Earlier today, I was looking into the College Scholars program offered by the university I'll be attending, as I would need to apply during the second semester of freshman year. In doing so, I came across a list of past speakers brought in through the program, and saw that Peter Singer was among them. For those unfamiliar, this nutjob authored the book Animal Liberation, and founded The Great Ape Project, whose stated goal is to have the UN adopt a resolution ensuring certain rights to said animals. As such, it seemed as good a time as ever to discuss the matter, since it tends to crop up every so often, whenever a member of the fringe-left manages to get media coverage for this insane cause.
The notion of animal liberation is a fundamentally flawed one. It assumes that animals have the intellectual wherewithal to function independent of human influence, and should therefore be treated on par with humans. Consumption or use in labor of animals would be prohibited. So too would animal ownership. In other words, they would typically be the legal equal of a human. Now, I imagine some animal lovers might, on a basic level, approve of the idea, and would equate speciesism with racism, as these fanatics so often do. Thus, we must consider the logic here:
- Animals cannot stand trial. If a wild bull gores a man to death, what will happen? As they do not speak any language understood outside their species, and cannot understand court procedures, much less conform to them, how can a defense be mounted?
- Animals cannot be jailed. If a trial cannot occur, how can they be jailed? And would you put them in the same jails as humans? That simply isn't realistic. You can't give a criminal a mountain lion for a cellmate. And separate prisons would just be another act of speciesism that the left would complain about.
- Animals cannot work. To get a job, paperwork needs to be completed, and contracts cannot be signed. How would a cow, or an owl, or any other animal do that? And, if they don't understand the terms of it, how can they be expected to follow it? What happens if they fail to meet the terms therein? How do you collect money from a monkey?
- Animals can't use money. Without a job, how is an animal to get money? And without money, the cannot contribute to the economy. They could only leech off of it, requiring government feeding and housing, as intrusion onto private property or theft from humans would be criminal.
- Animals can't pay taxes. Being unable to hold a job or make money, animals would be exempt from taxes, but would all require government handouts to stay alive, thus creating a massive tax burden on humans. Welfare and current social spending problems are bad enough. Do we really need to take it to a new level?
- Animals present legal issues. One example would be running for president. If a goat was born in the US, and the required documentation has been filed, can he become president? Or, since animal years are different from humans, how would you handle age of consent laws? How would animals even give consent? Or accuse somebody of rape?
- Animals aren't smart enough. Yes, people are stupid as hell. But even the dumbest among us surpasses the great minds among lesser species. Be they a mop jockey or a mentally retarded teenager, humans still have the intellectual edge.
- Animal owners would be the victims. Whether we're talking about loving dog owners who've spent $30,000 raising their dog, or cattle ranchers who depend on selling cows to feed their family, those who owned the animals lose. And for what logical purpose? For those with money involved, how are they to be compensated?
- Animals are essential to medical progress. Without being able to test breakthroughs on various animals, we would be exposing people to unwarranted risks, and limiting medical advancement. Clinical trials still have their place, but do we want humans exposed to unsafe medicine to begin with?
The fact is, animals are not intellectually capable of functioning on the same level as humans. They cannot enter into contracts, communicate with us, follow the law, or be held to the same standards. Their freedom would harm consumer food choice, as well as the bottom line of millions of Americans whose jobs revolve around meat. Add to that the damage done to medicine, and it becomes all the worse. That doesn't even begin to take into account the number of conveniences we would have to give up, such as leather shoes or fur on the inside of gloves.