Mark "Silence is Consent" Cushing

December 11, at a federal proceeding with a veterinary audience, lawyer Mark Cushing said,

"Silence is consent."

In 2014, in a room full of women, many of them veterinarians, Cushing actually said, 

"Silence is consent."

The federal proceeding was the Dec 11 AVMA COE compliance hearing before NACIQI, in Arlington VA.  During the hearing, nineteen non-COE people offered prepared comments about the COE. Many were deans, several were practitioners presenting various perspectives (including me).  There was only one non veterinarian: paid lobbyist, consultant and lawyer Mark Cushing.

In his comments, Mr. Cushing attempted to minimize the 800 veterinarians who had written in complaint by saying,

"Sure, 800 veterinarians wrote in. There's 100,000 vets in the US. You can't assume the rest are unhappy; silence is consent."

"Silence is consent."

In the interest of full disclosure, I was a volunteer for the group that enabled the submission of the 800 comments. But the offense Mr. Cushing has given here has nothing to do with accreditation, or how the hearing turns out.

Apparently Mr. Cushing, a proponent of new schools because they are needed to address food animal production and fight world hunger, is ignorant of the fact that prey species like cattle and sheep deliberately don't make noise when hurt.

Apparently Mr. Cushing is unaware that we still struggle to prevent the use of paralytic drugs like succinylcholine from being used during surgery or anesthesia.  A paralytic drug does nothing to prevent awareness or relieve pain- only paralyzes the animal so it can't move or make any noise while being cut.  Silent.

Are we to believe that because of their silence, the blacks in 1900's South Africa, the Native Americans at Sandy Creek, drowning children, the Christians & Tibetans in China, the girls caught in the Southeast Asian sex-slave trade, and girls in Pakistan not named Malala Yousafzay consent(ed) to their circumstances?

In a room full of people devoted to the relief of suffering in animals that can't speak, in a profession that struggles to accurately detect pain in its patients precisely because they don't make noise as a response to pain like humans do, as a consultant to a profession full of women...  Mr. Cushing stated his belief that if you aren't verbally objecting, you must like it.

And let's look at that, shall we?  In a profession that is overwhelmingly female, Mr. Cushing says, 

"Silence is consent."

Best we can tell, this profession gained over 43,028 women in the past thirty years. The CDC reports almost 20% of women are raped at some point in their adult lives.  

That'd be 7,874 of those 43,028 women.

63 of those 800 who wrote in complaint.

I'm rarely silent, whether I'm consenting or not, or happy or not.  And as a woman and a veterinarian, I'm not gonna be silent that I don't think Mark Cushing has any business working in this profession- or any other.


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commented 2015-01-31 21:03:31 -0500 · Flag
“Silence is consent” has a simple counterargument even a lawyer can understand:

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

The answer is two-fold.

If you are in the forest, yes it does.

If you are a lawyer and not part of this forest, there is silence, and you believe there is no noise emanating from it no matter what happens within it.
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