A full-time animal advocate with national organizations since 1989, RPA Founder David Cantor has moved to strict rights advocacy, distinguishing, crucially, between abolitionism and rights strategy. A partial list of David Cantor’s publications is available. Read a Statement & Greeting from Cantor.
Cantor’s and Responsible Policies for Animals’ (RPA’s) rights advocacy promotes unalienable equal basic autonomy, ecology, and dignity rights of all animals, including human beings; an end to rights of corporations and other nonliving entities; and human rights against harm from using, killing, subjugating, and enslaving nonhuman animals. “Better to work for the needed change, though it will take many, many years to see tangible progress, than to achieve short-term results that do little good and keep destructive systems in place.”
Cantor considers popular animal advocacy too much focused on cruelty to establish meaningful protection and empowerment of all animals – which requires basic rights. He and RPA promote strategies that established basic human rights in the past; provide guidance for people who want all animals and no corporation to have rights; and urge advocates and organizations to use “rights” and “animal rights” strictly as in the Bill of Rights, other rights Amendments, and other pioneering documents – not to mean caring, helping, and so forth.
“Protections and guarantees that frame human aspirations for the wellbeing of all and chart the Constitutional, legal, political, social, and economic means to pursue them – that is what rights are. That is what many advocates have lost track of by using the animal-rights movement’s key terms loosely.”
In addition to speaking to audiences in all walks of life, writing RPA’s literature and websites, appearing on many radio and television broadcasts and in a film opposing animal experimentation, being interviewed for numerous articles, and being profiled by Charles Patterson in Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, Cantor has published many articles and letters and has contributed chapters to three books.
With a generous foundation grant and donations by RPA members, he is currently at work on Elephant in the Newsroom: A Newsperson’s and Citizen’s Guide to Accurate and Truthful Reporting on Animals. He is drafting an as-yet-untitled book on fundamental change needed to enable all animals to lead fulfilling lives.
Cantor’s family has a history of involvement in the labor, civil-rights, anti-death-penalty, and gay-rights movements, as well as school-teaching, law, art, and business. Cantor and his spouse, Elizabeth Holt, a speech-language pathologist, professional musician, and practicing Buddhist have long supported feminist, human-rights, environmental, health, and animal causes.
Holding a graduate degree in literature, Cantor taught English in universities for many years before dedicating himself full-time to nonhuman animals in 1989. A lifelong musician, he chose mostly justice-themed songs for his CD Songs of Now and Then, including the animal-rights song he penned: “When I Was Young.” Cantor also photographs nonhuman animals in their habitats, selling his pictures on blank notecards and printed invitations.
In his youth, Cantor was an honor student, student-council member, high-school graduation class speaker, and little-league all-star. Living like his peers according to the agrarian and herding ethic that has subordinated, subjugated and enslaved nonhuman animals for 10,000 years and according to consumer capitalism of the past century-plus, he personally caused animals to suffer by fishing, which he ceased at age 14, seeing an animal he released sink into the lake gasping in pain. In 1989, he adopted a vegetarian (plants only) diet and a vegan lifestyle.
“Consumerist strategies and less-inhumane shopping choices cannot lead to establishment of the rights all animals need. But advocates can achieve three important purposes as vegans: practicing what they preach to demonstrate consistency and avoid hypocrisy, showing others how easy it is to abandon the most destructive choices, and enhancing their wellbeing so they may dedicate themselves vigorously to the needed change for as long as possible.”
“Without rights beyond humans, there can be no meaningful protection and empowerment of all animals to live fulfilling lives. Until all animals are protected and empowered, human wellbeing and the health of Earth will continue to suffer as they do on a massive scale today. All animals deserve to live, dream, and enjoy.”