On Ableism and Animals

[We need to crip animal ethics, incorporating a disability politics into the way we think about animals. It is essential that we examine the shared systems and ideologies that oppress both disabled humans and nonhuman animals, because ableism perpetuates animal oppression in more areas than the linguistic. To me, far from proving that animal justice is impossible and silly, the complexity of sentience and the vast array of mysterious life and nonlife on this planet show that we need a nuanced understanding of different abilities and the different responsibilities those abilities engender.

The problem is not reason itself but rather the ways in which reason has been held up as separate from and more valuable than emotion, feeling, and other ways of knowing and being. This definition of reason stems from a history of patriarchy, imperialism, racism, classism, ableism, and anthropocentrism, and too often carries these oppressions within it. These issues are particularly important to keep in mind when theorizing liberation for those who do or may lack “reason,” such as nonhuman animals and individuals with significant intellectual disabilities.

Intellectual inferiority has been so easily animalized because animals themselves have long been understood as intellectually inferior. The association of animals with cognitive deficiency must be challenged, not only because many species exhibit signs of human intelligence and because animal minds are complex in their own right (in ways that often cannot easily be compared and contrasted with human capacities), but because intellectual capacity should not determine a being’s worth and the protections they are granted.]

On Ableism and Animals | An excerpt from Beasts of Burden, which was published by The New Press in February 2017

Our Humanity | Abandoned Children of Bulgaria

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Kate Blewett recently returned to Bulgaria to see how things have changed after the international outcry in response to her film Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children.

[In the original film, which I made two years ago, I focused on a handful of the 75 disabled children living in the Mogilino institute and watched their lives over a nine-month period. I witnessed their dreadful deterioration.

My first impressions of Mogilino were strangely misleading because the actual building was clean, bleached and painted.

It was not until I pulled back the bed covers to witness the children’s wasted bodies that I realised there was a very serious problem….

To witness such human deterioration and to know the only way to truly effect change was to carry on filming and bring the documentary film to a wider audience – was an incredibly difficult process.

However the impact my film had has been extraordinary. Viewers wrote to me by the thousands, donating money, and forming petitions demanding change from their MPs and MEPs. Some gave up their jobs and went to Bulgaria to help, taking supplies, food, clothing and medical aid.

The Bulgarian government put Unicef in charge of finding new placements for all the children of Mogilino, with the plan that the institute will shut once every child has been re-housed.]   Read the full article | BBC