Gary Francione is Board of Governors Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark. His books include The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation and Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?. His most recent book is Eat Like You Care. You can follow him @garylfrancione or visit his site, The Abolitionist Approach.
I first came across Gary’s writing in The Great Ape Project. Even though he was a contributor to the book, he explained in our interview his concern over creating rights based on how similar an animal is to humans. As I dove further into Animal Rights, I read Your Child or the Dog? and Rain Without Thunder and he shot to the top of my list because of how clearly he was able to articulate a vision for animal rights that rang true for me.
It was crazy hot the day of our interview and I could not feel the air conditioning in Gary’s building. I had forgotten to bring ample water and so we bought what was available nearby. Our three person crew raised the temperature by setting up our lights and cameras in his office at Rutgers University. We proceeded to fill over 2 hours of tape. It was both surreal and awesome. He has so much enthusiasm for animal rights and has spent so much time thinking about them that he had a ton to say. Before and after filming, he told us stories of how he became vegan and what it was like in the really early days of animal rights activism.
Gary was one of the first people we interviewed, and during that first trip, I started realizing, one by one, that despite my YEARS of research, there were a lot of opinions that were much more nuanced than I had appreciated. On the one hand, I wanted to really understand what each persons views were, but on the other hand, I was a little horrified to be there with them realizing in that moment that I didn’t fully understand what their perspectives were. So in some instances, I garnered the courage to ask for clarification, and in others I did not. Luckily, I realized my expectations were unrealistic and got more comfortable asking for clarification as interviews progressed. The biggest surprise for me in speaking with Gary was that he was not really interested in pursuing legal rights for animals (other than the right not to be property), but rather moral rights.
After the interview, my Associate Producer Grace and I chatted with him and he asked us, kind of, whose side are we on, and that’s when I gushed that he was one of my heroes. Are you supposed to disclose that when you meet someone like that? Well, I did. He signed a few copies of Your Child and the Dog for us (love this book!) and we proceeded to film some b-roll. He told us about his dogs and invited us over for some vegan pizza but we were leaving town so weren’t able to take him up on his offer. Grace decided to start eating vegan after that.
YOU CAN FIND ALL OF GARY FRANCIONE’S INTERVIEWS HERE. This collection may increase as I upload more content to this site.