Friday, November 30, 2007

Dennis Kucinich schmoozes AR leaders

Given we're coming upon a major election year, here's a video that should be watched. Congressman Dennis "cuckoo" Kucinich ( D-OH ), a Presidential candidate, can be seen in this twenty minute video schmoozing with animal rights leaders in a conference call. It is nauseating to see Kucinich and the ARAs pandering to each other in this way, but I think it's important to see just what kind of radicals that this man, who wants to be our President, identifies with. If you are a sportsman, farmer/rancher, supporter of bio-medical research, or just want your freedom to make your own lifestyle choices to be respected, be very, very wary of this guy. How someone this radically leftist and out of touch continues to get elected is beyond me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Deconstructing Gary Francione's FAQs #1

A pro-AR "abolitionist" reader recently challenged me to debunk Prof. Gary Francione's twenty animal rights FAQs. He did this in manner that struck me as somewhat smug and arrogant, as if Francione's opinions are somehow holy gospel and unassailable. I've decided to start a new series here in which I will deconstruct all twenty of Francione's FAQs. I will not be doing these all in row, but will be blogging on other things, and doing these from time to time, perhaps maybe one a week or every two weeks. The first thing readers will need to do is read through Francione's FAQs. They can be found here. The first thing I noticed about this FAQ, and perhaps you have as well, is that some of the questions that Francione asks himself seem to be perhaps "spun" or "loaded" in such a way so that he can indulge himself in circular reasoning. He words the questions in such a way so that he can give exactly the answer he wants to give,and wants you to hear. This is common in my experience in these "FAQs" where any kind of ideological, religious or political agenda is involved. Keep that in mind as we go through them. Let's get started and look at question #1.

"1. Question: Domestic animals, such as cows and pigs, and laboratory rats would not exist, were it not for our bringing them into existence in the first place for our purposes. So, is it not the case we are free to treat them as our resources?"

In his answer, you will notice that Francione goes on to use an analogy about using children as resources. He makes the following statements: "The fact that we are in some sense responsible for the existence of a being does not give us the right to treat that being as our resource. Were that so, then we could treat our children as resources.". This argument fails on a couple of fronts. First off, is the fact, that in reality, we DO in fact treat our children as resources in some respects. When I was kid, my parents used to make me do household chores such as mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, washing the dishes, etc. Also, anyone who grew up on a family farm or ranch knows how hard they worked to help keep things going for the family. There are also examples that don't involve contribution to the family. The Girl Scouts sell cookies every year as a fund raiser. The girls go door to door, or set up shop in front of a public place, and work to sell cookies. These are all examples of treating children as resources. Children are providing labor for either the benefit of their family or an organization that they belong to. Francione's answer implies that it is always morally wrong to use children as resources. Using his logic, however, all the things I mentioned above, would, in fact, be immoral because they all, in reality, use children as resources. The notion of kids mowing lawns or selling cookies to help an organization they belong to, being immoral, is of course, patently absurd. The question here isn't whether it is right or wrong to use children as resources, but rather, what should be the rational moral limits of using children as resources.

This analogy also fails on a second front. The astute reader will notice that what Francione is implying here, is that if it is immoral to use children as resources, then it must also be immoral to use animals as resources. Yet, he makes absolutely no argument here to support such a claim. He offers the reader no rational, convincing reason as to why children and animals should receive the same moral treatment. None at all. When drawing his analogy, he simply seems to ASSUME that children and animals are ENTITLED to the same moral consideration, as if it is some kind of self-evident fact, which of course it is not. He utterly fails to give a single reason why animals and children should be afforded the same treatment and it's glaringly vacuous.

The astute reader should also notice the intellectual slight of hand that Francione utilizes in the second paragraph of his answer. In the second paragraph, Francione talks about the immorality of treating people as property. However, the original question was about treating animals as RESOURCES, not about treating them as PROPERTY and the two are not the same thing. What Francione has done is subtly tried to shift the argument from the question of treating animals as resources to a question of treating animals as property. This is a straw man fallacy. A straw man fallacy is a logical fallacy in which a person attacks or introduces an argument different from, or irrelevant to, the original subject. Francione's second paragraph of his answer qualifies as fallacious, because, as I stated, treating someone as a resource, and treating them as property are not one and the same. The two are separate arguments. We treat people as resources all the time and it is not considered immoral. For example, if you have a job, you are a resource to your employer because you provide labor for them. Indeed, most large business have departments dedicated to managing personnel that are usually called "human resources departments". Although you may be considered a resource by your employer, you are not your employer's property. Rather, you are a person of free will that can choose to leave your employment any time. In our society, treating a person as a resource is not necessarily immoral, but treating a person as property always is. In his answer, Francione either fails to make that distinction himself, or he is intentionally being intellectually dishonest, and hopes that his readers don't notice the distinction. You make your own call.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving today. Today is a day to contemplate how fortunate we are to live in a land of liberty and prosperity, and to celebrate the earth's bountiful provision. My wife Stephanie and I are fortunate to have a nice home, good jobs, etc.. We are only so fortunate because of this land of liberty and opportunity in which we live, and for that, I am grateful. Stephanie and I will be hosting both her parents as well as mine at our home today. We'll be foregoing the traditional turkey in favor of roasting some wild ducks that I got while enjoying quality time in a frigid duck blind with my dad and two wet, smelly dogs a few weeks ago. We'll be enjoying our day, and I hope you will too. Eat, drink, and be merry, and enjoy time with family and friends, for life is short.


AR idiocy in the news......

AR lunatics threaten to destroy golf course with heavy equipment over duck cull

A golf course in Australia has been threatened to be damaged with a backhoe because they culled ducks that were damaging the greens. No, I'm not making this up. There's really nothing I can say about this latest round of animal rights lunacy that it doesn't say for itself. This story is funny, but it is also very sobering at the same time, because I think it is indicative of a society that is unfortunately becoming more hyper-emotional and less rational all the time. That some people would be willing to commit criminal property damage, and thus risking their freedom and other rights, their job, their reputation, etc. over a simple cull of a few wild ducks is baffling to me. I honestly cannot comprehend such irrational behavior. The growing over-the-top emotionalism of society is a scary thing.

Yet another frivolous PCRM lawsuit dismissed

A class action lawsuit brought by Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine board member Dr. Milton Mills against dairy sellers has been dismissed by a federal appellate court. The lawsuit sought to have warning labels regarding lactose intolerance placed on dairy products. The court rightly found that the minor discomfort that goes with lactose intolerance is not sufficient grounds to award damages. I love this quote from the courts ruling: "A bout of gas or indigestion does not justify a race to the courthouse." Indeed. If I had a dollar for every time that the ideological hacks posing as a medical group at PCRM abused our legal system with its frivolous, agenda-driven litigation, I could retire right now and spend the rest of my life fishing. How many time will this boy be allowed to cry wolf before the courts stop listening?

The actual court ruling, in PDF format, can be viewed here.

A truly sanctimonious, crazed celebrity activist

Like probably many others, I despise celebrity activists. Not only are they condescending and insulting to the intelligence, they are also generally "rebels without a clue", as well as incredibly sanctimonious and hypocritical. Such is the case with Heather Mills, vegan activist and estranged wife of AR zealot and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney. Earlier this week, Mills stormed out of a radio interview, drove to London's Hyde Park in a Mercedes SUV, then launched into a bizarre diatribe about the alleged ecological dangers of livestock, in which she actually asked "why don't we drink rat's milk?". Apparently, Mills didn't bother to think about how one would actually milk a small animal like a rat, nor the fact that an animal that size would produce such a minute amount of it that it would be useless. Additionally, for some reason, Mills let the gas-guzzling SUV continue to idle while she was giving her self-serving little screed.
Here we have a pompous, narcissistic, pampered celebrity pontificating to others about how they are supposedly destroying the planet with their eating habits, after showing up in a fuel-inefficient vehicle that she lets idle while giving her sermon! The hypocrisy of that is so incredulous, that one is really at a loss for words. It's right up there with that elitist Al Gore telling us serfs that it is us driving our cars to work that is the problem, while he continues to trot the globe in a kerosene-guzzling private jet, and owns a home that uses more electricity in a month than most of us use in a year.
I have long wondered what is going on with environmental and AR crusaders, from the common everyday ones to the celebrities and elitists, in regards to their own hypocrisies. Is there something psychologically that blinds them to it, so they are not able to see it, even though it is apparent to everyone else? Perhaps that is the case with some. More often, though, it seems that many simply try to rationalize their own hypocrisy, as can be clearly seen if one reads various pro-AR blogs, as well as some of the comments from ARAs that have been left here at this blog. In my experience, ARAs and green crusaders tend to be privileged and well off in comparison to the rest of the world. They enjoy the luxuries that their life affords, but at the same time they seem to have a psychological need to feel morally superior to others. Thus they rationalize their own actions in an attempt to maintain their facade of moral piety. I can't help but wonder if a shrink would have a field day with Ms. Mills and her ilk.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More animal rights idiocy du jour

I think this little bit of animal rights idiocy speaks for itself. Apparently in this person's warped world, insulting a pigeon is "much like using the n-word". Right. Calling a pigeon "a flying rat" is akin to using one of the ugliest racial slurs there is? I bet she also believes killing chickens for food is on the same moral plane as the Holocaust. And these nuts want to be taken seriously?

Monday, November 12, 2007

The animal rights idiocy du jour

There is a letter that an ARA, one Arthur Poletti, wrote addressed to his Congressional representatives ( Senators Barack Obama and Dick Durbin and Representative Dan Lapinski ) that has been published on the pro-AR website that really is a must read. This letter is a rambling, shrill diatribe that provides some insight into the mindset of some ARAs. It is so full of petty lust for power over other people's lives, crackpot "the sky is falling" scenarios, and patent absurdities, that is extremely entertaining, as well as utterly nauseating, at the same time. Let's take a look at some of these crown jewels of absurdity and moonbattery that Mr. Poletti is offering us and his politicians.

"The human race cannot run away from or escape the consequences of global warming. Monumental cataclysmic disasters that are going to continue happening unless the wisest, practical, and most realistic solution is implemented immediately, if not sooner!"

Here we see Mr. Poletti talking about "monumental cataclysmic disasters" that are, in his world at least, going to happen if, of course, we don't ban animal agriculture right now. Of course, like all self-anointed gloom and doom prophets throughout history, he doesn't back up his cataclysmic scenarios with anything resembling undeniable facts. Also check out the last line, where he says "immediately, if not sooner". What is sooner than immediately? Absolutely hysterical!

"If government leaders do not begin to write emergency legislation designed to pass laws removing animal flesh from the food chain soon then humans, animals, and the earth will be confronted with the continuous escalation of widespread nonstop mega catastrophes!"

Ah, here we're getting to the meat ( pun intended ) of Mr. Poletti's agenda. What Mr Poletti wants is to use the power of the state, in the name of impending doom of course, to further erode people's liberties, in this case the freedom of choice regarding one's diet. The notion that people should surrender more of their liberties to the state to fend off some impending doom is a lie that tyrants of all stripes have used since the dawn of tyranny itself. And so it continues to this day.

"Removing animal flesh from the food chain may be the only realistic, viable, manageable, enforceable, and most effective government solution immediately needed to slow down global warming, and to ultimately play the largest role in stopping it."

Trying to ban animal based foods is not "realistic", "viable", or "enforceable". In case Mr. Poletti isn't yet aware of it, we have tried prohibitionist policies in the past, and they are monumental failures. For example, if we can't realistically and viably enforce laws banning the production and use of marijuana, then how are we ever going to realistically and viably enforce laws banning the production and use of meat, especially when one considers there are many more meat eaters than there are pot smokers!? Albert Einstein once said that "the very definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result". Mr. Poletti seems to fit that bill as he seems intent in his desire to cling to failed policies of the past.

"Global warming is potentially the most formidable, seemingly impregnable, possibly unstoppable deadly force in the history of the world."

It may very well be unstoppable, especially if all or most of it is natural in nature. The fact that Mr. Poletti seems to forget in all his doomsday prophecy is that, throughout its long ages, the earth has been both much hotter, and much colder, than it is now, and life on this planet managed to survive it.

"During the next few years a large number of countries will likely be engulfed in any one or many of the following calamities.

A constant escalation of heat waves, violent torrential storms, hurricanes, catastrophic flooding, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, uncontrolled wild fires, draughts, famines, diseases, and starvation."

This one is really funny. We've all seen global warming alarmists seemingly blame everything from hot days to cold days to bad hair days on climate change. But EARTHQUAKES and TSUNAMIS? Earthquakes, and the tsunamis that can follow them, of course are caused by the movement of the earth's tectonic plates. Notice that Mr. Poletti offers no evidence that climate change affects the movement of these plates, which have been in motion since the beginning of time, and will always continue to be so. What an absolute riot!

These are just a few choice samplings of Mr. Poletti's absurdities. There are many more that seem to go on, and on, and on. Enjoy the laugh, folks!

Hypocrisy, thy name is Ingrid Newkirk

There as been a lot of discussion here recently about the inherent hypocrisy of so many in the animal rights community. I don't think that hypocrisy is any more evident than in a recent story involving none other than Ingrid Newkirk, founder and president of PeTA. According to an October 30 post on PeTA's blog, Ms. Newkirk recently broke her wrist in a fall. What's interesting here is this quote from Ms. Newkirk: "Thank goodness for IV ( intravenous ) drips." Yes, indeed, thank goodness for them, but does Ms. Newkirk have so much a clue as to the history of IV use ? The intravenous system of medication delivery was first developed in the 1930's. It was tested intensively on various kinds of animals including monkeys and dogs. Not only was the IV technique tested extensively on animals, but of course so are the drugs that are used in it. So here we have one of the kingpins of the animal rights industry, being more than willing to enjoy the benefits of animal research for herself when she is in pain, but continuing to pontificate to the world about the supposed evils of animal research, not to mention disseminating all kinds of distortions and lies about how supposedly useless and unnecessary it is. ARAs may try to rationalize, spin, and justify such a thing, as they do with all of their hypocrisies, but the bottom line is still the same: it is utterly one of the most debased forms of hypocrisy there is. Beyond that, however, it is incredibly selfish. For Ms. Newkirk to accept the fruits of past animal research for herself, all the while wishing and trying to deny others the fruits of current and future research is about the height of arrogance and selfishness. Par for the course for the typical animal rights advocate.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Response to pro-AR comments

I will get back to the discussion about "loaded AR terminology" in the next post ( hopefully! ). A pro-AR reader, Claudio, recently left some comments about the incidental deaths of wild animals that occur in crop agriculture, which I think is a dilemma of hypocrisy for ideological vegans who like to claim they live a "cruelty-free lifestyle" and like to use that as some kind of unjustified moral bludgeon against other people. Recently, he also smugly challenged me to "feel free to debunk it". As I have done before, I like to move pro-AR comments that I think are of some value to the forefront so readers can read them, and my response, without having to dive into old, dated posts. Claudio's remarks, and the original post he was responding to, can be found here. I'm not going to reproduce Claudio's comments in full here, simply for the reason they are lengthy, so please read them in the original thread.

"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 analogy Claudio is using here is not a good one. In fact, it utterly fails. The fact of the matter is, polluters can be, and in fact are, punished under the law. Government regulations require pollution controls on everything from cars to power plants. If industries fail to implement controls or exceed the amount of pollution specified by law, they can face criminal charges and large fines. In some instances, even city governments can be fined, or face loss of federal subsidies for various things, if they exceed a certain number of "smog days". Drivers of cars that don't pass emissions tests are required to repair them so that they do, or face fines. Polluters are compelled by law to rectify the problem and they can continue to face ongoing consequences until they do. The reason we have these laws is because, as Claudio stated, pollution has a negative impact on the health of people, who are rights-holding beings. The laws are intended to minimize, as much as possible, the impact pollution has on people. This is not the case with incidental animal deaths in crop agriculture. Outside of perhaps endangered species laws, which are designed to protect only certain species, there are no laws that exist that even so much as attempt to protect animals from being harmed in crop agriculture. And of course, you will hear no ARA clamoring for there to be so, even though these supposedly "rights-holding beings" such as birds, insects, and rodents are killed by the thousands, if not millions, in industrialized crop agriculture. You see, for the majority of ARAs, their own complicity in animal suffering and death is a matter of "hear no evil, see no evil". Why? Because no one like to face their own hypocrisy. At the most, some will make rather transparent attempts to justify or rationalize their complicity with weak arguments, as Claudio has done here. If animals are "rights holding beings", do we not owe it to them to implement laws that at least try to save as many of them as possible from a cruel death at the hands of industrialized crop agriculture? It would seem so if we are going to claim animals have rights and we are going to be morally and intellectually consistent with what we say we believe. If it was millions of human children, rather than millions of sparrows and field mice, that were being killed by crop agriculture, would Claudio and his fellow ARAs demand that something be done right now to stop it, like most rational people would, or would they simply blow it off as "collateral damage" or "a necessary evil" as they do with animals that are killed? If animals hold the same basic rights, such as the right to life, as do human children, then how can they possibly dismiss the deaths of the animals if they would not dismiss the deaths of the children? This is why animal rights is such an intellectually bankrupt and ethically vacuous position: it has a flawed foundation of self-serving, selective moral outrage that results in blatant hypocrisy.

"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."

Which is precisely the reason animals do not have rights. The concept of rights is nothing more than a kind of social and legal contract that has been devised by humans to help maintain order and protection for people in human society. It helps protect us from chaotic, destructive behavior that would have negative impacts on the survival and well-being of our species. It is really nothing more ( unless, of course, one subscribes to some kind of "natural rights theory", which I reject because it is logically indefensible ). Animals operate in an amoral plane of existence in which the human-derived concept of rights is irrelevant. Rights have no use, and no meaning to, non-human animals, because it doesn't fit into the nature of their existence and not even the most intelligent of them can grasp the concept.

"In this aspect, they are like the marginal human cases."

Animals are nothing like marginal human cases. A marginal human case is a case in which a human is either permanently or temporarily incapacitated from being a moral agent. There is a huge difference though, between a marginal human and an animal. If the human were not incapacitated or disabled, they would be a moral agent, because moral agency is a general characteristic of humans. That is not true for animals. Even the most intelligent, fully functioning animal does not possess even the potential to be a moral agent. Moral agency is a characteristic of humanity. Just because that characteristic is "broken" in some individuals, that doesn't mean it ceases to be a general characteristic of humans. Suppose we have a car that doesn't run because it's engine doesn't start. Just because our car is incapacitated and doesn't work properly , it doesn't mean that it no longer possesses all the basic characteristics of a car. It would run if we were able to fix it. It isn't a kitchen sink, a TV set, or a chair. It is still a car because it still has all the basic characteristics of a car. Likewise, marginal humans retain all the basic attributes of humans, including basic rights, because they are still humans that are simply in a disabled state, in which their moral agency isn't functioning, that may be either permanent or temporary.

"(because since they are sentient they are right-bearers)"

A statement of opinion and not of fact. I have yet to see a convincing, rock-solid argument from Claudio, or any other ARA, including their beloved Gary Francione, as to why "sentience" is a valid criterion that should trump all other criteria for determining what is, and what is not, a rights holder.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

AR idiocy in the news......

The Animal Liberation Front ( ALF ) , a domestic terrorist organization, has claimed responsibility for an attack on the home of Dr. Edythe London, a professor and researcher at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. The vandals flooded Prof. London's home with a garden hose, doing $20,000-$40,000 worth of damage. In a rather courageous act, Prof. London wrote a response to the attack that has run in today's Los Angeles Times. In this response, Professor London outlines the work she is doing and why animal use is important to it. Professor London's calm, well-reasoned response to the ALF terrorists is, IMHO, nothing short of awesome. Prof. London has done a tremendous service to the research community here, because her response shows scientists to be the reasoned, rational people they are, while making the ALF thugs look like exactly what they are: cracked lunatics who think they have a right to terrorize others and commit criminal acts in the name of their ideology. Big time kudos to Professor London for putting out this courageous response to the ALF dirtbags.

In another story, a New Jersey appellate court has dismissed a lawsuit against Huntington Life Sciences ( HLS ), a pharmaceutical testing firm, by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( NJSPCA ) . NJSPCA sued Huntington for allegedly causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals, and had sought restitution from the company. The court rightly dismissed the case, because HLS has no legal obligations to NJSPCA, and thus there is no grounds for a claim of restitution. Seems to me like a frivolous lawsuit in which an animal advocacy group was trying to use the legal system as way to steal money from a legitimate business that it happens to dislike. I'm certainly no law expert, but I can't help but wonder, and hope, that perhaps this case will set a precedent in cutting off AR groups and their lawyers that hope use litigation "on behalf of animals" in the future as part of their strategy.