By: James Sherrod – find him on Twitter.
As she often does, our Editor-At-Large and writer Stefanie MacWilliams posted a thought provoking, slightly triggering article called “No, Animals Should Not Have Rights. Here’s Why.”
I do not normally write additional thoughts to Stefanie’s articles because I agree with her on most topics, largely because we have very similar world views. However, this article contains some thoughts that Stefanie touches on that I think are important not to miss. As I read through this article and the viewpoints of those who disagreed with it, I noticed a few key lessons we should all learn.
I find Stefanie to be a critical thinker that is fairly good at taking ideas to their logical conclusion. This is a really important skill that many people lack and don’t even understand. What this means is taking an idea or viewpoint and looking at the world through the lenses of that idea being true. Then, you think about what other beliefs you must accept, and what actions you would support if this idea was part of your world view.
This skill is so important, but is not taught in school – or obtained through a journalism degree for that matter.
A great teachable moment to learn this skill comes when Stefanie quotes the animal rights activist’s idea that animals should be treated the same as humans. More specifically, the idea that treating an animal differently based on species is discriminatory comparable to being racist. This viewpoint is a great example of a dead end idea. If someone, like myself, cares about nature or animals it is completely illogical to hold this viewpoint.
Time to follow this idea to its logical conclusion by assuming the views of an animals rights activist.
1: The distinction of species should not be used to treat animals differently than humans.
Now, obviously the goal is for animals to be treated more like people, not to raise and slaughter humans for food. Since this is the case, we can take rules that me have for each other as humans and apply them to animals.
2: Humans should not kill each other, and definitely should not eat other humans.
This seems acceptable enough to move on to the next logical thought. Some would argue overpopulation of animals, but as an animal right activist, that would be a good thing.
3: Now that the species barrier is gone our laws also apply to the animals, otherwise the law would be discriminating based on species.
This seems like it is going to be a tough idea to maintain. Treating all species the same might not be as easy as we thought, but lets see where this takes us.
4: Since point 1,2, and 3 are true, that means all animal species should not be allowed to murder or eat each other.
This is where we have to bail on the idea of species being an arbitrary barrier. Now that animals should no longer be allowed to kill or eat each other nature is destroyed. The food chain is halted, and basically all animal life, especially mammals, die.
This process of bringing an idea to its logical conclusion is often depicted as a flow chart for troubleshooting as seen belo
Applying this to political views can be really helpful to finding what views you actually stand for. The lack of the ability to take ideas all the way to their logical conclusion is a major cause of disagreement in the American political sphere.
Things like abortion, eugenics, and euthanasia are good examples of major stances that ignore the conclusions that they will eventually lead to.
Another important thing to note in Stefanie’s article is her commitment to self improvement.
She describes the evolution of her personal thoughts on animals rights in a way that gives us a picture of her introspective mind. In the limited conversations I have had with her I have found self improvement to be a quality she constantly practices.
This is also a really important quality that the American public completely lacks, and is a root problem of government entitlements. It is so much easier for us to say, “the government needs to take care of these poor people!”, but when was the last time you personally helped a poor person? We all fall short in this area, but the reality is the only real change in the world comes from the individual level.
Laws may encourage or discourage certain actions but it is impossible to regulate righteousness. Sadly the American culture does not value self improvement beyond plastic surgery. We would rather change the world to accommodate us instead of work on our own character or lifestyle. How much better would our nation be if we all focused on improving our own community instead of a government that applies huge blanket laws over the entire population?
As technology improves, the need to self improve and practice self control becomes more and more important.
Take food for example. In the USA we do not value food because it is really easy to get. Instead of growing, threshing, milling, and cooking wheat for bread we just go get some at the store. Technology and progress made it so easy to get food in a short time that we really don’t even think about it. It takes a conscience effort to teach ourselves the value of food, because it is not created by our way of life anymore
Animal rights seems to have decreased with progress as well for the same reason. Instead of risking your own life to kill a buffalo for your family, you just drive to the grocery store and buy some meat. This example may seem silly, but it has become so easy to raise and kill animals that we really don’t value the animal at all anymore.
My fear is actually that humans and animals WILL be treated the same. As technology enables us to kill humans with unprecedented ease, our value for human life falls. The murder of a baby reduced to the words “just abort it” and dropping bombs from the comfort of a computer chair are examples of this.
Unless we all learn to analyze our beliefs, and make a conscience effort to improve, we will loose our value for human life completely.