5 Reasons We Can’t Afford to Ignore the Issue of Animal Rights Any Longer

by Robin Raven

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robin-raven/5-reasons-we-cant-afford_b_10509714.html

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The fate of Harambe, the 17-year-old gorilla who was shot dead in a Cincinnati zoo on May 28, has inspired much debate. Some adamantly defend the zoo workers’ actions, while others point to the hypocrisy of outrage when many sentient animals are killed each day without drawing any attention whatsoever. Seeing Harambe’s face as an innocent animal who was so quickly sacrificed has undeniably struck a chord with many. So, despite some claims that animal rights is the least important issue, the attention that the gorilla’s life received indicates that people are ready to hear the truth: Non-human animals are sentient beings with lives that do, in fact, matter.

All this is another indication of how interest in the issue of animal rights has grown significantly in the past half-century. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, nearly a third of Americans now believe that non-human animals should be given the same rights as people. That’s a considerable increase since 2008, when only a fourth of Americans shared this view.

Taking full consideration of this is pretty awe-inspiring. I chose to be vegetarian as a kid because I felt motivated to protect animals, and so much has changed since I felt like I was the only vegetarian in the world as I grew up in the 1990’s in small town Alabama. We’re quickly making progress, yet animals are literally being tortured to deliver meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, and fish to dinner plates. Even worse is happening to some for fur and other animal byproducts that humans can easily and comfortably live without. It’s clear that people are concerned, and the following reasons show why animal rights should be a central topic of debate.

Established Sentience in Non-Human Animals

Imagine desperately needing to move, yet you were confined to a cage where you had to live in your own urine and feces, never experiencing simple pleasures beyond fear and pain. Many farm animals experience that and worse tortures. Being sentient beings, they are aware of their needs and wants; they fight for their lives to the end.

This isn’t simply imagining what it would be like. Animal sentience is an established fact. Psychology Today reported in 2013 that we’ve had plenty of data for a while to declare that non-human animals are sentient beings. The prominent scientists at the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness declared that many non-human animals are conscious. It’s been shown that animals can worry and lose sleep. Like people, non-human animals will fight to live, and many species have problem-solving capabilities.

A Staggering Number of Beings Who Suffer

If you’re like me, you get upset and even outraged when you see just one person suffer, and you do what you can to help them. Now imagine that happening a billion times over. Given that the sentience of many non-human animals is widely accepted, people should care deeply about preventing the massive amounts of suffering that are currently being inflicted on animals. In the U.S. alone, each year more than 78 billion sea animals and over eight billion land animals are killed for food. That’s not millions, but billions. That ends up to a tragic, extreme amount of suffering among sentient beings every single day in the country.

Interconnected Issues

No one issue facing the world is entirely independent of the others. The case for animal rights also stands alongside other forms of prejudice as an issue that needs to be addressed. Having prejudice against others for their citizenship, race, sexual orientation, gender, or species can have far-reaching effects on society.

An intersectional approach to animal rights is key. Social justice advocate and writer Christopher-Sebastian McJetters recently stated, “Intersectional justice isn’t some ‘sect’ of veganism. Framing it as such is reductive and overly simplistic. Intersectionality is an analytical approach that challenges the root causes of oppression through the lens of people who live daily with multiple intersecting oppressions…people who often lack the social, sexual, economic, and academic mobility of those who needlessly antagonize and harass them.”

Public Health

It’s not just animals’ lives that are at stake when we disregard animal rights as a core issue. Life on earth as we know it is at stake. Livestock production is posing a rather big risk to human health through the overuse of antibiotics. When bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics because of their overuse, the effectiveness of the medicine is compromised. Also, the high amount of pollution of both water and land caused by livestock production threatens human health.

The Environment

The damage that’s being done to the planet by animal agriculture is extreme. Environmental advocates like Al Gore and James Cameron decided to go vegan because of this staggering harm. Approximately 30 percent of the world’s ice-free land surface is used to farm chickens, pigs, and cows for slaughter and human consumption. Furthermore, this livestock production, which includes eggs and dairy, takes up more than a third of the fresh water in the world. Time reports that livestock production has a bigger impact on Planet Earth than any other activity humans do.

At least 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock, according to a report that was released by the United Nations. That’s more than the combined emissions from all forms of human transportation, including cars, planes, and trains. Since it’s widely believed that we need to act soon before there’s no turning back on global warming, this is a solid reason all need to be concerned about the harm caused by a disregard for animal rights.

Where We’re at Now

Some leading politicians seem to be getting the message about the importance of animal rights, but we have a long way to go. No current Republican Presidential frontrunners seem to have addressed the issue of animal rights in a serious way, although Donald Trump did seem to mock the cause in a Tweet, stating, “Ringling Brothers is phasing out their elephants. I, for one, will never go again. They probably used the animal rights stuff to reduce costs.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign website claims that the way our society treats animals is a reflection of our humanity, even going on to state, “Hillary has a strong record of standing up for animal rights.” Meanwhile, the website of Bernie Sanders doesn’t address the issue, but Zach Groff, a protester who interrupted Bernie’s May 2016 rally in California said, “He claims to be a progressive, but you cannot be a progressive if you oppose animal rights.” Sanders did receive a recent 100 percent rating for his voting on animals in a Humane Society report.

It’s clear that animal rights should be a core national moral issue, not a side topic that’s viewed as less important than the current topics of debate. Activists, animal rights organizations, and others will need to continue raising awareness and bringing these facts to the forefront of debates in order to ensure that it becomes a core issue.

 

6 thoughts on “5 Reasons We Can’t Afford to Ignore the Issue of Animal Rights Any Longer

  1. “It’s clear that animal rights should be a core national issue, not a side topic . . . .”
    I totally agree. But at the risk of being negative, the animal rights movement is facing daunting opposition, including the following:

    LACK OF COMMITMENT
    Keeping up motivation is one of the biggest problems. People may become vegans, but the dietary change often does not last long. Others join animal rights groups and participate for a while but lose interest and drop out. If we could keep up the energy generated by the deaths of Harambe, Cecil, and Marius, we could advance the cause. But we need to move beyond the justified emotional outburst over the deaths of individual animals, tragic as they are, and have the long-term dedication to work on behalf of the billions of nameless and faceless animals killed behind closed doors, as well. That is a long-term struggle.

    SELF-INTEREST
    Fighting human habit is another problem. People use animals in multiple ways for their own pleasure and well-being. They love the taste of steak and bacon. They believe meat and dairy are necessary for their good health. They appreciate the endurance of leather seats in their cars and clothes. They love the luxury of fur coats. They want to acquire the ultimate in trophy animals or just kill “average” animals in the woods for sport. They enjoy rodeo and circuses. They believe the animals sacrificed in labs will cure their own human diseases. Asking that people deny themselves of all those pleasures and benefits for animals they will never see and do not care about is a hard sell right now for animal rights.

    GREED
    Using animals as resources regardless of the pain suffered or the deaths required generates billions of profits. Big Ag turns living beings into cogs in their slaughter lines. Big Pharma fills their cages with victims for experiments and trials. Rodeos kill some animals during the shows and cripples others, who often end up in a transport trucks, injuries and all, for slaughter to wring a few more dollars out of them. The carnage of the innocents brings in huge salaries for CEOs, bonuses for shareholders, and wages for workers. Just suggesting interference with the corporations’ money machines, much less calling for an end to them, would cause howls of outrage over potential loss of jobs, income, and wealth. Two responses have already been attempted with ag-gag laws and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

    FAITH/IDEOLOGY
    Changing the belief system underlying the abuse of animals may be the biggest problem. I have been a vegan and animal activists for decades and have been involved in just about every manner of helping the cause. The forces of opposition have been relentless. Now only human beings have both moral and legal standing. Animals are viewed as property. You can see the results in the recent comments on Harambe. We are criticized for “worshipping animals” and reminded that human beings are “created in God’s image.” We are admonished that every human life is valuable and must always take precedence over the life of an animal. Even if a mother’s inattention allows a child to wonder into danger and a zoo’s inattention fails to notice an inadequate barrier, Harambe, supposedly in his safe place where it was the zoo’s obligation to protect him, must die. The public pays the admission fees and thus funds the jobs at the zoo, and they must be assured that any animal will be sacrificed for human interest, no matter the human provocation or the animal’s innocence. Thus Harambe was gunned down. The belief in human supremacy wins every time.

    Those who truly care about animals have to summon the motivation to keep going. Knowing we’re doing all we can might seem like a small consolation at times. We may not be able to overthrow the whole unjust system of human exploitation of animals in the foreseeable future, but every Harambe, every Cecil, and every Marius we can save is a big deal for them. Every nameless cow and pig who escapes the slaughter line because people become vegans or support sanctuaries is a victory for us too.

  2. Animals Conscious and Sentient and If So any Form of Animal Killing for Sport (AKA hunting, esp trophy hunting, trapping) Is Serial Murdering & Hunters & Trappers Are Serial Killers. Exploitation is essentially wrong and speciesism.

    Are non human animals conscious and sentient? Can they think, feel pain, feel a range of emotions (anger, guilt, love, hate, friendly, anxiety, depression, sadness, and more)? Can they make a plan, engage in purposeful behavior, use consequential thinking in choosing actions? Are they aware of individual self in relations, the environs, their family, their needs of food, safety, shelter, belonging? Do they adapt to the environs, to living with other creatures including man? Do they teach their young and protect them and the family? Do they play? Do they evaluate and solve problems? Do they coordinate their actions? Do they mourn, grieve, show empathy? Do they communicate with their kind, and others? Some animals demonstrate all these qualities. They show signs of stress, desire for affection, attention, and belonging. They communicate with vocalizations, body language. Most approach humans with caution, even our pets, and they are stressed with insecurity about our show of affection for them. My dogs approach, sometimes with ears laid back, averting gaze, then are relieved when I reciprocate affection. They seek affection, companionship, belonging, love.Yet, despite sentience, humans raise other animals for food (aka ranching), trap them for their fur, kill them as a recreational opportunity (aka hunting). State and federal wildlife agencies primarily manage (aka kill) them to “control their populations”, remove “nuisance” animals, some of which certainly would control their own populations. So humans ranch, hunt, trap, use as source of food, use as a source of recreational killing opportunity other sentient and conscious animals. Are humans then “humane”? Humans kill with kindness and with a vengefulness, and wantonly. We humans justify and rationalize our treatment of the animal kingdom by perceiving and treating animals as not sentient and conscious, while perceiving ourselves as special, self-appointed special and above the rest of the animal kingdom, created in God’s image with all else created for us, and as center of the universe. What arrogance, self-centeredness, selfishness! Stupendous narcissism! What horror! Without our tools, superior not. Man is weak without clothing and weapons and more of a parasite than useful niche in the ecology. We appoint ourselves as special and superior with our self-centered perspective on our place in the universe. The Earth and her ecology, wildlife would be better off without us. That is our worth and place in the ecology.

    References:
    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/5-reasons-we-cant-afford-to-ignore-the-issue-of-animal-rights-any-longer/

    http://wp.me/p2nX5S-38u Harambe the gorilla, animal exploitation

    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/humans-not-so-special/

    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/empathy-and-anger/

    http://missoulian.com/news/local/trap-free-montana-initiative-reaches-signature-gathering-stage/article

    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/trophy-hunter-serial-killer/

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/07/150714-animal-dog-thinking-feelings-brain-science/#

    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/yes-hunters-are-psychopaths-and-sport-hunting-is-serial-killing-2/

    http://upliftconnect.com/humans-arent-intelligent-creatures-planet/

    Animal consciousness – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_consciousness Wikipedia

    Scientists Finally Conclude Nonhuman Animals Are …
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/…/animal…/scientists…Psychology Today
    Aug 10, 2012

    After 2,500 Studies, It’s Time to Declare Animal Sentience …
    http://www.livescience.com/39481-time-to-declare-animal-sentience.html

    Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have … – io9
    io9.com/…/prominent-scientists-sign-declaration-that-animals-have-co…io9
    Aug 23, 2012 –

    Brain Researchers Acknowledge Animal Consciousness …
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/animal-consciousness_…The Huffington Post
    Sep 5, 2012

    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/dogs-can-tell-when-youre-not-nice-to-their-owners-study-finds/

    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/warning-this-blog-will-offend-if-animals-are-not-your-priority/

  3. Republicans are generally anti-environment and anti-wilderness and anti-wildlife. They are generally anti-science, anti-logic, arti-fact, alternative universe party, make believe what -they-want party. They are the the party of climate change denial, the only free world major party this obtuse and paranoid (believing climate change a leftist conspiracy). The GOP has voted against the environment 90% o the time in the past 15 years. Examples: MT Senator Steve Daines ® has voted against the environment 99% of the time, Congressman Ryan Zynke ® of MT 97%of the time. GOP capitalistic, self-centered greed is no doubt a major factor. But many on the GOP far right believe in creationism. It is basically a party that is anti-logic, anti-science, anti-facts when it conflicts with capitalistic short-term, self-centered greed (no concern for the environment, let’s make a buck now). Their thinking may have a genetic basis. It is somewhat of a worldwide manifestation of conservative thinking. They staunchly resist change and progress. They stubbornly stand by failed economic-political theories (trickle down economics, unfettered/unregulated capitalism, states’ rights over federal general public rights, neoconservative militaristic meddlesomeness). They are the party of “No”. They repeatedly, annually, try to sneak through their anti-environment, anti-wilderness agendas on riders to must pass bills, like the defense bill. They are the Grand Obstructionist & Paranoid Party.

    References:
    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/5-reasons-we-cant-afford-to-ignore-the-issue-of-animal-rights-any-longer/

    http://www.examiner.com/article/anti-wildlife-pro-hunting-act-reaches-u-s-senate-you-can-help-stop-it

    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/anti-wildlife-pro-hunting-act-reaches-u-s-senate-you-can-help-it

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/never-hillary-unites-republicans-squeamish-trump-173740202–election.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=ma

    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/never-satisfied/

    http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/who-will-follow-trump-off-the-cliff/article

    http://sacb.ee/6jz0 Who are the good peoplehttp://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/republicans-can-t-be-concerned-about-environment/article

    https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/the-fires-of-climate-change-are-burning-the-himalayas

    http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/brain-difference-democrats-republicans

    George Will, Republican pundit, is worried that the GOP.will follow Trump over the cliff. They will, pand were defunct anyway, full of only a few failed theories they keep reiterating, their siren songs of trickle down economics, unfettered captalism, and neoconservative militaristic meddlesome interventions.The GOP.will follow Trump over the cliff. Or, perhaps like the Neanderthals, their gene pool will be swamped by homosapiens sapiens of color and this obstructionist part will cease to exist. Republicans are generally anti-environment and anti-wilderness and anti-wildlife. They are generally anti-science, anti-logic, artifacts, alternative universe party, make believe what -they-want party. They are the the party of climate change denial, the only free world major party this obtuse and paranoid (believing climate change a leftist conspiracy). The GOP has voted against the environment 90% of the time in the past 15 years. Examples: MT Senator Steve Daines ® has voted against the environment 99% of the time, Congressman Ryan Zynke ® of MT 97%of the time. GOP capitalistic, self-centered greed is no doubt a major factor. But many on the GOP far right believe in creationism. It is basically a party that is anti-logic, anti-science, anti-facts when it conflicts with capitalistic short-term, self-centered greed (no concern for the environment, let’s make a buck now). Their thinking may have a genetic basis. It is somewhat of a worldwide manifestation of conservative thinking. They staunchly resist change and progress. They stubbornly stand by failed economic-political theories (trickle down economics, unfettered/unregulated capitalism, states’ rights over federal general public rights, neoconservative militaristic meddlesomeness). They are the party of “No”. They repeatedly, annually, try to sneak through their anti-environment, anti-wilderness agendas on riders to must pass bills, like the defense bill. They , perhaps like the Neanderthals, their gene pool will be swamped by homosapiens sapiens of color and this obstructionist party will cease to exist. Or, maybe they will take us all over the cliff. Republicans are generally anti-environment and anti-wilderness and anti-wildlife. They are generally anti-science, anti-logic, artifacts, alternative universe party, make believe what -they-want party. They are the the party of climate change denial, the only free world major party this obtuse and paranoid (believing climate change a leftist conspiracy). The GOP has voted against the environment 90% of the time in the past 15 years. Examples: MT Senator Steve Daines ® has voted against the environment 99% of the time, Congressman Ryan Zynke ® of MT 97%of the time. GOP capitalistic, self-centered greed is no doubt a major factor. But many on the GOP far right believe in creationism. It is basically a party that is anti-logic, anti-science, anti-facts when it conflicts with capitalistic short-term, self-centered greed (no concern for the environment, let’s make a buck now). Their thinking may have a genetic basis. It is somewhat of a worldwide manifestation of conservative thinking. They staunchly resist change and progress. They stubbornly stand by failed economic-political theories (trickle down economics, unfettered/unregulated capitalism, states’ rights over federal general public rights, neoconservative militaristic meddlesomeness). They are the party of “No”. They repeatedly, annually, try to sneak through their anti-environment, anti-wilderness agendas on riders to must pass bills, like the defense bill. They are the Grand Old (paranoid-obstructionist) Party.

  4. Jim, Have you heard about the Humane Party? They have a platform based upon veganism and animal rights/liberation , and a Facebook page. I was curious if you have any personal knowledge of them, or know anyone who does?

      • thanks for your reply….maybe more of us who think that there is still hope for change within the political system should start publicizing and joining this party or others like it…but then again, i dont know if there is much time left to go gently into that good night. maybe a complete takedown and revolution is what will eventually occur, and thats what is needed to get our anthropocentric heads out of our butts.

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