Saturday, January 31, 2009

Really Puts Things in Perspective, Doesn't It?

Isn`t man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife - birds, kangaroos, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice, foxes, and dingoes - by the millions in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billions and eats them. This in turn kills man by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year sends out a card praying for "Peace on Earth."

preface to Old MacDonald`s Factory Farm, by C. David Coats

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Animal Rights vs. Human Rights

I posted the following on Facebook a while ago.

My friend, whom I have known since I was about 3 or 4 years old, sparked quite a bit of conversation this morning with his status. I was going to keep replying on the status thread, but I decided to post it all here, since I started writing a novel. That way we can continue our conversation if desired, or anyone else can make a comment. Oh and I tagged some extra lovely people just because I know they are interested in animal issues.


And don't get me started on how, in California, animal rights apparently outweigh human civil rights.via Twitter


I wouldn't call what those animals got in return for the passing of that proposition "rights." Just a BIT less horror and discomfort in their short, tortured lives for the overfed gluttons of this country. Even if you do endorse the exploitation of animals, don't you believe that they somehow deserve at least a little less inhumane treatment?
Perhaps you aren't implying you are against what Prop 2 did, but I don't think you can compare the two propositions - since Prop 2 really didn't give those animals any rights. They are still innocent, emotional, sentient beings who remain prisoners and cannot live their lives as they will.
But I do think that's crazy that the human civil right to which you refer got overturned.
I guess as we treat our animals, so we treat our people we feel are sub-humans.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not for more animal rights and less human rights. I am for more human AND animal rights equally.


Addendum: I really hope that didn't come across as a personal attack on you. I just am most passionate about that issue, and I have a hard time holding back sometimes.


I never take offense when someone speaks their mind!

Let me first clarify my position and say that I was hopeful that both prop 8 and prop 2 would pass.

It seems, though, regarding the animal rights issue, that we disagree on two fundamental issues. First, what are the rights, exactly, to which animals are entitled, and secondly, is ensuring these rights to animals AS IMPORTANT as ensuring human rights?

To the first question, I will have to assume based on your above comment and what I know of you personally that your position is that animals deserve the same, or nearly the same, rights as humans. Therefore, in regards to the second question, you likely believe it is self-evident that ensuring animals' rights and human rights are of essentially the same importance--in fact, are nearly the same issue.

I know this is a brief synopsis of a stance on a nuanced issue, but do I understand your opinions and position well enough for the purpose of argument?


Good, I am glad I didn't offend you!
You are correct about my position on the issue of animal rights. I believe they deserve nearly the same rights as humans. Of course, I don't believe they should have the right to vote or the right to own property and silly stuff like that, but I believe they should be treated just like human children should be treated - with respect and love. Children don't have full rights like adults, but they are granted protection from harm and death by the law. And luckily we do at least have legislation against harming pets, but it is not nearly enough. People who purposefully harm an innocent being, child or non-human animal, need to be punished equally. Pigs have been shown to be as intelligent as 3 year old children and more intelligent than dogs. How can we just say - "because you can't talk, and because you don't look like me, I am going to imprison you in the most deplorable conditions and kill you for food"? Who has the authority to place a value on what life is more valuable than another? Animals have feelings and families just like us. The only difference between humans and animals is a rational mind, and some people may say that humans are superior because of that. However, many mentally challenged people do not have the ability to rationalize either, and a lot of people would find it deplorable to say that they are inferior beings because of their mental state.
It is not anti-human to be pro-animal. The more we can increase our consideration we have for animals, think of how MUCH more consideration we will have for humans. Sometimes animal rights activists appear as though they are anti-human, but they feel that animals are SO neglected by society that they have to ignore all else and put their LIFE into doing all they can do to further those rights. To them, we have a worldwide slave trade going on. Animals are legally regarded as property and nothing more so. Pets can be taken away just like children can be taken away for maltreatment, but farm animals have nearly no legal protection. They can be treated like garbage, and half of the baby chicks in the egg industry ARE garbage. They throw them alive into grinders or let them suffocate in the trash. How sad is that? How is that different from doing that to a baby? A human baby is an innocent, harmless being, and so is a baby animal. There is just not time for animal activists to be worried about higher rights - such as civil rights. At least any people lacking higher rights aren't being exploited and tortured right now. As soon as animals' basic physical comfort rights are taken care of, we (pro-animal people) can then move more of our efforts toward advancing higher human civil rights.
So you see, both of those types of rights in question right now are nowhere near on the same level. If we ever do get humans and animals to the same level, then so-called animal rights activists will be the first ones to push for human civil rights just as much. By the way, many animal activists are largely in support of human freedoms. (I receive emails on human rights issues, e.g.) They are just so passionate about the animal side and consumed by the urgency of the situation that it appears that they don't care.
Even if people do admit to animals needing more rights than they have (or don't have) right now, then there is the whole circle of life argument where people say death is a part of life. That is true, but why should we have the right to decide who lives and who dies - human or animal? Also, I can understand people who say that hunting animals for food is natural, and I agree - that it is when you are living in the wilderness (although, I wouldn't do it or endorse it), but factory farms (where 99% of animal products are produced in this country) are despicable and anything but natural. PLUS, we have an amazingly abundant, variety-filled food supply which makes it easy to find alternatives to torturing one or more animals just for one's dinner. I've been animal product-free for almost a year now, and I hardly notice the difference between my diet now and before, and it is sad that so many people are under the illusion of needing their meat, dairy, or eggs, and even sadder if they are not under that illusion and need it just because they like the taste.
Anyhow, that was kind of going off on a tangent, but it's somewhat relevant since food is one of the major reasons for animal exploitation.
So I think you can see that I believe that humans and animal rights are equally important because humans ARE animals - sentient beings with the desire to live.
Phew, that's a lot.

Edit: So it's really ironic that I just happened to get a proposed Animal Bill of Rights from the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the mail today.
Here are the rights they are pushing for.
  • The right of animals to be free from exploitation, cruelty, neglect, and abuse

  • The right of farmed animals to an environment that satisfies their basic physical and psychological needs [although I don't believe that animals should be farmed, but at least this would be a step in the right direction]

  • The right of companion animals to a healthy diet, protective shelter and adequate medical care.

  • The right of wildlife to a natural habitat, ecologically sufficient to a normal existence and a self-sustaining species population.

  • The right of animals to be freed from cruel and unnecessary experimentation and testing.

  • The right of animals to have their interests represented in court and safeguarded by the law of the land.

Those aren't too outrageous, right? I think people run at the mention of animal rights because they are very fearful that we are trying to make animals more important than people. No - just trying to give them equal consideration in terms of the right to a free and natural life. Now, show me somewhere that humans are kept in the conditions that animals are kept in, and I will say let's take care of that and give that just as much importance as changing the conditions for animals. The thing is we have already guaranteed these very basic things to humans, so why shouldn't we extend it to animals?
ALSO, people run because animal activists have been given a bad name by a just a few crazies that get all the press. Not all of us, in fact, most of us are normal, non-militant people who see an egregious social injustice occurring.

crossposted at