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Controversy Over ‘Customary’ Cuisine

If you travel in the American southwest, anywhere in American Indian country, you are sure to come across frybread. Frybread is the staple of certain Native American tribes’ diets. At the size of a dinner plate, frybread forms the base of a Navajo Taco. Or it forms a sort of pancake, topped with margarine and jam. For something as seemingly innocuous as a slice of bread, frybread is full of controversy.

Frybread originated about 150 years ago, during the forced relocation of American Indians from Arizona to New Mexico. The new land could not support the Natives’ traditional diet of vegetables and beans, and so, to prevent the Natives’ starvation, the US government provided Indian tribes with rations: white flour, processed sugar, and lard. Frybread was born of these ingredients and has had a place in Native culture ever since – one can even buy a ‘Frybread Power’ T-shirt here.

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Animal Law in Queensland

Hello from the Gold Coast where – in contrast to Auckland – it’s warm and sunny.

Peter with his Animal Law whiteboard after a busy class...

I recently finished teaching animal law at the University of Melbourne – a great class filled with enthusiastic students who learned a lot about why animals are treated so poorly in our society.

The growth of animal law classes has been a particular interest of mine, and something I’ve tried to catalogue over the years.  [See my article on the subject, which shows the dramatic rise of animal law courses worldwide].  It’s been especially nice to see these courses take off in Australia, as there are now nine undergraduate courses running regularly in this country – including two in Queensland [Note: It’s been quite the growth.  In 2006, when I launched my course at Auckland, not one LLB animal law course was being taught in Australia].  Indeed, the two courses here – at Bond University and Griffith Law School – are amongst the most popular offerings in the country.

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Francione and Kazez: Abolition and Welfare

Some people have a very small moral universe.  That is, they only extend moral concern to a very small number of people, ignoring strangers and other animals.  Others seem, at times, to have a limited metaethical and jurisprudential universe or, at least, take an unduly reductionist approach to ethical and jurisprudential concepts.  In doing so, despite having developed ethical and philosophical theories – far more developed ones than my shaky metaethics – people can reduce complex jurisprudential or ethical ideas to convenient boxes.

This morning, when I checked Twitter for news, updates from NGOs and activist groups, and vegan commentary, as I do most mornings, I saw the below from Gary Francione:

Jean Kazez has refused to discuss her misrepresentations of my work with me on my podcast. She is obviously unable to do so.

Although not as well known as Professor Francione, Jean Kazez has a few things in common with him.  Both teach philosophy.  Kazez is a professor of philosophy at the Southern Methodist University of Dallas Texas; Francione is a Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark.  Both have written books that purport to advocate for ethical concern for animals.  Both frequently update their respective blogs: Francione’s Abolitionist Approach and Kazez’s In Living Colour and Animal Rights SMU.  In her course on animal rights, Kazez covers Francione’s work. So why was Professor Francione challenging Professor Kazez to a debate?

Well, that’s where the similarities end.

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