Silvana Andrade, President and Founder of ANDA, was invited to address representatives of the Public Prosecutors’ Office of the State of Minas Gerais at a conference held on October 4, 2013. This article gives excerpts from her presentation. If you would like to read the entire transcript, please click on the link (anais_fauna).
An excerpt from her presentation has been translated into English below (from pages 118 – 120).
When I first started working for the protection of animals, I argued that their rights were not confined to the legal area alone or philosophical area from an ethical point of view. All of us, within our fields of expertise, as architects, dentists, engineers, police officers, have important roles to pay, but the Public Prosecutor’s office is the most important institution in the defense of animals. We have to act. If we do not learn on our own, we can learn from the children in the two videos that I presented at the start of my speech. Also, there are more and more lessons by children posted on YouTube. Do not be ashamed to defend the animals.
I have observed that the police feel embarrassed, when they respond to calls related to violence against animals. They complain that their colleagues say: “Ah, you investigated the incident of the little darling”, when referring to animals. They fell embarrassed, but the embarrassment should be on those who perpetrate these crimes. According to Schopenhauer, all truths pass through three stages: first, we see what people naturally do, which is to ridicule new idea. Then there is opposition, usually violent opposition, and finally acceptance. So these are the three steps society takes as it progresses towards accepting new concepts.
Opposition to animal rights exists at this time. When I filed my last incident report in a police station in São Paulo, I spent six hours waiting to be able to give a detailed report, because, every time it was my turn to talk to the clerk, the computer system didn’t function. It was six hours of the system failing with me. So there are barriers by the police officers themselves. This must be understood, because they are, at times, prevaricating. I would argue that there should be specific training courses for police officers. This will help in the speedy completion of reports, because a crime against an animal is not investigated in the same way as a crime against a person. A university in Curitiba is launching a course called Legal Veterinary Medicine, which is fantastic, and will help to speed up the necessary changes to these processes.
A famous quote states: “There is no public opinion, only published opinion “. This phrase by Winston Churchill summarizes the role of the press, because sometimes, if we do not know what is happening, we have no opinion on it, correct? And, if we are convinced by an argument, we buy into the opinion that is published, whether in a newspaper or magazine. In the case of ANDA (Animal Rights News Agency), we are completely partial. Often, people think that they have formed their own opinions, but no. Opinion about current events are often not ours, it comes instead from the press. The press not only reports; it shapes concepts, modifies ideas, influences decisions, and impacts society’s values. Here, I am also referring to social media. Sometimes, we receive concepts through television and books, and we know that society’s behavior changes based on soap operas and other programs, affecting everything from fashion to other forms of behavior.
A few years ago, I was in the countryside of Northeastern Brazil, and I observed that the young women there dressed and behaved just like they do in the big cities. In the past, this did not occur. If a change in behavior is good, then this is an excellent trend, but when it comes to cruelty, it is a cause for great sadness. The press, the media in general, has a very strong influence. No wonder it’s known as the fourth and informal power. Together with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, I think we can act to create very effective protection of animal rights. The press has been on the side of social, economic and political change, since it was first invented centuries ago by Gutenberg.
In fact, the press is one of the greatest inventions of the modern age. Today, we measure the level of democracy in a country by the state of its press. A free press represents a true democracy. The greater the restrictions on the press, the greater the authoritarianism, which is reflected in various ways. The influence of the press on society is great. Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, surveyed 3,100 people of various cultural and economic backgrounds about the confidence they had in information provided by different organizations. They found that 64% of people believe the media is a source of credible information. Even when people ideologically disagree with the viewpoint of the media, they accepted that the information itself was true. The facts are usually viewed as indisputable. People rated companies as the second most trusted type of organization for the dissemination of information, at almost 60%. Some NGOs, unfortunately, have been instruments for the diversion of money here in Brazil, and because people know about this problem of corruption – only 50% believe in the information they provide; religious institutions, are trusted by 48% of people, and the government, just over 20%. In this regard, the press is undeniably the main source of information for our society.
ANDA was created because of my observation that fellow journalists did not have the necessary knowledge about the reality of animals. When they say that ANDA is partial, I say: yes, we are partial, because we do not believe that impartiality truly exists. Complete impartiality is a myth. A year and a half ago, the media organization Globo released a guide attesting to their impartiality in relation to the facts. Do not believe it, because this is absolutely nonexistent. At the end of the presentation, I will do an exercise to show how the news can be given in different ways. When I first started ANDA, I worked as a journalist in the Congress in Brasilia, and there were discussions about the Arouca Law, the regulation of experimentation on animals in Brazil. This law was a great setback, because there were no debates, only the vivisectionists had space in the media. We did not. At the time, a story appeared in the newspaper, Globo. I called a colleague and said: “Look, I’m sorry, but you did not hear the other side in this matter”. He was amazed and said, “but is there another side?” I said: “Of course! The side of the animals!” The journalist did not even consider that the animals had a side. I said: The press knows almost nothing about this topic. Because of this, I decided to create the agency, ANDA.