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CNN Reacts To The “Publicly Shamed” Rat In China

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A photo of a rat who was killed and strung up with string from each of her limbs has been doing its rounds on social media. She was caught in a shop in China trying to eat some rice when the workers in the shop killed her and put her on display with a sign hunger over her neck with the following words: “Is that all you’ve got? You can kill me and I still won’t admit it was me who stole your rice!”

While such conduct represents a horrific violation of fundamental rights, it is no different and no less horrific than the rights violations we engage in and demand when we are not vegan. This, however, hasn’t stopped CNN perpetuating the stream of xenophobia directed at the Chinese for engaging in actions morally indistinguishable from the actions of any non-vegan. Their article on the rat also touches on single-issue campaigns promoted by celebrities such as Yao Ming (NBA star) and Jackie Chan, as if this represents a societal shift in moral thought for the Chinese. False “victories” for animals held in captivity such as Pizza the “world’s saddest polar bear” are attributed to pressure from the public when the reality is that Pizza is merely getting an updated cage.

CNN portrays these actions as representative of “changing attitudes” but maintains that there is “room for progress” on account of the Yulin dog meat festival. Once again, false distinctions are made between the exploitation that the Chinese engage in and the exploitation that westerners engage in. Because clearly, we in the western world are so much more civilised for exploiting the right animals opposed the the animals we like to commodify and use as pets.

We should be using this case to point out to people that if they believe what happened to the rat is wrong, they are committed to veganism. We should be informing them that if they are concerned for the rat, or the dog, or the polar bear, there is no logical distinction to be made between those animals and the animals they exploit themselves for the purpose of using any one of them as replaceable resources. The rat, the dog and the polar bear, as sentient beings possess the same fundamental interests in life as do the animals we eat, wear, consume or otherwise commodify when we are not vegan.

To be concerned for one but not the other is to engage in speciesism. It is to exclude certain animals from your scope of moral concern based on irrelevant characteristics or personal preference. To target the Chinese for their exploitation when your own actions are morally indistinguishable from them, is to perpetuate xenophobia and racism as well as speciesism.

We need to start being clear that veganism is required of all who claim to take the interests of any animal seriously.

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