Necessary caveat: I love animals.
I don’t believe in animals being slaughtered inhumanely or tortured while they are alive. I don’t believe our current factory farming system is very healthy for us or ethical to animals or the best solution for protecting the environment. I don’t believe the general wastefulness in our culture regarding food – especially meat – is acceptable. I do believe many people could benefit from eating less meat. I don’t believe in abusing farm animals, pets, or wild animals in any way.
Animal rights is bullsh*t.
I do not oppose “animal rights” in the sense of promoting specific policies to limit the sufferings of beings that are capable of suffering, feeling pain, etcetera. These policies – such as laws against torturing or abusing animals or bestiality, for example – are compassionate and morally necessary.
I vehemently oppose animal rights, because animal rights activism is a dangerous ideological movement.
If animal rights activism was an issues-based movement, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, however, this is not the case (and you can see the same thing with feminism).
According to Wikipedia:
Advocates of animal rights as well as activists for animal liberation hold the view that to deny the most basic needs of sentient creatures—such as the avoidance of pain—to non-human animals, on the basis of species membership alone, is a form of discrimination akin to racism or sexism. Many animal rights advocates argue that non-human animals should be regarded as persons and members of the moral community whose interests deserve legal protection.
When most of us hear the term “animal rights”, we assume an issues-based perspective. Unfortunately, the reality is that most (there is argument within that community, of course) animal rights activists assume an ideology-based perspective, and this is made clear by their choice of wording.
Animal rights is not about limiting suffering to beings who can experience suffering.
Animal rights is the idea that because humans are animals, animals are humans.
This is a logically untenable position.
Scientifically speaking, human beings are animals.
And yes, of course, animal rights activists en masse are not implying that animals are literally homo sapiens.
But animal rights activists are saying that human beings are just members of the kingdom animalia, and therefore, we have no right to use animals for our own purposes.
(This ideological premise, of course, has far-reaching consequences in regard to how human beings interact with each other within the human species, but we’ll get to that.)
I used to be a vegetarian. I used to donate to PETA. I used to call myself an animal rights activist. My dad and I discussed this facet of my life all the time. And every single debate we would have, he always made one point that I could never adequately answer – and, over time, my inability to maintain a consistent worldview and call myself an animal rights activist led to me dropping the latter.
I realized that not only was I lowering my fellow human beings to the level of “just animals”, but I was eroding the very safety of the animals I loved and wanted to protect.
If humans are just animals, why do we have any moral or ethical compulsion to protect animals at all?
If humans are just animals, we should logically be allowed to use them for our own needs with zero limitations whatsoever. No other animal but human beings intentionally “respects” any right of any other animal outside of their species.
If humans are just animals, I see absolutely no coherent logical, ethical, or moral reason that I shouldn’t be able to torture a kitten for fun if I felt like it.
I used to think I was pretty smart back then about animal rights – but I couldn’t answer this question. There were others I couldn’t answer, either, like “Why can we eat plants but not animals? Where is the line?”, but it was this argument that ultimately stuck with me enough that I gave up the term “animal rights” and eventually gave up my vegetarianism after about five years.
What brought me to my father’s side of this argument was not initially the fact that placing animals on par with people harms people, but the fact that it harms animals by eroding our moral compulsion to protect them because we are higher beings. I believe now that is is abundantly clear that protecting animals as property is what will minimize their very real suffering – not giving them rights as beings.
But there’s a deeper truth here. This isn’t just about animals and what serves to further their protection (though that is a worthy cause).
I would have denied it at the time, but the truth is clear: I was one of those people who actually valued protecting animals over protecting people.
It sounds revolting to say it outright – but this is actually an extremely common belief within our culture. The animal rights activists just happen to directly personify this view, and use this view to further their ideological goals.
Take this example:
“Over the course of thirty years of asking high school or college students if they would first try to save their dog or a stranger, 2/3 have always voted against the person. Either they don’t know what they would do, or they actually vote for the dog.”
My jaw dropped upon hearing this statistic. How utterly depraved has our society become that two thirds of people would choose a dog over a person?!
I love animals. I really do. I have had many pets throughout my life that I saw as “part of the family”. I have always strived to respect and protect animals. In fact, based solely on ‘feelings’, there are certain animals I like a hell of a lot more than certain people.
However, if it came down to saving a random person, or saving a beloved pet, well…
Human beings are human beings – and any human being is inherently more valuable than any non-human animal.
To me, as someone who believes in God, the argument is simple: God created human beings in his image. We are to be stewards of this planet and it’s creatures. We have been granted not only a higher intellect, but souls, and with that power also comes the responsibility to use it properly.
Even speaking only pragmatically, without bringing up any sort of inherent value based on God’s design, I beg of you to think of the outcome when we view the animal as on par with the human.
Slaughter of the elderly.
Slaughter of the mentally disabled.
If you do not see human beings, all human beings, as inherently valuable, you will create a culture of death and evil.
That is reason enough, no “irrational” belief in God required.
Animal rights activism is dangerous for animals and their protection – and it is even more dangerous to humanity and our future.