Human Exceptionalism

Kristof Compares Sea World to Slavers

What we do to animals is not equivalent to the same actions being done to people! But animal rights types keep making that false comparison. 

The latest example comes (yet again) from the hand-wringing, self-described hypocrite, New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof. In today’s episode, Kristof compares our treatment of animals to mass human slaughter in Indonesia and the holding of slaves. From, “Can We See Our Hypocrisy to Animals?”

A NEW documentary explores the human capacity for mass murder. It addresses the Indonesian fratricide of the mid-1960s, in which a million people may have been killed…

The puzzle of such episodes is that otherwise good and decent people were so oblivious to the abhorrence of what was going on. So I was struck that the same section of this newspaper that carried a thoughtful review by A. O. Scott of “Act of Killing” also reviewed another documentary. That one was Blackfish,” and it looks at the SeaWorld marine park and its (mis)treatment of orcas.

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are sophisticated mammals whose brains may be more complex than our own. They belong in the open sea and seem to suffer severe physical and mental distress when forced to live in tanks. Maybe that is why they sometimes go berserk and attack trainers. You or I might also go nuts if we were forced to live our lives locked up in a closet to entertain orcas.

The evil of the mass slaughter of millions in Indonesians is nothing akin to the keeping of orcas in tanks–even if it turns out that it is a form of animal abuse. Nor is it “slavery”–a truly evil abuse of human beings. But don’t tell that to Kristof:

SeaWorld denies the claims, which isn’t surprising since it earns millions from orcas. Two centuries ago, slave owners argued that slaves enjoyed slavery.

Kristof goes on to quote Peter Singer about the treatment of animals. How utterly unoriginal of him–and telling about Kristof’s true moral insensitivity. Singer supports abortion through the ninth month, and into infanticide–as ethical. Why? These humans are supposedly not persons.

He has said there is nothing wrong with bestiality, just two animals rubbing intimate body parts.

And he doesn’t believe in animal “rights,” because he doesn’t believe in rights. What matters is utilitarian outcomes, in which animals are to be given “equal consideration.”

Thus, Singer has both supported using monkeys in medical research for Parkinson’s and said that severely cognitively disabled people should have been used in research into the hepatitis vaccine instead of chimps. You see, monkeys have fewer capacities than Parkinson’s patients,so they can be used instrumentally on behalf of their “betters.” Ditto, people with severe cognitive impairments. 

Back to Kristof: Toward the end of the column, he admits to being a hypocrite:

Look, I confess to hypocrisy. I eat meat, albeit with misgivings, and I have no compunctions about using mousetraps. So what? We have the same inconsistencies, controversies and hypocrisies in dealing with human rights. We may disagree about waterboarding terror suspects, but almost everyone shares a revulsion for genocide, the use of poison gas or the torture of children.

That’s because water boarding and genocide aren’t in the same league either!

How typical of the liberal sensibility. I may do things that later generations will think are bad, but at least I wring my hands about it before I do.  Good grief.



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

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