AR Philosophy > Debating AR

Hypocrisy, and Obsessions With It

One of the common complaints against the animal rights movement is "hypocrisy".

These complaints fall into two categories:

1. I know of an animal rights activist who takes medicine that was created by a lab that does testing on animals (or an activist was wearing leather--something like that). This demonstrates the hypocrisy of the movement.

2. Don't tell me what to do, everyone kills something, so you are a hypocrite to tell me not kill.

Answers: 1a. The behavior of any individual should not influence our belief that causing unnecessary harm to any sentient being is wrong. If a company no longer tests on animals, we support them regardless of past sins.

We are not a cult. We don't hold up any person as an icon. If one person's behavior damages the movement, it is regrettable but that doesn't change our beliefs. Christian's wouldn't stop believing in God because of a behavior of the Pope. It's simply not relevant.

2a. Hypocrisy means to give the impression, by words are deeds, that you are something you are not. It is not necessarily hypocritical, by definition, to tell someone else to behave a certain way, and then not do it yourself.

But if we try to understand what the critics are attempting to say, and use THEIR make-believe definition, there is still a problem with their critique: It is a critique of any human being with a moral code, and every person in any religion (I'm assuming that nobody is perfect). By THEIR definition, every Catholic who has been to confession should be labeled a hypocrite.

Obviously, the simple way to avoid this label is to not have any standards or moral code: Make it clear that you are going to be a self-centered, selfish being, not help any homeless person (since you can't help them all).

Is this non-hypocritical person a better human being?

2b. We don't tell (or expect) anyone to be perfect in their behavior toward animals (or humans). Nobody would pass this test. Therefore it is not hypocrisy if we are not perfect (for example: our credo says members need to be vegetarian, not vegan). We hope that folks will try their best not to cause unnecessary harm to anyone. We hope that folks will learn and care what goes on behind closed doors, and consider this in their behavior.