(2002) 'The Campaign Against 'Live Exports' in the UK: Animal
Protectionism, the Stigmatisation of Place and the Language
of Moral Outrage'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 7, no. 1, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/7/1/walls.html>
To cite articles published in Sociological Research Online, please reference the above information and include paragraph numbers if necessary
Received: 12/12/2001 Accepted: 28/5/2002 Published: 31/5/2002
|Sub themes||Beliefs about Animals||Major Goals||Primary Strategies|
|Welfarist||Objects of compassion, deserving of protection. Clear boundaries between species.||Avoid cruelty, limit unwanted animal populations.||Protective legislation, humane shelters|
|Pragmatists||Deserve moral consideration, balance between human and animal interests. Some hierarchy of animals.||Eliminate all unnecessary animal suffering, reduce, refine and replace uses of animals||Public protests but pragmatic co-operation and acceptance of short term compromises|
|Fundamentalists||Animals have absolute moral rights to full lives without human interference. Equal consideration/rights across species.||Total and immediate elimination of all animal exploitation||Direct action and civil disobedience. Animal sanctuaries. Moralist rhetoric and condemnation|
'...the moral case for animal welfare is close to a national consensus, and that it is not, as a public issue, identified with the Left or the Right. It's status in this sense as non-political has, arguably, been of considerable importance in maintaining the wide public support, both locally and nationally, that the protests have achieved' (Benton and Redfearn 1996:52)
'The incidence, intensity and scope of collective effervescence varies according to the relationships, activities and interactions of social groups, a variation which leaves considerable scope for empirical research' (Shilling 1997:210)
'I am opposed to trade in live animals which has any possibility of suffering or death...I do believe there is a wider issue than trade for profit' ('Opposed' 7/11/94:8. Councillor Pat Hawkes).
'MAY I appeal again to all readers who are repelled by the thought of live animals being transported through the port of Shoreham...Write a short letter of support, stating your abhorrence...' ('Exports' 27/12/94:8 my emphasis).
'It is a controversial issue promoting moral outrage among thousands of people...please let the people of Sussex know what is about to happen on their own doorstep (28/11/94:8 par 4. J Long).Furthermore:
'Come on, animal lovers, write to your MP to stop this export trade. The pictures on television showing the animals plight sickened me' (ibid. Mrs V M Gardner).The exhortation continued:
'... I also wish that these same people would join us where it really matters, at the entrance to the gateway of hell in front of Hove lagoon' (7/1/95:8. S Read. my emphasis)
'I was shocked to read that Shoreham port is considering being a facility for the export of live animals for slaughter...If the port authority goes ahead it can expect further resistance from some Hove councillors' (1/10/95:8).
'I want to congratulate you on publishing two pages of letters in Saturday's Evening Argus in connection with the shipment of live animals. It certainly shows that 99% of the people in Shoreham are against this trade and are determined to stamp it out' (26/2/95 Mrs A Dixon).
'A total ban of import/export of live animals for slaughter is the cry of the majority in this country, so why aren't ministers taking notice?' ('Suffering' 31/10/95:8 par 3)
'As someone born in Shoreham who has lived near the harbour and worked as a stevedore. I was disgusted at the port authorities plans to ship out live animals...Those who run the harbour can't have any feelings to ship animals about 80 miles before the suffering really starts' (4/10/94:8).
'Could hardly believe that Sussex MP Michael Stephen has threatened CIWF protesters at Shoreham by "evoking the full force of the law". Naively I thought my generation fought the last war to secure freedom and it was just this sort of repression of free demonstrators which enabled the Nazis to obtain power' (29/12/94:8).
'We of the National Ethical Society view with great concern the attempts to continue the unacceptable export of live animals through Shoreham harbour, and have therefore voted to boycott the town until the harbour authorities put a stop to this evil trade' (ibid D Claydon)
'We are not a mob, just ordinary people of all ages calling for the humane and compassionate treatment of all living creatures' (ibid. Jacqueline. Worthing).
'THE spokesman for Sussex police says of the demonstrators at Shoreham "we were left with a hardcore determined to cause problems". Not So! This "hard core" aged 14 to 85, were pensioners, husbands wives, teenage children from every walk of life..." (7/1/95:8. R A Knutsen)
'The police especially riot squad officers mainly drawn from the Metropolitan force, unnecessarily charged a dispersing crowd, causing injury and panic to young and old alike' (12/1/95:8. A Knutsen)And that;
'I AM incensed at the way some of the police handled the public. I saw people being pushed and shoved around like the poor animals themselves. I saw couples, old people, not even being asked to move, simply manhandled' (ibid. J A Hosier).
'With these memories and with the probability of protesters coming into Brightlingsea, it would appear that we in this town are about to be put upon again' (10/1/95 ibid par 6).
'Contrary to the perceived image of long haired rabid animal rights protesters projected by the predominantly right wing tabloid press, the crowd I witnessed were what I would call for want of a better description "garden centre people" (19/1/95:8 par 2) .
'Their targets [the police] were just ordinary people from Brightlingsea and other local towns, not hooligans or rent a mob. That did not matter to the police. Allowing a few people to make money out of this evil trade, despite overwhelming opposition of the public, locally and nationally, is clearly far more important than the safety and well being of the men, women and children of Brightlingsea' (ibid R Bourne. Par 9).
'The thoughtless force of these exporters of this trade on our town is a crime against the people who live here, and those who visit us' (21/7/95:8).
'When...protests are suppressed this may create the very alliance of legitimate protest and provocateurs which police action fear most, and enlist support for the cause among the uncommitted in reaction to heavy handed policing. Weakly founded in law and operating on a strained conception of democracy, public order policing provokes the conflict it seeks to avoid' (Fielding 1991:109).
'...the symptom of the value shift is that such abuse no longer dares speak it name...whether animals have rights is strongly contested, but that humans have an obligation to treat them well is publicly denied by no one' (Benton and Redfearn 1996:51)
2For instance, I initially contacted BALE leaders through the Animal Liberation Front Newsletter, something reinforced by the ALF press officer, who told the author that many demonstrators he had come into contact with at Shoreham and Brightlingsea had switched from meat eating to veganism because of the sudden realisation of the link between the dairy industry and the export of veal calves (Webb 1995).
3Goffman defined stigma as an "attribute that is deeply discrediting" and that it reduces the bearer "from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one" (Goffman 1990 : 3).
4Although this differentiation was based on the US animal rights movement, the characterisation is applicable to the UK. Indeed, many US animal rights campaigns mirror UK issues, e.g. the campaign launched in the US state of Michigan during 1988 to ban veal crates!
5It should be noted that the campaign did not focus upon the transport of farm animals within the UK. As we shall see, it was the argument about hours in, and conditions of, 'foreign' transportation and slaughterhouses which generated most anger and outrage.
6Calves are an inevitable by-product of the dairy industry, in order for milk yields to be remain high, farmers have to continually make sure their cows are impregnated in order to maintain high milk yields. The calf is the obvious end result, with farmers not wanting the calves to then use their mother's milk (which is after all a valuable commodity)
7It should be noted that sheep were also exported but the dominant campaign imagery used by campaigners was either that of calves in veal crates or pictured within livestock lorries during transportation.
8This was accomplished not by legislation outlawing it as such but via a scheme know as "minimum values". This made it uneconomical to export horses abroad by introducing minimum a values scheme which made the export of horses under a certain financial value prohibitive
9Live exports accounted for less than 1% of the ferry companies' annual trade, it was thus perceived by the main ferry operators to be not (financially) worth the adverse publicity
10News items include: Hard news articles, Features, Editorials and Letters (see Walls 2000)
11Local councillors also set up an ad hoc protest group, the Campaign Against Live Animal Shipments From Shoreham (CLASS 95)
12Many letters also commended The Argus for its coverage on the campaign. This supports my argument concerning the ample space given to voices that were critical of live exports in The Argus, a claim evidenced in letters with the following statements: 'Unlike so much TV and press coverage of the issue of live exports, I do think The Argus and particularly Argus letters, has handled the debate professionally' (18/1/95:8 S Harries) and 'Thank you all for being such a great paper and for your fair and truthful coverage...[it] has given us all great heart in these last few weeks' (ibid Mrs J Alcott).
13par - indicates paragraph followed by a number, indicating its position
14When 'violence' was perceived to be occurring in the town's, journalists and certain news sources, particularly the police, utilised what I have termed elsewhere the 'demonstration script' to understand the protests, particularly in order to account for the involvement of the more middle class protesters. The demonstration script posited a binary opposition between outside 'extremists' and 'peaceful' local people. This enabled a dividing line to be drawn between the two putative groups in order to understand and explain the eruption of conflict in geographic areas and within social strata that 'common sense' tells us should not occur. This enabled certain news sources to attempt to delegitimatise the protests. However, the letters to the editor are illustrative of how local people were resisting such attempts. (see Walls 2000)
15The quote is taken from a letter to the editor (9/6/95: par 10)
16Descriptions of this ordinariness are used promiscuously in the letters, e.g. 'A law breaking mob? Have you met them? I would say the average person there is about 35 and female...They are on the side of the local community trying to bring back peace and quiet to a small coastal town' ('Exporters are to blame for disrupting our lives'. 8/2/95:8 par 3). The letter mixes such analyses like so many with the AP theme, by using evaluative noun phrases such as 'heartbreaking trade' and 'awful trade'. Any letter that criticises protesters is subsequently vilified e.g. d: 'I feel saddened by those who label us as the loony left, a bunch of veggies, or a law breaking mob with nothing better to do...We are ordinary people with a wide spectrum of backgrounds, age and political persuasion who believe in what we are doing. (16/2/95:8). The life changing effect of demonstrating is often written about: e.g. 'My life will never return to normality...I will never for get that first very cold day in January...As a result of what I saw, both in the lorries and alongside the lorries from the police shocked, sickened and horrified...The British bobby, who I had always held in esteem had turned into a monster' ('You must listen Mr Markham 9/6/95:10). The absence of a 'normality' in a 'normal' town is also a regular theme, e.g. 'Normality ? This will only return when live animal exports are no longer permitted from Brightlingsea or anywhere else in Britain' ('Police policies attack rights' 13/6/95:8). Many protesters became increasingly defiant as a result of joining the protests e.g.: 'from that moment I never missed a day' (ibid) and 'The protests at Brightlingsea will continue as long as the trade does' (R W Bourne. 18/4/95:10) The police are also constructed as verbally abusive, e.g.: 'What about their taunts' (23/3/95:10) is a letter which wonders why the Chief Constable has 'taken no action to curb the constant taunting of protesters by sections of the police' (ibid).
17The police are constructed negatively throughout the letters, so that they are written of as 'ruthless' and as merely the 'tools of their political masters', by removing people from the road 'with gusto' and were heard to shout "Go for it !" during which time they selected 'targets' of 'ordinary people' (ibid)
18The letters demonstrated how both local campaigns were attempts to purify particular social spaces, through the rejection of difference and the securing of boundaries to maintain homogeneity (Sibley 1988).
19We must also mention the effective organisational skills of local campaign groups such as BALE (Brightlingsea Against Live Exports). One of the founders of BALE, Maria Wilby, is the daughter of the founder of the successful Compassion in World Farming, Joyce D'Silva, the two organisations were often in contact during the campaign (Callaghan 1995)
20It is in this context that Tiryakian's analysis of the attitudinal transformations that result from being part of a 'charismatic community' becomes pertinent, in that it gives: 'a sense of power - power not based on control of physical or material resources, but effective power nonetheless by virtue of being part of a moral community...this sentiment of empowerment...transforms the group into a charismatic community, transforms, ultimately, social structure into agency' (Tiryakian 1995:274)
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