Not that it should come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever befriended a dog or cat, or watched birds in their backyard, but in July 2012, respected scientists met in Cambridge and went on record to affirm that non-humans are conscious. Belated as the matter has been in gaining acceptance, their “Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness” was a welcome step in the right direction for the world’s most continually oppressed and victimized—those born of species other than human.
The declaration asserts:
The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates. …
Okay, that may sound like a bunch of academic hullabaloo, but in layman’s terms, animals are indeed conscious beings. Though not really a profound revelation, the fact that non-humans are not automatons runs counter to hundreds of years of accepted belief (thanks to the fifteenth century French mathematician, Rene Descartes) that’s been used to justify untold animal cruelties for far too long.
In recent decades, the science of cognitive ethology has clearly put to rest grandiose notions of human superiority—besides perhaps the extent of human narcissism. Nowadays, none but the most agenda-driven or willfully ignorant can claim unfamiliarity with the fact that non-human animals exhibit awareness and have the capacity to experience pain and fear, along with pleasurable feelings and emotions.
So if irrational Cartesian rationale for cruelty to animals is outmoded thinking, how then do hunters justify the virtually unprecedented abuse of our fellow Earthlings going on in the name of sport today? Could it be that sport hunters lack a conscience for all but our own kind?
As you’ve probably heard, British rocker and staunch animal rights activist, Morrissey, canceled his scheduled performance on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show this week due to a planned appearance on the same night by the cast of “Duck Dynasty” (a “reality” program which focuses on a family that became wealthy by making tools for their fellow duck hunters.) The singer released a statement on Monday saying he “cannot morally be on a television program where the cast members of Duck Dynasty will also be guests.”
Morrissey also stated: “As far as my reputation is concerned, I can’t take the risk of being on a show alongside people who, in effect, amount to animal serial killers.”
Serial Killers? How can he liken avid, good ol’ boy duck hunters to serial killers, one might ask? Well, easy. Both serial killers and duck hunters act without conscience toward their multiple victims, whom they depersonalize and objectify. And both kill others to boost their self-esteem, some even going so far as taking trophies of their victims’ body parts.
The next question scientists need to address is, assuming that hunters are conscious animals, why don’t they have a conscience?