Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
It is becoming clear that as a society we are becoming more and more speciesist.
What do you think about those who feel it is completely ok to factory farm, torture and slaughter animals so as to feed them to sustain so called companion animals (dogs and cats) rather than having them put to sleep?
Does this not seem to be completely hypocritical?
Many prominent animal rights advocates struggle with this question.
With many feeling the best way forward is the one with the "least harm" to ALL animals.
If this is the case then it would appear that the "least harm" would then be to humanely put the huge over population of excess companion animals to sleep as to keep them alive and sustain them hundreds of animals would have to suffer and die.
So why is it that our society has become so speciesist?
The utilitarian/consequentialist approach (teleological ethics) is to count the overall balance of suffering vs. benefit (across all persons affected). The utilitarian calculus seems to be very difficult to do/perform, but
The deontologists say that no rights should be traded off for any other rights without the voluntary surrender of those interests or rights. Perhaps who are socially constructed with the label (designs upon them) as 'food animals' do not consent to this; someone else ruled from the TOP DOWN to quash ALL their legitimate interests so that they way THEY wanted the world could emerge (in this case, so they could have 'pets' or 'companion animals').
In either case, let's ask ourselves whether or not it's OUR place in nature to kill one group to benefit the other.
If we are NOT interested (a) first, in HARMING either group NOR (b) second, in trading off one group's rights against the other, what can we do?
Intervention may NOT be impossible.
Consider how the Egyptian protests where the anti-Mubarak protesters pleaded with the Egyptian police to protect them from the pro-Mubarak protesters on horses and camels, wielding machetes and bull whips, bloodying the anti-Mubarak protesters.
The police COULD protect the less-gunned, less-weaponed. Similarly, ethical persons COULD protect the less aggressive nonhumans against the more aggressive ones, but instead, the common practice is (a) to CLAIM to love animals and thus (b) to feed the (carnivorous) animals one loves by killing those less aggressive animals one finds remote from one's life (e.g. the nonviolent cows, sheep, pigs, fowl like chickens and turkeys, et al.).
I see two POSSIBLE ethically defensible choices:
(a) Stay out of the conflict to the extent possible. Be vegan in personal practice and not keep carnivorous animals.
(b) Help the weak against the strong, but don't HURT the strong (don't FEED the cats; protect cows, as Indian ethical vegetarians in India do with Goshalla).
Then, there are two further options with regard to those who are strong without our intervention:
(i) Leave the strong alone BUT watch out; if they harmed other animals, they could harm us (domestication of carnivorous cats makes them subservient and dependent upon us, so they depend upon their 'handlers' for food and shelter; most would no longer be able to survive on their own, unless they remain feral).
(ii) Find WAYS to help the strong be better WITHOUT their harming the weak on their own power (in the case of carnivorous animals, I would think we need to think about the kinds of FOOD we feed them, looking for ways that might allow us once again to become friendly without cats without OUR becoming unethical.
I would rather see institutionalized Goshalla: protection of the weak against the strong. I could think further on this topic.
Of course, a hardened version of this position might suggest that we could let our own children starve EXCEPT that no human NEEDS to eat meat or animal products. It's the misperception that ANY human needs to eat meat that keeps us from successfully abolishing ALL animal agriculture.
How often have you been approached wit6h the disclaimer: "Vegetarianism isn't for everyone!"?
I don't believe ONE WORD of that, but lots of folks - including lots of vegetarians - do mouth those falsehoods.
I forget which page it was on, but I'd like to respond to the quoted statement from Gary Francione suggesting that all one needs to do to be an "activist" is to go vegan and rescue a dog or two (or even five). I have to disagree with that statement. I agree with Francione, and I think with everyone reading this, that it's important to be vegan--or as vegan as possible, given that rescued animals sometimes require drugs, pesticides and even nonvegan meals in some instances and we can only do our best to minimize this. I also agree that humans collectively have an obligation to rescue as many nonhumans as possible. But I disagree that this is all there is to activism--activism to me implies taking some kind of personal risk and/or working to influence society to make real changes. Clearly, I'm not an activist.
Are non-activists welcome at ARZone? Is there room on this site for those who just want to learn about and discuss the issues? I like to think there's a place for different kinds of animal advocates in the world, just as there's a place for different kinds of supporters where human issues are concerned. Some people volunteer their time at nursing homes for a few hours a week, visiting and spending time with the people who live there. Others volunteer their time digging through the wreckage of nursing homes that have been destroyed in floods and other disasters to search for any victims who might still be alive. Is one form of volunteer work more valuable than the other? Well, I'd have to say yes--the latter example involves a serious risk to the volunteer's personal safety and requires a lot more skill and physical fitness. The search-and-rescue effort is front-page news, and the nursing home visit is a story for page 8 on a slow news day.
OTOH, would any human advocate ever discourage potential volunteers from visiting nursing homes because they aren't willing to be search-and-rescue volunteers? So far I haven't heard of it.
I've been pondering this question recently too. I get this question occassionally from people and its hard to know what to say. Lately, a couple of very thin stray cats have taken up residence in my back yard and I didn't have any 'meat' to offer them (poor choice of residence on their part) - they rejected the veggie sausages. So I've been looking into vegan pet food - expensive and out of reach of a lot of people I'd imagine. I'll give it a go, but its a not a long-term solution to the huge problem humans have created.