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.