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Moral Schizophrenia

In our relationship to other animals, humans have established a culture of contradiction and denial, exhibiting what professor Gary Francione has coined “Moral Schizophrenia”. Many of us will happily say that we love animals whilst we also love eating them, entrapping them, forcing them to provide transport, sport, entertainment, torturing them in the name of research and science etc.  The contradictions are glaringly obvious yet to draw attention to this hypocrisy is virtually Taboo for no one wants to be called a hypocrite and in fact, most people seem comfortable subscribing to this cultural hypocrisy.  For example, in many Western countries, there is legislation in place to protect the ‘rights’ of domestic petS and we are outraged if someone so much as kicks their dog yet  hunting, for example, which comprises a calculated,brutal and fatal attack on another living animal, is quite legal. Common domestic pet animals such as cats and dogs often become valued members of our families yet these same animals can be exposed to the appalling cruelty of vivisection in the name or “research”.

How can we acknowledge the sentience of the family cat or dog so much that we create laws to protect their rights whilst simultaneously supporting extreme cruelty towards other sentient animals that are given no rights? If you eat, wear or otherwise use animals and animal products you are supporting an industry that robs animals of their rights to a healthy, happy and long life.. but it doesn’t just stop there. The use of animal products is deeply entrenched in our culture of production. Many household cleaning products -` pesticides, sprays, soaps, cosmetics, moisturizers, sun screens etc. -anything chemical and potentially toxic, are often repeatedly tested on animals before being made available to human consumers. There are some exceptions of course and these are well worth noting and supporting. Here is a site listing Australian cruelty free brands:

This testing is officially referred to as vivisection and involves putting chemicals in animals eyes, cutting, injecting or otherwise forcing animals to ingest and inhale toxic substances and much worse still.

Often vivisection is very painful, both physically and mentally. Animals are locked away, often alone, in cages awaiting their turn to be poisoned, burned, blinded, injured, mutilated, starved, force-fed, sent mad, irradiated, given cancer, infected with diseases, turned into drug addicts and subjected to all kinds of painful procedures, often ending in death. Every hour 20,000 animals die in the world’s laboratories.[1]

And cats and dogs – our household pet are frequently the victims of such abuse! When you buy fur products you also support a shockingly cruel industry and your household pet variety of animal is not exempt from this market. In parts of China cats and dogs are skinned alive for their fur.  Here is a PETA link to the story and video documentation that is, not surprisingly, truly horrifying.

The animals are immobilized by being stunned with repeated blows to the head, or by being slammed on the ground. The animals are injured and may convulse, tremble or attempt to crawl away… this is also shown repeatedly in the video. The skinning may begin while the animal is conscious or regaining consciousness.[2]

Millions of rabbits, yes like those cute fluffy rabbits that human’s keep as pets, are cooped up in tiny cages in fur and rabbit meat farms awaiting a similarly horrific death.

So why should the suffering of one animal be acceptable yet not that of another? How do we make such distinctions and more importantly, how do we morally justify these distinctions?

Our culture draws a distinction between house pets and farm animals. We raise the former to be cosseted and kissed; we raise the latter to be killed and eaten. But that distinction is largely one of convenience. Our convenience, that is. It’s not based on any zoological facts, and the animals sure didn’t consent to it.[3]

This connectedness we feel with our “cosseted” pets is something we are equally capable of experiencing with other less typical “pets” if we take the time to develop the friendship. In fact there are many stories of humans forming friendships with animals of all sorts – lions, pigs, foxes, gorillas, ducks, rabbits, horses, cows, sheep, birds even reptiles…etc.

In establishing these relationships we acknowledge the other animal’s sentience, we experience aspects of their personality and we recognize a part of ourselves. Surely then we should acknowledge that all animals are individuals with relationships to other animals, with preferences and with lives they want to live.  With this acknowledgement how can we morally condone the mass torture and brutal execution of millions of animals annually? How can we live with ourselves, call ourselves religious or spiritual, tell others we object to violence and cruelty?

In nothing does man, with his grand notions of heaven and charity, show forth his innate, low-bred, wild animalism more clearly than in his treatment of his brother beasts. From the shepherd with his lambs to the red-handed hunter, it is the same; no recognition of rights — only murder in one form or another. -John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

I am not a religious person but there is one line from the bible that really makes sense to me, and perhaps it is the only one we need – “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. [Matthew 7:12]”  

Remember Planet of The Apes? What if the tables were turned? What if another race of beings came to earth and decided that because they were superior that this justified the complete and utter exploitation of humans for food, scientific research, entertainment, labour etc etc…


 

[1] http://www.irishantivivisection.org/vivi.html

[2]  Gary Feuerberg, The Epoch Times, Washington DC, USA, Feb 21, 2007, http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/7-2-21/51905.html

[3]  Ariel Kaminer, NY Times, Sunday Magazine, A dog’s right to life, Jan 6, 2012, P.MM13

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