Friday, September 7, 2007

Respones to pro-AR comments

A couple of ARAs left some comments to older posts that I feel a need to respond to. I've decide to respond here, as opposed to the comments section of deeply buried, old posts. Here's the comments that were left:

In response to a post about a Canadian AR group exploiting children for ideological gain, Jason left the following comment:

"I'm curious what the difference is between allowing your child to participate in an animal rights protest and allowing your child to be in a Mcdonalds ( sic ) commercial?
Are the children being "exploited" by their parents and Mcdonalds ( sic ) as well? Or is it only because you disagree with the message of these particular children that you find it so offensive? Though I have no children, if I did I would be proud if they chose to protest against animal cruelty. That is so much better than joining the brainless masses who live their lives without any thought to the well being of others. It's sad that selfishness, cruelty and greed are considerd ( sic ) the "status quo"."

What Jason is offering here is essentially a straw man argument. Instead of addressing the original issue of whether Liberation B.C. is engaging in child exploitation for ideological gain that I raised, Jason sets up the issue of McDonald's advertising and chooses to attack it. For the sake of argument however, I'll answer what Jason has raised here. I agree with Jason that McDonald's using children in advertising is a form of child exploitation, and I'm not particularly fond of it. I think the ethics and level of responsibility of such business practices are questionable at best. However, I do see a difference between the two. Animal rights is a complex enough issue for adults to understand, let alone kids. It is an emotionally charged issue that involves arguments from diverse, complicated subjects such as ethics, philosophy, and biology, that young children cannot comprehend. Children cannot understand the issue from a rational perspective, only from an emotional one, and that leaves them extremely vulnerable to indoctrination. In short, children CANNOT give informed consent as to whether or not they want to be part of such ideology. Kids being involved in fast food advertising is somewhat different. It does not involve emotionally exploitative indoctrination to a worldview, philosophy, or ideology, as involving kids in AR protests does. I acknowledge that it certainly involves predatory/exploitative advertising of potentially unhealthy products to children, whom again, cannot give informed consent, which is unethical and irresponsible. It does not however, sink to the same low of emotionally exploiting children in order to indoctrinate them into a particular worldview that they can't fully grasp the implications of, or simply using them as pawns for ideological gain, IMHO. That is simply disgusting and reprehensible.

Regarding a post about the animal deaths involved in the production of vegan foods, "halv" left the following comment:

"Wow...comparing the unfortunate and unintended killing of small animals during produce farming to the fully intentional killing of animals for meat production is really stretching it. That's like saying someone who accidentally hits a deer with their car is the same as someone who goes hunting. Your getting desperate Grizz.
But your attention seeking ways continue....and sadly I'm helping it along by writing in."

Bringing up the issue of the extensive animal death involved in the production of vegan diets isn't "stretching it", it's a valid point, and one that ARAs don't really have a sufficient answer for. If animals are truly rights holding beings as the ARAs insist, then how can these deaths simply be ignored and written off? Rights is serious business, and the violation of any rights-holding being's right to life, the most basic right of all, must be addressed, whether that violation is a matter or intention or negligence. If animals have rights, then no amount of "collateral damage" to those rights-holding entities can be acceptable. I wonder if "halv" would say that x number of human children being killed in crop agriculture is acceptable "collateral damage" that cannot be helped, or if he/she would say that any number of human children being killed in crop agriculture is unacceptable and all measures must be taken to prevent it. If animals hold the same basic rights as human children, then how can it possibly be ethical to blow off the deaths of those animals any more than it would be ethical to blow off the deaths of the human children? The reason that "halv" and his/her ilk don't want to seriously address this issue is because it reveals the hypocrisy, and ethical/intellectual inconsistency that lies at the heart of AR ideology. If vegans/ARAs seriously confront their own hypocrisy and their own complicity in animal death, it costs them some of the moral high ground that they like to believe they hold, and many of them are far too arrogant to give up that psuedo moral high ground. I'm curious as to how "halv" came up with his/her sophomoric little ad hominem attack in the last line. "Halv" gives no supporting evidence for the charge that I'm "attention seeking". What I seek to inform people about is the dark side of the AR movement, its implications to personal liberty, as well as it's hypocrisy and intellectual inconsistency, and the last thing "halv" and other ARAs want is for that to be exposed. "Halv", thou doth protest too much.

1 comment:

Cláudio Godoy said...

Thanks to PeTA and Peter Singer, their supposed "animal rights" were exclusively internalized by the general public as a matter of cruelty. You are absolute right when you state there's no cruelty-free lifestyle. Beyond consuming plant-based products, every person needs a place to live, consumes electricity, contributes to pollution and uses transportation. The number of individual non-human animals killed through all the process involved in these activities is much bigger than the number of the ones killed by human use (although in terms of animal biomass the opposite may be true). And most of these deaths are not even accidental: they are incidental, because, as rational beings, we know in advance that our activities will kill them. Usually, if we knew in advance that our actions would kill other human beings and decided to go on and ignore the consequences, we will certainly be punished if someone got killed.

However, there are exceptional circumstances where incidental deaths of right-bearers are not punished and can be considered as a necessary evil. For instance, in an exclusively human context, the air pollution caused by human activities kills a great number of people and has severe consequences on the health of many more. The climate changes caused by human activities can cause a great number of tragedies. And we know all of this in advance. Should we stop driving cars, using energy, consuming industrialized products in order to avoid these incidental harms and go back to the Stone Age? Of course we don’t. But we should at least try to minimize our impact through less consume, population control, efficient use of land and energy and new technologies.

As I stated in another forum, non-human animals will never be members of human society, because their lack of moral agency, so they can’t engage in a human social contract. In this aspect, they are like the marginal human cases. However, differently from the marginal human cases, normal non-human animals are fully functional individuals (who, in the case of the wild animals, weren’t brought to existence by human action – so we don’t have the moral obligation to take care of them as we have in the case of the domestic animals and the marginal human cases). Some of them are solitary and hostile towards any other creature (even belonging to their own species), some of them gather together in special occasions while other ones live in societies. Like us, they need a territory to live and to search for food. And animals, especially insects, are ubiquitous. They are almost everywhere and there’s no way to avoid them completely. Even if you were a hermit who tried to avoid causing any harm to other sentient beings collecting just vegetables and living in a cave, you would inevitably step on an insect. Apparently, the solution would be to commit suicide, but even in this case you could kill some parasites living in your body. So, definitely there’s no cruelty-free lifestyle.

Since we cannot gently ask the other animals to not eat our crops, to go to another place because we have to built houses, roads and dams and grow our crops, to not spread diseases and to not bite us, sometimes we have to “persuade” them in a not very nice fashion. There is a real conflict between those animals and us and someone may get hurt, displaced or killed in the process. As we usually are most powerful, the other animals suffer these negative consequences. But since we have moral agency, we are aware of the consequences of our actions towards other sentience beings (because since they are sentient they are right-bearers) and we have to do all that we can to minimize our impact (in the same way described in the second paragraph). In the case of conflict with other animals, we may treat them differently of humans because we cannot have a deal with them and because of practical matters like scale and number of individuals (we can expel a herd of elephants of our crops without seriously harming them but that’s not possible in the case of millions of grasshoppers).

Finally, as you may know, the essence of animal rights is leaving them alone as far as it’s possible (and it’s not always possible as you could see above) and not using them as our resources. Sometimes we have to capture and study them as in the case of the animals who are poisonous, who can eat our crops or transmit diseases, but that’s preventive self-defense.

I hope I could clarified this subject and I’d like to sorry in advance for my English because I’m not a native speaker and I noticed you are very concerned about that (as you should!).