Thursday, January 6, 2011
If reading were required, and worked!
“On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth” – Lee Hall’s second book in behalf of animals – pretty well sums up its point of view in those first four words. If all animals could live “on their own terms,” that of course would not include their being eaten (and often bred for that purpose alone); used as lab guinea pigs; hunted; skinned or otherwise murdered for their skins and/or fur . . . and on and on.
Hall’s basic and oft-repeated recommendation is for people to become vegans. Then, animals would no longer be hunted or eaten. Nor would animal by-products be called for. If animals lived on their own terms, they would never opt for a laboratory life! Or for “service” (a.k.a. slavery) to humans, in its many unnatural and constraining forms. (Goodbye to K-9s, seeing-eye dogs and all the rest.) They would be free!
She carefully distinguishes between animal “welfare” and “rights.” Though often (erroneously) used interchangeably, they are not the same. Only free animals can have rights. As for animal welfare, that applies to captive animals – elephants in circuses and zoos; lab animals; dairy cows and their calves; pigs raised for slaughter -- and even domestic animals like cats and dogs.
Such captives obviously have no rights; that would be a contradiction in terms. Their lives have already been determined, alas. The most that can be done for them is look to their welfare – e.g., don’t separate baby elephants from their moms; ensure bigger crates for sows; stop docking cows’ tails; give chickens access to the outdoors. In other words, make their miserable, unnatural lives a bit more comfortable.
This book is so loaded with information, insight and commentary that a single blurb doesn’t suffice. That's why I'll be quoting from it in this blog, both separately and as part of other posts.
(On Their Own Terms. . . . by Lee Hall. Nectar Bat Press, Darien, CT and www.FriendsofAnimals.org. c. 2010)