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Vox, we don’t need a biologist to tell us animals feel pain

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Of all the ways humans enjoy excusing the disaster that is animal exploitation, pretending not to know if animals feel pain is up as there as being the most ignorant.

So when Vox proclaims Animals Can Feel Pain in a brazen, full stop article title, liberal readers are pretending this new “news” will excuse the lack of general common sense that has dictated their opinions towards animals prior to reading it (and likely, following it). This piece of hard-hitting journalism is really just a summation of a new Ted-Ed video in which evolutionary biologist Robyn J. Crook explains how we know animals feel pain. Vertebrates and invertebrates are compared for how nonciception, or the physical recognition of pain, is illustrated. Conscious recognition of harm, the emotionally charged response to pain, comes up for debate following and is based on how smart we perceive less-like-us animals, like the cunning octopi, to be. As always, dogs are the poster children with shrimp and rats being lesser (and therefore more “okay” to use). But speciesism is a red herring here.

At around the 1:33 mark of this animation, we’re told nearly all animals experience nonciception (again, something anyone who’s ever seen an animal, ever, knows). Naturally, I strapped in for 1:34 to begin the vegan manifesto, but alas, all we get is some nonsensical talk about how this info has helped make it illegal to cause “unnecessary suffering” on some animals. No mention of calves being ripped from their mums as a cause of pain whatsoever, but stubbing your toe is up there.

The word ethical is thrown around, but gets buried under Crook’s argument that “Animals are clearly important to us. So it’s equally important that we avoid causing them unnecessary pain.” I can’t help but wonder if the original script read “Animals are clearly not important to us,” but saw a last minute revision to further delude viewers into believing that caring for someone can include the ownership, experimentation, and slaughter of them for our benefit. Or, that those uses can ever be necessary.

“Ethical” is not studying how animals feel pain so we can pretend to lessen it when we cause it. It doesn’t take seeing each and every species wince in fear or nurse an injury to understand that no sentient being would choose to experience pain of any kind, let alone enslavement, torture, or death. Tell me – who out there is eating a steak under the pretence that the cow it came from threw up it’s hoof in a Hunger Games-esque act of volunteering because it can’t comprehend pain? Oh, right, no one.

Crook caps this painful to watch piece (that’s conscious recognition pain for those playing along at home) by saying “As our knowledge grows, it may one day allow us to live in a world where we don’t cause pain needlessly.” Contrary to the over-regurgitated notion that we need animals for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, or companionship, our knowledge and recognition of pain should be just one of the many ways we reinforce that animals are not ours to use. If we only focus on pain, and continue to pretend that conscious recognition of fear – and all emotions – are insignificant, then new pain medications or methods for “humane” death are going to be the prevailing “ethical” voice for animals. Veganism, and the total freedom for all from exploitation, should be instead.

What if the coin was flipped, and it was an “Animals Feel Pleasure” piece? Would knowing what experiences they’re robbed of change how guilty we feel about using them? It shouldn’t matter – pain or pleasure – because they don’t exist for us. That alone should be enough to guide our moral compass away from finding “better” or “less painful” ways to do the wrong thing.

Unlike humans who can visit places like Bend Chiropractic when they have back pain, animals are powerless when it comes to managing their pain or healing therefore it is atrocious that we go out of our way to cause them pain. The only way we can stop participating in the charade of causing less pain, is to go vegan and help others to do the same.

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