Just The Facts Please
Brenda Shoss transcript from Free The Animals Conference - Effective Activism Against Vivisection
Gainesville, FL, March 2013
Hi, I am founder and president of Kinship Circle, a nonprofit focused in Animal Advocacy, Education, Disaster Rescue.
KNOWLEDGE CAN BE PATHWAY TO CHANGE.
Kinship Circle gives activists tools to speak, write, communicate on behalf of animals:
- ACTION CAMPAIGNS
- DOWNLOADABLE EDUCATIONAL LITERATURE - Over 50 animal issues for use in
humane education, student projects, presentations, letters, articles, presskits...
- Growing gallery of VIDEOS
When Michael (Budkie, of SAEN) asked me to speak on research-development of effective literature, I thought about angles that would engage
you for what can be a tedious topic. A lot of work. But what struck me is this:
- Why DO we have to be the Encyclopedia Of Everything
in the first place?
- Statisticians. Fact Checkers. With knowledge on nearly every industry.
- And the latest word on every study, report, finding…
This short movie, Just The Facts Please
, explores that question. And gives you the cliff notes on
effective literature and messaging: How to make it yourself, or how to select the best stuff that makes impact.
AFTER MOVIE IS SHOWN:
All Kinship Circle literature can be downloaded in
high resolution, so you can print it, distribute it. Click Education Resources
from an page on KinshipCircle.org
This fact sheet, Writing With I-M-P-A-C-T
, gives great tips
for writing in general: Letters, articles, literature, etc. It breaks down methods to
write convincingly in terms of: Content, Style, Words, even Grammar. So if you want to brush up writing skills for any form of messaging, pick
one up from our table (or download Writing With I-M-P-A-C-
KINSHIP CIRCLE LITERATURE COVERS ANIMALS USED FOR:
♦ Wild Animals
♦ Advocacy Tools
A RUNNING THEME THROUGH ALL LITERATURE
We use substantiated studies, stats, quotes,
- Animal use-industries or institutions themselves
- Official oversight/inspection agencies; watchdog groups
- Online statistical databases
- Reports in news media: Often first place you FIND OUT about new study, i.e., a breakthrough method to test chemicals without using
- Industry journals, papers, interviews, incident reports
- Public records via Freedom Of Information request
Try to avoid other animal rights groups as the definitive source or quote. Maybe you find info on their website, but trace it to the original
source. Citing other activists can dilute our argument.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THIS DATA?
On some level, show how a particular form of animal use harms humans, along with animals.
- ILLEGAL AND/OR HABITUAL ANIMAL CRUELTY:
Animal Fighting, Circuses, Traveling Animal Shows, Exotic "Pets"
Stress that not just animal cruelty occurs habitually, but that it’s ILLEGAL, breaking the laws of society.
- HUMAN HEALTH, WELL-BEING, SAFETY:
A huge example of harmful effects from animal use, astoundingly so in two areas:
- ANIMAL RESEARCH: Data from animal tests misleads experimenters with false conclusions that allow drug development or
treatment to continue.
- Testing progresses to human clinical trials and is then released to the human population.
- ADRS (Adverse Drug Reactions) are the 4TH LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN U.S., as reported by U.S. Food & Drug Admin.
- Some drugs never get to market because they test poorly in animals, but may benefit humans.
- These are harmful effects on humans, who rely on medical science to find cures and treatments.
- ANIMALS USED FOR FOOD, IN AGRICULTURE: Data is overwhelming in this area. Great fact sheet, Warning Meat Kills, details how animal consumption harms:
human health: Heart disease, cancers, food poisoning, obesity, etc.
- ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE, WORLD HUNGER:
- Environment: Factory farms destroy drinkable water supplies, land erosion, air pollution.
- Climate Change: Why I titled this fact sheet Inconvenient
Lunch, and something that has eclipsed our friend Al Gore: Meat production churns out more greenhouse gasses each year than every
truck, plane and ship combined, according landmark study by FAO (Food & Agriculture Organization of United Nations)
- Meat Production depletes non-renewable natural resources, is unsustainable, and contributes to world hunger crisis by wasting grains
people could eat to fatten farmed animals.
- White-collar corporate corruption
- Fraud, false public information
- Violence link
- Fiscal waste, misuse of taxpayer dollars
- And more impacts found in specific circumstances.
But we do not merely state these effects. All claims must be expressed through the voice of credible, industry-related sources.
FACT-BASED INFORMATION IS AN ANCHOR OF STRONG LITERATURE.
PERSONAL OPINION - LEAVE IT AT THE DOOR
Important not to interject our own judgment about the cruelty aspects. For example: How can anyone call themselves human and do this
Yes, we may all think that, but for words to really take hold and move a person, they shouldn't feel manipulative. Truly
effective literature is like a good news report: Here are the facts. I don't make them, I only report them.
With that said,I believe you should frame those facts with what really does happen to animals. You can do that with strong, compelling images.
Not necessarily gory, horrible shots, but photos or video that show the emotion in an animal's eyes. His or her pain, surrender, fear. Emotions
can relate to as humans.
STRAIGHTFORWARD ACCOUNT, NO MELODRAMA
If describing what happens to an animal, there is no need to layer on a million adjectives and melodrama. The straightforward account, of say,
debeaking a young chicken or an experimental procedure, is horrible by itself. I see a lot of AR literature, that even though it's true, is so
overwrought, so dramatic, the average person may think it's exaggerated or made-up.
SOURCE OF INFORMATION
- Keep animal topic files.
- TIMELINESS OF FACTS: Record most recent studies available. While literature always cites earlier findings, should
weave in more recent studies/stats to feel relevant.
- Save resources and links you can repeatedly use.
- Search engines are your friend: The more you investigate, the better you get at finding hard-to-find facts.
Pull key words or "clues from news stories, social media and other informal web structures, animal organization websites (NOTE WHAT
THEY CITE!). And go on investigative searches to uncover ROOT SOURCES.
- Try reverse looks-ups: Got an email or phone number? Search that, to find whose it is and relevant info.
- Do your best to cross-reference and confirm information.
- Always cite SOURCE for anything published as fact.
- With animal rights literature: Not just WHAT you say, but WHO it is attributed to that has most clout and influence.
Background research can sprawl for pages. How do you select and organize the points for well-reasoned and influential writing?
CONSIDER ESSAY APPROACH TO STREAMLINE DATA INTO DYNAMIC, WELL-REASONED WRITING.
INTRODUCE * ARGUE * PROVE * CONCLUDE
- Introduction: For letters, literature, essays — Introduce the main subject with a creative lead paragraph that commands
- THESIS: Express the main objective — a summary of your argument.
- TOPICS: Now prove it. Support your thesis with to-the-point paragraphs, each with a topic sentence, plus facts, statistics,
studies, etc. to back it.
- CONCLUSION: Exit with a powerful recap and sense of urgency.
An ESSAY APPROACH helps you organization info and present it influentially.
Makes readers feel manipulated. Strong images and a frank account
of what happens to animals speaks louder than emotional rants, extra ADJECTIVES, and !!!!!!!!!!!
ALWAYS HIGHLIGHT ANIMAL-FREE OPTIONS:
Use examples of their superiority, cost-
effectiveness, health/safety value, etc.
NEVER CALL AN ANIMAL "IT" OR "THAT:"
Only use person pronouns
— he, she, who. Write about animals the way you want people to perceive them: As individuals.
Animal use is behind nearly part of a person's daily life — their choices for food, medicine, makeup, household products clothing,
entertainment...etc. We face defensive response. A public that wants to believe we're exaggerating, making it up — so they don't have to
look at the gruesome reality and how they contribute to it.
And most just DON'T WANT TO LOOK AT IT. Dominion + Animal Welfare is so firmly entrenched, people don't think about it, or even grasp
the notion that animals might have rights
to not be used.
Tough to argue for absolute compassion in world that doesn't recognize animals as separate beings with value.
MOST OF US ARE ABOLITIONISTS. We know animals are unique individuals who deserve same primitive rule of morality we have: Immunity from
Slavery, Violence, Torture, Murder.
This is NOT about ANIMAL WELFARE. All Kinship Circle literature urges TOTAL REPLACEMENT OF ANIMAL USE.
We never suggest:
- More toys to stimulate animals in the research lab
- Or wider veal crates...or pig crates at the hog factory
We urge ways to replace those animals altogether, with animal-free technology.
BUT WE DO CATER TO A DOMINION-OBSESSED WORLD. By revealing extreme animal cruelty, and at same time, showing people how this animal
use affects them in many adverse ways.
Compelling content, credible attribution, strong images and writing are central to fact-based messaging with impact.