“Humans Are Scum”
Indeed, this is the new sales pitch for a new, quickly-growing animal rights group called “Free 269″. For those of you who have not heard of the 269 campaign, it was started by three Israeli activists who branded themselves with hot irons to display the numbers “269″. This act was meant to promote awareness about what happens inside animal agribusinesses, and to help display the torture and mutilations these animals go through on a day-to-day basis. As a result, thousands have joined in with the 269 campaign internationally, tattooing themselves in different cities, states, and countries. Some have gone so far as to follow suit and brand themselves with hot irons, displaying the numbers “269” on their skin.
This campaign is led by a man named Sasha Boojor. He was one of the Israeli activists who get branded themselves, and is now a spokesperson for vegans and animal rights activists worldwide. Many are quick to follow the words and actions of Sasha by tattooing and branding themselves in hopes to create the biggest animal rights movement in the world. But what words and actions are vegans following? Are their actions and wordsout of compassion, or are they something more?
Like many others, I saw a post about a video that had gone viral. I watched with anticipation. By the end of the three-minute video, I thought that these activists were magnificent! “What a brave thing,” I thought,“branding themselves like that”. To go through the pain and suffering that farmed animals go though on a daily basis takes real willpower and strength. I wished that I could have such strength as these activists had. I wanted to follow and be a part of their perpetual and tiresome work.
So I quickly joined the group “269life” and watched as people marked their bodies with permanent ink and hot irons, displaying the numbers “269”. Displaying these numbers is a true commitment and displays a stance of solidarity among those involved. It says to the world, “I will never participate in the animal holocaust again”. This group, 269, is famous for comparing factory-farmed animals to the Holocaust. Even the tattooing on the body is supposed to represent how the Jews were tattooed in the days of their oppression. When I initially joined the group, I started reading posts about what was going on, and even shared some of the information myself. As you can see on this website, I have re-posted some of the interviews with Sasha Boojor and Lazarus B. Gorelick.
Like these activists, I wanted to get the message out as much as possible, and I tried as hard as I could. This group was gaining popularity at a rapid pace, and it encouraged vegans to speak out about the horrors of factory farming.
Many new members, of all sorts, joined 269. Some weren’t as familiar with veganism as they thought they were, so lots of people were inclined to ask questions, and some even expressed their stance on issues such as eating meat. I came across one particular case when scrolling through the 269 campaign. A meat-eater had entered the group defending his stance to eat meat to this 269 community. I read what he had to say, and he was a very kind individual. He actually expressed his points in a very calm and gentle manner, and also respected what the 269 community had to say. As the conversation continued, things got heated on the 269 community’s side of things. This meat-eater stayed relatively calm and friendly while the 269 group proceeded to attack him with hateful and angry words. The names that this meat-eater was called were along the lines of“rapist”, “murderer”, “Nazi”, and “pedophile”. What began as an informative debate, turned into prolonged and unnecessary bashing of this outsider who was simply seeking knowledge.
I soon stepped into the debate and told everyone to stop name-calling and threatening this individual. He stated that he did not want to become vegan, but didn’t agree with factory farming either. This is when things got really heated. I kindly explained to him that not everyone is going to become vegan, and that’s okay—so, if he would like to make a choice other than factory farming, he could choose to buy meat from local farms or farmers’ markets. He could support animals that were, at the very least, raised in a pasture. I added a disclaimer saying, “While I do not personally agree with this as my own personal method, it would be a satisfactoryalternative for people who want to eat less meat, who don’t wish to support factory farming, who want to by local, or who can’t go vegan for their own reasons”. Sasha, the leader of the group, saw my comments and soon stepped in—but not in the way I thought he would. He made a very ruthless, insulting comment towards this individual, to me, and to the vegan movement. Sasha told me firmly that “we do not condone or negotiate with scum”. Now, I am not sure if he was referring just to himself, or if he was referring to the whole 269 movement, but I am guessing since he said “we”, that he was referring to the entire movement. It is very brave of Sasha to speak on behalf of over 7,000 people—that they should not, and could not, ”negotiate with scum”.
This was very surprising, as this group was supposed to be about compassion. What I saw from the group’s leader was far from it. He even went so far as to ask me to respect his views, when he could not even dare to respect the views of another. This was very shocking. I backed off, but carefully viewed how the group leader led the group as time progressed. I could see people, who once came to the group of 269 as tolerant and compassionate, being driven into this attitude of hate for outsiders or anyone who questioned them. Sasha was the driving force behind these actions. A movement which was once known as peaceful was now becoming a movement of hate and intolerance. I confronted Sasha about this new army he was creating. I expressed to him that we should be peaceful and compassionate to animals and to our fellow man. In turn, he said:
“I don’t know WHY vegans make this jump to think that animal rights people are peace and love people. Our terminology is clear – we always say this is a war. Not a summer camp. Not peace and love.”—Sasha Boojor
Sasha had just explained to me that the 269 movement should be anything but peaceful and loving. When I went vegan, I thought it was supposed to be for peace. According to Sasha, I was very wrong. Since then, I have seen the behavior of Sasha progress. He has used words to guilt-trip people whose beliefs do not correspond with his. He has even went so far as to put down humanitarians:
“Yes less rape is good i even switched from raping kids to raping old ladies!!! All hail me the great humanitarian!”—Sasha Boojor
I have had discussions with Sasha about being a humanitarian, and, according to him, humanitarians are not welcome in the 269 movement, nor are they accepted. To have love for your fellow man like you do foranimals is a very low thing to express in this movement. When I expressed my views on humanitarianism to Sasha, one of his loyal followers actually threatened to ban me from the 269 group. I am a fellow vegan, and have never called any of these people names or have been intentionally rude to them. Being a vegan, I never hesitate to express any of my opinions—especially when they are to do with being a good animal rights activist, humanitarian, and vegan. Now, I wasn’t blocked, but according to loyal followers of Sasha, I showed insolence to him. He disrespected me and humanitarianism as a whole; but dare I say anything back to Sasha that is anything besides “Yes, I agree Sasha” was, according to the leader and the follower, very low. Another comment that struck me—and was agreed with by Sasha—was a comment by an anonymous 269 follower which reads:
“I’m so glad we only fight for animal causes, people who fight for human and animal rights just seem like they’re protesting to stir shit up, like they don’t really care. How could you protect something that was causing your world so much pain and suffering. Screw the human race.”—Anonymous 269 follower
Sasha agreed with this comment, and I believe this is his moral stance for humanitarians who are also vegans. According to these unwritten rules, standing up for children in Africa would be wrong. Standing up for the citizens of Palestine would be wrong. Standing up for female and gay rights, even, could also be considered morally wrong, according to the 269 movement.
Now, after seeing all of this, I have pondered whether the vegan 269 movement could actually be considered a cult or not. From what I have experienced, it very well may be. Not having an opinion identical to the leader and close followers is constituted as wrong. Also, standing up for humans in pain (or even mentioning it) is wrong. Standing up for anyone who isn’t part of the movement is also considered wrong. Here are a few generalized points about what signs to look out for when it comes to cults. Very shockingly, these tactics used by cult and cult leaders are very similar to the tactics used in the 269 movement:
The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
Most people in this group follow Sasha without question. Sasha has claimed to be doing what a majority of the animal rights movement has failed to do. I am not sure what animal rights groups he is referring to, but he believes that his way is the way to make a change. He also tries to encourage others to accept that his way is the truth, and no other way can come close (unless he accepts it).
If even 5% of the animal rights people were half as driven and committed to animal liberation as you guys (his followers) are, we could do so much noise and make profound change in this rotten world—Sasha Boojor
Most people follow what Sasha has to say, they repeat his preachings when they find themselves a debate. I have seen followers preach to others, to abandon those who do not agree with their beliefs or lifestyles. I have seen people agree that this world is rotten and that every outsider can be considered a pedophile, a rapist, a murderer, and a Nazi. Sasha encourages the 269 followers to use these expressions when dealing with the outside public without a second thought, and they do. When Sasha chooses to bully outsiders and fellow vegans, no one dares to question him. Most even join in and put down their fellow vegans when, most likely, before joining the campaign, they were taught to stick together and express kindness. Now they are only bullied when questioning Sasha’s motives or expressions. This is why I find it so disturbing that the 269 followers followblindly behind their leader and attempt to take down these so-called “vegan traitors”.
Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
Now this is a big one that is very noticeable with Sasha and the 269 group. This was the cult sign that landed me into troubles with Sasha, even though I was a loyal follower up until I questioned him or talked back tohim. My “punishment” consisted of threats to be banned from the 269 community. According to cult leaders, the community of a cult must stay in line and must follow. They should not question or doubt the motives expressed by the leader, ever. Even when the leader shows disrespect to you for your opinions, showing the same disrespectful treatment back is very risky. Sasha had quoted himself:
“Our movement does not apologize”—Sasha Boojor
This means he is very set in his ways. What he says, goes. End of story, book closed! He has used ruthless speech against fellow vegans and vegetarians, and has not hesitated in his belief that this is the way and the future. If you have visited the page yourself (and I recommend everyone do so), you can see that Sasha has never expressed apologies for anything, no matter how abusive his speech may have gotten. The group also puts down the idea of becoming vegan in steps. With this group, it’s black and white—all or nothing.
The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel.
Sasha uses these tactics often, and so do his close followers. An individual who expressed herself in a matter of peace towards Sasha on the 269 community became yet another archetype of Sasha’s ruthless tactics. The following quote is by her, to Sasha:
“Friends, the fact that we have discovered the power of compassion doesn’t mean others will discover it with such ease as well. Please, remember that the way is compassion, not just for the animals, but for the humans also. If we want to rid the world one day of carnism and its variants, we must be compassionate towards others, it’s the only way. I beg of you, be compassionate.”—Anonymous 269 visitor
This paragraph is very peaceful. I hope you would agree with me. No swearing, no name-calling, no putting anyone down at all. This individual, I feel, represents veganism and compassion well—but even a comment like this is enough to drive 269′s leader into a merciless rage. Sasha’s reply back reads:
“I beg you to stop looking for excuses for people who willingly and knowingly choose to be selfish and cruel towards others!
How dare you! They go threw the worst tortures acts imaginable and you’re trying to excuse those who have willingly decide to take part and support their oppression?! You claim to represent a call for compassion?! What a joke!”—Sasha Boojor
I feel that this is the way Sasha wants the 269 movement to handle outsiders and fellow vegans who express compassion, not anger. I have seen, in that group, more and more angry vegans than I have ever seen before. Some even claim that Sasha’s ruthless tactics are starting to make sense, and that this movement shouldn’t be one of peace, but should be far from it. A comment by a follower, proudly posted on the wall of the 269 community, reads:
“I am starting to think shunning those that fail to see the truth is a good tactic.”—Anonymous 269 follower
Sasha “Liked” this comment, which means that he was in total agreement. This is the tactic and strategy the leaders want—to condemn to the followers. Now, how this individual writes her comment—“I am starting to think…”—makes it look like this is a new thought that is starting to make sense in her head. The fact that she is “starting to think” this way means that this way of thinking wasn’t originally embedded in her mind before entering the 269 community. Sasha continues to agree with shunning outsiders, putting them down, calling them names, calling vegans names, and encouraging people to dislike themselves and the human race in general.
The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members
Now, this group is famous for its followers tattooing themselves to represent the movement. What does the movement represent, though? According to Sasha, the movement represents three things:
a) To announce the number ’269′ as the international symbol of protest to the animal holocaust.
b) To acknowledge the sacrifice and bravery of the three young activists who captured the world’s attention by having the number 269 branded on their flesh. This campaign was inspired by their actions.
c) To inspire others to bear the symbol “269” as a permanent tattoo to help spread awareness of the animal holocaust.
I want to focus on the second acknowledgement the most. When you mark yourself with a 269 tattoo, you automatically acknowledge the sacrifice these three activists made (including Sasha). Now, I have seen many activists do great things. Some have even put their lives and rights on the line for animals. Some have gone to jail; some have even gotten hit by vehicles and died in acts to protest. All of these activists can be seen in the film “Behind the Mask”, found in the documentary section of this website. Now, I may be out of line with this statement, but what did these three men sacrifice? Maybe some good-looking layers of skin in a few places—but really, compared to some of the other sacrifices I have seen in the animal rights movement that Sasha is so quick to put down, branding does not seem that far-fetched. Expressing your bravery as an animal rights activist for having a number branded on your skin seems overly self-righteous from a man who disagrees with and bluntly puts down most people in the animal rights movement.
Saying the campaign is inspired by their actions is fair, but actions to what point? Seeing someone brand his or herself is inspiring, but is seeing that same person bash the animal rights movement, along withvegetarians, vegans, and outsiders inspiring? Is that the inspiration that Sasha wants his followers to learn from? Even expressing these hostile views towards people shows that he feels like he has the right to put anyone down who isn’t him. He feels like he has the power and the right, and he has no trouble displaying it. Loyal followers of Sasha also attempt to display their power to lower-ranked members of the group by participating insimilar acts of viciousness. A loyal follower wrote this to me:
“No peace with people until they are in peace with animals”—Loyal 269 follower
This is, indeed, a 269 thought. The leader feels he can make the rules, and the loyal followers immediately follow. Some of these rules include:
Vegetarian views expressed—not allowed.
The views of meat-eaters expressed (no matter how friendly)—not allowed.
Humanitarian views expressed (wanting peace and compassion)—not allowed.
Questioning Sasha in his views, motives, and/or vicious behavior—not allowed.
To stand up for unwanted members such as vegetarians, humanitarians, et cetera—not allowed.
To express respect for animal rights activists that Sasha has deemed unacceptable—not allowed.
To stand up for vegans being viciously persecuted by Sasha—not allowed.
To express any thoughts, ideas, or opinions that don’t follow Sasha’s—not allowed.
When I say “not allowed” with these rules, I mean that, if you do any one of these things, Sasha will have your head for it. He doesn’t seem like the type to ban anyone, but I think he knows his vicious and hostile words will do just fine. Even if you have been a loyal follower of Sasha (no matter for how long), and you break any of these rules, you will be taught a lesson on how to be a “true” vegan. If you do not follow through and stay in line, you could be threatened to be banned. Now, I find these rules to be unfair and they diminish the freedom of speech, of thought, and they take away the right to protection. This is a huge sign of a cult leader who feels thathe really is the leader. Follow the rules, do not question, do not think, stay in line, and do exactly what the leader says.
The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society
Sasha displays these tactics with much pride. He discriminates against vegetarians, outsiders, and humanitarians. He has set up the image that anyone outside the group is an enemy who shouldn’t be trusted. He has also claimed that people for the welfare of animals are the enemy as well. For example, anyone who has succeeded in banning gestation crates for pigs, banned tail-docking for cows, or have banned ear-cropping for dogs, is known as a “welfarist”, and, according to this group’s leader, welfarists are the enemy:
“Welfarists are the enemy within.”—Sasha Boojor
Sasha also has a strong hate for vegetarians. Vegetarians are yet another enemy. According to Sasha, it isn’t “a step in the right direction”, as claimed by so many vegans. To respect or defend a vegetarian isconsidered disrespectful to the views of the movement. Sasha claims this below by criticizing the vegans who defended the honour and hard work of vegetarian activist, Sir Paul McCartney:
“So many of you are so out of place here, and represent views which we criticized many times already. Funny that for some reason you all collectively decided to wake up and spew your views on such a relatively mild post. This proves your lack of respect for our movement and our efforts!”—Sasha Boojor on vegetarian defenders
Notice the part where he states, ”for some reason you all have collectively decided to wake up and spew your views”, for which he is partially criticizing people. As aforementioned, Sasha does not like people “spewing” their own views, ideas, or thoughts if they don’t go a long with his. Now, he is saying this to a huge number of vegans who decided to defend Paul McCartney. A select few decided to go along with Sasha, viciously attacking Paul. Those select few weren’t attacked by Sasha and he “Liked” all of their hostile comments. The quote below is Sasha’s quote about anyone who is in favor of a vegetarian:
“Our goals must be higher than mollycoddling a smell number of insignificant vegetarians that might some day in several years time, decide to go vegan.”—Sasha Boojor
Meat-eaters—known by the group as “flesh-eaters”—are the enemy as well. They are not welcomed, even if they wish to learn in steps. It’s vegan or nothing. Talking with or negotiating with flesh-eaters is considered to be very low, according to the 269 community. If you stand up for a flesh-eater if he is getting violently verbally abused by Sasha or his close followers, it could lead to you being banned from the community. The quote below was said by one of Sasha’s close, loyal followers:
“Negotiating with flesh eaters is such a low standard, DON’T buy into their tricks”—Loyal follower of the 269 movement
Now, flesh-eaters could be strangers, friends, family, or associates. It is encouraged to shun or push away flesh-eaters if they do not come to accept ”the truth”. The 269 society is taught that flesh-eaters are the root of all evil and are the true enemy. Vegans that do not have the same vicious thoughts towards the enemy will eventually be considered the enemy as well. This could disrupt someone’s social well-being, resulting in many people becoming very tight-knit within the 269 community, as everyone eventually outside the community is seen as the enemy. To negotiate with the enemy is to negotiate with scum.
The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members
Now, Sasha uses this tactic viciously. Victims of this tactic are usually the ones that disagree. When followers disagree or step out of line, he usually brings up statements about the Holocaust. The Holocaust is a very sensitive subject to most people, and he uses this sensitivity to put people in their places. I was hit with this tactic, and I am guessing that many others have as well. I was personally hit with this tactic by one of the men who branded himself:
“Are you consistent in the case that someone will break into your house in order to rape you? Will you say to him “you are welcome?” “This is your choice and I respect it.” If not, then why not? Can’t you respect people?”—One of the activists who were branded
Now, when you disagree, the 269 leader and close followers will hit you up with statements that include things like this: If you show disobedience, they will put you into a hypothetical situation where you are either being raped, murdered, or following the Nazis. A statement like this was shouted at me for telling the leader to back off and stop harassing and viciously attacking an outsider. These statements, I believe, are used by cult leaders to put you back in your place by using shame or guilt. They also like using sensitive subjects like the Holocaust and rape to shut you up. Another member was struck by this comment who urged Sasha to spread words of peace instead of viciously attacking people.
“Yes, I guess they had the wrong idea when they used guns to fight the Nazi’s… they should of gave them flowers and cookies”—Sasha Boojor
These tactics are very important for manipulation. These words help put someone down and shame them. When someone is put into this state of mind, they’re easier to control. Another tactic that Sasha and the 269 movement like to use to create this weak state of mind is to guilt-trip people for being who they are. Sasha loves to project the imagery of the whole human race as scum, and that you should be ashamed for being one. The quote at the beginning of this article was said by Sasha:
“Humans are scum”—Sasha Boojor
This is a great tactic to create guilt-infested, weak-minded people. It seems to work well. When cults successfully put someone down, for—let’s just say—being born human, and this individual accepts that it’s wrong to be born this way, then they already have a potential follower. Feeling worthless encourages people to find self-worth in the 269 movement. Basically, they’re saying, “If you’re born human, you are the scum of the Earth until you can prove that you are worth more”. A few comments below are from people who have, sadly, bought into this underlying guilt-trip and are potentially strong followers-to-be:
“I hate being a human and ashamed.”—Anonymous 269 member
“I deserve to have every inch of my body branded”—Anonymous 269 member
“Getting branded would be a small amount of punishment for my wrongs. Its better than nothing and I deserve worse”—Anonymous 269 member
Now, mind you, these people are all vegans. They all know what goes on with animals today and have made striven in their lives to not support animal abuse. Since Sasha uses the guilt-trip tactic of putting people down for something they cannot change (being human), it makes them feel like they deserve the wrath and abusive payment just for existing. They are scum, and they deserve nothing better. This is the view of the 269 community. I write this today as I am highly concerned about the outcome of this movement, especially because this is one of the fastest-growing movements in the world.
Mohandas Gandhi once said:
“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”
The truth is, you deserve to be on this planet, no matter who you are. This is your rightful home. We share this home with our fellow Earthlings as well. We must treat them like family and protect them as we would protect our closest loved ones. You are not scum, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed for being you. One leaflet can change the world. If you’re a vegan activist, then that’s amazing. If you are a fellow vegetarian, then that’s a step in the right direction. If you’re a meat-eater, then I appreciate you reading this page. If you are a humanitarian, that’s wonderful, we need more individuals like you! If you’re an environmentalist, then Mother Earth loves you! If you’re human, then you’re all-around amazing.
We’re heading towards the end of this post, and I just wanted to say that everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions. If the 269 community sounds like something you are interested in, then by all means,join the movement. I agree with Sasha that more activism should be done on the streets with demos and leafleting. But the way it’s being done within the 269 community I feel will damage the vegan movement, not make it stronger.
Below I have listed three great organizations that could really use your support, and that do amazing things for animals. You can be a part of it as well, no matter who you are. Everyone is welcome.
Now, every person is entitled to choose his or her own actions. The 269 community may not be for everyone. It may be something you’re interested in. If you have been in the same situation I have been in, or have seen these types of things done or said in the 269 community, this post exists only for the sole purpose of letting you know that you are not alone!