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Fundamental Rights Are For Life – Not Just Christmas

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A rather disturbing article surfaced on The Guardian a few days ago written by a “near-vegetarian” who claims that “meat-eating is indefensible, cruel and unhealthy” but that he’ll still be “having steak” for his “festive meal.”

According to the author, Ian Jack, Christmas has “never been a good season for animals, but two or three centuries ago it was rather worse.” He then goes on to describe all the various methods of exploitation that were commonplace a few hundred years ago. The implication here is that all other seasons are somehow better for animals and that our current exploitation of them is an improvement on our past exploitation.

Perhaps Jack should try explaining that to the 56 billion land animals and trillion sea animals that we kill each year through non-veganism. This is a common symptom of speciesism; the human thinks they have the right to decide whether or not a particular treatment of animals is somehow better and then promulgate that distinction as a normative matter. Of course less torture is “better” than more torture but that says nothing about the morality of the exploitation in the first instance, and as far as the animal is concerned – whether we’re talking about one of the poor souls slaughtered 3 centuries ago or 3 minutes ago – they are being tortured and killed and do not want to be tortured and killed.

The animal in question is not going to be grateful for being killed via modern day methods over older methods. Both constitute nothing short of torture and so the only group benefitting from such a distinction is the humans; it enables us to feel better about continuing to do the wrong thing under the pretence that things are somehow better. The reality is that more animals are being exploited now than at any point in human history and the animal welfare position that is entrenched in our society has made people more comfortable than ever with our exploitation of animals.

All we need to know is that regardless of method, the animals are being tortured, killed and used exclusively as resources and that this is in violation of their fundamental right not to be used as resources. There is no moral justification for inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on animals regardless of the season or time. Articles like Jack’s are testament to the age of “compassionate” exploitation that we currently find ourselves in; a society that is, in essence, the lovechild of Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer. Where the superficial consideration we show animals and dress up as a recognition of their value is actually for the benefit of humans in ensuring their continued exploitation; a society that ensures that even the so-called “advocates” for animals are nothing but apologists for their exploitation. A good example of this is in the video that Jack’s links in his article, where the vegetarian woman opens the clip saying “don’t worry” to her viewers, she isn’t “here to save the animals,” or “lecture” them about the environment. For one, it’s utterly bizarre that a vegetarian feels they have anything to say about animal exploitation when they themselves engage in rights violations, but more crucially, this sort of behaviour is representative of the outright speciesism supposed “animal advocates” from the mainstream “movement” promote across the board in their denigration of animal value. They are more concerned about protecting the narcissistic tendencies of our present day western culture than speaking clearly and truthfully about what it is that we owe animals if we believe them them to have moral value – veganism.

Jack claims that “a good life and a humane death” are factors he considers when deciding what animal flesh to buy, but that these considerations don’t erase the “charge of hypocrisy” that “hangs over them.” A good life and a humane death. These are impossibilities in the face of animal property status and the fact that we only protect animal interests when there is a human benefit to be derived from doing so. You cannot humanely kill a sentient being who did not want to die and who fought to his/her last breath in an effort to live. These notions – that were we talking about humans would be considered sick and perverse – are made acceptable in society through the promotion of animal welfare and the promulgation of the message (both implicitly and explicitly by “animal advocates”) that  animals have lesser moral value than humans.

Jack is a product of animal welfare; animals matter until you’re at a friends house, or you’ve “a day or two” without a “steak pie.” He is representative of a population of people who embrace welfarism (the notion that it’s ok to kill animals so long as it’s done “humanely”) as a default position without even giving it any second thought. The longer we allow the welfarist paradigm to rule our society unchecked – and by extension the welfarist and new welfarist groups that continue to promote it – the more Jack’s our society will continue to spew out. An ever-rising flood of people who believe that recognising animal value is consistent with killing them.

We need to embrace abolitionism now. Recognising fundamental animal rights is not something dependent on the season; animals are tortured and killed at Christmas and every other day of the year too. This year, instead of attempting to absolve yourself from guilt, make the decision to commit to non-violence and to stop exploiting the vulnerable for unnecessary purposes; make the decision to go vegan. If you are vegan but have thus far been embracing welfarist ideology, make the decision to recognise the inherent value of animals (because yes, many vegans are speciesist) and educate yourself on abolition and what it means with regards to our relationship towards other animals.

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