Friday, September 16, 2005

*Animals welfare v Animal Rights*

This was a rejected letter to the press, and I'm just a little too lazy to come up with new content today. Especially since my Property Law assignment just came out. Anyway, this letter was prompted by a full page spread on animal abuse (which as it turned out spiralled into an issue of racism and the use of a law which has not been used since its inception during the Malayan Communist conflict).

It was worded as a clarification of the two different doctrines above, animal rights is a evry broad concept that encapsulates animal welfare but also some more radical elements as to the intrinsic right of animals to live.

Dear Sir,

While it is not right for us as humans to abuse creatures more vulnerable than us, I think that, nevertheless, an important distinction must be drawn between animal welfare and rights. A conflation of the two has had a disturbing tendency to translate into violence on behalf of animals as best seen by the continuing systemic harassment and death threats against Huntington Life Sciences in the United Kingdom and exemplified by the fact that their suppliers are slowly dwindling to nothing.

Their 'crime'? The use of animals in medical research and testing. This despite the fact that the animals there are treated much better and more humanely than any ordinary pet would. Never mind the fact that the system of regulations, checks and balances are so stringent as to make any form of abuse impossible. And despite the fact that they are the beneficiaries of the life saving drugs that are produced or that there are no viable alternatives or that animals that have to imported overseas do not have the same level of care and attention than they would otherwise have in the U.K.

Animals do not have rights. An animal can no more have rights than any inanimate thing or object, for they cannot reciprocate the obligations that come along with it. Animals have rights only vis a vis us humans who ensure that they do. Which is why it is a misnomer really to speak of rights which by simply logic and definition simply cannot exist. Similarly, that is also why the philosophy that places animals on par with humans is simply naïve and wrong headed good intentioned though it may be.

And thus that is why, while I'm a firm believer in preventing unnecessary cruelty towards animals and a strong proponent of harsher penalties for those who abuse them, I still do eat meat, wear leather and support animal medical testing. Because I believe in animal welfare, not animal rights.



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