Animal Rights Extremism – Thesis and Roadmap

Research Question: Does extremism have a net positive or negative impact on the animal rights movement? And can this extremism be applied more strategically as to make a more positive impact on the movement?

Thesis Moment: Inspired by the ideals they wish to make reality, most animal rights activists and organizations are peaceful and take action through education and boycotting (veganism/vegetarianism). But there are some factions of the animal rights movement that take their activism to the extreme through theft of corporate property (animal rescues), threat-making and destruction, and other aggressive activist techniques. Although these extremist actions may be well intentioned, they ultimately do more damage than they do good. These activists often act purely out of passion without proper planning and strategy. In this paper, I argue that while it currently detracts from the progress of non-extremists animal rights activists, if its use were to be better strategized, extremism could provide unique benefits to the animal rights movement and ultimately help to progress animal rights ideas throughout society (in the United States).

First I need to support the idea that extremism currently, has a net negative impact on society. This argument hinges on three main ideas; (1) extremism gives the movement a bad image making it harder for even non-violent activists to connect with their targets, (2) it often results in oppositional backlashes both on an individual and corporate scale that present ever more obstacles for the movement to overcome (origination of the Ag-gags), and (3) violent and extreme actions fail to connect with the societal factors that drive animal cruelty and therefore are at best delaying the onset of more unnecessary suffering.

Then I will make a series of strategic suggestions to best mitigate the aforementioned drawbacks of extremism while maximizing the potential benefits. One of these proposed strategies involves greater cooperation between extremists and nonextremist while the two still remain independent as do essentially play good cop bad cop as to redefine the spectrum of acceptable sacrifices. The second strategy relates to the rhetoric of extremist media so that animal rights ideals better latch to ideas that many individuals have already accepted as worthy or making a change for.

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