Animal Rights


Animal Rights: Bad

Animal Welfare: Good

Vegans

Inconsistency of the "Animal Cruelty" charge


Animal Rights: Bad
 
How are we to decide which animals get rights? Do only mammals get rights? What about birds? What about fish and crustaceans? Reptiles and amphibians? Insects and arachnids? I suppose the more pain and suffering an animal is capable of feeling, the more protected it should be. But how can we determine whether a given animal can feel significant amounts of pain? Certainly primates and other mammals like cats and dogs can feel pain, but what about tadpoles or goldfish? Or snails? If we start protecting those animals, other animals higher up the food chain which are kept as pets will be forced to starve. What is a pet boa constrictor snake to eat if mice and hamsters are protected by animal rights laws?  Ownership of all predatory animals will have to be outlawed since it will be impossible to legally feed such animals. Some animals need live prey to trigger their feeding instinct. Will such pets be banned in a vegan's ideal world?

On the issue of equality and fairness: Will cats get the same rights as mice? They're both mammals that can feel pain.  Should they both have the right to life and the right to not be harmed? If so, what are we to do with a cat that catches and kills a mouse? Were the mouse's rights violated? Clearly they were. Does this mean the cat should be punished? If so, why? The cat merely did what was natural. Cats chase little things that move quickly. This is hard-wired into any cat's behavior as all cat owners know. Punishing an animal merely for acting on its natural instincts seems absurd, yet that is exactly what we'll have to do if one animal violates the so-called "legal rights" of another.


Animal Welfare: Good

While I don't believe in giving legal rights to animals, there should definitely be laws protecting their welfare, specifically laws that prevent the abuse and other cruel treatment of animals that can clearly experience pain and suffering. The conditions in modern slaughterhouses and dairy farms are absolutely appalling and should be outlawed immediately if not sooner. If this results in more expensive protein and dairy products, then so be it. Perpetuating animal cruelty merely because it's profitable is inexcusable. The movie "Meet Your Meat" is a good visual depiction of why I believe so.

I think it's okay to raise animals for food as long as they're treated humanely their entire lives, and it's okay to kill them as long as their death is quick, painless, and free of emotional trauma.  Dr. Temple Grandin has made great strides in this endeavor.



Vegans

I've often heard vegans say
"Animals have a right to life and a right to freedom, something you take for granted.  We have no right to kill animals!"  It seems impossible for a vegan to build any case against the humane slaughter of animals without talking about "rights".  So I ask the question:  Where & how did animals get their rights?
As I've explained on this page, I don't believe in natural rights, human rights or any other kind of rights except legal rights, which are granted to us by the local authorities.  In most of the world, rights have not been granted to animals, which means animals have no rights to violate.


Inconsistency of the "Animal Cruelty" charge

Suppose I choke a rat to death with my bare hands and throw it away. Is this animal cruelty? Most people would agree that it is.  What if I feed the dead rat to my injured boa constrictor that cannot constrict?  In that case, I killed the rat in much the same way the snake would have killed it before eating it.  I simply did the injured snake a service.  Am I still guilty of animal cruelty?  If yes, that means all owners of constricting snakes are facilitating animal cruelty when they feed their animals. If not, that means whether I committed a cruel act or not depends on what I do with the dead animal's carcass.  But how can my treatment of a carcass be used to determine whether I treated a living animal in a cruel manner?

{go back to Controversial Topics}