Liberation BC Film Series: SPECIESISM The Movie

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Liberation BC Film Series: SPECIESISM The Movie

Speciesism The Movie

Speciesism The Movie

About one hundred people joined Liberation BC on April 29th at the Vancouver Public Library to see SPECIESISM The Movie, a surprisingly funny and entertaining film for such a difficult subject. The film takes us on an exploration of the huge factory farms that span the American countryside, far from the sight and thoughts of the average consumer.

The movie’s title is taken from the term speiciesism, a concept popularized by Australian philosopher Peter Singer in his book Animal Liberation. Singer defined speiciesism as “a prejudice or attitude of bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.”

The movie director, Mark Devries, set out to investigate one of the ultimate consequences of specieism: factory farming. Mark paid a visit to the PETA headquarters seeking an interview with President Ingrid Newkirk. He asked her about what happens behind the scenes at these large, intensive farms that supply the majority of the neatly packaged, cheap meat at grocery stores. When he asked how he could tell whether she was telling the truth about all the cruelty she said occurred on the farms, she told him he had better go see for himself.

So he did just that. Mark carried out his exploration by crawling through thick bushes that often hide the farms from public view, flying in airplanes above the toxic “manure lagoons,” and approaching the owners in person to ask if they would show them around their farm operations. Of course, the owners all said no.

Undeterred, Mark continued his exploration by visiting the countryside of North Carolina, where locals described some of the consequences of factory farming to residents. One ex-pig farmer told him about how farms sprayed manure from the giant manure lagoons onto surrounding land, which contaminated both land and water sources. He used to fish with his father, who had since succumbed to cancer, until they found that the fish was contaminated with, and tasted like, the runoff from the manure lagoons. “You’re eating shit,” he said.

Mark met with some leaders within the animal rights movement to get their perspective on humanity’s moral obligation towards non-human animals. He interviewed a lawyer who is active in the animal rights movement, David Wolfson, who told him that most ethicists agree that it is wrong to cause harm. Peter Singer described the concept of equal consideration. Equal consideration does not mean giving other species the same rights as humans. Other animals do not want or need the same things that human beings do, but like humans, they want to avoid suffering where possible. The premise of spciesism is there is no justification for considering humans more important than members of other species.

Later in the film, Mark visited a Catholic Church in New York that holds blessings for pets. Mark thought it was only fair that chickens get their blessing too, so he explained to the clergy member that he was hoping he could kindly bless the chickens he couldn’t bring with him. After all, there are billions in the US alone. The clergy was a little bit confused. He hadn’t thought of the odd distinction that humans make between the beloved companion animals we call pets and those animals that we consider food.

By creating the film Speciesism: The Movie, Mark has contributed a thought-provoking film that chips away at that double standard we hold that differentiates between species and allows for the unspeakable cruelty to billions of animals on factory farms.

We surveyed viewers to get their feedback on the film and learn more about our audience. We were surprised that many of the viewers were not vegan or vegetarian, so it appears that we were reaching a wide cross section of people. Of the respondents who answered the question about diet, 16 said they were omnivores, 15 said they were vegetarian and 6 said they were vegan. The comments about the film were largely positive.

“If this film doesn’t convince me to go vegan, nothing will!” (comment left by viewer)

Stay tuned for future free film screenings and other events presented by Liberation BC. The next film is Blackfish, a documentary about Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. The screening is on May 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm at the Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia St.

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