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Linked Oppression

Credit goes to my husband, Julian, for the title of this blog.  Even though he didn’t coin the phrase, he used it when a co-worker made fun of the animal rights t-shirt he wore during Toronto Pride week back in June of this year.  The shirt shows six of the PETA bunnies in a row, each one a different colour that represents the Pride Rainbow. Underneath it says: Rights for All.  When his co-worker “jokingly” said to Julian, “So, you want rights for gay rabbits?”  Julian said to his colleague, a gay man, “No, I want rights for all, just like the shirt says. Linked oppression – you know about those, right?” Julian and his colleague have known each other for years so the ribbing goes on fairly frequently.  But I loved Julian’s response.  Not only because it shut his colleague up but it summed up so much.  As Martin Luther King, Jr., once said (a quote I’ve mentioned before), “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

It is only since becoming a vegan that I have been able to make this connection; I really didn’t see it before.  I think it’s difficult to as an omnivore and I think this blind spot is the same reason that people see animal activists as not caring about humans or human problems.  I now understand that if animals are given personhood and rights under the law, how much better of a chance would women, immigrants, the elderly, children, people with disabilities and other minorities have?  If the lowest of the low – animals – are finally seen and declared as living beings that deserve protection from harm and freedom to live, how then could we not also grant that same recognition to marginalized humans already considered “above” them? Continue reading

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