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UNDERSTANDING THE ANIMAL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

Dogs Are My Patronus

Veterinary Scientist blogging about dog training and ownership and general animal welfare. 

UNDERSTANDING THE ANIMAL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

Natalia Alexandrov

Animal welfare or animal rights?

“What’s the difference?” some might ask. On the surface it seems like a minor semantic difference, but in reality, the difference in position on morality regarding the treatment of animals goes much deeper.

PETA is arguably the most infamous animal rights group, and many animal rights activists attempt to defend them and their appalling actions by claiming that it has only recently devolved, and they remain hopeful that it is still salvageable.

Unfortunately, the belief that PETA’s hard stance regarding the keeping on domestic animals is only a recent development is not only completely false, but speaks against the entire foundation of the animal rights movement.

The animal rights movement is fueled by one principle: animals are not property, and the keeping and caring for all domestic animals should be eradicated.

Let me repeat that, because I think it’s something many self-proclaimed animal rights activists haven’t fully understood: ARA groups are against the keeping and caring for all domestic animals. Not just livestock, but all domestic animals: cats, dogs, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, et cetera.

Gary L Francione, a professor of law and animal rights advocate, writes the following excerpts in his book, “Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or The Dog?”

“My position is simple: we are obligated to extend to animals only one right—the right not to be treated as the property of humans.”

“I argue that as long as animals are regarded as property, they will be treated as things without moral status, and without morally significant interests. I argue that animals have only one right—a right not to be treated as property or resources.”

Tom Regan, an animal rights activist, had this to say:

“The ultimate objective of the animal rights view is the total dissolution of the animal industry as we know it.” (The Animal Rights Controversy)

Ingrid Newkirk, the co-founder of PETA, has said all of the following:

“Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.” (The Washington Post, November 13, 1983)

“Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation.” (Washington Magazine, August 1986)

“Eventually companion animals would be phased out.” (Harper’s Magazine, August 1988)

“Homelessness drives me crazy! I have more sympathy for animals because they don’t deserve anything that happens to them.” (Reader’s Digest, June 1990)

“Humans have grown like a cancer. We’re the biggest blight on the face of the Earth.” (Reader’s Digest, June 1990)

“One day, we would like an end to pet shops and the breeding of animals. [Dogs] would pursue their natural lives in the wild.” (Chicago Daily Herald, March 1, 1990)

Both Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pachecto (Pachecto is another co-founder of PETA), consider Peter Singer to be the “father” of the modern animal liberation movement. Who is Peter Singer? He is the philosopher who compared the use of animals for experiments and eating to human slavery and racism. Singer is also the one who coined the term “speciesism”.

While PETA correspondent Kathy Guillermo insists that PETA neither supports nor commits terrorist acts, there is much evidence to contradict her.

“In 1992, FBI director Louis Freeh cited one example where PETA sent $45,200 to defend Rodney Coronado, a member of the ALF who pleaded guilty to arson at the mink research facility at Michigan State University. Freeh claimed that the amount spent to defend Coronado was 15 times the amount PETA spent on animal shelters nationwide during that same year.” (Professor Leland Shapiro, Applied Animal Ethics)

“Terrorism carries no moral or ethical connotations. It is simply the definition of a particular type of coercion […] It is up to the animal rights spokespersons either to dismiss the terrorist label as propaganda or make it a badge to be proud of wearing.” (Kevin Beeday, Animals’ Agenda [A PETA publication] March 1990)

“Arson, property destruction, burglary, and theft are ‘acceptable crimes’ when used for the animals’ cause.” (Alex Pachecto, co-founder of PETA, Gazette Mail, Charleston, WV, January 15, 1989)

If that wasn’t clear enough, this is PETA’s official position on companion animals:

“Companion animals eat when and what we want them to. As John Bryant has written in his book “Fettered Kingdoms”, they are like slaves, even if well-kept slaves.”

When questioned about the slaughter of healthy rabbits and roosters, who had been “rescued from abusive situations”, at Aspen Hill, a PETA Sanctuary, Ingrid Newkirk explained that she is not against “mercy killings”, but merely “the frivolous slaughter of animals.” (The Animal Rights Movement, 2003)

The hypocrisy behind the fact that she has appointed herself as the judge, jury, and executioner entitled to sentence healthy roosters and rabbits to a “merciful death” while simultaneously opposing the death of broiler chickens—going so far as to compare their deaths to the Holocaust—has somehow managed to escape both her and her followers.

It is undeniable fact that the animal right’s movement is founded in the belief that animal ownership is immoral, and akin to slavery. It is also an undeniable fact that many animal right’s activists, including the founders of PETA, believe that death is a better fate than animal “slavery”. It is an undeniable fact that the majority of the people who first gave birth to this movement, many of which are affiliated with or financially supported by PETA, believe that terrorism is an acceptable way to fight for their cause.

Interestingly enough, Gary L Francione, an animal rights advocate, made an eloquent point on the topic of animal ethics, cited below:

“Human treatment of animals is first and foremost a moral issue; it concerns how humans ought to behave toward animals. […] As a general matter, we cannot prove moral matters in the same way that we can, say, prove that two plus two equals four. […] Most moral matters do not lend themselves to the certainty that we can have about mathematics. […] We may have compelling arguments that support our moral views, but we cannot say that those views are indisputably true and certain in the way that “two plus two equals four” is indisputably true and certain.” (Gary L Francione, Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or The Dog?)

Of course, he continues by explaining why his moral stance on animal rights is the more compelling argument, which is where we continue to disagree. It is here that I would like to add two citations explaining the danger of the moral principles of the animal right’s movement.

“Rights protect people from other people in the name of human life. The concept is totally inapplicable to animals, which do not possess reason, cannot grasp moral principles, and cannot volitionally direct their action.” –Professor Edwin Locke

“The idea of animal rights may set out to ensure that animals are treated as human beings, but by blurring the essential distinction between the two, it lends itself just as readily to the suggestion that human beings may be treated as animals […] Thus, the doctrine that purports to elevate the status of all living things is, in the end, a doctrine that debases the status of mankind, and endangers our essential freedoms.” –Constance Horner, United States Under Secretary of Health and Human Services

The belief that animals have equal rights to humans introduces more questions than it answers. If I hit a raccoon with my car, is it manslaughter? If all animals have equal rights, do we have to stop animals from killing other animals?

Gary L Francione says, “no! Of course not!” Because, of course, logic says, “that is absurd.” But if we embrace the moral philosophy behind animal rights and animal equality, then this is the road we will inevitably travel. Even if Francione himself distances himself from animal “equality” as it were, and focuses solely on eradication of ownership, it is this kind of philosophy that begets that sort of rationale, and while Francione may not share these moral beliefs, many other animal rights activists do.

Not only does the animal rights movement create a philosophical wormhole, but the fallaciously ignorant and naïve idealism behind the dream of a world with no domestic animals who live peacefully and “free” amongst humans, is environmentally utterly unsustainable.

We are already dealing with a serious bird extinction problem due to the sheer amount of feral and free-roaming cats that are permitted to hunt freely. Cats are responsible for no less than 33 bird extinctions. A world in which cats are left to live and breed freely is absolutely implausible. Can you imagine how many cats would be foraging and hunting for food, fighting over resources?

We don’t have to imagine it. It’s already happening! And not just in the United States. Ecology.com reports:

“A recent incident occurred outside of Belfort, France, where six feral cats attacked a 31-year-old woman and her poodle, dragged her to the ground and left the woman bleeding from a torn artery. At Dhaka Children’s Hospital in Dhaka, India, a feral cat entered the neonatal ward and pulled a six-day-old newborn off her bed onto the floor and made it to the ward’s open door before being stopped.” (http://www.ecology.com/2013/08/27/global-impact-feral-cats/)

It would severely upset the ecosystem—it’s already upsetting the ecosystem—and how would we fix the problem? We can’t hunt them or cull them. According to animal right’s morality, we can’t even catch and sterilize them and then release them again, because that would be a violation of their bodily autonomy and their rights. Cats are a prime example of a domestic animal that is generally left to live however it pleases and behave exactly how it wants, resulting in feral colonies that are wreaking havoc.

And what about dogs? The idea of releasing domestic dogs out to be free is not only implausible but poses a viable threat to humans. If feral cats are already posing a physical threat, how much more of a threat would the dogs pose? We are not prepared to deal with that many dogs hunting for resources, and once-tame dogs will join together to hunt any prey they can find, and a hungry pack of dogs will not pass by your cul-de-sac with a happy wag of their tails.

No, releasing livestock and other domestic pets to live their lives freely is absurdly implausible, and PETA knows this. When they say they dream of a world where dogs live free from the restraints of their owners, they mean they dream of a world without any domestic animals at all.

Animal rights activism isn’t about animal rights at all, because there is absolutely no possible situation in which their idealism could be a reality. There is no possible situation in which humans could truly refrain from impeding on animals’ rights, unless willing to be harmed or even die for their sake.

Animal rights activism is rooted in radical misanthropy and is riddled with philosophical and scientific inaccuracies and hypocrisy. As humans it is good and right that we question the morality of the things that we do, but determining what is feasible and realistic is a huge part of that. The animal rights movement is fueled by nothing more than faux moral superiority and a fairy tale.