioritizing literal expression over and above all other sorts of expression.  Yet, surely something can be true without being literally true.  A person can assert something and/or believe something, without taking any position as to its literal truth.  Snyder does not say that primary peoples know or suspect that their myths are false and he places “made up” in scare quotes.  In a sense, all stories are “made up” whether they appear in The New York Times or Aesop’s Fables, they all need to be composed or put into words.  Stories may be both “made up” and true.  That a story is made up has nothing to do with its truth value.

The myths referred to by Snyder may fall precisely into this category of the true yet not necessarily literally true.  Furthermore, it is not that they are lacking in literal truth or deficient in some way but rather that they do not aspire toward that particular manner of being true.  To ask about their literal truth is to assess them by the wrong standard.

It is difficult—for me, at least—to avoid the mistake of failing to even recognize the category of the true but not necessarily literally true.  For example, I might ask “Does she really believe this?” when in fact, I mean to ask “Does she believe it to be literally true?” The questions are not equivalent. “Really” should not be used in place of “literally” as if genuine Truth was necessarily literal truth; something may really be true without being literally true.

David Abram, in an interview with Scott London explained, that “people in our culture…tend to think of poetry as a kind of secondary use of language. We don’t realize that language originates in poetry and in poetics.”

If primary peoples suspect that their myths are made up that may be to their credit and speak to a level of nuance in their thinking that is absent in contemporary cultures which trivialize the other-than-literal.

It is clear that Snyder values the other-than-literal for in the same essay just prior to the above quoted passage he writes that, “Narratives are one sort of trace that we leave in the world.  All our literatures are leavings—of the same order as the myths of wilderness peoples…Other orders of beings have their own literatures.”

To recognize the literatures belonging to “other orders of beings”—be they deer or deciduous trees—requires that we see truth in cloven hoof prints left in the snow and in the changing colors of autumn leaves.