Jim Mason

                                            Presenting a toy to Henry

Jim Mason's work as an author, activist and attorney has focused on the rights and interests of animals as well as related human concerns. He has co-authored two books focused on farm animal conditions with ethicist Peter Singer, The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter in 2006, and in 1980 they co-wrote the seminal text Animal Factories. In 2005 Jim penned the classic, An Unnatural Order: The Roots of Our Destruction of Nature, which, as his website describes, "looks at the historical and cultural roots of the Western belief in God-given dominion over the living world. In enslaving animals for war and farming...agrarian society broke the ancient bonds and sense of kinship with them." In 2017, he contributed a long essay to the Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies titled “Misothery: Contempt for Animals and Nature, Its Origins, Purposes, and Repercussions.” 

Jim traveled from his home in Virginia to join Henry and me at my cousin's house in Washington, DC for some filming followed by lunch. From his moving recollection of a traumatic incident as a small boy on a Missouri farm, to his insights about the connections between cultural beliefs and human actions toward animals, we found fertile ground for a lively discussion around the complexities - and simplicity - of human-animal relations.

Interview Excerpts

Introduction and What Jim Does

Why Humans First Hunted and Domesticated Animals

How Dominionism Impacts the Economy, Religion, Families and the Human Psyche

Early Influences Leading to Concern About Animals

Confronting Factory Farming While Writing Animal Factories with Peter Singer

Rationalization and the Impact of Exploitation on Human Beliefs and Actions

Exposing Invisible Animal Industries

Responding to People who Don’t Believe Animals, Humanity and the Planet are in Danger 

Consequences of Exploitation and Dominionist Worldview

How Environmentalists View Animal Rights

Confronting Resistance to Change 

What is it About Human Behavior that Encourages Exploitation and Harm and How Do We Overcome It?

The Origin Of Human Domination Over Animals

Considering the Role and Nature of Empathy 

How Religion Has Influenced World Views and Beliefs About Animals

Why and How Humans Rationalize Harm

The Question of Whether Animals Feel Physical and Emotional Pain

Repercussions to Questioning the Status Quo and Examining Beliefs Social Costs to Bucking the System

The Trend Toward Reduction In Animal Use

Why the Environmental Impact of Animal Agriculture Is Not Changing Behavior

How Animals Have Shaped Our Worldview

Environmental Damage and An Unsustainable Attitude

A "Primal Worldview"