• Another perspective!
    By: Dr. Jeff Mirus
    Catholic Culture
    May 11, 2010

    In its April issue, Catholic World Report published a fascinating interview with Wesley J. Smith, a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute. The subject was animal rights, and how the animal rights movement constitutes a sort of pseudo-religion and an assault on Christian principles. Smith is the author of a new book entitled A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement. The title comes from an actual statement from Ingrid Newkirk of PETA in which she affirmed the moral equivalence of persons and animals.
    The interview is replete with great quotes, so I thought I'd pass a few along:

    On the belief that the ability to feel pain is the only moral measure:

    This view is very destructive, because if you destroy human exceptionalism-which is what the animal rights movement intends to do, it disdains human exceptionalism-if you say that we are not the highest life form on the planet, if our lives do not have greater value than those of animals, then you have completely changed how we perceive ourselves. Animal rights people may think they are raising animals to the level of people, but what they are really doing is reducing people to the level of animals.

    On the dangerous susceptibility of young people when taught about animal rights:

    It's kind of ironic [but] I think kids are hungry today for some absolute values. They are raised in so much relativism. Animal rights offer a clear right and wrong.

    On the consequences of the animal rights philosophy:

    Let me give you an example. There was a woman who was jogging in Los Angeles and she was brought down by a cougar. And they went out and shot the cougar because of human safety concerns. And a lot of money was raised for the offspring-of the cougar! More money was raised for the cubs of the dead cougar than for the children of the dead woman.

    On the irrationality of rejecting human exceptionalism:

    There's an irrationality in the whole idea of animal rights, because they are basically saying that substantial benefits to our species should be sacrificed for the higher moral purpose of not injuring, abusing and interfering with the natural lives of animals. But that is an act of human exceptionalism. It's engaging in moral and ethical thinking, which only humans are capable of.

    On the bottom line:

    The animal rights movement is irrational because if animals had rights, the only species that would be required to honor those rights would be people. Animals would not have an obligation to honor each other's rights because they don't understand the concept. Nor do they have the obligation to honor our rights, because they don't have the capacity to understand the concept. Animals cannot be rights-bearing beings because they are not duties-bearing beings. They're amoral.

    Christians tempted by this particular brand of irrationality need to learn the profound difference between rights theory and good stewardship.

    I think he makes some very good points.


  • This may be an unpopular statement. Pure animal rights activists have no choice but to be non-Judeo-Christian. I do not say anti. Only non. Within the first few pages of the script they share, whether called the Torah or the Bible, it specifically says man was to be given dominion over the animals rather than man shall be on equal standing with the animals. Your Dr. Jeff Mirus is correct in his analysis.

    That is not to say animal rights activists are bad people. They believe what they do for a variety of reasons, but, like anything else, when taken to the extreme it becomes counter-productive.

  • Terry -

    man! That is alot of stuff to get one's head around! Some I agree with, and some I don't, but all in all, thanks for sharing.

  • I didn't read the entire article - this excerpt was sent to me by a friend.
    I did really resonate with the "bottom line" - my Basenjis have never respected my rights, LOL!!!


  • Very thought provoking, Terry. I agree with Belinda, the extremists are in a different category altogether.

    Animals may or may not have rights in any particular city, village, or state. Thank God we have those truly dedicated, hands on advocates that speak out in the court system on behalf of those that have no words. Thank God we have people who rescue animals of all species, to nurture, return to health, re-home, or humanely put down. Thank God that I believe in a God that smiles upon animal advocates. My God lets me believe in the Rainbow Bridge.

    I do not put animal rights above or below human rights. To me that's mixing apples with oranges . 2 separate issues, 2 different personal views. Neither view makes me less a (Christian) human being. I believe my personal animal advocacy make me MORE a Christian, than less.

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