Do Animals have rights? Free Speech Vs. Private Property

Do animals have rights? a rebuttal

 By Guest Columnist: Kate Todd


 twitter: @KateToddPhoto


NY TimesRight now there is a battle between the animal agriculture industry and animal rights activists. State legislatures are trying to make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms. Arkansas introduced a Farm Protection Bill, making it a crime to produce undercover videos. Utah and Iowa have followed with similar bills.

Activists who are working independently or on behalf of an animal welfare organization should hand over un-edited photos and videos of animal cruelty to law enforcement. However, these “Ag-Gag” bills that criminalize activists who take videos and photos of animal abuse prove what we already know that the animal agriculture industry has little interest in transparency.

Some facilities provide 24-hour live-feed on the internet but until all facilities are transparent, activist videos aren’t going anywhere! The meat industry affects all Americans. Whether we consume meat or not, the industry impacts all of us including the environment, and with our tax dollars going to subsidize companies, we have a vested interest in knowing where our food comes from.

Activists want to shed light on how meat is produced in this country to inform consumers and hold organizations accountable for not complying with their own states laws regarding animal cruelty. Activists know a video showing cruelty at a pig breeding facility isn’t going to keep Americans from buying and eating pork. The purpose is to alert the public that heinous practices are occurring and to end needless animal suffering.

NY Times Animal Owners and operators of livestock facilities and slaughterhouses need to increase transparency with the public. How do you increase transparency by suppressing these videos?

Animals do not have the same rights as humans but should have moral consideration.

In our society we have placed value on animals. We have regulations that affect every animal except laboratory rodents. Forests are protected, animals that live in them are protected, domestic animals are protected and livestock on our farms are protected.

Humans aren’t living in the wild purely driven by instinct and reproduction. The meat advocates often say, we are ‘higher beings’ than animals, but if we can think abstractly about civility and morality and say something is evil then our behavior and actions should reflect that ideology.

We are ‘higher beings’ who think beyond survival and we can understand that animals experience pain and suffering. Modern technology and tools gives us the ability to limit needless suffering.

In The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy author Marc Bekoff says,

“Charles Darwin’s well-accepted ideas about evolutionary continuity, that differences among species are differences in degree rather than kind, argue strongly for the presence of animal emotions, empathy, and moral behavior. In practice, continuity allows us to “connect the evolutionary dots” among different species to highlight similarities in evolved traits, including individual feelings and passions. What we have since learned about animal emotions and empathy fits well with what we know about the lifestyles of different species – how complex their social interactions and social networks are. Emotions, empathy, and knowing right from wrong are keys to survival, without which animals – both human and nonhuman – would perish. That’s how important they are.”

To the meat eaters I leave you with this quote:

“All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food,”

-Jonathan Lovvorn

Vice President for Investigations, The Humane Society of the United States

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