Mar 182010

In an article from Switzerland:

Projections show Swiss voters have rejected a plan to appoint special lawyers for animals that have been abused by humans.

71 percent of voters cast their ballot against the proposal by animal rights activists to extend nationwide a system already in place in Zurich since 1992.

Switzerland tightened its animal protection laws two years ago and now has among the strictest rules anywhere when it comes to caring for pets and farm animals. Pigs, budgies, goldfish and other social animals cannot be kept alone; horses and cows must have regular exercise outside their stalls; and dog owners have to take a training course to learn how to properly look after their pets.

Tiana Angelina Moser, a lawmaker for the Green Liberal Party, said animal rights campaigners would now be looking for other ways to make sure laws against animal abuse are properly applied and those who hurt them receive appropriate punishment. (AP)

Also recently we see continued opposition to the seal hunt in Canada.  Two pin-up models called the Barbi Twins say that they are boycotting coming to Canada unless the government bans the seal hunt permanently.  Shane Barbi-Wahl has said that “The people around the world hate you guys for killing defenseless babies.”

Those who anthropomorphize animals are guilty of believing a non-concept…Animal Rights.  It is a mixing of categories.  Rights apply only to the rational animal man while other animals have only status in our world.  As someone once said “I’ll give animals rights once they ask for them.” This bit of humour actually spells out a requirement for rights – that is the ability of being rational enough to be able to identify what a right is.

The people who believe in animal rights are guilty of something I would classify as immoral… that is, denigrating their own stature as a human while elevating the status of non-rational animals.

The growing number of vegans in the world is another indication of the belief that using animals is counter to nature and immoral when in fact the exact opposite is true.

Vegan is a term coined by Donald Watson in 1944.  In his own definition it ” denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

Note that the goal is to the benefit of humans yet denying humans animal-derived food and clothing can’t be considered a benefit unless he is thinking of some fairy tale benefit.  The goal is to benefit animals and the environment as well.  As if man should sacrifice his self for the benefit of animals and the environment?

Tom Regan, a leading proponent of animal rights and professor emeritus of philosophy at North Carolina State University, argues that animals are entities which possess “inherent value, and therefore have “basic moral rights,” and that the principal moral right they possess is “the right to respectful treatment.”  Regan additionally argues that animals have a “basic moral right not to be harmed,” which can be overridden only when the individual’s right not to be harmed is “morally outweighed” by “other valid moral principles.” From this “rights view,” Regan argues that “animal agriculture, as we know it, is unjust” even when animals are raised “humanely.”

Tom Regan is wrong in so many ways.  If animals possess inherent values, we should not conclude therefore that they have rights.  My computer has an inherent value to me but it doesn’t have rights.  It is property.  As are all animals.  All animals are property.  They have status, not rights.

Regan is also wrong in the use of the term “basic moral right” There is only one fundamental right and that is the right to life.  This right is a concept applied only to man in a social context, not to animals.  His use of the word moral is also misplaced.  Morality is a concept applied to the actions of men who either act morally according to their nature as rational beings or immorally meaning irrationally to the detriment of his own life.

In his book The Case for Animal Rights,.  Regan points out that we routinely ascribe inherent value, and thus the right to be treated with respect, to humans who are not rational, including infants and the severely mentally impaired.

What he fails to understand is that infants, the severely mentally impaired and even many elderly don’t really have rights in our society.  They have status.  An infant or child is simply not permitted to exercise the rights that an adult is.  We routinely lock up people who are mentally impaired or infirm due to old age.  And yet we want to make sure that chickens aren’t kept in cages and are allowed to roam free by right?

Tom Regan’s writings, amongst others, have fed the move for animal rights and veganism.

If you don’t eat meat or other animal products because you believe it to be healthier for you that would be a proper moral choice because at the centre of your choice is yourself.

If you don’t eat meat because you equate an animal’s life to be equal to your own then that would be an immoral choice cheapening your own life and raising the life an animal to the status of humans.

What is somewhat ironic is that prior to a technological and capitalist world, vegans could not survive.  They need the variety of fresh fruit and vegetables only available in a global free market and they need the vitamin supplements (calcium, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron and Iodine) available only through the advancements made by science and technology.

I mention this because vegans, for the most part, share many of the beliefs of the left of the political spectrum:  anti-industrial, socialist, anti-capitalist, anti-technological and above all egalitarian.

Human egalitarianism, (in the way the left uses it) is the false belief not that all humans are politically equal before the law, but that people either are or should be equal in personal attributes, and virtues, regardless of their natural endowments or individual choices, performance and character.   This is a denial of reality.  People are born with a varying degree of attributes or though personal choice are able to be of greater or lesser value to others.

Animal egalitarianism or species egalitarianism: is human egalitarianism taken one step further to include not just all humans but all animals.  Not in just a political sense that all animals share a right to life.  But in that same metaphysical sense that all animals are equal regardless of their attributes or values.  They equate a rational man with a new-born seal, or a cow, or a chicken.

Nature and reality have created many animal species with varying attributes and endowments.  Superior to all is the rational animal, man.  Those who would have us ban the seal hunt or give rights to animals are fighting reality.  They see that reality has created an injustice in their eyes (that all animals are not created equal) and are using man-made institutions, like the courts, to correct this injustice.  They will inevitably fail of course as does anyone who denies reality.  But not before people suffer as a consequence.  It may be the thousands of sealers left unemployed when their livelihood is taken away or it may be the Swiss person imprisoned for keeping only one goldfish when we all know that goldfish are social animals and have a right to a companion.

(Originally aired on Just Right, Show #143, March 18th, 2010.  To listen to the show go to //