BOOK REVIEW (and a How Not to Do Activism): Living in Harmony with Animals

Living in Harmony with Animals

To me, this book is an example of materials that are not exactly a credit to our cause. The answers are often overly simplistic, not well reasoned, and do not always adequately answer readers’ questions. At times it depressed me that the author is (or was) supposedly “America’s #1 animal rights columnist,” when someone such as Tom Regan would have done so much more eloquent a job.

Some of the answers Bennett gives are also needlessly divisive. For example, when a reader asks her what she thinks of a family member who takes his kids hunting and trapping, she compares it to a father who teaches his kids to abuse drugs and alcohol. What? For one thing, the two aren’t even comparable (hunting/trapping involves causing harm to animals, whereas substance abuse involves causing harm to yourself). Secondly, she just insulted the family with something bound to be taken a serious personal affront. Any opportunity to gently steer the hunting/trapping dad toward non-consumptive outdoor activities is down the drain.

Also facepalm-worthy was Bennett’s entry on the subject of rodeos. Although the abusive practices animals suffer in rodeos is plentiful and obvious, the author focused solely on the groin injuries cowboys might encounter, thus rendering them not so “manly” after all. Once again, what? It’s almost like How Not to Do Activism 101: personally insult the audience you wish to see make changes, and take the focus entirely off the animals themselves, who are the real victims here.

Granted, not all of the advice columns are as boneheaded as the ones I’ve cited above. But these examples should be enough to give dedicated activists pause.

(review originally appeared at


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