Animal Welfare vs. Animal Rights (as explained by an exploiter)
We know that many people who exploit animals also claim to care about them. Some even say they love them. So when it comes to understanding the difference between animal welfare and animal rights, it’s easy to make the distinction; one allows the continuation and promotion of exploitation and one does not. Stuff posted an article that cuts right to the chase of the confusion, and accurately depicts why anyone fighting for animals should stop promoting welfarism and start talking rights.
Author Kirsten Kelly argues that animal welfare matters to her and other Kiwis. She talks about New Zealand’s agricultural lineage and the need to take care of animals we’ve domesticated, and spends the rest of the time rambling on about how much more important humans are overall. She basically does everything she can to demonize animal rights because she believes giving animals rights diminishes the importance of humans. But really, rights mean equality, equality means freedom from use, and freedom from use means people don’t get to eat, wear, be entertained by, or otherwise use animals as our property. It’s black and white – welfare only cares about the conditions in which the animals we own are used, and animal rights means understanding their personhood. But lest the threat of animals getting the right to drive or vote rears it’s ugly head, Kelly attempts to take animal rights down with a series of dated, trivial, and disgusting rationalizations for why humans are so much better.
It all starts with the burning building analogy, in an attempt to say that anyone who’d choose to save a human baby over a dog is speciesist and ought to be speciesist all the time, regardless of whether a situation presents danger. Most days, we face many more choices where the only lives threatened are of the victims we consume. We know welfarism frequently promotes playing favourites though, with human beings being followed by the animals more human-like. But the clearest examples of speciesism comes from Kelly herself, as she digs deeper and deeper into a hole while attempting to appear taller.
Kelly argues that murder and slaughter are seperate entities (huh), and that the rape or abuse of a human also exists on a different scale simply because humans are somehow better. It screams self-entitlement to pretend that what we do to animals is less worse because we are smarter or more powerful. These injustices are the same, it’s just whom is experiencing them that differs. Our own selfishness depicts that human suffering is more important, but there’s no real basis to that.
Instead of likening animal rights to the downfall of human status, she should recognize it’s about raising up animals from mere things to complete beings instead. Humans should not be offended by the comparisons drawn between their experiences and the experiences of victimized animals, because both are wrong, unnecessary, and need to be abolished simultaneously (vegans fight the end of all violence, not just non-human animal). Further, to argue that animal rights lessens humans would be like saying allowing gay marriage diminishes heterosexual marriage. It obviously doesn’t, it just gives equal rights to everyone who wishes to be married. What if instead of fighting for human rights, we just made sure the humans being denied justice had their welfare prioritized?
Since you think we are entitled to enact these crimes because we are “superior” in technology and science, I assume you’ll be alright with aliens enslaving, raping, breeding, and killing us all when they decide to, granted they treat us well first, right? Animals are not domesticated and used “in partnership” with us as Kelly suggests, and recognizing their sentience gives us the responsibility to free them from use, not give them the best we can under the circumstances that allow us to profit from them. Believing it’s wrong to kill animals is not an “opinion,” as she retorts, and it cannot be done with the compassion and empathy she pretends to be fighting for.
It’s clear that Kelly’s opinions are commonplace, and that most people are happy to preach for the welfare of animals while still contributing to their use. Until we use our voices to fight for the abolition of animal use altogether, animals don’t stand a chance at having their basic right to life recognized. Humans should not perpetuate the barbaric idea that since we can, we should continue to unnecessarily harm and kill other living beings out of preference. It’s violence to the core, no matter how we attempt to justify it, or comfort those participating in it. If you believe animals don’t deserve to be the property of humans, to be treated however humans see fit, you already believe in animal rights. And believing in their rights means not fighting for their comfort when those rights are denied.
Kirsten Kelly, and exploiters like her, show the necessity to understand the distinction between these two sides. Once we recognize that welfarism is the anthem of the industry and of those who work to ensure it’s continuation is disguised as humane, we can’t find ourselves fighting the same fight. Animals need us to educate ourselves and others on veganism, and to not settle for anything less.