Questions I’ve Been Asked About Animal Rights

Originally I planned on writing a different entry today, on Islam, but this has kept emerging ever since the last entry about the subject.

You wouldn’t object if I crushed a cockroach. This is hypocritical, and proves that you don’t respect all living things equally as you claim.

You probably wouldn’t torture the cockroach before you killed it. My primary concern is the mutilation and torture of animals before they are slaughtered. In other words, I don’t have a problem with other people actually killing animals to eat them. I have a problem with how its done. Similarly, I don’t care if you kill a cockroach or termites as long as it died quickly and you had a survival reason to kill it (health precautions, destroying your home, etc.) I just view that as you defending yourself. You need to defend yourself against parasites like bed bugs like you would against (living) bacterial infection on your body. It’s the same with every creature: if something poses a threat, by all means, defend yourself.

So in certain scenarios, yes, I in fact would object to you killing a smaller “less cute” animal. I prefer taking spiders outside, and sweeping ants out with a broom.

Peter Singer is an ableist douchebag.

I agree entirely. That is why I will never ever speak of him here. Er, except to address this question–I mean, statement.

Speciesm is absurd. I will never think animals are the same as humans.

That’s not speciest. You know what’s speciest? To believe that animals are the same as humans. It is speciest to expect a rabbit to perform the tasks of a human being, just as it is speciest to believe a rabbit does not have the right to not be tortured. Specism is like all other -isms in that there is a whole “you think you’re being considerate but you’re being an ass” aspect, through arbitrarily assigning a characteristic to something simply because it has another completely unrelated characteristic. You don’t expect an rabbit to be able to fetch or track down people using scents like a dog just because both animals are able to feel the same amount of pain. Animal rights are based on the level of awareness the animal has and on experiences of pain. This is not about allowing every creature to do everything: only to respect the rights that creatures have according to their own individual capabilities and awareness.

Animals don’t have rights because they’re not as intelligent as humans.

Hi, we can’t be friends anymore. The ability to feel pain, and the rights derived from it and from having a body, are entirely unrelated to levels of cognition. Awareness is different from intelligence. You are probably a messed up person in other ways too. Like, you’d believe that it is perfectly okay that women weren’t allowed to vote because they didn’t work and “contribute to the economy” according to your biased, bigoted measurements. Or you’d believe that because a person has a certain disability, he should not be credited for/allowed to contribute to society as though all disabilities are the same and wheelchairs have anything to do with a person’s ability to lecture a class or autism has anything to do with a person’s ability to be a pilot or something ridiculous. Or that if a person is raped while she’s passed out, it doesn’t matter because she won’t remember it.

Stop arbitrarily assigning characteristics to people and animals based on other irrelevant traits. And consequently doing a crapload of other messed up things.

The animal rights movement is sexist. And classist. And fatphobic.

I am not going to defend PETA. Or classist and fatphobic people. No one should be body-shaming or health-policing anyone else, no matter what they eat. Alliances between people who eat the same things tend to be pretentious and disingenuous; a more productive approach is alliances formed from the same interest. I believe the majority of us care very deeply about animal rights, and would readily and easily agree that the conditions in which animals are raised and slaughtered are inhumane, and have understandably felt alienated by the movement.

I have a problem with claims that animal rights is linked to feminism. It sounds like you’re equating women with animals.

That is absurd, and this may be what I find most frustrating because it comes from allies and really good people–who are most likely rightfully concerned, to be fair, because we just spent centuries forced to prove that women should not be equated with animals, you sexist dunderfucks. Probably the most embarrassing conversations in history. But animal rights is linked to feminism just like the rights of people of color, the rights of trans people, the rights of disabled people, the rights of impoverished people, the rights of children, and yes–the rights of women, and of those who have been marginalized by other forms of discrimination, and all the ways in which these rights intersect.

Veganism / Vegetarianism doesn’t solve the larger systematic problem in which modern agricultural processes are inhumane to both people and animals.

This is true. Veganism / vegetarianism functions mostly on an individual level, and while that can be productive in that every individual makes up a larger mass of people who can make huge impacts through their actions, migrant workers are constantly victims of harsh labor and of health risks and of every injustice imaginable–which eating vegetables does not solve. At all. To make matters worse, they are also the victims of producing vast amount of feed for animals. Vegans are not special–they’ve got just as much blood on their hands as omnivores. But this isn’t choose-one-or-the-other: you can care about animals and care about migrant farm workers.

Politics is everyone’s enemy, especially when money rules the world and pays it off. What’s most productive for animal rights activists, and for everyone, is to understand why people make the choices they do, to understand that they care deeply about animals, and about workers, but that their own situations leave them with nothing else and they are victims of a larger system. And then to go about trying to fix these core problems. We are up against enormous and enormously wealthy corporations who pay off our politicians. Yay.

3 thoughts on “Questions I’ve Been Asked About Animal Rights

  1. "Veganism / Vegetarianism doesn't solve the larger systematic problem in which modern agricultural processes are inhumane to both people and animals."This is precisely why I finally gave up my vegetarian tendencies (not that they were ever all that successful). Someone commented to me one day that abstaining from buying meat doesn't reform the system and practices you disagree with. However, systematically supporting the practices you DO agree with by buying their products WILL slowly change the system in response to consumer demands. Every dollar you spend is a vote for one system over the other.My favorite resource, in case you are ever interested:



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