Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Degrading of Living Creatures...

Pro-Life, Pro-Animal-The conscience of a pro-life, vegan conservative by Matthew Scully is the best essay I have read this year on animal rights - it's heart breaking to read but I urge you to read the whole thing:

It gets us nowhere to diminish animal welfare as a moral concern by changing the subject to instances of great human affliction, as if we cannot be expected to care about both, or as if those very afflictions are a constant preoccupation in our daily lives. Such answers are the first reflex of many people, amounting to the non sequitur “There is human suffering, therefore animal suffering is beneath my attention.” Or, less loftily, “I have better things to think about.” It reminds me of the pro-abortion line that if pro-lifers really care about children so much, why don’t we focus instead on broader social priorities like more funding for federal preschool and nutrition programs to serve our nation’s precious children after birth? High-sounding arguments don’t come easy when you’re defending either abortion or cruelty, and the problem in the latter case is that the animal suffering in question is usually at human hands, caused or relieved by us individually or through public policy. Compassion for animals doesn’t drain away some finite reserve of moral energy and idealism, to the detriment of human welfare, but surely adds to the supply. In any case it usually consists in simply not doing bad things to them, and in preventing wrongdoing by others. Cruelty issues like factory farming present specific moral choices. If we’re making the wrong ones, then to shift attention to other woes in the world is just as idle and evasive as when the abortion lobby tries it.

“Unnatural,” in the treatment of animals, is practically a synonym for “cruel”: Wrong is anything that frustrates or perverts the essential nature of an animal, such as the projects of genetic engineers to make animals more compliant in the stress and misery of modern farming; right is conduct that respects the natures of animals, with a regard for their needs and inherent worth as living creatures, and allows for their expression. (A little more poetically: “All creatures sing their Creator’s praises, and are dear to Him for their own sakes.”) Cruelty in this way is not only a denial of the animal’s nature but a betrayal of our own, and, whatever our creed or philosophy, there is a simple route to the heart of the matter: Integrity, honor, humility, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, charity — take each of these, or any other virtue we might aspire to, and try to square it with the abuse of an animal.

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