The animal rights movement accuses those of us who believe in human exceptionalism of having no empathy for animals. In actuality, animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws demonstrate the opposite. It’s just that those of us who reject animal rights in favor of animal welfare also take human thriving into the equation.
Besides, animal rights activists should remember the cliché that when they point their index finger at us, three of their own fingers are pointing back at them. Animal rights ideology would willingly allow mass human suffering that would be caused should they obtain their ultimate goal of preventing all animal domestication and husbandry. If that ever happened, we would suffer, and how!
In a relatively rare rebuttal to animal rights ideology, Philosophy Today has published a piece by Rhys Southan–apparently a reformed animal rights believer–that is well worth noting
First, he accurately describes the ideological tripe (pardon the pun) of animal rights belief. From, “Why an Alien Invasion is No Argument for Animal Rights:”
One effective rhetorical tactic for animal advocates, then, is to make us imagine what it’s like to be the animals we exploit. That’s the idea behind the thought experiment we’ll call ‘the alien invasion argument’, which supposes that an alien species smarter and more powerful than us lands here, sees that we’re exploiting and killing animals who are weaker and stupider than us, and then decides to follow our example by exploiting and killing the humans.
Ahh, we’re not so keen on the planet’s dominant species selfishly exercising their privilege when the dominant species is no longer us, are we?
Of course, that assumes animals experiences are akin to ours. But they aren’t:
There are certainly similarities between human and nonhuman experiences, especially when it comes to pain; but cows, pigs, lambs and chickens raised on farms and killed in slaughterhouses do not suffer the same horror and existential anguish as humans would in the same circumstances.
This is why the alien argument is something of a cheat; and why comparing factory farms to the Holocaust and human slavery rings false too.
As I have pointed out, “veganism is murder” too–if one accepts the premise that animals and humans have equal moral worth. Southan mines the same rich vein:
Farmers of the crops vegans eat accidentally kill insects, small mammals and other animals with farm machinery, and they intentionally kill these animals with pesticides that often go on to harm nontarget wildlife through drift and secondary poisonings.
They also allow hunters onto their land to reduce the populations of deer and other ‘pest’ species that might eat their crops. Redirecting water for irrigation kills fish, as does spill-off from fertilizer and pesticides.
We destroy animal habitats to build our cities, and we extract resources from areas that then become either uninhabitable or dangerous. The wild land that we do leave untouched is often fragmented into bits that don’t give animals the space they need to make homes and roam for food, and so cannot sustain them.
Animal rights leads, Southan notes, to the logical proposition that the only way to stop animals from being exploited or in some way harmed by humans is our extinction. As I have noted, some among the nature/animal rights/Hollywood crowd yearn–or at least, are sympathetic to–that very outcome.
Then, a little common sense, so lacking in animal rightism:
The conflicts between humans and other species are genetic and inevitable: our DNA and accumulated knowledge and technology currently makes us the cleverest, most powerful species on the planet. And since we cannot cooperate with wild animals for the mutual benefit of all sentient beings, we have little choice but to dominate instead.
Animal rights is a form of decadence that could only arise in a society that has achieves such stunning success it breeds nihilism and reductionism from those who no longer have to scratch and claw for survival.