I was supposed to be filmed this morning for an interview on a current affairs programme. However, the producer called last night to tell me that they were going to have Mr Tan on their programme (incidentally they never did publish our reply to his letter).
I told her that I did not want to appear on the same programme with him because it is giving credence to someone who is essentially just complaining a lot (and not just about cats). We have said all along that we don't want to encourage people who get attention just because they are complaining the loudest and the longest. Apparently he is not happy with the government agencies for not responding to him either.
I understand the need for different viewpoints, and certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there can only be a meaningful discussion if (1) people are interested in engaging in dialogue and (2) that people are willing to listen. For example, if people say to me, I don't care what studies say or what science has shown, because I just don't, that's generally a sign to me that the meaningful discussion has ended.
She said that the programme would be a good way to air our views to the general public. She said that people may sympathise with what Mr Tan has to say. Certainly they may, but at the end of the day, people like Mr Tan aren't going to be convinced of what we say anyway.
I told the producer that for example if someone is a bigot, they may argue that people of such and such a race are all stupid. Now you can point out all the contrary examples, you can cite studies, but how do you refute something which has no basis in anything but their own opinion? Then why continue to engage people like that and allow them to air their views?
In addition, the programme she said is about animal vigilantes though she has clarified this is her working title. We are not vigilantes. We're not even an animal rights group but an animal welfare one. She did ask why I'm uncomfortable with the term. The fact is that I am - the term denotes someone who takes matters in their own hands, operating outside the law.
CWS on the other hand, believes strongly in working with the authorities. We have always believed in engaging the authorities. We do not operate outside the framework of the law.
At the end of the day, the programme is going to be edited and we have no control over the content. Of course this is the same with any television programme but in the others we've worked on, we've been happy with the general approach of the script.
There will always be people who think animal welfare people are crazy. It's a fact. What we can do is behave in a manner that will show to the objective person that we're reasonable and logical. Are there people in animal welfare who are illogical and a bit off-centre? Of course there are - but there are people like that in every field or occupation or job.
You can only appeal to someone's logic if they are willing to listen and they are able to assess the argument for themselves in a reasonable manner. I believe this is the vast majority of people. Appearing on television is a means to an end - and that's of educating people on TNRM. There are other means to do so, and even if they don't have the same reach, a smaller people with the right message may be more important than a wider group that may go away with the wrong idea.