- McLibel -

your impressions come from the debating room rather than the evidence

Posted by: Gideon Hallett ( UK ) on November 12, 1997 at 22:45:29:

In Reply to: anti-McD campaign puts animal over people rights posted by Lang Tran on November 11, 1997 at 23:21:44:

> One thing that's been bothering me is how the mc campaigners seem to focus
> almost exclusively on animal rights over people rights in the Third World.

Not so. If you read the leaflet "What's Wrong with McDonald's", you will find that both issues are addressed as charges against McDonald's. In the court case, both of these charges were fought by the defendants.
I think that your impressions come from the debating room rather than the evidence. As there are so many points on which to attack McD's, the individual person tends to choose their own "favourite" topic to argue over - Miika, for example, concentrates on the food issues. My own personal favourite theme of the trial is the issue of freedom and anarchy and the state.

The trial is just too big to go into the whole lot in an average Debating Room post. You'd end up with lengthy and inept paraphrasings of the original leaflet. So people focus on the topic that interests them.

For many people, the suffering inherent in the meat industry, and the overconsumption of meat that McD's espouses, is the thing that they object to most. Fair enough - it is an important point, it's something the judge actually supported the McLibel Two on. It's an immediate "here and now" issue, especially when you come across a half-eaten hamburger dumped on the pavement (which signifies the needless death of a living creature). People get steamed, as I'm sure you understand.

That's _not_ to say the worldwide exploitation of people is any less important. It's equally important. The reason that fewer people are in outcry about it here is that it's not exclusive to McD's. It's a far more difficult target to attack on, as virtually every transnational company in existence exploits developing countries. McD's are among the worse ones, but so are Nike and Shell and BP and Nestlé.

Had the judge ruled that McD's did exploit the Third World, he would have been condemning not merely McD's, but every major corporate body in tandem and the entire capitalist system. Which is probably why he ruled that the McLibel Two hadn't proven their case.

I understand your point, it's a fair one, but it's one that goes far beyond McDonald's and into the heart of our system. It's not a "speciality" in the sense that McD's "animal cruelty" or Shell's "genocide of the Ogoni" are "specialities". I repeat, it is no less important, for all that.

> It seems silly and unethical to me to give this kind of priority to animal
> rights over native people's rights. Dont' you people think human life is more
> valuable then animal life?

I'd disagree here. To me, human life is neither more or less important than animal life or plant life. The amazing thing about it is that we exist at all, and we should celebrate the diversity of life from an equal level, not seek to remove ourself from the rest of life.

> I don't think it helps the campaign when its seen as an animal rights issue.
> As an animal rights issue, the anti-McD campaign will continue to gain only a
> small following.

Animal rights are a very emotive issue, as anyone involved in the fur campaign will tell you. I think that animal rights campaigners have to be amongst the most diehard committed Greens I know. Very few campaigners will risk going to prison to defend indigenous peoples on the other side of the world. Maybe it shouldn't be the case. It is.

(Also, as I said above, the only way to stop or reduce Third World exploitation would be to destroy the current system, whereas stopping the world's largest meat buyer would have a significant effect on the meat trade.)

> People, myself included, will think, 'why are they going after a restaurant
> for its treatment of animals?, people have to eat, don't they?' Come on, most
> people will think it silly to have so much sympathy for the food that people
> need to eat anyway, wont they?

Why do people "need" to eat meat?

> The anti-McD crowd need to put priority on the exploitation of native peoples
> first, the exploitation of mcD employees second, and animal rights third, and
> NOT the other way around like they are now!!

The anti-McD crowd each pick their own pet dislike to focus on, and use the other issues secondarily. I wouldn't say that the matter of the libel case played any favourites. Read the leaflet again.

Personally, I place all three issues on a level, even if more some issues are handier to use on a practical day-to-day level.


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