Animal Rights 3 Essay, Research Paper
“But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh, we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time that they had been born to enjoy.”(Plutarch). Each year, over five billion animals are consumed by Americans, yet still most people sit and eat their hamburgers without even thinking where they come from. Fact is, that most people don t want to know the truth about animal consumption because they are afraid to realize that their barbaric practice of meat eating might be morally wrong, and nobody likes to be wrong. To protect the people from being wrong, the truth is hidden from them, by the meat industry, dairy industry, and all other corporations that profit from the torment and agony of others. The truth is, that animals are sentient beings, with the ability to experience pain, suffering, and pleasure; and clearly, therefore, must not be tortured, abused, or murdered for human benefit.
The opposition of the Animal Rights Movement believes that animals are inferior to man and therefore can justifiably be used for human pleasure/benefit. For example, Edwin Locke, talking about animal rights activists, says “The animal rights terrorists are like the unabomber and Oklahoma city bombers. They are not idealists seeking justice, but nihilists seeking destruction for the sake of destruction.” It is true that some animal rights activists have resorted to destructive means after acts of peaceful protest and civil disobedience have failed to liberate the animals; But if these people are terrorists, then so were the soldiers that broke down the gates of Hitler s death camps, and the members of the underground railroad who freed the slaves of the south, and those who destroyed forever the gas chambers of Buchanwald and Auschwitz. These destructive actions that very few animal rights activists partake in, have absolutely nothing in common with the actions of the unabomber or Oklahoma city bombers because of the simple fact that the bombers act out of hate, and the animal rights “terrorists” act out of compassion; and relating the two causes a very false description of the animal rights movement. In addition, Edwin Locke also says “The choice to think can be negated only by the use of physical force.” What he is trying to say is that when animal rights “terrorists” use physical force, they are invalidating their choice to think; but if this is true, then when humans use physical force to kill and eat animals, they too, are invalidating their choice to think. When Locke said this, he obviously did not realize that it would hurt his own argument more than the opposing one, and this reflects a lack of intelligence and a lack of solid arguments for those who agree with his viewpoint. Instead of trying to justify animal abuse, Locke tried to label animal rights activists as bad, and if they are bad, they must be wrong; by using this as the backbone for his argument, he not only demonstrated a lack of intelligence for himself, but for his argument, too. The use of destructive tactics for animal liberation is a whole controversial issue in itself, but that is besides the point; the point is that until humans open their eyes and think, we will not realize that the way we treat animals is wrong.
Animals have emotions similar to humans in that they have the ability to experience feelings, preferences, and consciousness. For example, “All lives have independent value regardless of their relationships and effects on anyone else.”(Regan). This is true because all life has value, even if it is a boring and dim life, it still has worth, and nobody has the right to take that away. For humans to think they have the right to take innocent lives shows their utter disregard and lack of respect for all forms of life. In addition “Any being with inherent value is therefore valuable and cannot be replaced.”(Regan). The basic moral right possessed by all subjects of inherent value is the right to respectful treatment. By murdering animals for our benefit, we are not showing them respect, and therefore, we are denying animals their basic moral rights. All beings who possess inherent value have it equally, and they all must be treated with equal respect and compassion.
Most everyone agrees that prejudice is wrong, but what they don t realize is that regarding animals as inferior because they are non-human, is a form of prejudice called specieism. For example, Peter Singer states that “The interests of the proposed subjects (animals) are simply denied equal consideration because of their species, not because the interests in question are different, or the damage to their interests is less.” Many people argue that humans have the ability to reason and think and animals don t, and because we are smarter than the animals , so, therefore we justly can discriminate against them however we please. According to this logic, we can justly kill and eat the mentally retarded, and test our new and risky medicines on them; but we do not treat them this way, because of one simple reason, they are the same species as us. In addition, “An experiment using a non-human animal is justifiable only if the same experiment would be justifiable if performed on a human being at a similar or lesser level of mental ability who had no prospect for mental development.” This is a true statement because an experiment must have a worthy cause to risk a life, and if that cause is not worthy of risking a human life, then it is not worthy of risking an animal s life. If we object morally to an experiment performed on a similarly situated human being (severely retarded or brain damaged) , then the experiment must be morally objectionable when performed on animals. To avoid specieism we must allow that beings which are similar in all relevant respects have a similar right to life, and mere membership of our own species cannot be morally relevant criteria for this right.
Mankind will continue to be haunted until each persons humanity awakens to the fact it is wrong to cause animals harm for our own selfish benefits. We must realize that the way we treat animals is morally wrong and we must stop our parsimonious ways of animal injustice before it is too late to make a change. The animals are not ours to abuse or dominate, and they have the right to be treated with compassion and respect. Animal liberation can only be achieved through a radical transformation of human consciousness and overthrow of the existing power structure; but until this happens, the animals will not be emancipated. When thinking to ourselves about animals, we must remember the simple words of Jeremy Bentham: “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but rather, Can they suffer?”