Animal rights activist breaks his 365-day vow of silence on TV

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In 2015, animal rights activist James Aspey of Australia took a vow of silence for an entire year as a publicity stunt…

While technically correct, the term publicity stunt is widely regarded as contemptuous at best, even though there’s nothing intrinsically ignoble about publicity or stunts. I don’t how what he’s done is in any way contemptible. I’ll assume it was just a misuse of the vernacular.

Not that the merit of my argument rests on my personal beliefs, but I say this as an unapologetic omnivore, so it’s not like I have a personal reason to defend him.

Upon more research I discovered the shocking and violent truth of what is being done to animals for food, clothing, entertainment and medical testing. It led me to the question, "If we don't need to kill and eat animals to be healthy, what are we doing this for?"

He loses all credibility with including medical testing in there. Yes, you don’t need to eat animals or conduct bullfights or whatever to be healthy, but just about everything we know about physiology and the treatment of disease comes from animal testing. Yes, you can use cell cultures or computational models (I’m a computational biologist myself) for some things, but at the end of the day, cells and models can only suggest experiments to be done in organisms.


Still, nobody’s gonna say anything about a vegan not telling people he’s a vegan for an entire year?





He seems like a “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing” kind of guy, doesn’t he?


There are worse ways to break a vow of silence:


If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of delicious meat? Tofu would have worked fine, yaknow, like those turkeys.


Are you all aware by chance that PETA stands for People Eating Tasty Animals?

Ha! Ha! I have certainly never heard this jape before!


Indeed! It’s a barnburner!


So this guy partied like an asshole for years, therefore I shouldn’t eat meat. Got it.

Stay gold, Ponyboy.


Exactly. That’s why you shouldn’t eat meat.

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In the novel The Outsiders, Johnny became barbecue.


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All credibility? I disagree with him on that point as well, but find many of his other positions worth exploring.


I completely agree. My area of expertise is experimental mechanics, and I sometimes help with testing material properties of animal tissue during pre-clinical trials. In academia (I have no idea about commercial companies, but I suppose it’s similar) the ethical side of animal testing is taken very seriously. The number of animals used is typically absolute minimum needed for statistics, and testing is planned in such way as to cause minimum possible suffering to animals. These requirements are also very formalized, the plan for testing is reviewed by with ethical commission and rejected if it’s unreasonable.


Ugh. I feel like the animals could use a better activist, because I can’t stand this guy.

Even if this is the truth, this is possibly the worst phrasing. There’s so many other ways to say “I met a guy who suggested that eating animals was bad” without making it sound like he ran into someone straight out of a vaguely racist movie.

What exactly he was missing out on, we shall never know, I guess, because…

So many illnesses and diseases. The health benefits are huge. I knew this guy, great guy, very wise guy, who said eating animals was bad karma. Wise guy, the best guy. You’re gonna reduce your chances of so many diseases, you’ll get tired of being healthy!

I actually don’t eat much meat because I don’t happen to like it very well, and I know some freakin’ delicious vegan recipes, and this still comes across about like when my mother tried to convince me that cleaning my room could be fun.

So shocking and violent that, again, he won’t actually talk about any of it. So violent. The most violent. Big league violence.

The excuses were also lame, and crooked.

I feel like a vow of silence is a particularly shitty way to raise awareness, given that it prevents you from doing any effective activism. At that point, the whole vow of silence seems more like it’s for his benefit than something that’s actually helping animals all that much. Which is fine. If you think not talking for a year will help you be a better, more understanding person or whatnot, knock yourself out. Just… don’t pretend like it was actually all that helpful. And this might sound unfair, but elsewhere he actually goes into more detail:

I thought to myself “Wow, this is the longest I’ve ever gone without talking. I wonder how long I could keep this up? Imagine trying to do this for an entire year! Could that be done? Possibly, but you would need a good reason! What would be a good enough reason for me?”

So, even he basically says he did it as a personal challenge, and “raising awareness” was the excuse.

This one has a better justification, because usually vegetarianism and veganism are often criticized for perceived health drawbacks, but this seems like a good thing to do after your vow of silence so you can more effectively explain why you’re doing it. Again… feels kinda like the bike trip was more for his sake than anything else. And, again, that’s fine, but…

My interview was the biggest interview! Millions of viewers!

I know, I’m being overly crotchety, but the thing is, I’m sympathetic to his ideas, but I find him so hard to suffer that he doesn’t seem to be helping his cause much, and I can’t help but notice that for someone raising awareness for animals, there is nothing I can find on his page about animals, rather than himself.


What I find really sad is that you completely ignored the most important part of this activist’s statement:

“If we don’t need to kill and eat animals to be healthy, what are we doing this for?”

Instead, you chose to focus on the way he spoke, the way he protested. It’s almost like a defence mechanism you use not to feel shitty about paying someone to enslave and slaughter animals just because you like eating them.

Because when you put it like that - eating animals is definitely a shitty thing to do, and most people do it, and it’s hard to deal with once you realise it.

So it’s much easier to focus on how James babbles on about “wise Indian man” and how he uses “Big league violence”.

I’m sympathetic to his ideas, but I find him so hard to suffer that he doesn’t seem to be helping his cause much

Alright, what are YOU doing to help animals then?


Well I’m sorry I made you sad, but if that was the most important part of his statement, perhaps he could have been bothered expanding on it, and supporting it with the rest of his paragraph.

No, I chose to focus on the way he spoke because I largely agree with him, and he makes his point so terribly, and so insufferably, I think he does more harm than good. He’s not going to convince anyone that it’s wrong to harm animals, especially because he barely bothers to even tell people why it’s wrong. Instead, he just makes it look like vegans are mysticism motivated egomaniacs, which is what people tend to think anyway, so it’s not all that helpful.

If anything looks like a defense mechanism, it’s defense of someone you agree with, just because you agree with them, in spite of anything else. Nothing says insecurity about a position more than the inability to criticize people you agree with. Now, if you don’t think this man deserves criticism, that’s just fine. If you want to defend him, that’s fine. But defending him on the grounds that his central position is right, no matter if he’s wrong about everything else, no matter if he argues so badly it makes his position look worse than if he went back to saying nothing at all, that’s a problem.

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