Animal Rights

I have posted previously on animal rights. Here I addressed the narrow topic of bullfighting, and here I basically outlined the simple truth that carnivores are less energy efficient than herbivores - thus making a less meat-oriented society one that is easier to feed. Obviously I do care about animals; my dog is lying a foot away from me after an intense play session we had, and one does not have to look beyond this blog to find a picture of her, which is more than I can say for my human family. In addition, I do think vegetarianism is a good thing, and I think at the very least many more people should be inspired to eat less meat. Despite all this, I recently got into a somewhat heated debate on on the topic of animal rights - with me seemingly being on the side against them. (You can see it all here.)

The point of the article was basically that people shouldn't criticize hunters for killing animals when they themselves eat meat, which is certainly valid; I couldn't agree more. The obvious tilt of the article that both the hunters and omnivores are in the wrong and the comment on a hunter getting injured being a good thing however sparked me to sarcastically debase myself as backward and primitive Alaskan too stupid to move beyond what humanity has done since its existence. Along with this I changed my profile picture to what it is for this blog... and so I got a lot of backlash, most of which I probably deserved. All the other comments on the article came up against me, but I am still not quite swayed by the arguments I read. Here are the key points: 1. Taking animal life is not necessary to sustain human life. 2. Life is more important than human luxury. 3. Thus, humans should not use animal life for their sustenance.

Idealist that I am, this does make some sense. Obviously my view of the sanctity of human life is absolute, as has been expressed on this blog many times before - and at times it might not be too much of a stretch to jump this respect for life to animal life - but really, I cannot take the step and say that animals have full and absolute rights as humans do. I simply cannot. I get into enough trouble as it is applying my absolute belief in human beings' right to life. For many this ideal of mine seems ludicrous if not outright insulting. In defending it I must, for example, deal with the idea of there being "just wars" such as the one people think began for us 67 years ago yesterday. Then on the other end of the spectrum there are the personal situations - i.e. self-defense or family atrocities - that people throw at me as pressing examples of the justice that may be found in killing. All of this pretty difficult to deal with, but such amazing examples as Gandhi and my fundamental belief in humanism and the invaluableness of human life continue to inspire me to stick to my guns. (Pardon the bad pun...)

When you start saying that animals are invaluable too... then the idealism goes way too far. As with absolutism on human life, this will take you down a slope towards stands that are hard to bear. With animals, however, you are led down a slippery one that leads to ridiculousness beyond comprehension.

Firstly, why animals? I must conclude the difference for vegans between the sanctity of bacteria, plants or fungi and that of animals must lie in the capacity of animals to experience pain. For me this is a problem already. We as humans believe we have rights because they are natural, not because we experience pain. Indeed, no human being has the right to be free of pain. I think our rights are more along the lines of life, liberty, equality, brotherhood, and the pursuit of happiness. So if you then say animals have natural rights to the above things life through pursuit, how the hell do you draw the line?

Image: Ask an enlightenment thinker: Should we apply natural rights to animals? TJ: "No?"

We enlightened thinkers believe human beings have natural rights because we are special. Humans are set apart from other life - this is an absolute part of the foundation for my philosophy. If "animals" all have natural rights too, should we set up government for mosquitoes? Do cows need the protection of habeus corpus? Believers in "full animal rights" don't limit those rights just to life and/or freedom from pain, do they? Don't they also believe animals should be free and in the wild? Oh wait... animals get killed in the wild. You see, if animals need to be protected from the suffering and death placed on them by humans, I guess we need to be policing the forest. We need to take it upon ourselves to go out and arrest those grizzlies who are taking away the fundamental rights of salmon, deer and even maggots. Bears can be purely herbivores, just as we can, so what justifies them in killing? Or am I getting all this wrong... is it just we humans who need to respect animal rights? Because honestly that doesn't make any sense for me. I was getting read to start passing laws on animal murder. The jail here should start specializing in long-term solitary confinement. I get the feeling those wolves are going to need it. Or wait, would that be causing the wolves pain and taking away their freedom? Crap. I don't know how the hell vegan loonies can justify the millions of holes to be poked into their feel-good arguments.

Some vegans may follow their lifestyle for purely "selfish" reasons, but I'm sure the vast majority have the cute animals in mind. One point that was brought up on was that animal and human rights do not conflict with each other. This is ridiculous. I believe people have a right to be free of malaria. If it were possible for us to make mosquitos extinct I think I would support doing so. There are millions of other situations where animals threaten human life. When we're talking about self-defense among people, that's human rights vs. human rights. When we're up against animals, which rights take precedence? The people I argued with said they weren't saying animals are equal to people. I can accept that. They did seem to be saying that an animal's right to life was equal with ours, however, and I simply cannot accept that.

Obviously I do believe animal's have rights in the sense that we should respect them and not torture them, etc. But should they have the right to not be killed by us? Killing is obviously natural, but the people I argued with seemed to be saying, I suppose, that we should not kill animals because we're human. I think we shouldn't kill humans because we're human. That makes sense to me; we're human, they're human - in a sense when humans kill humans they are saying it can be justified for them to be killed as well. I don't think it would be ok for anyone to kill me, so in turn I won't kill anyone; that's a simple golden principle. When it comes to the rest of the natural world, however, perhaps we should respect it as nature does and accept that death occurs, often at the hands, paws or jaws of other life. There are many abuses humans are guilty of regarding animals today, but this shouldn't lead anyone to thinking that taking animal life is in itself abuse. I did nothing cruel nor in violation of any great natural principle when I shot my deer a few weeks ago; if anything I aided natural selection by removing so stupid a buck.


  1. 'We enlightened thinkers' ???
    The rambling nonsense you write
    here indicates that you are NOT enlightened.

  2. Well, regardless of what the troll said, I enjoyed and agreed with most of the post. I guess that means that I'm an unenlightened fan of rambling nonsense; sue me.


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