Thursday, July 15, 2010

TIME Profiles the Animal Rights Movement

This week's issue of TIME has a nice, short profile of the animal rights movement.  It notes recent accomplishments in America, including bans (in a few states) on battery cage eggs, foie gras, and dog-chaining.  
The profile also annoys me in a couple of ways.  Take this quote:
"Even as human rights seems to have taken a few hits of late — with the U.S. government endorsing harsh interrogation techniques, also known as torture, and the Supreme Court whittling away at race-discrimination laws, defendants' rights and the Voting Rights Act — animal rights has moved further into the mainstream." 
The argument draws a false equivalency.  You can stick a rod up an animal's butt, electrocute it, and skin it alive.  You can't do that to people.  Although I condemn waterboarding, I have to admit the form of torture is relatively mild (would you rather get waterboarded or have your toe nails ripped out?), the number of people affected is small, and the anti-terrorism goal is at least a worthy cause.  In other words, animals don't have anything close to the legal rights a civilized society should give them.  But humans have all the legal rights they need in America and "human rights" debates in America is essentially a reasonable debate by both sides over whether to nudge the line this way or that way.

The other annoying quote:  
"Like any worthy cause, animal rights can be taken too far, and sometimes it is. (In a world full of woe, it is hard to get too worked up about the solitary goldfish.)" 
Who is advocating the liberation of solitary goldfish?  Seriously.  Because I'll send them an email to chill out and focus on something important.  I've never heard any goldfish liberation arguments.   

Anyway, I appreciate the article's tone overall.  It's nice to see the movement becoming mainstream.   I hope everyone is ready to get used to this kind of news too, because I think this will be the big social movement of the 21st Century (the gay rights movement is already a done deal -- at this point we're just playing a demographic waiting game).

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