Animal Rights vs. Human Rights: “Righting” a Wrong
A Daily Reckoning Special Position Paper
by Jim Amrhein, Whiskey & Gunpowder (Sign up FREE today!)
As you may have gathered by now, my “beat” for Whiskey & Gunpowder loosely revolves around domestic political hot-button issues — privacy, personal freedoms, and the like. However, I see this arena as much broader than mere issues. After all, issues are furthered by people giving a voice to their opinions. And as everyone except today’s public school “students” should know, this process is the primary driver of democracy — and the very reason we have the right to free speech…
But the people furthering many issues today (on both sides of the political spectrum, of course) are those within whom passion clearly outweighs reason.
Animal Rights vs. Human Rights: A Lazy Passion
Often, their agendas are completely built upon misguided premises and outright misconceptions. And although this is nothing new historically, someone’s got to poke a hot stick in the eyes of these extremists — because when they get their way (which is more often than not in this political climate), we ALL lose some of our freedom.
For example, a few issues ago, I took aim at some basic flaws in the stance of the modern extreme environmental lobby — a group of passionate (albeit lazy and uninformed) people who would, if given their way, cause FAR MORE HARM THAN GOOD to the very cause they champion. And along the way, we’d likely lose some of our most basic freedoms: to consume whatever we can afford to, to choose what we drive, to prosper in the global free market, etc…
That’s when their agenda became part of my privacy-and-freedoms “beat” — when their fallacious premises started to compromise my ability to live my life the way I want by spurring needlessly punitive, freedom-robbing legislation and policies. And it’s the same way with a whole passel of other issues in the modern political arena, too — including today’s topic: Animal rights.
Animal Rights vs. Human Rights: The Season for Reason
Lent. What more fitting time to talk about the “rights” of animals than during a time when fewer of them are being eaten than any other time of year? There’s also another reason why now’s the time to make my point — this is also the season that’s furthest on the calendar from the time of year that animal rights debates typically rear their heads: The fall hunting season.
Above the objections of at least one of my co-editors, distancing this topic from the hunting debate (believe it or not, a separate issue) is a conscious decision on my part. Why? Because I’m hoping that by taking the idea of actual killing off the table, cooler, more reasoned heads will prevail when I hit you with this:
Animals HAVE NO RIGHTS. Not naturally, anyway.
Now, before you dismiss me as a heartless barbarian, know this: I have always believed that relationships between people and animals — whether based on companionship, work, or simple nutrition — are some of life’s most rewarding and character-building interactions. I also believe that pet ownership is a wonderful institution for both man and beast…
But for anyone to believe that animals have inherent rights is to show an alarming degree of ignorance as to what that term really means.
Here’s the crux of the issue: No rights of ANY TYPE exist naturally, by virtue of birth alone. In the natural world, all that any creature — man included — has a “right” to are those things it can take by force or forcibly defend from being taken (for more on this, read Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan). That includes life itself. Brutal, but true.
Animal Rights vs. Human Rights: Rights of the Human Animal
Being accustomed to the concept of “unalienable rights” so artfully articulated in our own Declaration of Independence, a lot of Americans are programmed to believe that simply because we’re of the genus and species Homo sapiens, we’re issued rights as original equipment. Sadly, this is not true. Despots and tyrants through the ages have crushed the notion of “human rights” under chariot wheel, mace, and tank tread time and again. One need only to look at Rwanda, China, and other places for vivid modern-day proof.
Clearly, though, some human beings have rights. Americans and the citizens of other democracies enjoy them in abundance. How did we get these rights, if they aren’t naturally ours? Via a simple contract — one we never signed, yet are automatically both bound to and protected by as part of our citizenship (read Rousseau’s Social Contract). This contract is the root of all laws protecting you from harm and protecting others from harm at your hands. In other words, rights.
The price of these rights under this “contract” is certain types of freedom. Basically, we forfeit our natural freedom to kill or pillage our weaker neighbors in exchange for a guarantee against similar brutality at the hands of our stronger ones. To whom do we forfeit our most basic freedoms to and bask in the protection of? A sovereign state — in our case, the U.S. of A. I say again: It is our citizenship, not simply our humanity, that guarantees rights. That’s why most of them stay at the border when we enter other countries.
What’s this have to do with animals? Bear with me (no pun intended)…
Animal Rights vs. Human Rights: Contractual Obfuscation
Regardless of what PETA and the rest of the animal rights crowd says (more on this in a minute), no critter from aardvark to zebra is capable of understanding and honoring such contracts as the ones that guarantee citizens of democratic republics their rights. Even the intricate societies of some apes, as advanced and social as they can be, are fundamentally based on the only natural law there is: The law of force and dominance.
The only true “rights” enjoyed by any animals are those extended to them by people. Pets, work beasts, zoo creatures, and the like are granted protections by humans from the perils of the state of nature (the elements, predation, starvation, disease) in exchange for their ability and willingness to be trained to serve our needs. This is a rudimentary contract. Such is the case even for livestock, which are bred, fed, medicated, and cared for until such time as we, the grantors of their rights, decide the contract has expired.
But animal rights activists (an almost exclusively liberal province, by the way) perceive that simply by virtue of birth, every organism, everywhere, is endowed with the same rights as citizens of the most progressive democracy. They naively rewrite the rules of nature, glossing over the fact that animals grant no rights at all to each other. Among animals, might makes right — there are no such things as privacy, equality, due process, equal protection under the law, property boundaries, or anything resembling the complex structures we reasoning humans have put into place to safeguard our rights. This fact alone proves that animals are incapable of honoring the basic contract necessary for the existence of rights.
How’s that for irony: Those that champion animal rights in the name of humanity are themselves quite animal-like — in that they can’t comprehend the nature of what makes rights possible!
Regardless, their viewpoint has continued to gain traction over the last 20 years in the mainstream on both sides of the Atlantic. Whether it’s the “Guiltless Grill” section of a major chain restaurant’s menu, the “cruelty-free” label on cosmetics, the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” nude supermodel poster campaign (not entirely without its merits, I must say), or the recent British ban on traditional fox hunting, the “plight” of our four-legged friends is everywhere these days…
How does all this affect you and YOUR rights and freedoms?
Well, if the most extreme agenda of the militant animal rights fringe got its way — and I don’t mean the local cat club here…I’m talking about PETA, The Fund for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States (not the same folks that run your local animal shelter, by the way), and others — the following things would be illegal:
— Eating meat of any kind
— Keeping pets of any species
— Hunting, fishing, and falconry
— Animal testing and experimentation
— Removal or extermination of pest animals
— Zoos, wildlife theme parks, and animal shows
— Killing or relocation of dangerous/nuisance animals
— Horseback riding, racing, rodeos, polo, and other equine sports
— Using animals for work or service — including Seeing Eye dogs.
Quite an impact on our lives, huh? This isn’t even considering the negative ramifications a meatless lifestyle would have on our health, life span, and economy. And you thought the animal rights crowd was only worried about spaying and neutering pets (true animal-rightists would forbid it, in fact)…
But that’s not the case at all. Despite the mainstream’s (starting with leftist Hollywood) consistently sympathetic portrayal of them, hard-core animal rights advocates would not hesitate to strip you of your REAL rights to convey them to beasts that cannot possibly comprehend them.
Look, there’s much more to say about this topic, of course, and you can count on me to revisit the issue again later this year. And just like I did with the environmentalists a few weeks ago, I’ll be showing you why the efforts of these lunatics would be positively DISASTROUS to the welfare and quality of life of the very animals they’re trying to protect. I’ll also expose you to the unbelievable truth about how the purported desires of animal rights activists are, in fact, best served by their political archenemies: hunters.
But until then, hoist a hunk or two of healthy meat.
for Whiskey & Gunpowder
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Other Useful Links about Human Righs and Animal Rights Concerns:
Animal “Rights” versus Human Rights An essay written by Edwin A. Locke, Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Animal Welfare vs. Animal Rights The Animal Welfare Council separates the differences between these two areas of animal treatment.