To have a liable viewpoint on the topic of Animal Rights, one must practically have the abilities of a well-practiced philosopher. You must be able to fully evaluate the characteristics of every possible relationship, good or bad, between man and his fellow members of the Animal Kingdom, and their potential outcomes. You must also decide if you believe in human exceptionalism, that is, whether or not we are equal to animals. “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” Says Ingrid Newkirk, head of PETA, in 2003, “They are all mammals”. Other individuals, however, such as Wesley J. Smith (2010), believe that this attitude will devalue the “the unique status of humans”. Everyone has their own take on this topic, and, if we resolve this in a civilized and orderly fashion, we can potentially have a perfect balance between humans and the world’s diverse flora and fauna.
Across the globe, there are hundreds of organizations that are constantly fighting for the equality of animals, and the elimination of their mistreatment. Some of the bigger names include the World Wildlife Fund, (WWF), and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). These groups rally, lobby, and petition against criminal acts against practically every species of animal, and believe you me they have their hands full! In some laboratories, primates are being rigorously forced through difficult tests, and on some farming facilities belonging to today’s big corporations, such as the large restaurant chain known as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), animals are being harvested in an inhumane manner.
Among the worst cases is the solicitation of “crush films”, in which puppies and small, cute animals are “slowly crushed or impaled by women wearing heels,” reports David Michael (2010). These videos were banned in 1999 by the Supreme Court, until the federal law had overreached, and the law was overturned. These acts are clear examples of cruelty towards animals, and can never be truly justified. If we take the rights steps, in a warranted and honest manner, then we can stop animal abuse, and save future species from an unruly and unjustified future as slaves to man-kind.
There also exists a whole other group of people who believe that life is just a game of the survival of the fittest, which is similar to the point of view of Wesley J. Smith, author of A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement. He, and many others, believe that “valuing humans over animals is a form of discrimination” against humans, which he describes in his new book published in 2010. He also tells us that giving animals the same legal status takes away from who we are, as the dominant species of Earth. I personally, do not believe this is completely true. We moved these creatures out of their homes to build our houses and buildings, and then polluted them with the carbon outputs of our cities and towns. This makes it our responsibility to help them find new homes any way we can.
On the other hand, he did mention something I could partially relate to. “Humans do indeed have a moral obligation to promote animal welfare, but they are also entitled to use animals, particularly if the use of animals alleviates human suffering.” I can get behind this statement to some extent. There are hundreds of scientists using animals to research possible cures for certain diseases that affect thousands of humans daily. However, harming these animals would be completely unacceptable. We could use alternative solutions, like observing animals in their natural habitats, if possible, and study them there, or at least let them go, unharmed, after the experiment is completed. Although many groups and individuals are taking the right steps to put an end to this epidemic, not everyone likes to play by the rules.
There have been numerous cases of arson, theft, and animal right activists terrorizing companies that test on animals. In fact, “fifty-one out of fifty-eight of the incidents of domestic terrorism identified in the FBI’s report Terrorism 2002-2005 were suspected to have been perpetrated by animal rights activists,” claims Smith (2010). “Which is surprisingly violent for its (animal rights movement) allegedly non-violent goals,” agrees David Michael (2010). Some of the more extreme cases include lighting entire laboratories on fire, death threats, and, in 2007, a researcher’s children being sent HIV-infected needles in the mail. Even PETA is not completely innocent of such acts.
In 1995, they donated over $45 000 to the defense funds of Rodney Coronado, who was guilty of burning down a Michigan State laboratory. PETA finds these are “acceptable crimes…when used for the animal cause,” says Alex Pacheco, a co-founder of PETA. They also compared animal cruelty to the Holocaust in one of their many campaigns, to get their message across crystal clear, which offended many members of the public, and therefore raised many eyebrows. I believe that we must find was to eliminate animal abuse with this ‘militaristic’ component.
In conclusion, I believe that, a long time ago, before man first started his evolutionary track, a balance of rights and respect between our kind and the rest of the world’s fauna existed. However, as we evolved, this balance shifted into our favor. We became the dominant exception in the Animal Kingdom, removing inferior species from their homes, either by enslaving or killing them. This behavior is unacceptable, and must be stopped, because of its excessive injustice towards animals. I also believe that organizations like PETA are on the right track.
In order to make change, we have to fight for it, but to certain extents. Arson and burglary are deplorable, and will only make the problem even worse. We must deal with these issues in a civilized and organized manner. Burning laboratories simply won’t do. Once these steps are taken, and if we are able to treat animals with the respect and value, we will be able to coexist in harmony with the rest of the Animal Kingdom, and the balance we once had can be restored.
Michael, D. (2010, July 21st). Animal Spirits. Retrieved July 30th, 2010, from the Book: http://www.tnr.com/book/review/animal-spirits