Too often, we dismiss the concept of 'celebrity.' We think their wealth labels them as 'elites' who don't need to think nor care about societal issues. But occasionally, as in the case of Leonardo DiCaprio, we can find those who speak the talk and walk the walk — as most recently — Joaquin Phoenix did. In making the rounds of the "awards" circuit, he's spoken up regarding the issues of the voiceless. At the Golden Globes, he focused on climate change an at the Oscars he shifted to animal advocacy and speciesism.
The Rights of Animals
At the Oscars, where he won the coveted 'best actor' award, he opened up about the societal concerns of the rights of animals.
During his speech, he appeared passionate about this when he proclaimed:
"[We have to] continue to use our voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively. I think at times we feel, or were made to feel, that we champion different causes, but for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity."
Joaquin’s beliefs also encourage everyone to “live vegan” and help “end speciesism,” which—like sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination—is an oppressive belief that promotes the idea that all other animal species are inferior to humans.
Specieism is a form of discrimination against animal species. Its position is the human species is the dominant lifeform on the planet. Animal rights advocates believe speciesism is a prejudice that has to be put in check.
Speciesism plays a role in justifying cruelty, such as factory farming, the use of animals for entertainment such as in bullfighting, rodeos, and circuses, the commercialism of animal fur, experimentation on animals, and the downsizing of animal populations with activities such animal trophy hunting.
Joaquin Phoenix's Oscar speech was an explicit call out about speciesism. Since his celebrity allows him a credible bully pulpit, he can get a lot of folks to reassess their views.
According to Vox columnist Kelsey Piper: "By including 'animal rights' in the same sentence as a litany of other pressing issues — gender inequality, racism, queer rights, and indigenous rights — Phoenix elevated concern for the welfare of animals as something no less important than caring for fellow human beings."
How can we overcome Speciesism
We can begin by changing how we speak about other species. Animals are thinking, sentient beings—so we should not refer to them in the same way we talk about inanimate objects.
Think about how you use pronouns when you refer to animals. Instead of calling them “it,” use “he” or “she.” We need to also avoid using sayings that are derogatory toward other species or making light of their suffering. If you need ideas for replacing harmful, outdated expressions, check out PETA’s list of animal-friendly idioms.
Choose animal free clothing. Don't purchase furs or meat food products. Exclude entertainment venues that include animals performances. Voice disapproval of animal testing by buying only products that are not tested on animals and donate only to charities that don't conduct animal experiments.
Take Joaquin Phoenix's advice by following the above best practices, and research more online. What I have provided you today are only the first steps in recognizing that every animal on this planet as just as much right to be here as humans. And every animal has the right to live free from human exploitation. After all, we are all animals. Respect their space.
Primary Source: Vox