Human Exceptionalism

Bestiality: Besmirching Intrinsic Human Dignity

As the coup de culture progresses, hedonism increases, leading to some decadent behaviors that are destructive to intrinsic human dignity.  Bestiality is one such behavior, and in Washington State, a man has alleged to have, in effect, pimped his animals for sex.  From the disgusting story:

Douglas Spink, 39, a one-time millionaire, convicted drug smuggler and horse trainer, was quietly living on rural property south of Sumas when he connected with James Tait, who was in a Tennessee jail on a bestiality charge… The two men’s communications set in motion an investigation that resulted in Spink’s arrest Wednesday at the Sumas farm for suspicion of violating his federal probation for drug smuggling. Federal prosecutors and Whatcom County sheriff’s officials say Spink also allowed people to come to the farm and have sex with animals. He was “promoting tourism of this nature for bestiality,” Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said Friday. When county deputies and federal investigators searched the property they found videotapes that included images of a man, who was visiting the property, having sex with several large-breed dogs.

I bring this up only because whenever bestiality hits the news, some people have trouble defining precisely what is wrong with having sex with animals–and some don’t seem to think it is wrong at all.  Peter Singer, for example, notoriously defended bestiality in a book review (“Heavy Petting,” warning crude language), essentially shrugging off bestiality as merely two animals rubbing body parts.  Meanwhile, the Huffington Post’s resident bioethicist, Jacob Appel, wrote that he didn’t see it as significantly different from tossing a dog a Frisbee, ignoring the powerful intimacy and profound symbolism of sexuality in human culture. This is why rape, even when it doesn’t cause physical injury, is a profound personal violation and will be punished far more severely than punching and breaking somebody’s nose.

Of course, most people still object to bestiality, but many seem to have a difficult time expressing why they believe it is wrong.  Some speak of the animals not consenting, for example.  But that isn’t it.  After all, steers don’t consent to become steak and sheep don’t consent to let us have their wool for clothing.

Rather, by definition, bestiality is abuse.  Animals did not evolve, were not created, and/or were not intelligently designed–take your pick–to be mere outlets for our lust, and using them in this way denigrates the respect we owe them as living beings with intrinsic value.  And yes, it is not disrespectful to eat a food animal–food chains, after all, being part of the normal cycle of life–but it would be to use it as a sexual vessel or outlet.

Connected to this, but even more importantly, bestiality undermines and besmirches human exceptionalism.  As I wrote in the wake of a man who died after sexual intercourse with a stallion, and in the wake of resistance in some quarters in Washington to legislation to outlaw the practice, bestiality is a frontal assault against human dignity.  From my Weekly Standard article on the issue, “Horse Sense:”

Bestiality is so very wrong not only because using animals sexually is abusive, but because such behavior is profoundly degrading and utterly subversive to the crucial understanding that human beings are unique, special, and of the highest moral worth in the known universe–a concept known as “human exceptionalism.”…

Nothing would more graphically demonstrate our unexceptionalism than countenancing human/animal sex. Thus, when Roach’s legislation[to criminalize bestiality] passes [it eventually did], the law’s preamble should explicitly state that one of the reasons bestiality is condemned through law is that such degrading conduct unacceptably subverts standards of basic human dignity and is an affront to humankind’s inestimable importance and intrinsic moral worth.

Some things are not defensible. It seems to me that abusing animals sexually, which simultaneously debasing one’s own humanity, falls clearly within that category.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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