Sunday, March 25, 2007

A bear cub and the paradox of animal rights

This story about a polar bear cub named Knut and the AR lunatic that wants him dead has made its way around the globe in the past week. The paradox here is absolutely mind-boggling. If animals truly have rights, as the ARA Mr. Albrecht presumably believes, then how can it possibly be ethical to kill this cub? After all, the right to life is the most basic, most sacred right of all. Without the right to life, all other rights are rendered irrelevant. Just because Knut was born into a situation, a zoo, that Mr. Albrecht and his ilk find objectionable, that should not render Knut's "right" to live as non-existent should it? This is a prime example of the kind of hypocrisy that infects the AR movement. We also see this with PeTA. They pontificate ad nauseum about the supposed "rights" of animals while they kill homeless pets by the thousands. IMHO, animal liberation types like Mr. Albrecht are complete phonies. They use the "rights" of animals simply as a facade for their lust for power and desire for control over human society's relationship with animals. They are apparently willing to trample on the very "rights" they claim to champion when such "rights" present an inconvenience to their greater ideological goals.
I find it interesting that none of the pro-AR blogs I have glanced at this week have come out and condemned Mr. Albrecht, or even bothered to comment on this story for that matter. When it comes to the outrageous words or actions of their peers, supposedly "moderate" or "mainstream" ARAs seem to have a "hear no evil, see no evil" attitude. It seems to be an unwritten rule in the AR culture that you do not criticize or condemn a fellow ARA.
I humbly suggest that the world would be a better place if we had more bears and fewer AR wingnuts. How about we keep Knut and euthanize Frank Albrecht instead?


Eric said...

I'll come right out on your blog and say that Albrecht is misunderstanding our obligation to Knut, and I'm not the first ARA to state as much. The absence of commentary about this story on my blog is more a reflection of my own lack of time, not my horror at his confused views. There's a lot of stories this week I would have liked to cover, but I just didn't get around to them.

Besides, as you noted, it's self-evident that this guy is making a huge mistake, but it's not because he's an ARA, per se, it's likely just because he misunderstands it. ARAs do not, as a rule, advocate killing animals. That some alleged ARAs do should be less a reflection on animal rights, and more a reflection on that individual's confused thinking.

By the way, I replied to you over on my blog before I checked out yours. Sure enough, my final conclusion that your view is speciesist syncs right up with your blog title, so there we go.

Also, I think your blog is interesting. It's nice to
see what anti-ARAs are saying, and to find the small slices of common ground we share. I'm glad to see you enjoy the outdoors. I do, too. I just prefer not to do any harm while I'm out there.

I see also that you rely on words like wingnut and idiocy to describe the people you're speaking out against. I think it's fair to say that you're misusing the words. Surely some people in any social movement just so happen to be idiots or wingnuts, but to describe just anyone who believes in animal rights as an idiot, or animal rights theory as idiocy is simply inaccurate, if not unhelpful to your otherwise articulate arguments.

Eric said...

Saw this in my RSS feeds today:

aloe2 said...

I’ve read blogs and discussion fora asking who is Frank Albrecht and what “AR” group does he represent and what "AR" advocates he claims to speak for. Some “AR” advocates say he does not speak for them, is an attention-seeker, and is giving “AR” a bad name - even though there are groups who would like to get rid of zoos and the animals having to live in them. I'm not sure if there's been any overwhelming endorsement by other “AR” groups and individual advocates to put an end to this bear cub.

Of interest, also, I read some blogs and discussion fora concerned about the possibility that Albrecht might have been misquoted by the German daily tabloid, Bild, which put his remarks out of context. These discussions allege that Albrecht never demanded for the polar bear cub to be ethanized in the first place. Rather, he was protesting against the killing of a baby sloth by the Leipziger zoo by making an analogy to the Berlin zoo/baby bear case, saying that the reasoning used to kill the baby sloth would require killing the baby polar bear too. Here is one blog: :

-An "animal rights activist" has told authorities they must kill a polar bear cub born in a zoo because they have no right to raise a wild animal as tame. The bear cub has been ignored by his mother, but zoo authorities are hand feeding it. This has outraged the "activist". (Apparently there is some dispute now over whether this activist is being fairly quoted by the English-language press. So be advised that he may not have said what is attributed to him in the context presented.)

-It's not accurate to say Albrecht said the bear must be killed because he'll be raised by humans. The stories saying that are not properly quoting him.

There is discussion of this in Ann Althouse's post on this topic. In summary: He was protesting the killing of another animal at another zoo, and was sloppily drawing an analogy to the rationale in that case to this one by saying (and I paraphrase, because the Google translation from German leaves much to be desired) 'If the Leipziger zoo were exempt from punishment for killing a baby bear because it could not be raised, that logic means that the Berlin zoo must kill baby bear Knut'.

Here's the link to the story in it's original German at (Note: They're not the ultimate origin of the story, they're merely as far back as I can trace it): Knut story [ ]

... and the followup stories:

From The Daily Mail [ ]

And from The BBC [ ]

And here's the ugly Google-lation from German to English of the relevant part of the story:

"The reason: Hand raising has behavior disturbances with animals to the consequence, this suffering by the killing was prevented.

For Albrecht that was a contradiction. If the Leipziger zoo were allowed to kill a bear baby because of the damages exempt from punishment, then nevertheless also the raising of bottle of Knut would have to be illegal? Thus he sued the citizen of Berlin zoo and explained opposite the pictures “that after the logic of the Leipziger zoo also in Berlin the bear baby had to be killed."

I think Albrecht's stance that human "contamination" renders a wild animal unable to survive in the wild is bunk. Species reintroduction programs that involve hand-raising animals from birth would be rendered moot if that were the case, and they're anything but. So calling such hand raising "not species-appropriate" frankly shows his ignorance. "Appropriate" is a matter of opinion, not a hard-and-fast fact, and if the animal survives and thrives, then what matter is it how it was fed?

In spite of that, I'm forced to admit that the story of him saying the Berlin zoo "Must kill Knut" is a misrepresentation of what he actually said. He may have put it sloppily, and BILD (the original source of the story, from whom, BBC, and then everyone else took it) misused his quote something awful, but he's not guilty of saying "execute the cub because humans are raising it".

Eric said...

trying the link again

Anonymous said...

No eric. For ARA theory to be described as idiocy really hits the nail on the head.

What we need are more people pointing this out. To call it anything but idiocy gives it a legitimacy it doesn't deserve. Its a movement based on false premises and hypocrisy.