Animal Rights – Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong?

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By titanoutlet February 26, 2013 17:04 Updated

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The following is an editorial which includes commentary that may be controversial to some. All opinions expressed in the material below belong to the individuals responsible for the commentary and do not necessarily reflect the views of Titan Machinery and its network of dealerships.

Animal Rights  – Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong?

            Brownfield Ag News recently interviewed expert Wes Jamison (professor of public relations at Palm Beach Atlantic University) on the issue of animal rights (www.brownfieldagnews.com/2013/02/14/animal-rights-issues-confined-to-western-cultures/ ), and he cited five precursors that have to be met before a society deals with this issue:

  1. You have to be affluent enough – people who are starving aren’t worried about animals very much.
  2. You have to live in an environment (i.e., urban or suburban) where your experience with animals comes as pets rather than farm animals.
  3. Society projecting human qualities on animals and,
  4. People believing that animals are far more intelligent than what’s commonly accepted
  5. When animals are elevated to equality with humans, compelling culture to protect those similar to them.
Livestock

(Photo credit: dgroth)

The subject of animal rights has been around for hundreds of years.  Since the beginning of time, man has been considering animals, regardless of their status.  Now the reasons behind these considerations varied, and I’d like to site some examples.  We can start with the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras who lived around 580 – 500 BCE (Before Common Era).  He urged respect for animals, believing that human and non-human souls were reincarnated from human to animal, and vice versa.  The first known animal protection legislation in the English-speaking world was passed in Ireland in 1635, which prohibited the pulling wool off sheep as well as the attaching of ploughs to horses’ tails because it was cruel.  The Puritans passed animal protection legislation in England around the same time, largely because Oliver Cromwell, who governed then, disliked blood sports like cockfighting and dog fighting.

Even the Nazi Party, on coming to power in January 1933 passed a comprehensive set of animal protection laws which were similar to England, but were more detailed and had severe penalties for breaking them.  It’s been written that the Nazis tried to abolish the distinction between humans and animals, not by treating animals as people, but by treating people as animals.1

The first legal code to protect domestic animals in North America (passed in 1641 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony) also prohibited any tyranny or cruelty towards creatures which were usually kept for man’s use.  In 1821, the “Martin Act” (nicknamed after Colonel Richard Martin of Ireland) was passed which made it an offence punishable by fines and imprisonment to mistreat horses, cows, sheep or other cattle.  Even the society well known in today’s world – the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or SPCA – has its roots dating back to 1824 in England.  This same group started in the United States in 1866.1

I don’t think this issue will ever be completely solved, largely because humans – individuals and groups with varied cultures, beliefs and attitudes – are part of the picture.  Legal and illegal immigrants are bringing Third World violence and abuse towards animals to the United States.   Dogs and cats are being stolen from their owners to be used in blood sports or as bait in bloody training exercises.  Horses and chickens are also subject to abuse.2  Since the 1600’s poachers have hunted, captured or killed protected animals for money, food and other products, and this has been one of the major causes of animal extinction or endangerment.3

But the concept of animal rights in my mind raises some questions (perhaps extreme, but questions nonetheless).  I came up with some “what ifs”:

  • What if NO animals on this earth starting today, were ever butchered for food again?  What happens to these animals?  Who feeds them?  Who takes care of them, and why?
  • What if NOBODY fed these animals, and they were left to fend for themselves.  Would many of them starve or become ill and die, or be destroyed because they wandered in front of a car or truck or bus or train?  Would this be a different form of abuse?
  • What if EVERYBODY spayed or neutered their pets?  Wouldn’t that lead to the possible extinction of many animal species?  What happens to our ecosystem?
  •  What if everyone was forced to become a Vegan?  This practice is about abstaining from all animal use and animal products whether it’s meat, milk, leather, wool or silk.  What does this do to our economic structure and environment?
  • What if nobody was allowed to hunt?  Again, what happens to our ecosystem when it becomes potentially overrun with deer or elk, or bear, coyotes and wolves?

I could probably go on, but let me sum this up.  If we “fix” something according to what certain groups of people see as the solution, we’re bound to create another problem that needs to be fixed.  I found this statement that seems to put things in perspective (http://themessagepub.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/endangered-species-affect-our-ecosystems/)

All animal and plant life is part of a complex ecosystem that also includes our lands and our waters.  Remove one or more of those parts and you damage the ecosystems, sometimes beyond restoration.  These ecosystems provide clean water, breathable air, fertile soils, climate control, food, medicine, energy, building materials, transportation, as well as recreational and spiritual uses.

I want to make it clear that I support the humane treatment of animals, no matter what their status in society.  The thought of mistreating helpless creatures distresses me to no end.  But solutions to this issue once again require a balanced approach that includes rational thinking, compromise and thoughtful action.

1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_rights

2http://rense.com/general61/imm/htm

3http://thetruthaboutpoaching.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/definition

 

Terry Olson – Titan Outlet Store Team

 

 

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titanoutlet
By titanoutlet February 26, 2013 17:04 Updated
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