Does Stereotypes Still Exist in 2017?
Does Stereotypes still exist in 2017? What is a stereotype? Does having a stereotype serve a purpose? Equality Act, Human Rights Act, and other legislation means stereotypes do not exist?
Speaking with people, either on social media or in person, about the animal abuse register I can easily say in 2017 stereotypes still exist. I am writing this article in order to raise an awareness and challenge the ideas held. Furthermore, I believe the below stereotypes are hurting the movement for the animal abuse register. In this article, I am going to explore how stereotypes are hurting the animal abuse register cause and what can be done to fix it?
Definition of Stereotype
Before, speaking about how stereotypes impact the animal abuse register. It is important to define stereotype. At its core, a stereotype is a set of rules we use to interact with our world. It can protect us and give us guidance on how to respond. Nonetheless, using stereotypes can have negative consequences.
History provides many examples of the negative consequences of stereotypes. An extreme example are the Jim Crow laws that defines separate but equal (see, Plessey v Ferguson). Jim Crow laws are laws passed by Southern States during the Reconstruction period in post Civil War America leading to segregation of African Americans. It was not until post-WWII American did the seed of change take root leading to the civil rights marches and Supreme Court decisions like Brown v Topeka Board of Education which eventually led improving civil rights for all.
It goes without saying Jim Crow laws are discrimination. Nonetheless, for discrimination to occur the must be a basis. I believe that basis is having a stereotype. Without challenging stereotypes they can become barrier to progress and ultimately hurt society. Below are four stereotypes people hold about supporters of the animal abuse register.
Four Stereotypes Hurting Animal Abuse Register
1) Activism is Extremism
First thing to remember, those who support the register are animal rights activists. In my opinion there is nothing wrong being an activist. An activist, in my opinion, means someone who has passion about a cause and is willing to speak for it. However, the term activist, in media shows the extreme. Whereby, people taking their support of a cause to the point the individual is willing invoke violence. This leads people to link activism with extremism.
2) All Animal Rights Supporters are Vegans
It is important to realise, there is nothing wrong with being a vegan. Nonetheless, it is not correct to believe all animal abuse register supporters are vegans.
3) Vegans are the Only Ones who can speak about Animal Abuse
A point often overlooked, statistically about 0.8% of the UK population is vegan. This is a very small number that lacks an ability to influence the wider population. So why does this matter? I will tell you. The only time I experience exclusion is when talking about the register with a vegan. Exclusion means, being excluded not because of the experience you can contribute but because you behaviour does not mirror their behaviour. Granted this sounds a lot like playground behaviour but sadly, it is alive in the UK today. It is a barrier attitude whereby either I must become a vegan before my views can be accepted and can advocate for the register. Such a position is discriminatory like the Jim Crow laws. What is the purpose of exclusion? It is not helping to progress the register.
In comparison, from interacting with my supporters, I strongly believe the clear majority are not vegans. If we apply the 0.8% rule to my petition and assume 600,000 signatures. Then it means only 4800 out of 600,000 are vegans or approximately 595,200 are not vegans.
Are Vegans Hurting the Animal Abuse Register Movement?
I struggle to decide what stereotype is more damaging: activism is extremism or vegans are the only one who can speak about animal abuse. In my honest opinion, I believe this stereotype is more damaging. Why? Because it is exclusionary by believing 99.2% of the UK population cannot speak for animal cruelty because they are not vegans. Finally I believe this attitude is damaging because vegans are missing an opportunity to reach out to others to bring about a necessary change. In my opinion it is not social justice but discrimination being masked by an ideology.
4) All Animals Abuse Register Supporters Believe All Animals Are Created Equally
All Animals Must Be Protected from Cruelty
I do not believe animals should go without protection from animal cruelty. Nonetheless it is important to realise, as a society we value animals differently. I believe there are three broad categories: service animals, livestock, and wild. Each has value, worth, and importance. Furthermore, I believe, when we look deep inside of ourselves, I believe, we want to believe we see animals having the same value. However, I believe there is a disconnect between our desire and our actions.
Not All Animals Are Created Equally
I challenge you. The next time you travel look at your surroundings. On the bus, you may see a seeing eye dog. Likewise, at the airport you may see a dog sniffing for drugs, bombs, or illegal food. Maybe someone has a therapy animal with them or a helper monkey. Likewise, police and military uses dogs too. Even your neighbours will have a dog, cat, parrot; or hamster. You will never see a person walking a badger, pig, or their pet cow in the park. Britain is a nation of pet owners.
Media Does Not Treat Animal Abuse Equally
Media reflects the values a society holds. Next time when reading the paper, look for someone abusing their pet fish or hurting a wild mouse caught in a mouse trap? I am willing to bet, you more likely to find as story about someone hurting a dog or a cat than a pet fish.
Reality of Enforcement: It Costs Money
From my experience I believe there is a disconnect between idealism and practicality. There is a lot of idealism to save everything but there is almost no talk on how do you afford it? To answer this, hink about the larger picture. If someone asks you, “do you want me to protect your dog, a cow, or a badger?” The question may sound ridiculous and your reaction maybe your dog. Think, if you want to protect all three, how will you respond? Protecting an animal from cruelty costs money and it requires people to do it. Where does the time and money come from to pay for:
- IT software
- IT hardware
- Maintenance of vehicles
- Website design
- Website maintenance
- Training / support
- Customer Support
- Other expenses
How do you pay for it? In an ideal world, all animals are equal and receive equal protection. Under real-world circumstances there are limitations. Meaning, something must be given priority over something else. I believe, the reason for so much attention in the media regarding animal cruelty is the result of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 not differentiating between different types of animals. Instead the penalty for cruelty to a dog is the same for a badger or a cow. Is that fair?
5) All Supporters of the Animal Abuse Register are Progressive
There is a stereotype anyone supporting the register holds a progressive ideology or should subscribe to it. Simply put we are a homogeneous group sharing similar beliefs. From my contact with my supporters I do not believe this is true. Instead I believe, among my supporters the is a yearning for longer sentencing without rehabilitation and a need to protect the family pet from abuse. This goes very much against the idea of rehabilitation or believing the Animal Welfare 2006 is the perfect solution for solving animal cruelty. In my honest opinion, I do not believe those who support the animal abuse register are a homogeneous group. Instead we are a very diverse group with varying political opinions.
Animal Abuse Register is not an Ideology but a Movement
My vision for the animal abuse register is not about advocating for or against a vegan lifestyle. It is not about conservatism, green, or progressive political ideology. Instead it is a movement about protecting animals from cruelty. The movement is about being realistic about enforcement, cost, and societal values. It is our belief, the best way, with limited resources, is accepting society puts different values on animals. Such as statement may shock you but it is reality. Furthermore, it our belief, those animals that improve lives must receive the most protection. Reason being, cruelty to a service type of animal also impacts its family thereby damaging society.
In conclusion, call it what you want: stereotype, bullying, or discrimination. It is all the same. If the register is to happen then all sides need to work together and put aside stereotypical ideology behind them. Only be working together can we make the register happen and protect all of Britain.