Vegetarian group's university protest likens struggle against meat to civil rights movement

A group of nine vegetarian activists from the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) compared the adversity they faced for disrupting a showing of “American Meat” to that suffered by the four black students sitting at a whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, NC in 1960.

DxE members protesting at Stanford on Feb. 8.

“We faced much of the same critique,” the activists wrote in  an op ed  appearing in the Stanford Daily, on Feb. 13, Stanford University’s official school newspaper. “We were asked to leave, jeered at and scolded by supporters and critics of our message alike.”

A video of this the Feb. 8 protest is available on YouTube.

It depicts one activist, Wayne Hsiung, beginning the disruption by claiming that although he used to eat meat — sometimes even a “huge can of Spam” after school — he changed after people in his “home country” of China equated the custom of eating dogs to the U.S. meat industry.

“I’m not receptive to the message of your movie, Graham,” he said, addressing the director of the film, Graham Meriwether.  

“And this is why,” Hsiung said, holding up a picture of a dog. “This is my little girl, Lisa. Why does she deserve to die for your bloodthirst and greed?”

Other activists then began standing up and showing pictures of their pets.

“My name is Adam. This is Daisy. She does not deserve to die, and neither did they.”

“My name is Sarah, and this is my little girl Pippa,” one said. “She doesn’t deserve to die, and neither did they.”

Eventually, one attendee got up to mock the protesters.

“My name is Aspen,” she said. “I raise pigs. I love bacon.”

Eventually, Meriwether intervened to suggest a “pleasant conversation.”

Wang responded by shouting, “Are we going to have a pleasant conversation about rape? About child pornography?”

“What’s next, are you going to invite a dog fighter, Michael Vick, to this forum, and allow him to talk about how wonderful it is to torture and kill dogs?”

The chuckling among the students present eventually turns to boos.

”Congratulations, you just alienated a hundred people,” one shouted.  

On Feb. 11, before publishing the DxE opinion comparing these actions to that of civil rights leaders, the Stanford Daily published another by three students which argued that while the activists “have a message worth hearing” there are perhaps “more effective ways to facilitate audience understanding than the strategies they used.”

Meriwether said he has not experienced anything similar at other screenings.

“My parents were actually in attendance, and they were kind of shaken by it,” he told Campus Reform in an interview on Wednesday. “I guess that someone actually touched me or something, I don’t remember because my adrenaline was flowing.

“Anytime someone shouts in your face and calls you a murderer, you remember that experience.”

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