Is Letter Writing Enough?
from No Compromise Issue 4

By Pamelyn Ferdin

Ed. Note: This letter was taken off of the e-mail list ar-views during a discussion of the importance of letter writing. Pamelyn was criticized by many people for suggesting that more should be done and this was her response to those criticisms:

Boy, I didn't realize I was going to upset so many of you! Why are so many letter writers defensive? Do you think it's because in their heart of hearts they realize that they could be doing more, but feel safer just writing letters to the editor while eating a vegan muffin inside a comfortable apartment or home?

I don't mean to say that writing letters is wrong, just that if you had to choose the most effective way to spend valuable time and energy, I think in many cases it would be protesting and risking arrest, rather than writing letters to the editor. Not only would the media be more apt to print the story, but people would have to wonder why people are risking their freedom for the animals; and they'd be educated in the process. Human rights were never won by writing letters, even though many of them were extremely well thought out and well written.

And to address the assumption that I am looking at people who write letters as the enemy, instead of people who really deserve it, I think you misunderstand. I do not think you are the enemy at all, although I'm beginning to think by all the comments, that you might be your own worst enemy! By REFUSING to look or question what MORE we could be doing to help animals and discussing the most effective ways we can liberate them from their enslavement, I think we are patting ourselves on the back for a job well done, when the revolution has barely even begun. It is a peculiar Western personality trait to think that whatever feels most comfortable is the best or the right thing to do. I think it falls under our self-centerdness and self-praise that is certainly recognized by other cultures, if not our own.

l'll always remember the day that most inspired me in this movement, the people I met that day, and their perceptions of the Animal Rights Movement in America (which in my opinion were right on target). We were sitting out in the cold, dank weather of England, by the sea waiting for the lorries to come by. People had driven six hours or more to protest and block these trucks. They came every weekend for months. Their were old people with canes holding signs with graphic pictures blown up, and teenagers that had taken different trains to get there, and again would come routinely and had been coming for months.

I asked some of the protesters how they could make the long journey every week, and stand out in the rain for hours upon hours throughout the night, (these by the way were hundreds of people, not just a few). They said they looked at it as their duty, their part time job, (most had full time jobs during the week). They said they wouldn't feel right sitting at home, they had to be out where the animals were being abused and trucked off, or in front of research labs, or McDonalds, etc.

I of course asked "Why is it that in America we just can't seem to get out and do this type of thing? It's hard enough to get people to drive forty five minutes to protest a circus let alone six hours every weekend." They replied that they didn't read much about our movement over in England, but they said that they got a sense the people in America were fairly self centered and would rather be doing more comfortable things like going to health clubs, movies, watching TV., etc. (and I will include in this list, writing letters to the editor, if that is all you do! ). Did you ever stop to think that if letters to the editor were so important for attaining animal liberation, then why do we still have the veal crate which has been banned in England for years now? The people I spoke with couldn't believe that they were still legal in the U.S.

I say let's look to Countries, and cultures where there has been greater strides in animal liberation than what we have attained here in the U.S. and learn from them. England is a great example. There is always something in the paper on what the militant animal rights activists are up to with regards to labs, slaughterhouses, live export trade, etc.

That very same day in England, thousands of people marched through a town to protest against animals in laboratories, (which we also had the honor to participate in), they would wind their way through town and stop the march outside every McDonalds, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken along the way and sit down in the middle of the street or rush the buildings. That is why the groups who do more protesting and are out there on the front lines, like the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance, the groups in No Compromise, people like Cres, etc. should be our leaders and our inspirations to do more.

In closing, I think discussions regarding strategies we employ are very important to talk about, and I don't believe it is chastising. It's a heck of a lot more important than complaining about the vivisectors, the media, etc. Let's get off our duff's and start doing more. I know it's a pain in the neck to drive long distances to stand out in bad weather protesting animal abuse and risking arrest. But in my opinion, until we start doing more of this all the letters in the world won't change things significantly for the BILLIONS of animals being exploited.

And one last thing; I am not tooting my own horn because I'm the first one to say I should be doing more also. But we must push ourselves out into uncomfortable situations. I remember how lonely and uncomfortable I felt the first time I did a protest alone, in the rain. People were yelling at me, but then others were praising me. It's better to have one person out there, than no one, (although it really irks me that I couldn't find a few more people willing to protest with me), In my opinion, their excuses weren't convincing.

Obviously the more people the better; but don't stay home because you can't find anybody to go with you. All you need is a huge, graphic photo ( you can do this at any printing place that enlarges photos on their color copier), and a good caption on poster board. Let's stop praising ourselves for doing "whatever we can, even if it's a little thing" to help animals. Let's start looking at what we can do to bring about animal liberation sooner. How about if we all committed to spending one full day every weekend to doing a protest, or going to a college campus and distributing animal rights literature? If we can't spare one day every week to be active in this movement, than I fear the animals will be waiting a mighty long time to be liberated.