Sunday, 19 October 2008

Animal Rights and Wrongs.

I’m moving away from my pseudo-political ranting this week and onto something slightly different. I am going to try to take head on the strange combination of militant fanaticism and ultra-fluffy liberalism that is the Animal Rights Movement. It is amazing just how worked up people can get over such a compassion fuelled issue like Animal Rights. It’s like going on a violent terrorist campaign to promote peace and harmony between all of mankind, except this time it’s a violent terrorist campaign (at times) to promote the prevention of cruelty to animals. Seems paradoxical but hey, that’s the fucked up, two-faced, utterly bewildering world we live in!

The thing I, and they, get confused about is what Animal Rights protesters are actually campaigning for. I suppose there is probably a lot of disagreement between activists as to what they actually stand for, some want the complete liberation of all animals, from your pet dog to the cow that you will at some point eat (unless you veggie, in which case you’ll probably just drink the milk, unless you’re also a vegan, in which case you can go fuck yourself you presumptuous twat.), to simply treating the battery chickens with a little more compassion; killing them before boiling the feathers off for example. The latter I sympathise with (obviously, I suppose you would probably stop reading this if I didn’t), but the former and most of the people in between those two extremes tend to get on my tits.

It’s not that I want animals to suffer or anything; I’m not some sort of sadist, I’d just like to think that the human race is slightly more sophisticated than a rat, so our needs should probably override the rat’s. However this is all scratching the surface thus far, what we need to do in order to see why some people think that rats should have the same rights as humans and why I think people who believe that are morons we need to look at the issue deeper. That involves using the grey stuff that sits up in our skulls using a hell of a lot of energy rather than the big muscle that pumps the red stuff (no not wine you alcoholics) round our body.

Ok, this may get a bit conceptual, so brace yourselves (as if that’ll help). The problem as I see it is twofold; one an unclear definition of rights, and secondly a disagreement over what gives us (and/or animals) rights in the first place. In true scatological fashion (by the way, that word doesn’t meant what you think it should mean in this context, for a few extra giggle look up what it actually means. Yes you have to work for your kicks today!) I am going look at the second problem first and the first problem second.

The second problem is a disagreement over what gives us rights. To understand the Animal Rights Movement we have to understand why they believe we have rights and to understand why the Animal Rights Movement repulses me you have to understand the problems with their definition. Right, so the filthy liberal types who think animals have rights base this on the undeniable observation that animals can feel pain. Their argument goes somewhat like this: humans feel pain, humans are animals, humans have rights, therefore animals have rights. Sounds logical doesn’t it? Unfortunately there are several mistakes; primarily the argument assumes that the ability to feel pain is a prerequisite for rights. Wrong. This is completely unfounded and is little more than an assumption. Using pain here is arbitrary, we could replace it with anything and the argument would still work in format and give us some really odd conclusions. Lets play with the idea: Humans can reproduce, humans are living, humans have rights, therefore all living things have rights (including bacteria). Looks like we aren’t going to be able to eat today, because plants have rights too you know.

So, silliness aside (for now), pain, as a prerequisite for rights, makes no sense. But what is the alternative (other than ability to reproduce, which also makes eunuchs fair game by the way)? I would argue (and plan to) that consciousness is a prerequisite for rights (and that does not mean that when you’re asleep you have no rights, a different application of the word conscious, dimwit). Consciousness in this case means the ability to reason and make a conscious decision about our lives and how we should live them. One could argue that this is as arbitrary as pain, but I can actually rationalise it so bare with me. In order to do this however we need to establish a definition for the concept of rights.

According to our old friend Wikipedia (citation needed), a right is a ‘moral entitlement’. So it is fundamentally associated with ethics, which we knew already. We have to understand that (in my view) ethics are a human construct. They concern themselves with human actions and establish how we should and should not treat our fellow man and the world around us (it is to be noted that, just because ethics are a human construct does not mean that there are no absolutes, but that is another blog altogether). If ethics, and therefore rights are a human construct they do not concern animals. Human beings are the only living organism that has the ability to make a conscious choice; we can choose to do what is right or wrong. Animals on the other hand live purely on instincts; there is no choice involved and, because ethics are reliant upon volition, anything that an animal does is entirely amoral (so a dog that mauls a man is not immoral per se). So moral entitlements only apply to beings whose actions can be considered on a moral level, which relies upon it’s ability to choose, which relies upon it’s ability to reason, which in tern relies on it being conscious. So consciousness is a prerequisite for rights. Simple eh?

So what exactly are these rights? We’ve established that human being are entitled to rights, and we’ve established what the definition of ‘rights’ is in the process, but we’ve not touched on what those rights are. Rights are a moral entitlement, so your views are depends upon what moral standard you uphold. Such a question would have to be discussed at length and would take up a lot of space. I do not want to distract from the main thrust of this entry because that would be counter productive. I leave it up to you for now to establish what mankinds moral entitlements are, I may write a sequel entry discussing my own views, but until I do you’ll have to guess them.

I want to round off by discussing the consequences of the Animal Rights Movement. I have touched upon the extremes, and these are extremes; there is plenty of middle ground that most activists occupy. This middle ground is just as dangerous as the extreme however. The fluffy compassionate filthy liberal don’t-hurt-the-poor-chicken extreme is fairly docile (it fails to take the ideas behind the movement to their logical conclusions so nullify their effects) however their seeming harmlessness allows for the fallacious ideas to become acceptable to us, allowing the more extreme (or consistent if you’re being cynical) element to thrive behind a façade of harmlessness. ‘But what harm do they cause?’ I hear you ask in an overdramatic fashion more at home in a Greek Tragedy than my blog. In trying to elevate animals to a level on a par with humans, they actually drag the value of human life down, rather than bring the value of animal life up. While they sound fluffy and compassionate, the consequences of their beliefs are the downgrading of human life from a magnificent achiever, who, while not without its faults, is the most successful creature on the planet, to a ruinous monster that is enslaving animals for it’s own selfish aims with no regards for the animals assumed rights. I don’t know about you but the latter does not sound all that encouraging to me.

Taken to its logical conclusion, the Animal Rights Movement (I’m getting bored of typing that) would have us living in perfect harmony with animals scratching around in the dirt, trying to come up with a basic meal.

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