Human Exceptionalism

More Evidence of the Misanthropy Within the Animal Rights Movement

HumaneWatch, a site dedicated to criticizing the Humane Society of the United States, has an entry today that is right up SHS’s alley. From “Animals > People:”

Remember Carter Dillard? Until last year he was a lawyer in HSUS’s Farm Animal Litigation department (also known as the “Sue the Hand that Feeds Us” campaign). In 2008 Dillard took a position at Loyola University’s (New Orleans) law school while remaining “Of Counsel” to HSUS. He has since become Director of Litigation at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a California-based animal rights group that (surprise!) sues a lot of people.

Along with his animal rights focus (or perhaps because of it), Dillard has worked extensively on the subject of human poulation control. Dillard doesn’t believe Americans should have the unlimited right to have children. Really. We’re not making this up. He argues that this right should be balanced against the “rights” of other things—like the wilderness and “non-human species.”…

Dillard’s most recent academic papers are a fascinating read, because his already bizarre philosophy of thinning the human herd to save animals has taken a turn toward even greater absurdity. And because the animal rights movement apparently thinks he’s on to something. In a paper titled “Procreation, Harm, and the Constitution,” published in the Northwestern University Law Review, Dillard argues that there is (or should be) a constitutional limit on an American’s right to have kids if—wait for it—the kid’s life won’t be “worth living.”

Dillard doesn’t make that explicit connection in this particular paper (which is linked in the quote above). But I did notice this interesting footnote (33), that seems to implicitly connect the idea of limiting procreation and protecting animals:

As an aside it is worth noting that despite the prominent role the nonidentity problem plays in academic debates, it is not clear that the problem—which catches up our intuition in a metaphysical puzzle—has anything to do with why, as a social policy matter, we tend to ignore the welfare of future people.  Perhaps we suffer from a form of temporal myopia or are not sufficiently progressed to empathize with them, much the way we have trouble empathizing with animals.

Keeping people from being born by the force of law is empathizing with them?  I guess so, if you are adopt the animal rigths movement’s concept that the existence of suffering is the most important critereon in determining proper ethical concepts and moral views.  Indeed, Dillard’s paper is one example of how a neurotic obsession with eliminating suffering can lead to eliminating the sufferer.

There’s obviously far more here than the animal rights connection, of course.  For example, he argues:

However, …the act of creating another person may be incompatible with notions of autonomy and self-determination... Arguably, procreation is more akin to immigration than non-reproductive sex because it involves the entry of a person into the polity.  No one thinks that immigration is a private or autonomous act.

The idea that the government can prevent procreation in the way it can make immigration policy is not only odious, but could very easily open the door to China-style reproductive tyranny. 

But let’s leave it at this, for now. Thanks to HumaneWatch for pointing out how some thinkers within the animal rights movement are also quite radical when it comes to controlling human society.