Supremacy Myth Argument: FAQ and Responses

The Supremacy Myth Argument: FAQ and Responses

 

In advocacy for nonhuman causes, one seeks to explain the issues in a way that answers all objections and prevents a discussion from being sidetracked or ignored. But often the emphasis is placed on the obvious—that nonhuman victims suffer needlessly, and that it is therefore wrong. The disagreement usually focuses on whether the victims actually suffer, or whether it is needless, and inevitably leads to attacks on the advocate. We are so accustomed to this that we take the defensive posture as if it is normal or desirable. Instead, we should be challenging the beliefs that block accepting the truth of the nonhuman rights position.

 

 

Strip away the philosophical theories and scientific data and you are left with a self-evident Golden Rule kind of truth: “how would you feel if you were born in a cage, taken away from your family, deprived of sunlight or the freedom to move, physically mutilated and finally killed for an unnecessary diet or practice?”

 

The purpose of the Supremacy myth argument is to focus and control discussions so that you are giving an overwhelming yet simple and intuitive case for nonhuman rights, thereby making it impossible for skeptics to ignore the truth because their own interests in fairness and justice are threatened if they do. If they do not accept it they are left in a demoralized position: they think they are right but cannot prove it, while you the animal rights advocate have presented an argument they cannot refute.

 

You use reality as an instrument, the unquestionable fact that humans can and do exploit other humans despite idealistic moral codes and laws to discourage it (excluding the codes and laws that actively encourage it). The central belief is “humans are superior in moral value to the victims.” Every time an attack on an “animal rights” position is made, you can answer by debunking the claim of human superior worth and using examples of human exploitation of humans to reinforce it. Essentially you cannot have “human rights” without accepting nonhuman rights. It is simple but powerful.

 

 

To summarize the argument, humans defend exploitation of nonhumans in farms, zoos, labs, hunting, fishing etc by the claim that humans are worth more—that humans are superior in moral value, which leads to grotesque double standards in ethical policy. This supremacy claim is usually taken as axiomatic-something self-evident and beyond question. There is usually criteria put forward to support it, that humans possess an immortal soul, the favor of a divine (yet mute and invisible) supreme being or beings, some kind of intellectual attribute—from “reason,” to consciousness to the ability to understand moral codes, to the ability to write symphonies. Or it is simply called “might makes right” or “survival of the fittest.” It does not matter what the criteria is—it can be one or a thousand, they all have the same problem, that it cannot be shown that all humans possess this criteria (and equally) or that all nonhumans lack it, and regardless, it cannot be shown the criteria is validated by an absolute authority. It can be questioned, doubted. If humans are morally superior how come they get no preferential treatment from weather or gravity? If it can be doubted—it cannot be absolute—which means it is biased personal opinion, just like the claims made by racial supremacists that skin color or specific interpretations of a particular religious text are absolute in importance. The most axiomatic and self-evident denial of this claim of human superiority is human behavior. Humans can and do exploit other humans—regularly, regardless of codes and laws to discourage it. This means that a human supremacist denier of nonhuman rights cannot effectively argue against a racial or gender or religious supremacist since they both adhere to biased personal opinions to make their case.

The human supremacist either has to allow anyone to exploit as they see fit, or extend moral regard to nonhumans in order to solve this problem.

 

This argument has advantages over the traditional “nonhumans are sentient/feel pain” argument in that it makes the issue entirely about human superiority claims which are always assumed even if not specifically expressed, and removes the ability to divert the discussion to trivial distractions. It keeps pressure on the beliefs of the person who denies “animal rights,” which is what should happen if you seek to change the status quo and champion common sense.

 

In the following we present common statements used to attack animal rights which reveal a human supremacist double standard, and how to respond in a way that highlights it and puts the critic in the defensive position.

 

 

Better to Have Lived and Suffered Than Not Live at All

 

1. “Animals in farms etc wouldn’t even exist if not for their use in exploitation so it’s better that they exist and suffer than not at all.”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Therefore, it is better that slaves were born in captivity and suffered, than not exist at all. It is better that the victims of the Nazis were born and suffered, than not exist at all. It is better that a victim of child abuse have been born and suffered, than not exist at all. This has no bearing on the morality of the systemic practice—if slavery and concentration camps are immoral and wrong, so are labs and farms.

 

Wasting an Exploited Life is Worse than Exploiting

 

2. “If you exploit an animal it is important to use all parts of the animal (in respect of their sacrifice).”

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Then the Nazis weren’t wrong when they exploited their victims, taking their money, their gold fillings, and using their skin and hair for furniture. They would only be wrong if they exploited their victims half-heartedly. As long as you exploit a victim fully, it is acceptable.

 

Moral Contractualism:

 

 

3. “If we have to respect nonhumans then they have to respect us. If they don’t, then they deserve to be exploited systemically in labs, zoos, farms etc. Human rights codes and laws are in every human’s best interests.”

 

The Supremacy myth answer: The idea that nonhumans must respect our moral codes is a biased personal opinion not absolute objective fact. What unbiased authority says they must understand moral codes in order to benefit? Various kinds of human from children to criminals can either not understand or deliberately violate moral codes and still receive much better treatment. Nonhumans already do “respect” us by not putting us in zoos, farms or systemically exploiting us for non essential survival related activities. They follow our moral concepts better than we do. To demand that nonhumans follow human moral codes when observable reality shows us that they do not and can not, is like demanding an armless man catch drowning swimmers and punishing them when they fail. You are making unrealistic and unfair demands.

 

And who says codes and laws are in every human’s best interest? Clearly criminals and dictators can violate this assumption and have lived quite well without caring about other humans. Same goes for humans living on one side of the planet-why should they care what happens to humans in another continent? Why should nonhumans be left out when clearly such codes would be in their best interest? If you say they are excluded you open the door for justifications as to why some humans deserve to be excluded too (since human supremacy/superior moral worth is unproven).

 

 

Moral Perfection/Hypocrisy

 

 

 

 

4. “Plants/bacteria are alive (and or feel pain) therefore you are causing harm even if you do not eat animals.”

 

5. “We can’t be perfect in morality when it comes to nonhumans, insects, plants, bacteria, therefore we don’t have to refrain from exploiting them systemically in zoos, farms, labs etc.”

 

The standard reply to this kind of statement is to deny that plants (or bacteria) can feel pain or that harm done to plants/bacteria is comparable to the harm done to nonhuman animals. Usually the person who brings up this issue does not care about “plant rights” or “bacteria rights” and is already aware that plants or bacteria cannot be proven to scream. Therefore if you answer their objection, you are not really explaining why meat eating and vivisection are wrong. You are diverting the discussion from it. Instead of going into a lengthy debate on plant pain or bacteria, you can instead assume they have a good point for the sake of argument, and show how it would affect human rights issues if we followed their logic and weren’t blinded to the double standard morality.

 

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: We can’t be perfect in human rights morality either—we have car accidents, child abuse, homicides, and yet do we say human rights morality must be abandoned because it isn’t perfect? If the failure to be perfect in dealing with insects or plants or bacteria justifies farms and labs, then car accidents and child abuse should justify concentration camps and warfare.

 

 

 

6. “You live in a society where the exploitation of nonhuman animals has benefitted you, therefore you are a hypocrite for not being morally perfect.”

 

The moral perfection demand leads to a variation argument that accuses the advocate of being a hypocrite—that they are not really opposed to or in no position to criticize exploitation if they have benefitted from any aspect of exploitation. Although they often actually mean inconsistency, hypocrite carries a stronger negative tone. Once again you can use the talking points raised to show how human rights are compromised by the same logic.

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: We live on land taken in wars, we pay taxes to governments that exploit humans, we have benefitted from the medical research conducted on humans without their consent (Dr James Sims, former AMA president, Jonas Salk-who infected mental patients with influenza, Dr Josef Mengele who experimented on concentration camp prisoners, and the Pfizer scientists who experimented on African villagers in the 1990s). If one must be morally perfect to be in favor of nonhuman rights, then one must be morally perfect to be in favor of human rights.

 

Hypothetical Emergency Scenario “Your child or a dog/rat/spider..”

 

 

7. “If you had to choose between a dog or a human child in an emergency, who would you save?”

 

8. “What if you were stranded in the Arctic or a boat and either kill an animal or starve?”

 

These questions are often thrown out there in a “either you are with us or against us” kind of loyalty test as well as attempting to discount animal rights if the advocate admits they would choose a human in an emergency situation. If they would not choose a human, then they are made to look like a crazy misanthropic traitor. The issue of personal survival is used to negate the entire concept of nonhuman rights—thus finding yourself stranded in the Arctic (why you would be in the Arctic or deliberately place yourself in a situation where your survival is threatened is also worthy of moral analysis) is equated with unnecessary systemic practices like hunting, fishing, zoos, the meat and dairy industries etc. without justification. Basically, the goal is to delegitimize “animal rights” by ignoring what such an argument would mean if applied fairly to human rights situations.

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Let us turn the tables. What if the scenario was about human rights? What if the emergency choice was between a familiar human and a stranger—someone of your race or gender or religion or language or a foreigner? Who would you save? If you choose the familiar does that mean the loser deserves to be systemically exploited in farms, labs, etc? If not, then the same applies for a nonhuman rights situation. Emergency situations tell us nothing about systemic morality practices unless you concede that racial or gender or religious preferences matter as much as species ones.

 

 

Utilitarianism/Least Harm

 

9. “Morality is based on the concept of seeking to reduce suffering as much as possible—therefore eating meat is less suffering than growing plants where animals will be killed in cultivation.”

 

The unfortunate reality of philosopher created “animal rights” arguments is the allowance for theoretical and idealistic investigations into harm reduction. This can lead us further away from common sense and allow opponents of nonhuman rights issues to distract and divert attention.

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: If reducing suffering as much as possible is the true motive then why isn’t utilitarianism or least harm calculations used in determining the moral value of same sex marriage or whether a particular war is good for the long term happiness of the planet? These kinds of calculations only seem to appear in discussions of nonhuman rights and reveal a double standard. If we say that direct harm is preferable to indirect harm (i.e. that raising animals for food or shooting wildlife is better than vegetarian/vegan diet where animals can be indirectly or accidentally harmed) then it should be applicable to human situations. If someone was driving along and came to a forked road-one side foggy, the other side with people in the middle of it, then by the logic of the least harm meat eater, one would be better off driving over the people you could see as opposed to taking the foggy road where you may kill more, or to get out and walk (which is the equivalent of less destructive crop cultivation methods—who said heavy destructive machinery must be the only way of gathering crops?).

 

See Moral Perfection/Hypocrisy section for further information.

 

 

Moral Relativism

 

10. “Different moral codes for different cultures. We can’t criticize other cultures for their treatment of nonhuman animals.”

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: What about their treatment of humans? By this logic one can’t criticize any culture for not following our standards of human rights either.

See Human Hunting section for more information.

 

 

 

Might Makes Right/Survival of the Fittest

 

11. “Morality doesn’t matter—it’s survival of the fittest. Humans are stronger therefore they can exploit the weaker animals.”

 

They may say morality doesn’t matter but the double standard is still there.

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: If survival of the fittest is your motto and morality doesn’t matter then you should be fine with humans exploiting other humans according to the “fittest” claim as well. There is no reason to remove humans from the consequences since human superior moral worth can’t be proven as anything other than a biased personal opinion.

 

 

 

Historical Concession

 

12. “Meat eating and exploitation of nonhuman animals was necessary for the development of humans/civilization.”

 

 

The standard response is to challenge the idea that meat eating was/is necessary—but we can bypass the distraction by answering that the person can’t delegitimize nonhuman rights claims by referring to history or necessity unless they also want to accomplish the same for human rights.

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: And slavery, war, and various injustices towards humans were also necessary for the development of humans/civilization and yet we still hold to moral values that suggest these things are wrong. The same goes for present day exploitation of nonhuman victims.

 

 

 

 

Humans First

 

13. “Even if nonhumans deserve moral concern, human problems must always come first.”

The Supremacy Myth answer: If you claim morality follows such a hierarchy of importance, then one could further refine and prioritize morality  based on the importance of race, gender, age, religion, family, language, territory, etc. since any such boundary is based not on fact but personal opinion. Many would say we should not prioritize morality and charity based on bias and personal opinions but follow the general aim of doing good in any situation, and if we agree with this, then nonhumans are just as valid for equal consideration.

 

Never Ending Exploitation

 

14. “Meat eating, hunting or other nonhuman exploitation will never be stopped (and thus we should not even try).”

The Supremacy Myth answer: human rights causes are just as unlikely to be eliminated completely and in some ways even less so than nonhuman rights ones.

The failure to eliminate homicide or child abuse does not seem to foster a view that we should not even try to curb them. In fairness the same should be true for nonhuman rights issues.

Nonhuman exploitation by humans is due in large part to domestication which requires immense effort to maintain. By contrast, human slavery, child abuse, and homicide have existed as long as humans have, and will likely continue to do so in some form as long as humans can reproduce. The elimination of the former is actually a more realistic hope when you consider it from a practical standpoint.

 

Top of the Food Chain

 

15. “Humans are top of the food chain.”

The Supremacy Myth answer: How can you prove this? Humans are just as mortal as all other life and subject to death and decay and being eaten by other organisms. If humans were top of the food chain, it can also be asked, are humans who prey on other humans (some for cannibalistic dietary preferences) “more” on top of the food chain than other humans who do not?

 

No Pain No Gain

 

16. “Nonhuman animals don’t feel pain like us or have consciousness therefore it doesn’t matter how they are treated.”

 

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Only an idiot would say that nonhuman animals who can bleed, make sounds when harmed, and seek to avoid being harmed do not feel pain. The horsewhip was invented on the belief that the animal being whipped could feel it. But if we can believe that an animal scream is merely an illusion of pain, then we can also make the same assumption about other humans. We cannot be sure that what we perceive as an individual is true reality—thus we can easily claim that other humans are just soulless mechanical objects for our use. If one wants to have human rights, or believe that other human-like beings have souls and can feel pain, the same courtesy must be extended to nonhumans to close this “anything goes” loophole.

 

 

Dominion

 

17. “God Gave Us Dominion Over Nature/Animals Have No Souls.”

One can claim anything when it comes to invisible mute deities but we know that humans are mortal and subject to the natural phenomenon as other life forms. There is no evidence that humans have a special quality or soul that leaves the body upon death which nonhumans do not possess. Faith is not fact.

Also, there are religious views that believe nonhumans have souls and deserve respect and compassion. In the end you have a “my god said this and your god said that” disagreement which has been the basis for endless violence and warfare in the name of invisible mute deities.

The Supremacy Myth answer: If someone can say that their deity sanctions the systemic exploitation of nonhumans than someone else can justify the systemic exploitation of humans by claiming their deity gave them dominion over other humans. There are cultures that have and continue to do this. Whether secular or spiritual you cannot have human rights without nonhuman rights since human supremacy cannot be proven as anything other than biased personal opinion. We do not allow people to justify human slavery even though the Bible supports it, therefore nonhumans are just as worthy of moral respect.

Violent Stewards of Nature

18. “It is necessary and moral for humans to kill invasive species or ones that get too numerous in the wild.”

The Supremacy Myth Answer:

If it is acceptable to kill members of other species to keep them from crowding out other species, then the same should apply to humans if we were fair and just since humans are incredibly destructive. How can humans claim they are managers when they cannot even manage themselves? Morally, humans have no right to intervene in the life of other species and claim they know what is best for them. Observable reality tells us that other species have managed themselves quite well long before humans came along, and can do so if humans do not allow themselves to get out of control.

Human Hunting

19. “Humans are hunters and meant to kill other animals.”

The Supremacy Myth answer:  Real natural born hunting animals do not depend on tools for killing and consuming other animals as humans do when it comes to any animal larger than an insect. The same tool-making ability that is used for hunting non human animals can also be used for digging in the soil to plant seeds or to kill other human beings. You do not often hear about tigers and wolves planting gardens or killing other tigers and wolves. Thus humans are not natural predators unless homicide is also natural. In addition, humans also accidentally kill themselves or other humans when hunting. This can occur with guns or spears. It is unlikely that true predator animals accidentally kill themselves on their own claws or mistake a fellow lion for a gazelle. Natural predators have no “hunting seasons.” It can also be pointed out that the dismissive regard for the “accidental” deaths of non-hunting humans killed in proximity to hunting areas (walking, jogging, sitting in their homes) suggests that the lives of humans are considered less important than preserving the activity of recreational killing of nonhumans.

 

   20.  “Hunting by non-caucasian or poor people is justified.”

 

The basic idea is that the closer humans live to Nature without industrial means, the more one is entitled to commit acts of violence and discrimination against members of other species.

If one is poor and of any racial extraction, it is not usually considered permissible for the person to exploit and kill other humans for subsistence or basic survival. If one lived in an environment where a need to kill other humans for survival was a routine occurrence, then it would be strongly encouraged or demanded that the person or persons relocate or alter their survival patterns to be in harmony with accepted moral standards. The morality of exploiting other humans when it is not absolutely necessary would trump any lifestyle or tradition argument. Even a Caucasian critic would not usually have to worry about being called a racist because they oppose these activities of non-whites.

If we are to be fair and just in our moral principles, then racial character and economic status would not be deemed an excuse for harming innocent lives when alternatives exist.

If a tribe was killing humans for food, we would offer support to stop this from happening. Ideally, this should be the same principle when dealing with any human group in their systemic exploitation of nonhuman animals if we regard all humans as equal.

This is not extreme or unreasonable; it is merely exercising fairness and consistency in moral policy.

This basic concept of morality is like the sun—people in different regions have different words for it, but they all mean the same object. The moral principle of regarding yourself and others as equal and deserving of respect is universal to any human society on earth—we are simply refining it for consistency and fairness. If a member of a pre-industrial tribe would say that it is wrong for anyone to harm their tribal group while at the same time claiming it is morally justified for the tribe to systemically harm nonhumans, they are guilty of the same double standard morality and bigoted views demonstrated by their urban counterparts.

The practicality of implementing a more ethical lifestyle is not relevant to the ethical argument. As we pointed out—morality is not perfect and one can only do the best we can, but systemic exploitation is not doing the best you can.

We know that humans of any racial heritage are capable of discrimination, unfairness, bigotry, and exploitation. We also know that humans of any ancestry have dealt with wars, crime, slavery, illness, disability, and injustice. We do not allow someone descended from a family who was slaughtered in a war to justify their own behavior against others because of their ancestor’s plight. Thus to be fair and just, someone descended from a designated ethnic group that experienced slavery does not mean they have the right to justify their own discrimination and exploitation of others by citing this link.

Human societies that have access to industrialized technology, and in fact live in association with urban societies while at the same time seeking to maintain pre-industrial lifestyles, exhibit a double standard in their moral values. They are willing to embrace modern technology and instruments but reject any notion that they should give up violent behavior that arises from their own particular version of Manifest Destiny.

If they are willing to give up human slavery or human sacrifice (which was also practiced by some tribes) than surely it is no outrage to suggest they treat other living beings as they would wish to be treated themselves. An Inuit would no doubt say that a Canadian of European descent has no moral right to exploit them, so what right do they have to do the same to seals, polar bears, elk etc? They cannot claim they are natives of the Arctic as a polar bear is, since the latter requires no artificial means to survive-while humans do.

If one truly believes that humans are equal then race is irrelevant. To suggest that some humans deserve special consideration or moral exemptions because of their ethnic or cultural background is to endorse an ethical double standard.

The Supremacy Myth answer: If non-caucasians or poor people are human and held to a concept of equal rights and responsibility then they should be obligated to hold to standards of fairness and justice. If they would say it is wrong for others to systemically exploit them when alternatives exist or refuse to seek out alternatives, then the same must apply to their treatment of nonhumans being systemically exploited by them.

 

Vivisection

21. “Animal research is necessary.”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: The ridiculousness of the claim that nonhuman research is necessary is demonstrated if you ask the research supporter this question: If they had a choice between a drug tested only on rats or chimps, and a drug tested only on humans, which would they deem safer for human use? The answer determines one’s actual belief in the importance of nonhuman animals in research.

The only reason this logical hypothetical is not asked is because of the double standard morality created by the human supremacy myth and intellectual blindness to it.

 

22. “If you had to save the life of your child, would you not sacrifice a rat?”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Ignoring the fact that scientists cannot find cures for illnesses by simply torturing one or a few or thousands of rats to death no matter how much they want people to believe they can perform magical miracles, the answer to this should be no less controversial than the following alternative scenario.

23. “If you had a choice between your child and a neighbor’s, who would you choose?

If you chose your child, does it mean you want the neighbor’s child to be tortured in a lab? If you refuse to choose, does that mean you do not love your child as much as your neighbor’s? This type of question is not raised, even when common sense tells us that the best and safest research model for human disease is another human. If finding a cure for disease is so important, why aren’t scientists and patients advocating the use of criminals or volunteers in medical experiments? Humans are the best and safest model for research, and we send healthy people off to be maimed and killed in wars for natural resources, religion and political ideology, and yet the war against cancer is only considered of dire importance when it comes to the discussion of abolishing nonhuman animals in research. This exposes how the double standard of the human supremacy myth is the driving force in defenses of vivisection. The more recent claims that genetic engineering can alter the physiology of nonhuman animals so they are better models for human research also exploits public ignorance since it requires faith that scientists understand Nature so well that they can predict how the physiology of other species will react to the altered genetics. But even if they could turn a nonhuman into a perfect copy of human anatomy with the same responses to chemicals, the torture and death could not be justified by the discriminatory ethical arguments based on the false belief in human supremacy as mentioned earlier. Citing alleged benefits of an action is not the same as providing ethical justification for it.

 

24. “Animal rights activists cannot protest animal research if they have benefited from research that has been linked to nonhuman animal research experiments.”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: Then human rights advocates have no right to protest either since no one is perfect. Lethal research on humans against their consent has also been done and the research preserved.  Do we make the same demand of human rights activists that they cannot use anything that may be traced back to human experimentation? The work of Joseph Mengele is well known, but there is also James Marion Sims, former head of the American Medical Association who experimented on black slaves and was awarded for his humanitarian efforts by a statue in New York’s Central Park. And there is Jonas Salk, reported to have deliberately infected patients at mental hospitals with influenza.
Researchers say they need to use nonhuman animals for research because they are like us–-and yet they say they deserve no rights because they are not like us. This highlights the real issue: the motivation for animal research beyond money and sociopathic tendencies is an arrogant belief that humans as a species are superior in value to all other life, based upon biased personal opinion criteria conveniently determined by those who stand to benefit from the discrimination and exploitation. Sims and Mengele and Salk thought the same way about the use of humans they deemed inferior.
If one cannot be against vivisection if they were unwitting patients of corporate medicine, then the same is true for those using Pfizer drugs (who experimented on humans in the 90s). Or those using any medication that can be linked to the Nazi research (which was kept for human medicine). Or anyone with medication treatments linked to Jonas Salk or James Sims. Beyond that one should not be advocating for human rights if they live on land that was taken in a war—or pay taxes to governments that finance human rights abuses or warfare.  No one can be perfect in an imperfect world. If human rights supporters are not expected to be perfect than the same holds true for supporters of nonhuman animal rights causes.

If we say that someone who is ill does not have the moral right to demand that other humans be used for research to find a cure (even though the results would be far more beneficial than using nonhumans) then logically since humans cannot be shown to be superior to other beings (as all standards and criteria are based on biased personal opinions like they are for racial supremacy etc.) they cannot make the same demand when it comes to nonhumans used in vivisection. It is not complicated–it simple and fair morality.

25. “Animal rights activists must come up with alternatives to using nonhumans in research.”

 

The Supremacy Myth answer: If one seeks to find cures for human illness, the onus is on them to do it in a way that does not violate basic and consistent standards of moral conduct, not the animal right advocate for pointing out the immorality of a practice.

 

26. “Only privileged people can afford to think about nonhuman rights. Regular people are too busy dealing with their own problems to be concerned about trivial things.”

The Supremacy Myth answer: Only privileged people can afford to think about human rights. Regular people are too busy dealing with their own problems to be concerned about trivial things (like fighting racism, sexism, gender discrimination, children’s rights and other interests which don’t necessarily impact an individual’s quest for survival). Concern for nonhuman rights demonstrates an unselfish and sincere interest in social advocacy and justice, which is not necessarily the case with those who seek human rights for their own self-interest.

Fifth Column Veganism? Nathan Winograd, Gary Francione, and the Philosophy of Distract, Divide, and Demoralize

No one is perfect. Everyone is open to criticism. Any individual or group can be examined and criticized where appropriate and fair. The misery and death perpetrated against nonhuman animals is an unfathomable catastrophic hell, and one should seek to improve the lives of victims whenever possible while pursuing an end to the practices. This is what we would do with a human rights situation and nonhumans deserve no less.

In the 1980s and well into the 1990s, the conflicts between “animal rights” and “animal welfare” centered on disagreements between those who sought only to improve the lives of victims of exploitation and those who sought to end it, as well as disputes over illegal methods of protest (as was the case with efforts to end the slave trade). But any improvements in the wellbeing of nonhuman animal victims were not seen as a bad thing—except by the exploitation industries and their supporters. This is what we would do if the victims were human. Anti-death penalty advocates would welcome changes in policy that eliminated more sadistic forms of execution. We would not say: “who cares if they suffer when they are going to be killed anyway?”

In recent years there are individuals who repeatedly declare their support for non human rights and vegan goals but have been intensely critical of traditional tactics and campaigns, as well as the advocates themselves. And yet, so strong is their criticism that the exploitation industries are given much gentler treatment if not ignored completely.

It is reasonable to assume that someone who is very harsh on advocates would be as hard on the exploitation side they claim to oppose–the cause of the problem. If not, then one can ask this question: Why are you agreeing with the anti-AR arguments of those who engineer and profit from maintaining and increasing the exploitation of nonhuman animals?

There are a few beliefs being circulated by vegan animal rights advocates which originated from the mouths of the most hostile opponents to veganism and animal rights:

 

“big activist groups that oppose vivisection and other industry exploitation needlessly kill shelter animals when they can use donated money to keep them housed indefinitely”

“protests (aka single issue campaigns), ballot initiatives, and legislative changes by activists are useless, and will only increase not decrease animal exploitation”

“we can trust exploitation industry to make reforms according to consumer demand”

“a vivisector is more ethical than a non-vegan anti-vivisection campaigner”

“activists must be morally perfect–they must be against all exploitation of human and nonhuman animals”

“anti-fur campaigns are motivated by hatred of women”

“animal rights activists are racist”

“single issue campaigns only serve as fundraisers for big charities”

 

Every single one of these statements essentially mean: Exploitation isn’t the problem, the activists are the problem.

If you are a vegan or animal rights advocate, do you want to be agreeing with the side that opposes your goals?

This is what needs to be asked of supporters of Nathan Winograd and Gary Francione.

 

 

Nathan Winograd: Who cares if they suffer as long as they aren’t killed?

Nathan Winograd advocates no kill shelters—claiming that the overpopulation of cats and dogs is a myth and that PETA and HSUS are maniacally committed to killing healthy animals (for monetary or nefarious ideological reasons), when the animals can be housed indefinitely through donations (a charge that was made against PETA in the early 90s by vivisectors facing criticism for animal torture). He emphasizes a “let the market decide” view, claiming that if all shelters were no kill, this would drive animal breeders and pet stores out of business. Regardless of whether PETA and HSUS can be criticized on ideology or policy, Winograd portrays PETA and HSUS as the problem, not any other factor or entity. He talks about PETA and HSUS having the budgets to house shelter animals indefinitely, but interestingly, does not make such a demand for financial assistance to shelters from the pet/companion animal industry—such as food manufacturers or big chain stores, who help engineer and profit from the problem. Winograd does not offer solutions for how to avoid animals crammed into cages for their entire lives or ending up in abusive situations. On his blog he speaks in vague terms on his opposition to nonhuman animal exploitation, but when doing a major media piece with a wide audience—he goes for the most savage sensational attack on his target: animal charities that oppose vivisection and meat industry business practices. One could assume the purpose was to damage the public image of the organization in order to divert from exploiters–the source of the problem, as well as distract, divide, and demoralize advocates. But Winograd claims to be a 20 year vegan, and yet his first book interview was granted to the Center for Consumer Freedom, a widely criticized “astroturfing” group for major exploiters, including vivisection and the meat industry. He has responded to this lapse of integrity by comparing his interview with CCF to Fox News, equating a giant media corporation with a tiny obscure industry front group that opposes everything he claims to stand for.

Nathan Winograd recently announced that he had been denied his request to participate in a vegan conference where he intended to debate Gary Francione.

Gary Francione: He wants you to eat like you care but when you stop eating, not care?

Gary Francione is a law professor and author opposed to all forms of nonhuman animal exploitation for human use, while apparently focusing a great deal of his energy on criticism of animal rights advocates and organizations. He bases his “animal rights” argument on the property status of nonhuman animals and the arbitrary nature of criteria used to defend human superiority, maintaining that sentience is the only criteria that matters for determining moral value and that veganism (as he defines it) should be the baseline.

He has long been critical of the concept of “animal welfare” (as he defines it) and criticizes Peter Singer, who has defended some vivisection and non-vegan food consumption in accordance to his utilitarian moral philosophy, for not being a true proponent of animal rights/veganism.

In the 2000s Francione began criticizing “happy meat” welfare reforms, especially after a well-publicized agreement with Whole Foods which was supported by PETA and other organizations, and expanded his opposition to any single issue campaigns (with one exception).

He has regularly attacked PETA and Mercy for Animals among other groups. Like Winograd, he proposes a “let the market decide” solution to nonhuman animal exploitation and is consistently vague and brief on the wrongdoing of industries, sometimes appearing to agree with them in attacks on advocates who support legislation and protests that targets industry or groups.

Here are some examples:

He has said single issue campaigns and legislative efforts are not only useless but counter–productive (and immoral), fueling a demand for animal products (i.e. a ban on foie gras would encourage people to eat other meat, improvements to the treatment of calves would encourage people to eat more veal). He alleges that if people engage in direct on the street vegan advocacy the types of reforms people want to see in farms will happen anyway as industry conforms to public sentiment (but without legislation or protest). He has said that there is more fur visible on the streets of London than when he visited it in the 1970s. He has said anti-fur campaigns encourage (if not being motivated by) hatred of women and has hinted that advocates are cowardly for not confronting motorcycle gangs for their use of animal hides in clothing. He has implied animal rights advocates who are not purely vegan are hypocrites and should be morally perfect. He has said 200 years of welfare reform in the treatment of nonhuman animals has been a total failure. He has implied campaigns against dolphin slaughter in Japan are racist and protests of Jewish ritual animal slaughter anti-semitic. He has said those opposed to speciesism must also be against racism, sexism, and all other human rights concerns, however, he does not bother to say that an anti-racism or anti-sexism advocate must also be opposed to speciesism, nor does he say someone opposed to racism must also be opposed to sexism etc. I.e. someone campaigning to end child abuse in Africa is not expected to also advocate for an end to sexism or discrimination against homosexuals at the same time—they are permitted to use single issue campaigns. Moral perfection is not demanded of human rights advocates, but it is demanded of nonhuman rights activists. This is a common double standard found in the arguments of those who say humans are morally superior in value (which as we have repeatedly said in other articles, falls apart quite easily after you examine the “Supremacy Myth”). When Francione says a campaign that targets practices of a particular group promotes or encourages racism, he is saying in essence that the suffering and deaths of the nonhuman victims is not as important as hurting the feelings of the victimizers. In other words, humans are superior in value to nonhumans (aka adhering to the myth of human superiority).

His rhetoric is almost identical to comments and attacks made by supporters of exploitation industry dating back well before the 1980s. Every one of these claims has been made by those who engineer and profit from nonhuman animal suffering and death. At the same time, despite his support of a total vegan message, he is surprisingly soft on anti-vegans (those who are aggressively hostile to all aspects of veganism and nonhuman animal rights), often using defensive arguments (i.e. if someone challenges him to choose between a human and a nonhuman he answers by suggesting that if the choice were between a healthy human and a comatose person, just because he may choose the healthy individual does not mean the comatose person should be used in farms or labs. This does not make a strong case for why nonhumans should not be used in farms or labs, but it does counter the Peter Singer view that some nonhumans would be more deserving of moral regard than some humans).

He has also pushed the term “abolitionist” and linked the vegan philosophy to efforts to abolish the African slave trade, implying that abolitionists were not doing a single issue campaign, did not seek incremental change and sought immediate uncompromising abolishing of the slave trade. He ignores that the word abolitionist was a slander term used by pro-slavery interests to label anyone who criticized slavery as an extremist, or that abolitionists split on the issue of including women in leadership positions, and that they included John Brown, who advocated killing slavery supporters.

He has repeatedly equated current public attitudes towards human rights issues with nonhuman rights, ignoring the fact that acceptance of human rights did not happen immediately and came about through incremental changes (racial equality, children’s rights, etc) as public awareness and acceptance of these new ideas overcame ignorance and peer pressure among other obstacles. As we know, a perfect human rights society does not exist even today. His claim that 200 years of welfare reform has been a total failure conveniently ignores increases in world population and the role of exploitation industry in aggressively pursuing greater and greater profits during this time. He employs a glaring double standard, demanding that advocates ignore current abuse of nonhuman animals in society even though, if humans were the victims, such a position would be considered callous and immoral. Interestingly, his implied belief that universal human rights existed as a concept in society in the time of the African slave trade also echoes sentiments by nonsensical anti-animal rights parties that try to romanticize “human supremacy” as something universal and eternal instead of the reality: a recent conceptual development no different in design from racial supremacy or other bigoted harmful beliefs.

Despite his use of the term abolitionist, he is fiercely opposed to ALF activities as well, and when a pro-vivisection writer opined that an increase in UK experiments may have been due to the acts of a small number of “violent” activists—Francione was quick to agree in full, ignoring other factors like the greed of vivisectors or the callous disregard of institutions. Apparently only the advocates are to blame, and if they cannot police their own ranks (something no social movement has ever been able to do successfully) then they are responsible for the exploitation.

Francione’s hostility towards single issue campaigns that do not emphasize veganism has one exception: the adoption of cats and dogs from shelters, an issue that is completely removed from advocating vegan philosophy and one that is not opposed by anti-animal rights interests since taking an animal from a shelter does not challenge exploitation businesses.

On one hand he promotes a naively idealistic vegan “domino effect” conversion and on the other he consistently seeks to divide and demoralize activists, slandering them in public media, and steering them away from advocacy that would champion campaigns that exploitation industries oppose while demanding they seek vegan personal purity. It must be noted, exploitation industries do not oppose his “domino effect” vegan advocacy or his demand that vegans be morally perfect since a boycott of products with stearic acid by vegan individuals will do nothing to affect their businesses.

Like Winograd, he blames activists for imperfection in dealing with a problem although Francione avoids claiming there is no problem except the actions of advocates as Winograd does. However, he also goes very soft on exploiters, stating it as a matter of fact that exploitation is wrong without a detailed reason as to why for the benefit of any non vegans. And like Winograd, he ignores the role of exploitation supporters in maintaining or increasing cruelty and injustice. And rather incredibly, Francione suggests that industry can be trusted to make compassionate improvements on the road to vegan utopia without any kind of legislation or protest as they will apparently gladly concede to change (despite all news reports of them aggressively lobbying to prevent changes in law except for such things as criminalizing undercover investigations into the meat and dairy or vivisection industries).

Francione has not appeared to comment on Winograd’s single issue campaigning efforts or criticized him for not promoting a vegan message. But he has shared Winograd’s hysterical attacks on PETA through his internet media pages.

Francione has related anecdotes of his alleged encounters with single issue campaign protestors who gave up protesting on seal killing or hunting because they concluded they were in no position to protest when they weren’t vegan aka morally perfect. In almost every case Francione adds a comment such as: “they’re right” or “I absolutely agree.” Does he convert them to veganism after announcing his agreement with exploiter’s demoralizing and diversionary rhetoric?

Francione’s advice for advocates is to ignore stubborn nonvegans and concentrate on people who show compassion for nonhuman animals. And yet he has compared meat eaters to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer or convicted dogfighter Michael Vick, speaking in a cavalier presumptive fashion which is sure to alienate people unless a detailed explanation is given for the morality behind extending concern to nonhumans (it is like shouting: “We are all Pol Pot!” during a discussion of genocide in Rwanda). A detailed explanation he does not bother to provide.

Also, he avoids going into compassionate appeals or detailed examples of exploitation—sticking to a mechanical recitation of an ethics formula adapted from Singer and Regan but more inclusive than theirs. This would suggest he is even more of an animal rights champion than they are, and yet, he consistently spreads a message of discouragement and divisiveness.

In the final analysis it does not matter what motivates Winograd and Francione to behave as they do, what is important is the message they convey, who benefits, and who doesn’t. The victims of vivisection, the meat and dairy industry, and other exploitation are not served by those who declare to be on their side while naively working to distract, divide, and demoralize the advocates challenging the institutions that create and profit from suffering and death. Nathan Winograd and Gary Francione may have the very best of intentions, but by being the unwitting mouthpiece of the injustices and industries they oppose, they harm more than they help.

Please, don’t be a fifth column vegan.

 

 

NOTES

There are endless examples of curious statements and behavior by Winograd and/or Francione. Here is a tiny sample (boldface is not in source text):

Nathan Winograd (victim of censorship?)
You would think if he, a “20 year vegan,” regarded vivisection as important he would start off an interview by declaring his firm opposition to it and other exploitation instead of adding it as an after thought on his blog with far less public reach:
http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=12642

“I just did a radio interview on PETA’s campaign of companion animal extermination, based on my Huffington Post expose. Toward the end of the interview, the host asked me about killing rats for medical research and when I tried to speak out against that, too, I was cut off.”

 

Here he goes into a hyperbolic tirade against PETA as usual and someone asks what they can do about a no kill shelter that abuses the animals. Instead of telling her how awful that is or to take the matter to the police or other authorities, he makes a short dismissive comment and directs her to a PR pamphlet for his site. This is Nathan Winograd, the animals’ savior. Also notice he deleted all negative comments.

Sherry M: “I’ve got a question. Is there any oversight for Rescues? Ran into one, very bad! Does anyone check on these rescuers? I’m all for no kill, but don’t want to see dogs tortured either…. So if a rescue takes in dogs, collects the donations, but doesn’t feed, socialize, exercise, clean them, what as a citizen can I do? I had rented my house to a rescue and witnessed this. As far as anyone was concerned this was legal. They would let things go just long enough. The dogs were adopted, without the new owners, knowledge of this, and no home checks either. Some were aggressive, and just might wind up in shelters again, because they didn’t socialize them. Scary to think it could be a cycle.”

Nathan Winograd: Sherry M: It depends on the state, but as you know, it is not an either-or proposition. In other words, the choice is not death at the pound or torture: http://bit.ly/198sATv

 

Nathan Winograd says don’t blame breeders or the pet industry:
http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=14009

“To continue to reduce every issue to a failure to spay/neuter is exactly what the regressive shelter director and the large, national groups which fight No Kill want animal activists to do: point the finger of blame anywhere but on those who are actually doing the killing. Those who love animals must stop giving them the luxury of this out. We don’t need animals to disappear from the Earth before we can do right by them. Instead, we should be demanding that those we pay to care for homeless animals with our tax and philanthropic dollars provide them the care, kindness, and a loving home that is their birthright.”(see previous item where he doesn’t appear to care about oversight of no kill shelters)

 

To Nathan Winograd, CCF = Fox News in media value?
Fox News is a giant media company that is impossible to avoid (even if you want to). CCF is a tiny obscure front group for industry that is easy to ignore (if one wants to).
http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=3859

“During the same period, I did an interview on Fox News. For those who know me, my politics are different than theirs. I voted for Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich in the last two presidential primaries, not exactly the candidates embraced by Fox News. But I did the interview, not because I am caught in a “web of corruption” with Fox News, but because I know that when it comes to saving dogs and cats from death in shelters, all those things that separate us as Americans don’t apply. Red states or blue, rich or poor, black or white, Democrats or Republicans, we all love animals.”

Gary Francione appears to throw some support towards a single issue campaign:
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/animal-care-and-control-the-sad-failure-of-new-york-citys-municipal-shelter-system/#.U6sYVihOJ8F
“And it is time for New York City shift toward a progressive no-kill shelter situation. This can be achieved if New Yorkers have political will to make it happen.”

 

Gary Francione: Industry is not the problem/vivisectors aren’t so bad either?
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/on-vivisection-and-violence/#.U6niErGYzMB

Let the market decide: “The institutional exploiters are not “the enemy.” We are the ones who demand animal products. If we stopped consuming animal products, institutional users would shift their capital elsewhere.”

Gary Francione: vivisection is so wrong that vivisectors are right?
Here he seems to make the assumption that many nonvegan anti-vivisection supporters have thought about their diet and the suffering and death it brings to nonhuman animals and deliberately and callously dismissed such concerns. He then suggests that a vivisector who directly and knowingly tortures an animal is morally superior to such protestors. He denies the anti-vivisection supporter the possibility of being kind but ignorant and gives the vivisector, who knowingly engineers torture of victims, the credit of noble social intentions.
Many “animal people” are not even vegan and are willing to tolerate and support the torture of nonhuman animals simply because they like the taste of animal products and just cannot give up the cheese, ice cream, or whatever animal products it is that they eat. How are these people any different in a moral sense from vivisectors? At least some vivisectors think that they are performing some social good. As I have indicated in my writing, I do not agree that the use of animals is necessary as an empirical matter and, like Penman and others, I maintain that vivisection is often clearly counterproductive.”

Gary Francione: Those who give up on protesting injustice are right?
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/why-veganism-must-be-the-baseline/#.U7XLzihOJ8E
“I was talking with someone recently who was involved with a campaign against hunting in a particular park. He withdrew from the campaign and explained to me that he decided that what the hunters were doing was really no different from what he was doing in buying and eating meat from his local supermarket and since he certainly was not about to give that up, he couldn’t see the logic in opposing hunting.
And, of course, he was right.”
“I was talking with another person who had, for years, been involved in the campaign to stop the clubbing of seals. She withdrew from that campaign because she decided that there really was no difference between seal fur and the fur, wool, or skin of any other animal and since she wasn’t going to give up all animal clothing, the seal campaign was really just based on the fact that animal groups could cash in on the fact that seals were adorably cute and that really was not a good basis for a moral position.
And, of course, she was right.”.
Then did he convert them to veganism???

Gary Francione on Karen Davis and UPC: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/the-kapparos-campaign-a-good-example-whats-wrong-single-issue-campaigns/#.U6nis7GYzMA
“Let me be clear: I oppose the use of chickens as Kapparos–or for any other purpose. And I like Karen Davis personally; I am glad that she was out there beginning in the mid-1980s trying to sensitize people to the plight of chickens, who are, with fish, the animals most exploited by humans but were often overlooked even by animal advocates. I appreciate that she promotes veganism more than many other charities do but I disagree with some of the welfarist campaigns she has supported and I am bothered by the anti-Kapparos campaign.
This is a perfect example of what is wrong with single-issue campaigns: they encourage the idea that what some group does is worse than what the rest of us do. A single-issue campaign focused on fur lets everyone who wears wool or leather off the hook and gives them an excuse to hate or attack those (mostly women) who wear fur. A single issue campaign about the dolphins at Taiji allows people, many of whom are not even vegan, to engage in vile ethnocentric and xenophobic hate speech against the Japanese. A single-issue campaign against a squirrel-shooting in a rural community encourages people to call those involved “rednecks” and “backward” when they are doing nothing different from what any non-vegan does or supports. And a campaign focused on Kapparos gives people an excuse to segregate the Jews as “bad people.”’

Single-issue campaigns are, on many levels, a very bad idea. They serve one primary purpose: fund-raising devices for animal charities. This is not to say that animal charities intentionally embrace campaigns that they know to be counterproductive in order to make money. It is, however, to explain the practical motivation that helps to account for why such welfare reform campaigns and single-issue campaigns are chosen and the failure to see how counterproductive they are.”

 

Gary Francione: PETA and exploitation industries are collaborators?

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/debating-eating-animals-museum-modern-art/#.U6njXrGYzMA
“Although Newkirk’s praise for Grandin is ostensibly bewildering, it makes perfect sense. There is a symbiotic relationship here. Industry needs welfarists like Newkirk to provide a positive moral characterization of their efficiency efforts. Industry needs to have its efforts to achieve efficiency, resulting in largely minor changes to the institutions of animal exploitation, declared “humane” by those identified as animal advocates. But PETA needs industry as PETA uses these efficiency measures to proclaim “progress” and to fundraise. For the most part, the campaigns of animal welfare organizations target economically vulnerable industry practices for precisely that reason. These practices are “low hanging fruit,” so there is an easy “victory” for fundraising purposes.”

‘As I have written in connection with this debate and elsewhere, including my academic work and blog essays, I regard the actions of groups like PETA to be problematic. I think that it is terribly wrong under any circumstance to say that some form of “better” exploitation should be normatively endorsed when the resulting situation still involves a violation of fundamental rights. To say that a slave owner who beats his slaves five times a week is “better” than one who beats his slaves six times a week does not mean that the former is practicing “humane” slavery, or that the “better” slavery is morally acceptable, or that the “better” slave owner ought to be declared a “Visionary.”’

 

Gary Francione: They are right but hypocrites?
Here he has a major media platform to speak out as a vegan and animal rights supporter why horse carriages are wrong—instead, he does a brief “oh yes it is wrong of course” and attacks the horse carriage opponents for moral imperfection as any supporter of horse carriages would do. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/01/17/horse-carriages-are-not-just-a-ride-in-the-park/carriage-foes-are-right-but-reveal-our-hypocrisy

“So it’s apparent that our thinking about animals is very confused. Given the grand scheme of animal use, it is somewhat arbitrary to target the carriage-horse industry. Indeed, opposition to that industry by those who criticize it while chomping down on their burgers is based on nothing more principled than that we fetishize horses but not cows. It is like sitting around the dinner table eating animals while we discuss what a bad person Michael Vick was for fighting them.”

 

Gary Francione posted an article link at his facebook page 27/06/14: It may not seem so at first glance, but this is a rather demoralizing item about veganism in the news and also provides a poor response to use on others when such an issue is raised. Who would feed their infant child hard boiled eggs or steak? If he is inviting people to use this answer it would set the vegan advocate up for ridicule. Also, in the original fb post he doesn’t say he will write to Salon and set them straight or urge others to do the same.

“Is veganism child abuse? A mother is arrested for infant neglect after a hospital crisis that began with her veganism”
http://www.salon.com/2014/06/26/is_veganism_child_abuse/
“These parents limited an infant’s diet to “soy milk and apple juice.” That’s not a vegan diet. That’s a stupid diet. If the parents fed the child nothing but hard boiled eggs or steak that the child could not chew or digest, we would not be reading some article titled, “Is feeding animal products to an infant child abuse?” This is appallingly biased and just plain bad journalism.”

Gary Francione on Vegan Outreach:
Getting people to accept the beliefs and ideology of veganism is not easy especially as industry and social culture maintain so much peer pressure against it, and when you sincerely wish to get people to change it is probably not a good idea to badger them with a “you must be morally perfect” right from the start. You can run the risk of sabotaging the effort and making them regard all future vegan entreaties with hostility (as well as spreading bad publicity to others about veganism). And yet, here we see Francione chime in to support a demand for vegan perfectionism in advocacy, just as a proponent of exploitation industries would demand of animal rights protestors:

http://www.examiner.com/article/a-critique-of-vegan-outreach-literature

While Donald Watson, who coined the word “vegan,” was not advocating personal purity or moral perfection, Francione has a different view (in line with the views of exploitation supporter attacks on animal rights advocates): https://www.facebook.com/abolitionistapproach/posts/158706247497247
‘”Vegan” Outreach maintains that it’s okay to eat meat and other animal products
on occasion and we should not seek “personal purity.http://www.veganoutreach.org/EIYLM.pdf In my view, that’s not vegan outreach-it’s vegan bashing. If you care about veganism, consider whether supporting “Vegan” Outreach is a good idea.’

 

Gary Francione: Vegans must be morally perfect? What about human rights activists?
Getting the public to pay attention to vegan/animal rights messages is difficult, and for those who think that the torture and death of billions of nonhumans is an infinitely greater concern than the risk of offending some people’s beliefs on race and gender in advertising imagery, the use of nudity or comparisons to racial injustice is considered acceptable and/or necessary. Whether such imagery is effective is another debate entirely. Francione is demanding that animal rights activists strive for moral perfection and avoid anything that would violate total allegiance to human rights beliefs. But does he make the same demand that human rights advocates avoid speciesism? He does not say, but his demand is exactly what supporters of exploitation industries have demanded of animal rights activists.

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/some-thoughts-on-the-abolitionist-approach/#.U7MIr7GYzMA

2. Those who reject speciesism are committed to rejecting racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of discrimination as well.
Explanation: Some animal advocates maintain that the “animal movement” does not take a position on other forms of discrimination. That is not correct. Those of us who want justice for nonhumans are necessarily committed to justice for humans and for an end to human discrimination as well as discrimination against nonhumans. The animal movement should not, for example, be perpetuating sexism as a means to the end of animal rights. Sexism involves the commodification of women. Commodification is the problem, and not the solution.

 

 

Additional Critiques of Nathan Winograd and/or Gary Francione

http://www.whypetaeuthanizes.com/ –Website devoted to answering Winograd’s attacks, not to be confused with http://www.whypetakills.org although that is what Winograd likely hopes will happen as he created that website in response to the other.

http://animaladvocateswildliferehabilitation.blogspot.com/2014/04/california-bill-ab-2343-what-it-is-and.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2008/07/negativism-in-francione-and-avoiding.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2008/06/playing-into-hands-of-animal-exploiters.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2008/06/test-period.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2013/09/complacency-about-minorities.html

http://davidsztybel.blogspot.ca/2008/06/am-i-obsessed-with-gary-francione-no.html

http://www.veggieboards.com/forum/60-vegan-support-forum/124720-video-i-m-vegan-gary-francione-2.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/05/no_kill_animal_shelters_and_peta_what_is_the_most_humane_way_to_treat_stray.html

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO COLIN WRIGHT OF THE LEGACY OF PYTHAGORAS BLOG for exposing Gary Francione’s fraud. Colin provided invaluable information on Francione’s articles and speeches which helped reveal the Francione deception. Wherever you are, thanks Colin! 😉

 

NOTE: The term Fifth Column Veganism refers to the Fifth Column–a Nazi spy ring. Since this article was written I have researched the history of World War 2 and learned that what we have been told in the media–Jewish owned media-is not quite living up to scrutiny. I have postulated that exploitation interests or government agencies may be funding these various frauds in the movement, however it could also be more directly linked to Jewish power interests. Should me mentioned that speaking out against the “facts” of WW 2 especially the Nazi concentration camps, can be a criminal offense in some countries. Think about it: if something is true, why would you need to make laws against discussing it?

 

Utilitarianism: With a Friend Like This…

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Utilitarian views on suffering reduction were pushed to prominence in nonhuman animal rights discussion by Peter Singer—using 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham as guide. Although Singer has been characterized by some as the “father of animal rights” and Bentham called the “first patron saint of animal rights” in some quarters, their stance includes support of meat eating and vivisection, and is less progressive than historical vegetarians like Leonardo Da Vinci.

 

The emphasis on suffering with no mention of justice reinforces the idea that nonhuman beings do not deserve rights comparable to the victimizer but they ought to be treated better when they are being (unnecessarily) exploited.

 

While Utilitarian thinking is regularly employed in “animal rights” discussion, it is rarely used in making a case for human rights concerns where justice, equal rights, and fairness are more likely to be emphasized. I.e. if discussing whether same sex marriage should be legal no one argues it from whether it will cause more happiness or suffering, instead the focus is on personal rights, equality, and fairness.

 

Utilitarianism as defined by Singer may not seem, at first glance, to represent a human supremacist bias due to the fact that he argues that some humans deserve less moral standing than some nonhumans (I.e. dolphins would be more deserving of rights than comatose people).

 

However, it is using a criteria (sentience) and a moral standard (“the needs of the many outweigh the few/ doing the greatest good and causing the least unhappiness”) which are biased personal opinions, just like “reason,” or a “soul” or Divine favor or “might makes right” etc.

 

According to Singer’s formula, most humans are already in a position of moral importance while most nonhumans are not, therefore it does make a human supremacist argument while at the same time extending some moral consideration (if not equal consideration) to some nonhumans.

 

Such doctrine has been used to turn the tables and attack the concept of veganism and nonhuman rights. One noted example is the claim that growing plants for vegetarians caused more death than raising cattle for meat eating. Intention plays no part in making the moral calculation, only the claim that the former is less harm than the latter.

 

And yet, intention would be factored in when dealing with human concerns. If one was driving towards a forked road and one side was dense fog and the other side had people standing in the center of the road, this least harm anti-vegetarian argument would demand that one drive over the people they could see than either a) take the chance of the foggy road where the driver may kill more people that cannot be seen or b) to get out and walk to make sure the path is clear (the equivalent of less destructive crop cultivation methods).

 

Another area where Utilitarian logic (or whatever you want to call it) gets highlighted is in the issue of wild predators. A few question whether their actions are morally permissible or should be interfered with.

 

The reality of wild predators routinely preying upon other animals and the suffering that results has been cited in arguments against animal rights beliefs for ages. Usually the focus is on defending meat eating humanity by using the example of lions and other natural born predators. If they can cause harm why can’t humans?

There are many responses to this, but within the framework of the Supremacy Myth argument the answer is that humans are the species that sets up moral codes and seeks to follow them—while it cannot be shown that lions and other animals use (or need) moral codes. A human can think: humans as a group have rights, which includes the right to systemically exploit inferior beings like gazelles.

 

A lion on the other hand, cannot be shown to think: lions as a group have rights, which includes the right to systemically exploit inferior beings like gazelles.

 

A human can be accused of a moral double standard, a lion cannot be. Thus a lion is not violating any moral concept or using unfair discrimination.

 

This is in addition to the obvious that lions are clearly designed for meat eating. While we can pity the victim of a lion’s hunger, we cannot deny that a lion has a more legitimate claim to predation than a human, who is entirely dependent on tools for the trapping, killing, and consumption of an animal (excluding insects).

 

At the same time, nonhumans (including lions and gazelles) must be recipients of moral concern by humans because to exclude them for not understanding or following human moral codes shows a double standard and bias: children, criminals, and the violently mentally handicapped persons can neither understand or follow moral codes and yet are not treated the same systemic exploitation that nonhumans are. To exclude nonhumans when you know they cannot follow moral codes is the same in concept as knowing an armless person cannot grab a drowning swimmer but making a demand of them to do so, and when they fail, punishing them for being true to their natures.

 

This is in addition to the fact that lions and other animals do not exploit humans in zoos, labs, for recreational hunting etc. One can say they already follow human moral codes without even trying.

 

The issue of wild predation filtered through a quasi-Utilitarian moral view attempts to bypass the issues of moral obligation and rights by focusing on what is considered a duty to reduce suffering in the world as much as possible—regardless of who is doing it and why.

 

The argument that wild predators need to be stopped makes the case that:

 

Wild predators cause routine suffering (some will claim they cause even more suffering than humans who choose to exploit nonhuman animals based on some fuzzy Utilitarian suffering calculation)

 

All suffering is wrong and should be diminished as much as possible

 

Jut as a deranged mentally retarded person would be stopped from harming others, the same principle should apply when the subject is a lion or tiger,

 

Technology may be able to engineer a future where no predators exist—either by genetic engineering of the species themselves,

 

This position suggests that lions and other predators should be prevented, either by scientific intervention (feeding them meat grown in Petri dishes, or through genetic manipulation) or if all else fails, by wiping them out.

 

An effort to defend wild predation by either pointing out the unfairness of judging lions by human morality codes or the extreme impracticality of interfering with their survival patterns falls on deaf ears.

 

Utilitarian belief can get in the way of common sense.

 

First—the belief that reducing suffering as much as possible is the rule in moral decisions is entirely subjective. That is the aim but it is idealistic-not practical. In practical terms we also seek to be fair and intentions do play into our day to day decision making.

 

But for the sake of argument, if suffering reduction as much as possible is all that matters, then why stop at predation? What about the suffering caused to wild animals by weather or disease or age? If intention doesn’t matter-then why stop at the actions of wild predators?

 

And if fairness doesn’t matter either—i.e. it doesn’t matter whether lions are born for predation and don’t follow human moral codes—then by such reasoning, one has the moral authority to kill humans who cause suffering—even without asking them to stop. Why would one ask them to stop when fairness doesn’t matter—only the goal of reducing suffering as much as possible? Fairness is irrelevant in this Utilitarian worldview. Only results matter.

 

The comparison to mentally deranged persons is problematic as most humans are not put into the same category as the deranged person, while just about every lions would be put into the category of the deranged. It is hardly an equal comparison since the deranged persons represent an exception or aberrant behavior, while lions represent the norm.

 

Technological intervention of course, has its own problems—since humans cannot control the consequences of their experiments and the experiments themselves cause immense suffering (i.e. vivisection).

 

Although this attack on natural predators is very uncommon, we felt it worthwhile commenting on after encountering it expressed both by those who deny and who claim to support nonhuman rights issues.

Anatomy of the Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument

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      “Humans attempt to justify the systemic exploitation of nonhuman animals by the claim that humans are better, worth more, superior in moral value to other life forms as a group because of some attributes or slogans (intelligence, a soul, favoritism by a Divine creator or Nature, might makes right, etc.). When examined every one of these traits are subjective and biased personal opinions like a belief in the importance of skin color or gender or a particular interpretation of scripture. Nature (and/or deities) cannot be proven to care or judge as humans are just as mortal and subject to weather and physics as all other living beings. The fact that humans can and do exploit other humans and always have is the best evidence we have that human superior worth is not absolute truth but opinion. It also means that if someone wants to justify discrimination towards humans based on race or gender or religion etc they can use the same excuse (subjective and biased personal opinions) as used by those who deny nonhuman rights.

     Any argument put forth to justify meat and dairy farms, vivisection labs, hunting, fishing, etc. can be countered by pointing out that human supremacy is a myth and that the only way to avoid moral double standards which would allow humans to justify exploiting other humans is to shun unfair discrimination/exploitation as much as possible. Humans create and use moral laws, nonhumans do not and deserve respect and compassion by default as it is unfair to punish them for being unable to understand human morality—it would be like demanding a blind man to read a warning sign and punishing him when he cannot. Humans who cannot follow moral laws (or even refuse to) are treated with far more respect and compassion. Nonhumans already respect our moral codes by not treating us in the ways we treat them.

     The inability to be morally perfect–respecting all life at all times does not mean we draw the line at humans since that is a moral double standard based on the human supremacy myth and if you say the accidental death of insects justifies vivisection labs then the inability to stop homicide and child abuse would justify genocide and concentration camps (since human exploitation of humans is natural and chronic). It is ultimately about fairness and ethical consistency.”

     The argument you just read is designed to affect the listener in a specific way—and remove the options for disagreeing and deflecting the discussion and focus to trivia, especially personal attacks on the advocate.

     The first thing you should notice is we immediately assume that the resistance to an animal rights position rests on a moral claim—the belief in human superior worth. We do not try to entice the subject by speaking about compassion or the suffering of the victims—this is a given—an animal born and raised for human use, or attacked in the wilderness is being wronged. The issue of whether they suffer as much as humans is trivial and diversionary.

     We use the word “systemic” to keep it focused on exploitation that occurs in an industrial and organized fashion. Farms, labs, zoos etc. This is to prevent one from diverting the discussion to “what if you were stranded on an island…” We are talking about practical reality not academic hypothetical situations.

     We say “human superior worth” or “human moral superiority” because we want to be specific about the idea of believing that one is better, or worth more based upon a concept of moral value. If we just say “human superiority” or “human supremacy” it invites misinterpretation—that we are talking about physical power or forcefulness, which is another distraction and diversion. Humans with access to technology can have a lot of power, however, they also can have power over other humans. It is meaningless to the moral issues at hand.

     Notice we say: “as a group,” this is to avoid an effort to argue that humans think they are superior as an individual—self-interest—which is not what we are talking about either. It is superior in value as a group—that one is part of a collective that is said to have special status and rights.

     We do not waste time in discrediting the claim—and do this by using matter of fact, obvious, and easily accepted ideas about the world around us and human behavior. Human superiority is not sanctioned by Nature and/or invisible deities—gravity and weather do not give us special treatment. Not only does this discredit the concept of human superior worth but it subtly mocks it. This makes it look foolish. You can decide for yourself whether that is necessary or not—sometimes you will encounter a great deal of resistance to the idea of nonhuman rights and it comes out as arrogant behavior. Making a mockery of the idea of human arrogance can help to create an atmosphere of respect for the discussion.

     Perhaps the strongest element is by pointing out the human capacity for victimizing other humans—something not even debatable—it not only provides a final nail in the coffin to the moral superiority claim, it also indicates the undesirable effects for human rights and the personal beliefs of the person if they continue to adhere to the false idea.

     If you have a right to use biased and unfair ideas to justify harming others, then others have the right to use biased and unfair ideas to justify harming you. It is a Golden Rule appeal, but instead of the classic situation where the victim is the one who has the right to defend themselves, we are using the reality of human behavior to put force to the point.

     The reason is two fold—nonhumans, with rare exceptions, do not have the ability to defend themselves from human abuse, so it would not be much of a threat or consequence. The second reason is that it not only serves as a personal threat, but an ideological one-since it undermines the person’s desire for morality that is consistent and fair. Although this might not work against everyone, we have found that most will cling to some kind of social responsibility morality, and will be greatly troubled when you point out that a belief in the superior moral worth of humans to other animals is logically constructed in the same way as a belief in the superior moral worth of some humans to other humans. Usually, they do not want to be associated with racists and bigots—but they are using the same belief structure.

     The argument also addresses in its foundation the question of why humans must respect the rights of nonhumans if nonhumans are not obligated to respect the rights of humans. This is a murky application of the Golden Rule but with an obvious bias. Children, the mentally impaired, and criminals can be in violation of following Golden Rule morality but usually are afforded far more respect and moral value than nonhumans. Why the double standard? It amounts to the belief in human superior moral worth.

     We would usually say that it is unfair to punish someone for not being able to do something that you know they cannot do. I.e. if you demanded an armless man to catch a drowning swimmer and they did not, and you accused them of being callous and mean, we would consider that unreasonable–likewise for situations with children or “mentally impaired” or criminals. Why doesn’t the same apply for nonhumans? Why are they held to a different standard of fairness?

     Beyond that—nonhumans do not put us in labs, or zoos, or rodeos, or hunt us for trophies or recreation. You could say they follow the Golden Rule better than we do. Some are fond of projecting the most malign traits of humans onto nonhumans and accuse them of vengeance and blood lust and irrational behavior (humane = good, inhumane = evil) but practically speaking, most violent behavior observed among wild animal populations can be attributed to survival or breeding or territorial aims.

    In this argument, we avoid saying something akin to “animals don’t know better” when it comes to their violent behavior because this can imply they do something wrong, or that humans have some superior (better) position because they have moral concepts. We think a more humble and verifiable view is that humans have morality in an effort to control their behavior which often does not involve true survival or necessity situations but choice and desire. It is humans who need to “know better,” the rest is just speculation and unnecessary for the moral argument being presented. The truest “stewardship” position is that humans need to be stewards of themselves, not Nature.

     The final component in the basic argument pertains to moral perfection. It is common for opponents to the “animal rights” message to seek out imperfections to use as a personal attack on the advocate. If you get into a debate about a particular subject, i.e. the issue of plant sentience, it usually means you defending yourself rather than putting pressure on the opponent’s beliefs. But if you embrace the imperfection instead of denying it, you can use it to point out yet another double standard when it comes to human rights belief. Homicide, accidental deaths, child abuse—they all occur regularly and yet we do not use them to justify suspending moral concepts or concentration camps. Therefore, the accidental or indirect killing of insects or plants or field mice cannot be used to justify moral support for systemic meat eating or labs. Emphasis on systemic. Building and maintaining a farm or lab takes far more effort than the accidental killing of an insect. You want to keep things practical—this highlights the moral issues in a simple and effective way.

     The last point on moral perfection can be refined for specific topics. I.e if debating vivisection and someone says the advocate has benefited from living in a society where vivisection has been used—then you can turn the tables and point out that human rights advocates have also benefited from experimentation done on human subjects against their will or with lethal consequences, lived on land taken through war, or benefited from slavery and human oppression.

     Or it can be used for the hypothetical attack “if you had to choose between saving the life of a human or nonhuman in an emergency situation.” You can change the terms to a human vs. human predicament—what if you had to choose between the life of someone familiar and someone foreign? Family vs. stranger? Someone of your race or language and not? Does your choice mean the loser deserves to be exploited systemically in a farm or lab etc?

     You keep linking the discussion back to human relations and moral situations involving humans—this discourages the hostile audience from putting you on the defensive because your answers keep reinforcing your point about the myth of human moral superiority and the consequences that its falsehood has for human rights. This is why our motto is that you cannot have human rights without nonhuman rights.

Notes:

 

     The term nonhuman is stressed instead of animal in order to avoid making a qualitative distinction between humans and animals as is often the case, and to leave the potential beneficiaries of moral value open since the argument is not using sentience or similar “cut off” criteria. Moral imperfection is assumed by the argument therefore it cannot be used to invalidate the claims for nonhuman animals regardless of what may be applicable to microorganisms, plants etc. and the practical difficulties in implementing such ethical beliefs.

     The argument tries to avoid the need for fact checking or reliance on scientific arguments and studies because in our experience people will doubt anything they can doubt. Self-evident information tends to be harder to nitpick. Someone may doubt that Pfizer did experiments on African villagers in the 1990s but you can easily cite a well-trusted news source to verify such claims. With esoteric scientific information it can be less persuasive, because unless the person considers the source to be an authority and trustworthy they may still dismiss it, or as a “he said/she said” difference of opinion especially if a counter study is available. Basic moral arguments do not require that kind of verification. You use the beliefs of the person you are talking to in order to make your argument.

     The basic moral argument applies to any society that can fashion moral codes that systemically discriminate using a claim of superiority of one group over others, regardless of technological usage or location or subsistence characteristics of the exploitation involved. One can argue the practicality or reasonableness of implementation of moral concepts in certain scenarios and circumstances but it does not nullify the moral theory. Earlier articles discuss this in more detail.

     How one phrases the idea that humans are not superior in moral value can impact the audience reception of it. If you start off by saying “discrimination against nonhumans is the same as racism or nazi camps” you may throw up a wall that makes it harder for the person to listen to your message. On the other hand if you find after explaining the concept that the reception is hostile, making connections between different forms of historical injustice, such as slavery, can be useful to remind the listener that the attitude of bigotry based upon biased and unfair ideology is the same.

     Words like respect, justice, fairness, and referring to exploitation subjects as “victims” can help foster the atmosphere that we are talking about equal consideration and rights, not merely cruelty or compassion. “Killing for an unnecessary diet” sets up the ideological framework that places the emphasis on choice and the act of killing so as to prevent it from being about how the killing is done instead of why it is done.

The Golden Rule in Animal Rights Argument

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Making a case for nonhuman rights by challenging the belief in human moral supremacy and using human rights for guidance.

     While the 1688 Germantown Quaker petition against slavery was not a direct call for the abolishing of the African slave trade, it presented the argument against slavery in terms using the Golden Rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The petition questioned whether it was right for Christians to own slaves, and used the Golden Rule to show that the slaves had the right to revolt—which could not only be harmful to the self-interest of the slave owner, but to efforts to expand immigration and commerce in North America. It made comparisons between slavery carried out by Christian Europeans against Africans, and the slavery practices carried out against Europeans Christians by pirates.

 

     The simplest argument for nonhuman rights questions the belief that humans are superior in moral value and uses agreed upon standards for human rights situations to reinforce that position.

 

     It is a Golden Rule argument for animal rights, but the potential harm to one’s self-interest by not being respectful of others does not come from the victims (as most nonhuman animals exploited are not capable of fighting back even if they had the capacity for vengeance), it comes from other humans. You are pointing out a flaw in the beliefs of a human supremacist which would allow a racial or gender or religious supremacist to justify their own discrimination using the same logic employed by those who believe one has the right to systemically exploit nonhuman animals.

 

     The justification for the double standard treatment of nonhumans stems from the simple idea that humans as a group have superior moral worth. This is often assumed to be a fact and self-evident without a second thought. It can even appear in the views of those who are opposed to it without realizing it.

 

     By superiority we do not mean manipulative power or flexibility in action. We emphasize “as a group” because we are not talking about individual self-preservation. Sometimes people will confuse definitions of superiority—and think we are talking about physical power over another, or personal preference for one’s survival over another. We are talking about systemic exploitation of one group for the interests of another and the moral problems when we examine it with the same standards we use in human rights considerations.

 

     Any animal rights scenario can be “fact-checked” against human situations for fairness and consistency.

 

     The explanation for human moral superiority rests upon a series of attributes or criteria that humans are said to possess and nonhumans lack. These attributes are assumed to be of absolute importance and value. They are defined according to secular and spiritual world views.

     The most common among those of a secular persuasion is a certain kind of consciousness—called Reason or intelligence or something uniquely human. This can be further defined as the capacity to understand morality itself—the ability to comprehend moral contracts. Or it is called a bundle of unique characteristics or even faculty X. It does not matter what they are defined as, for every one of these attributes and characteristics have two problems.

 

     Firstly it cannot be proven that all humans possess this characteristic equally or that nonhumans lack it.

 

     Much has been written on the ways in which humans can be shown to be irrational—we could discuss the alleged rationality of an atomic bomb or pollution or spending money on warfare instead of fighting starvation, but more specifically it has been widely pointed out that there are humans—from children to the mentally impaired to criminals, shown to be lacking in these attributes and yet they are afforded moral protection. This would seem to be a lapse in upholding standards. The response is usually that they deserve consideration as exceptions to the rule either because they are part of the human community and benefit in the same way the relative of a celebrity may gain access to a VIP club or because it would be immoral to exclude them (this is literally “humans have rights because they are human because humans have rights”).

 

     There has also been much written on the ways in which nonhumans possess qualities that humans cannot be shown to possess that show worthiness by different criteria (if the standard was set by a lion or prairie dog instead of a human). This in addition to the most common answer from animal rights proponents, that what really matters is the ability to feel pain—sentience—the true measure of determining moral regard.

 

     Such responses may do little to overcome the value that some place in alleged human capabilities for divinely sanctioned or intellectual endeavors.

 

     The highlighting of sentience is intended to make the observer respond that this is a logical common sense standard for determining moral worth instead of dubious claims of a soul or some uniquely human mind criteria that is murky and inconsistently defined. It seeks to emulate the way skin color and gender were seen as trivial criteria for determining moral value when compared to shared human characteristics (like Soul or Reason). But sentience/the ability to feel pain, is a common trait (like skin color), not something deemed lofty and praise-worthy. It invites being dismissed as too common and mundane while failing to explain why Soul and Reason are flawed or inferior.

 

     Whether it is mathematics, building rockets, or composing operas, some consider these activities to be of importance and regardless of the fact that most humans do not do these things, they are included by default (and if you are a human you would be hard pressed to disagree since you benefit yourself from this arrangement).

 

     Furthermore, sentience is not of interest to those who hold to spiritual arguments for human moral supremacy. The most common is that humans possess a soul while nonhumans do not, and that humans are the “chosen species” of a supreme creator (or more than one). As with the secular arguments, it cannot be proven that humans possess a soul and nonhumans lack one, or that humans are the chosen species of one or a thousand deities. Human behavior is the best evidence we have to the contrary—humans are constantly fighting about religious dogma and differences in opinion– to the point of violence. If humans are the chosen species why are they victims of violence? The old fashioned answer is that it is the fault of the Devil. But nonhumans are the victims of human violence—while we cannot prove the existence of devils we can prove that humans victimize nonhumans in devilish ways. Some will answer that the Bible says so, as a way of dismissing the animal rights position. The Bible does indicate that humans were originally vegetarian, but even if we overlook that fact due to contradictory passages that follow, the Bible also specifically endorses human slavery in both the Old and New Testaments. If one can contradict God’s will about one example of suffering that He has endorsed, we can certainly do the same with others, at least until He comes out of the sky to set the record straight.

 

     Rounding out the arguments is the simple claim of might makes right or survival of the fittest. This can be alleged to have nothing to do with a belief in human moral superiority just practical harsh life and survival. Others will say it is in your best interest to respect other humans but we all know there are people–criminals to dictators– who have been able to harm others and not face consequences for it. Best interest is also a matter of opinion.

 

     The second problem, for both secular and spiritual arguments, is that it cannot be proven that any of them are absolute objective truths—it cannot be shown that Nature or supreme invisible and mute deities have sanctioned these attributes or values humans above all else.

 

     This we observe by the simple fact that weather and gravity and other phenomenon do not give humans preferential treatment. Wouldn’t it be logical that if humans were superior in moral worth as an absolute objective truth that it would be evident around us? The best evidence we have that humans do not have superior moral worth as an objective absolute fact is by routine human behavior. Humans have and continue to discriminate against and exploit other humans. We have codes and laws to discourage this (when we don’t have laws that sanction it) but it still happens. Anyone who claims that humans have superior moral worth do not truly believe it themselves if they lock their doors at night or support anti-tampering caps on bottles. Human moral superiority is a biased person opinion, a claim conveniently determined by those who stand to benefit from the discrimination they wish to justify. This is the same with racial or gender discrimination—skin color or gender is held up as important by the person who is discriminating, when it cannot be shown that Nature or deities care.

 

     This connection to other forms of supremacy beliefs is the undoing of the argument against nonhuman rights. There is no way to avoid the fact that every single argument that claims humans have superior moral worth amounts to biased personal opinion just like other forms of discrimination the same people will claim is immoral. They are forced to accept nonhuman rights if for no other reason than to close this gaping hole in their moral system that would allow humans—flexible manipulative humans with power over others–to justify exploiting humans they consider inferior.

 

     Systemic discrimination against nonhumans is a form of bigotry and the excuses for it will falter when compared to similar situations involving humans.

 

     The best example may be the “might makes right” or “survival of the fittest” argument. If humans have the power to exploit nonhumans, humans also have the power to exploit humans. There is nothing preventing “might makes right” from applying to human situations. Indeed, we can use the daily news and find examples to prove this reality. This convenient oversight is an example where the assumption of human moral supremacy is taken as a given without examination.

 

     Another example is the argument that nonhumans do not deserve moral regard because they cannot understand moral contracts (aka moral reciprocity/contractualism). In addition to overlooking that the ability to understand and honor moral contracts is also a biased personal opinion like all other attributes—it leaves out the consequences this would have for humans who cannot understand moral contracts—children, the mentally impaired, or criminals (who were historically targets of systemic discrimination/exploitation themselves).

 

     To make demands of a person to perform a task which you know they are incapable of performing and punishing them for it is what we would call unjust or unfair. Compare it to a situation of a drowning swimmer—where an armless man is watching and you instruct him to grab the swimmer. He fails and the swimmer drowns—and you respond that the armless man should be punished for his heartless indifference.

This is what the Contractualism argument is saying.

 

     Additionally, it can be argued that nonhumans honor our moral concepts and the Golden Rule by default—since they do not put humans in cages, or use them in laboratories or for recreational killing and torture. Humans are the ones not living up to the obligation set forth by their own moral codes.

 

     Perhaps the most common objection to animal rights is to point out imperfections in honoring moral beliefs. There are many examples—such as the argument that insects, plants, or bacteria are harmed, even for procurement of a strict vegetarian diet. The gist of such an attack is to deflect criticism and put the animal rights proponent on the defensive, or to say that since we cannot be perfect in observing rights for nonhumans we should not even try.

 

     Usually the animal rights advocate will argue that sentience cannot be shown to apply to plants and bacteria. This, in our view, is not the best course of action. It can lead to weak but distracting counter-arguments and avoids the central issue of the opponent’s beliefs that are obstructing acceptance of the animal rights message.

 

     It is better to answer that regardless of whether they may be able to show that plants and bacteria are sentient and that we should work towards better treatment for them as well as insects—the failure to be perfect in dealing with them due to a variety of factors from absent-mindedness to scale does not negate the moral principle of vegetarianism/veganism etc anymore so than the constant reality of child abuse and homicide is not cited to forgo human rights codes and justify concentration camps or mass murder. Unlike the accidental or inadvertent harm done to an insect, a farm and laboratory takes immense direct effort to construct and maintain. It is practicality and common sense.

 

     This answer prevents follow up, since it calls the bluff on the question poser instead of refuting it or putting oneself in the position of proving that one is morally perfect.

If we use human rights situations as a comparison, then this attack is like saying the inability to eliminate homicide and child abuse means that moral concern for humans is impractical. If one tries to say the convenience line should be drawn at humans-someone else can say it should be drawn at race, religion, gender, family, community.

 

     Once human moral supremacy is seen as falsehood, these double standards become obvious and serve well in explaining the logic and plain sensible nature of an animal rights position.

 

     It is the same with the argument that asks if one would choose to save the life of a human over a nonhuman in an emergency situation. Usually this type of attack is meant to force the animal advocate to admit to believing in some form of human moral supremacy—but it is really an appeal based on familiarity. All one needs to do is change the terms of the scenario to a human vs. human situation. What if the choice was between a human you know and a human you do not know, between a family member or a stranger, between one family member vs. another, or a person of your race and gender or not? If you choose the more familiar, does it mean the loser deserves to be systemically exploited in labs and farms? The same should apply for treatment of nonhumans if we are fair.

 

     Modern animal rights advocacy uses what we may call the suffering-sentience-speciesism argument. Animals suffer needlessly, they possess the same capacity for pain (sentience) or desire for life as humans, therefore they deserve respect and compassion, and freedom from discrimination based on species aka speciesism.

 

     This is an appeal to someone’s compassion, and while it may be enough for some, there are others who will hold to beliefs that negate the effectiveness of such entreaties. Those beliefs need to be addressed if you want to make the animal rights argument more than a plea for mercy—to make it a moral obligation, as simple to fathom and as irrefutable as the golden rule.

 

     The history of moral change in society has generally been the effort to broaden common ideas of fairness and justice towards the vulnerable. It is a process of growing awareness, influencing enough members of society to agree to codes and laws and systemic changes.

 

     This occurs at the same time that technology also brings about change in society.

While technology is most often viewed as a positive, the effects of technology include pollution, warfare, even substance abuse (cocaine, heroin) and it has impacted human society in negative ways. The tendency is to overlook these problems as “growing pains,” or merely hope that it will all work out for the best over time, usually with the help of new technology to combat the effects of old technology.

 

     Technological change also increases the ability to exploit the vulnerable.

 

     It should be no surprise that regardless of one’s view on the origin of humans, misery and flexibility in causing harm has increased with access to technology. Nonhuman animals face particular challenges due to changes in human technology that are not keeping in step with moral awareness. An elephant or orca whale living in the 15th century had fewer threats from humans than they do in the 21st century. Over time they have become more vulnerable, not less. It can be noted that the same holds true for humans—i.e. in modern warfare aerial bombardment causes far more civilian causalities than was possible in previous centuries.

 

     Advocates for nonhumans correctly highlight changing attitudes towards the vulnerable in society to make their case. Children, women, the disabled, and even criminals have seen expanding moral regard.

 

     Those that dismiss such comparisons due to a human moral supremacy bias may well be of the same mindset that would have laughed at inmates in an asylum or taken pleasure in a slave lynching or been in the front row at a Roman Coliseum fight between prisoners, children, the handicapped, or wild animals.

 

     Explaining in the most persuasive way possible why such comparisons are valid and compelling people to regard the exploitation of the vulnerable as morally wrong, is a challenge we face in animal rights discussion. In order to grow awareness towards this end, one should be aware of strengths and weakness in our beliefs and how we present them to our audience and gauge their reception accurately.

 

     In summary,

 

1. Understand why human moral supremacy is a myth.

 

2. Observe the double standards when it comes to human rights situations and highlight them in your argument for nonhuman rights whenever possible.

 

3. Don’t get bogged down by minute details and hypothetical situations since the main goal is the elimination of systemic practices that require immense effort to construct and maintain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Elephant in the Room: the key issue in animal rights is the myth of human moral supremacy

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     The basic animal rights position is that moral regard should not be based on any characteristic alleged to be uniquely human but instead be a general compassion principle using sentience–a basic interest in living, avoiding pain, maximizing pleasure– as the standard by which we determine the moral worth of others.

 

     This effort to extend moral concern beyond humans rests upon the other person sharing the same sense of compassion and agreeing that the uniquely human traits (real or imagined) that are often considered praise-worthy are in fact insignificant when compared to this alternative criteria.

 

     Animal rights advocates spend a great deal of time defending their position from criticism, which is peculiar when they are the ones seeking to change the status quo.

 

     There is an easy way to make a strong case for nonhuman rights without using sentience as criteria. It is a “Golden Rule with force” argument that shifts the burden of proof to the person who opposes nonhuman rights. The stronger their opposition to it, the stronger the requirement to prove their pov is true.

 

     It should not be a revelation to anyone that the fundamental issue in animal rights that always comes up in any defense of an exploitation practice is the delusional belief that humans have superior moral worth as a group, claimed as an absolute universal truth without evidence, which leads to grotesque double standards in moral conduct. This is how racism or sexism or religious intolerance works, and how we arrive at the situation where it is acceptable to torture innocent nonhuman lives worse than the most despised criminals. To treat them in ways that nonhumans do not treat humans. And yet, we associate the word humane with goodness and the word inhumane with evil.

 

     This superiority belief is not, as some assume, a biological instinct. If that were the case we would not have homicide or child abuse or war or even be having this conversation. How could we when human moral supremacy is an absolute universal truth?  Something beyond all doubt or questioning?

 

     We won’t call it speciesism because the word implies that it is analogous to racism and sexism, even though it is a fact that while a member of any race or gender can be racist or sexist or both, only humans can be shown to be “speciesist,” according to the definition of believing in the unfair and unjust superior moral worth of humans. If you call it speciesism you invite the dumb defense that lions and gazelles are speciesist too even though they can easily be shown to engage in violent behavior for survival purposes and cannot be shown to hold to moral codes that invite the accusation of a double standard.

 

            A myth in human moral supremacy is taken for granted and left unexamined. It is like Manifest Destiny or a Chosen People myth. Incredibly, animal rights campaigners, even academic philosophers, tend to overlook this themselves and not consider it an essential part of the problem.  They talk about sentience, or suffering, or the importance of compassion, but overlook this basic would-be-laughable-if-it-didn’t-justify-hell-on-earth delusion.

 

     When discussing racism or sexism, we are quite aware of this issue of arrogant self-importance. We understand what “white Christian supremacist” means, or “male supremacist,” but when we say speciesist we are using a polite euphemism instead of being blunt.

 

     Consider the absurd hypothetical demands human rights extremists and supremacist bigots make on campaigners for nonhuman rights. They ask them to choose who we would save in an emergency situation involving a human and nonhuman. They don’t consider the consequences of such a scenario if changed to an entirely human predicament. If you have to choose between a familiar human and a stranger, does your choice determine which one deserves to be systemically exploited in a lab or farm?  This is a double standard that exists entirely because of the blind acceptance of human superior moral worth even though the universe doesn’t validate it and supposedly supreme deities are conveniently mute and invisible on the subject.

 

     Or they demand that an animal rights activist be perfect–divorce themselves from society by magic and live on the moon, or be guilty of hypocrisy (a word very often misused). Such a demand is not made of a human rights activist–they are not expected to have not participated in society where things they oppose have happened. They can be against war and homicide and still live on land taken in war–they can use medicine that was lethally tested on slaves, prisoners, mental patients or African villagers.

 

     The human supremacist bigot is often a bully–they want to browbeat the advocate into submission. Thus we have insecure activists who buy into the idea that humans have an instinct for choosing humans over nonhumans even though we know that this is a complete absurdity every time we look at crime news, or lock our door at night, or see a bottle with an anti-tampering cap, or smile in agreement at an ad that says: “the more people I meet, the more I love my cat.”

 

     This belief in humanity’s superior moral worth is not scrutinized–if it were, it would become obvious that human superior moral worth is as much biased personal opinion as an argument to defend racial, gender, or religious superior moral worth.

 

      The criteria cited to prove human supremacy include mind, intelligence, soul, creativity, Divine specialness, Evolutionary specialness, survival of the fittest, moral reciprocity, or an unspecified faculty X. They are all as much subjective personal opinion as the importance given to skin colour or gender or a particular interpretation of scripture. It either cannot be proven that all humans possess this supposedly important quality or that all nonhumans lack them. And Nature does not confirm this alleged superiority through natural phenomenon like weather, gravity, earthquakes etc. and the constant routine natural exploitation of humans by other humans.

 

      Humans do not serve a stewardship function like worms or bees–the world would be fine without them.

 

     If the world lost worms and bees, life systems would collapse. It is no surprise people have to claim an invisible mute deity or deities has ordained humans superior in moral value even though we have countless examples of humans slaughtering each other in the name of those same deities due to differences of opinion on religious trivia.

 

     So much for the “rational” animal.

 

     Ultimately, the moral argument against human supremacy is: if you want human rights, you must have nonhuman rights if for no other reason than to close a loophole that would allow humans to justify exploiting humans. There is no way around this problem.

     If you claim humans can justify the systemic exploitation of nonhumans based on biased personal opinion (mind, soul etc)  then another human can justify the systemic exploitation of humans using biased personal opinion since you cannot prove these opinions to be absolute, fair objective truth.

       It is common sense that only humans can be shown to use moral codes and laws in an effort to control their behavior thus they are the only ones obligated to follow them, nonhumans benefit without needing to reciprocate out of fairness and consistency, since punishing them for being unable to follow human laws when you know they cannot would be unfair. It would be like punishing a blind man for not reading warning signs or an armless man for not grabbing a drowning swimmer.

     Besides, nonhumans do not put us in cages, torture and kill us for choice, and other non-survival related activity. It may be argued that they already follow our moral codes. Criminals who we do claim can choose moral actions may deliberately violate such codes and are afforded far more compassion.

        Moral perfection is impossible; you only do the best you can in any given situation. The failure to stop homicide or child abuse does not justify concentration camps, thus the failure to stop the accidental death of microbes or plants does not justify the construction and maintenance of farms or laboratories.

      The simple truth of existence is that one is born, lives, and dies. During that time individuals will seek out survival-related interests and trivial past times. Success, failure, does it really matter in the long run? How can we prove that life is a contest or a race—and if it is, where do the winners collect their prizes?

     This is fact for humans and all life. If a single individual claimed they were superior in moral worth to all other humans and said this was a divine or evolutionary truth, we would regard such a person as arrogant or crazy or both. But when the claim is made about an entire species it suddenly doesn’t appear insane (when it should).

     Human supremacist bigots, anti-Nature fanatics, and/or human rights extremists are those who holds to a malicious deranged worldview where the universe and life exists as a play thing for a small group of weak and finite creatures, whining in protest when they are subjected to such treatment themselves, and boast of personal moral conduct and fairness that they do not live up to, unlike the very same species that they consider inferior.   

The Moral Argument Against Meat and Dairy Consumption

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     According to the Bible, human ancestors were vegetarian. According to science, human ancestors were vegetarian. Famous vegetarian advocates include Pythagoras, Leonardo Da Vinci, the author of Frankenstein, Gandhi, Einstein and Dr. Spock (as well as Mr. Spock).

 

     The claim that humans need to eat meat and or dairy for health and survival is easily disproven by the reality that large numbers of plant-eating humans exist–and always have.

 

     If dairy consumption is natural, why would humans be the only species on the earth that needs to drink excretions from other mammals?

 

     If humans are biologically meant to eat meat and dairy why is it that they can only do it with tools (excluding scavenging for bird eggs or insects)?

 

     While some claim that they have a unique personal health situation that require they consume meat or dairy, the observable reality is that humans cannot exploit the animals that are routinely cite as a natural food source for humans—cattle-pigs-chickens–without tool assistance.

 

     Plants? Humans can eat them without any tool assistance.

 

     Real natural born carnivores and omnivores that rely on predation are born with what they require for hunting. Tool use by humans for hunting and meat consumption can also be used for gardening and killing other humans–a frequent occurrence–something real predators do not engage in by comparison.  Real predators do not have hunting seasons and they never mistake another animal for their prey.  Among tigers and lions, there is nothing to compare to a human who accidentally wounds themselves or another hunter with bullet or spear. You never hear about tigers falling on their claws and mortally injuring themselves. Real predators go after the weakest animals, while humans prefer to kill the strongest. Unlike fangs and claws, projectile weapons are inaccurate and crude: while a rabbit may escape a bobcat with slight injuries, the victim of a bullet or arrow can linger on for days and experience a slow miserable death that only humans can engineer.

 

     Whatever humans may be, there are not natural predators (unless humans are included as their natural prey).

 

     Meat consumption by humans is not a balance–humans spread out, cutting down forests for grazing land, depleting water resources for growing crops to feed the exploited animals, killing real natural born predator species like lions and wolves for daring to attack domesticated herds, and massacring wild herbivores who graze on land they have occupied since time immemorial.

 

     Some believe that meat has a natural power, and yet the strongest land animals in Nature are all herbivores–elephants, gorillas, horses, bulls.

 

     Or they arrogantly believe humans are “top of the food chain” or an “apex predator,” and yet such hierarchies are subjective and biased personal opinions–Nature cannot be shown to give out prizes to species designated as such. All organisms die one way or another and end up in the ground as food for insects. Where is the superiority? The fact that humans routinely exploit other humans is the best proof we have that this claim of superior standing is not supported by the evidence. One could even say a cannibal must be higher on the food chain than those that do not eat the flesh of other humans. It is common sense that the easiest earliest source of flesh for humans to consume would be the bodies of dead humans, and we know there have been cannibal tribes that eat dead relatives.

 

     Then there is the claim that abstaining from animal products is more unethical than indulging, because of some calculation that crop harvesting leads to accidental animal deaths. The basic moral absurdity in this position is demonstrated by making the scenario a forked road where one side is obscured by fog and the other is clear but has several humans standing in view. According to the morality of the crop death theory, it is better to drive on and run over the people you can see, then either take the foggy road where you don’t know who you may hit or to get out and walk–the equivalent of less intensive agriculture.  An interesting oversight of the meat and dairy proponents is that they are quick to declare we return to 19th agriculture practices for their diet, but do not seem to acknowledge the same options for a vegetarian one.

 

     The wasting of plants and water to feed “livestock” animals that can be fed to humans is a very simple common sense argument against meat and dairy consumption. If you care about human rights you wouldn’t want to waste the vast amounts of water and crops that could feed humans.

 

     If you care about deforestation in the Amazon to grow soy to feed animals for the meat industry, you would not support meat eating.

 

     If you care about preventing epidemics—diseases that originated in nonhuman populations and spread to humans like measles, tuberculosis, smallpox, influenza or AIDS (believed to have originated from “bush meat” hunters), then you should not support meat eating.

 

     Thanks to a human dietary choice, nonhuman animals are born to be raped, force-fed and/or starved, castrated, mutilated, branded, turned into cannibals (even when herbivores), living in filth without space to move, or sit, or stand up, or turn around, deprived of space, family, companionship, sunlight, fresh air, or the natural right to touch the earth. And thanks to human bio-engineering, even if some are spared the farm and slaughterhouse, they are cursed by selective breeding that will ensure they grow so large; their own legs will not support them. Even if you deny all the cruelty and assume the animals have blissful lives before they are slaughtered– they are born to die for choice, not need.

 

     Those that claim the problem amounts to a few bad apples are making the same excuses as slavery apologists. Unnecessary violence and victimization can never be made just and fair.

 

     The moral argument for meat eating usually rests on a fable–a bedtime story-that humans as a group have superior moral worth.

 

     This belief is not examined closely—if it were it would be obvious that human superior moral worth is as much biased personal opinion as an argument to defend racial, gender, or religious supremacy.

 

     The criteria cited to prove human supremacy include mind, intelligence, soul, creativity, Divine specialness, Evolutionary specialness, survival of the fittest, moral reciprocity, or an unspecified faculty X. They are all as much subjective personal opinion as the importance given to skin colour or gender or a particular interpretation of scripture. Nature does not confirm this alleged superiority through natural phenomenon like weather, gravity, earthquakes etc and the constant routine natural exploitation of humans by other humans.

 

     Humans do not serve a stewardship function like worms or bees–the world would be fine without them. If the world lost worms and bees, life systems would collapse.

 

     It is small wonder people have to claim an invisible mute deity or deities has ordained humans superior in moral value even though we have endless examples of humans slaughtering each other in the name of those same deities, due to differences of opinion on religious trivia—including diet.

 

     Ultimately, a moral argument for vegetarianism rests on a version of the golden rule–if you want human rights, you must have nonhuman rights if for no other reason than to close a loophole that would allow humans to justify exploiting humans.

     If you claim humans can justify the systemic exploitation of nonhumans based on biased personal opinion then another human can justify the systemic exploitation of humans using biased personal opinion since you cannot prove any of these opinions to be absolute, fair objective truth.

       It is common sense that only humans can be shown to use moral codes and laws in an effort to control their behavior thus they are the only ones obligated to follow them, nonhumans benefit without needing to reciprocate out of fairness and consistency, since punishing them for being unable to follow human laws when you know they cannot would be like punishing a blind man for not reading warning signs or an armless man for not grabbing a drowning swimmer.

        Moral perfection is impossible; you only do the best you can in any given situation. The failure to stop homicide or child abuse does not justify concentration camps, thus the failure to stop the accidental death of microbes or plants does not justify the construction and maintenance of meat and dairy farms.

       Slavery and war are as ancient as common as meat and dairy consumption but there is a general consensus that such things are bad and should be discouraged. For moral consistency, human consumption of animal products is likewise unnecessary and indefensible.

The Moral Argument against Vivisection/Non human Animal Research

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The Moral Argument against Vivisection/Nonhuman Animal Research


          Vivisection is the practice of torturing and killing innocent lives, allegedly in the name of altruism and compassion. This is why it has been criticized as far back as Shakespeare, formed the inspiration for Frankenstein, and why the likes of Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, and Gandhi were opposed to it strictly on moral grounds.

          Intuitively we know that if you seek to help someone, torturing innocent bystanders is morally perverse, like saving a village by destroying it. We don’t help a homeless person by massacring a family and call it kindness.

     Vivisection is defended according to the belief that human animals have superior moral worth to the nonhuman animals being tortured and killed in ways we would generally consider extreme punishment if carried out on the most despised criminals in history.
This can be called a belief in human supremacy or human exceptionalism (in an effort to disguise the “bigot” connotations of a superiority complex).

      Human supremacy is assumed to be an absolute objective truth–without proving it to be so.  In fact, in reality, human supremacy beliefs are biased personal opinion just like beliefs in racial, gender, or religious supremacy. Any trait, criteria, or attribute cited to confirm this alleged superiority, whether mind, intelligence, soul, creativity, divine or biological specialness, survival of the fittest, tenacious moral instinct, moral reciprocity,  an unspecified faculty X, or a bundle of them, are as much subjective personal opinion as the importance given to skin colour or gender. Not only can one question that all humans  possess the attributes or that all nonhumans lack them, but Nature does not confirm this alleged superiority through natural phenomenon like weather, gravity, earthquakes etc and the constant routine natural exploitation of humans by other humans–which does include experimentation on humans without their consent.

      Nature cannot be shown to validate this allegedly “objective and absolute” superior moral status of humans. And invisible supreme deities are conveniently vague and mute on the subject as so-called indisputable religious texts are constantly disputed- to the point of human bloodshed.  If you claim humans can justify the systemic exploitation of nonhumans based on biased personal opinion then another human can justify the systemic exploitation of humans using biased personal opinion since you cannot prove these opinions to be absolute, fair objective truth. In short, if you want human rights, you must accept nonhuman rights to close this ethical loophole.

       It is common sense that only humans can be shown to use moral codes and laws in an effort to control their behavior thus they are the only ones obligated to follow them, nonhumans benefit without needing to reciprocate out of fairness and consistency, since punishing them for being unable to follow human laws when you know they cannot would be like punishing a blind man for not reading warning signs or an armless man for not grabbing a drowning swimmer.

        Moral perfection is impossible; you only do the best you can in any given situation. The failure to stop homicide or child abuse does not justify concentration camps, thus the failure to stop the accidental death of microbes or plants does not justify the construction and maintenance of vivisection labs.

     Those that claim nonhuman experiments are necessary can be asked which drug or treatment would they consider safer–one only tested on rats or monkeys, or one only tested on humans? Their answer will reveal the truth on the importance of nonhuman animals in human medicine.

     Common sense tells us that if you seek to find medical treatments for elephants, you do not focus on giraffes. We overlook this in human medical research because we consider nonhumans inferior in value (based on biased personal opinions).

     Nonhuman animal research is big business for vivisectors (how many do you know that live in poverty?), breeders, and cage manufacturers, and the former have a vested interest in conjuring up new experiments on “disposable” life forms to keep their paychecks, while telling the public that the research is important and a “breakthrough.” A week does not go by without another report of a “scientific miracle” thanks to non human animal experiments; although  with the caution that human trials are years away.

     In ancient times, temple priests and witch doctors would cut open live animals to read their entrails to encourage the hope and health of society (a good harvest, easy childbirth). Those that opposed it endangered society by angering the gods and betraying their community. Today, some researchers will claim that if nonhuman animal research stopped, the world would descend into a hell of disease and misery (without explaining why society and culture endured even during the bubonic plague). By such logic, humans should have died out thousands of years ago. Animal researchers promote the view that life works according to a quasi-Darwinian “Great Chain of Being” hierarchy where animals follow a ladder of complexity– ending with humanity, and that you can take “lower animals” apart and reassemble them as easily as a jigsaw puzzle.

     If nonhuman animal research is necessary for producing safe drugs and treatments why then do we need clinical trials on humans? Why does Pfizer have to conduct medical trials in Africa? Why do drugs like Thalidomide get pulled after being shown to be safe in nonhuman animals?

     Such discussions never go far without a vivisector using the desperate emergency situation–burning barn, house, boat, –where you have to choose to save either a human or a nonhuman.

      Ignoring the fact that scientists cannot find cures for illnesses by simply torturing one or a few or thousands of rats to death no matter how much they want people to believe they can perform miracles, the answer to this should be no less controversial than if the choice was between two humans. One familiar, one not.

     If you chose the familiar human, does it mean you want the loser to be tortured in a lab? If you refuse to choose, does that mean you do not love the familiar as much as the stranger? This question is not raised because it reveals the bias and double standard in the myth of human supremacy.

     Common sense tells us that the best and safest research model for human disease is another human. If finding a cure for disease is so important, why aren’t scientists and patients advocating the use of criminals or volunteers in medical experiments? Humans are the best and safest model for research, and we send healthy people off to be maimed and killed in wars for natural resources, religion, and political ideology, and yet the war against cancer is only considered of dire importance when it comes to the discussion of abolishing nonhuman animals in research.

      This exposes how the human supremacy myth is the driving force in defenses of vivisection.

     Another vivisector argument is to condemn a critic of vivisection for having had any medical treatment that can be linked to vivisection. The moral perfection demand.

     They conveniently ignore the work of Dr James Sims, Dr Joself Mengele, Dr Jonas Salk or the Pfizer researchers among others. Harmful research on humans against their consent has also been done and the research preserved and used.  Do they make the same demand of human rights activists that they cannot use anything that may be traced back to human experimentation they oppose? Sims experimented on slaves, Mengele on prisoners, Salk on mental patients, Pfizer on Africa villagers.
     If we confronted them
, it is likely they would defend their experiments along the lines of the superior worth of themselves or their intended patients to those being used as research models. A supremacy belief based on biased personal opinion just like the vivisector of nonhuman animals.  But unlike vivisectors exploiting nonhuman victims, the anatomical value of such work could not be questioned. Elephants are the practical model for elephant medicine.

     Researchers say they need to use nonhuman animals for research because they are like us–-and yet they say they deserve no rights because they are not like us. This highlights the real issue: the motivation for animal research beyond money and sociopathic tendencies is an arrogant belief that humans as a species are superior in value to all other life, based upon biased personal opinion criteria conveniently determined by those who stand to benefit from the discrimination and exploitation.

     If we say that someone who is ill does not have the moral right to demand that other humans be used for research to find a cure (even though the results would be far more beneficial than using nonhumans) then logically since humans cannot be shown to be superior to other beings (as all standards and criteria are based on biased personal opinions like they are for racial supremacy etc.) they cannot make the same demand when it comes to nonhumans used in vivisection. It is not complicated–it simple and fair morality.

      Some will charge that the animal rights advocate must come up with alternatives to nonhuman research. This is an example of a bullying tactic and upside down view of fairness.

     If one seeks to find cures for human illness, the onus is on them to do it in a way that does not violate basic and consistent standards of moral conduct, not the animal advocate for pointing out the immorality of a practice.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument

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THE SUPREMACY MYTH ANIMAL RIGHTS ARGUMENT

 Persuasive Debate Strategy by Debunking the Belief in Superior Moral Worth of Humans

 
Introduction
 
Problems with the Suffering-Sentience-Speciesism Argument for Animal Rights
 
The Supremacy Myth
 
Human Exploitation of Other Humans (aka Human Intraspecies Predation)
 
Humane and Inhumane: Why The Definitions Should be Reversed
 
The Slander of the Domestic Cat: Unfair Cherry-Picking of Anthropomorphic Traits
 
Evidence of Evil: Read the Daily News
 
Animal Rights Elitism
 
Controlling the Debate
 
The Differing Effects of an Argument Response –Examples
 
The Moral Perfection Double Standard
 
Unnecessary Concessions –Historical and Hypothetical
 
Your Child or a Dog
 
Human Rights Are In Your Best Interest
 
Human Problems First
 
You Will Never See the End of Nonhuman Exploitation
 
Nonhumans Must Respect Human Laws to Have Rights Themselves
 
Humans Are Top of the Food Chain
 
Nonhumans Have No ConsciousNESS and/or Feel No Pain
 
God Gave Us Dominion Over Nature/Animals Have No Souls
 
Humans Are Managers/Stewards of Nature
 
Life is Survival of the Fittest/Might Makes Right/Ethical Egoism
 
Hunting
 
Subsistence Exploitation of Nonhumans by the Poor /Non-Caucasians is Ethical
 
Vivisection
 
The Reasons Vivisection Cannot Be Justified
 
 Conclusion
 
Why You Should Use This Approach

 

 

  All arguments are not created equal. There are differences in their intent and the degree to which they impact an audience’s psyche. If you wish to make the strongest case for justice and respect towards nonhuman beings, then destroying human arrogance is crucial and human nature is your greatest ally in the cause.

     Why is it acceptable to routinely treat nonhumans in ways that would be considered atrocities if done to the most hated criminals? An answer resides in the belief taken as self-evident absolute objective certain truth: humans are better, worth more, superior in value to other life forms because of some attributes or slogans (intelligence, a soul, favoritism by a Divine creator or Nature, might makes right, etc.). When examined every one of these traits are subjective and biased personal opinions like a belief in the importance of skin color or gender or a particular interpretation of scripture. Nature (and/or deities) cannot be proven to care or judge as humans are just as mortal and subject to weather and physics as all other living beings. The fact that humans can and do exploit other humans and always have is the best evidence we have that human superior worth is not absolute truth but opinion. It also means that if someone wants to justify discrimination towards humans based on race or gender or religion etc. they can use the same excuse (subjective and biased personal opinions) as used by those who deny nonhuman rights.

     Any argument put forth to justify meat and dairy farms, vivisection labs, hunting, fishing, etc. can be countered by pointing out that human supremacy is a myth and that the only way to avoid moral double standards which would allow humans to justify exploiting other humans is to shun unfair discrimination/exploitation as much as possible. Humans create and use moral laws, nonhumans do not and deserve respect and compassion by default as it is unfair to punish them for being unable to follow human morality—it would be like demanding a blind man to read a warning sign and punishing him when he cannot. Humans who cannot follow moral laws (or even refuse to) are treated with far more respect and compassion.

     The inability to be morally perfect–respecting all life at all times does not mean we draw the line at humans since that is a moral double standard based on the human supremacy myth and if you say the accidental death of insects justifies vivisection labs then the inability to stop homicide and child abuse would justify genocide and concentration camps (since human exploitation of humans is natural and chronic). It is ultimately about fairness and ethical consistency.

     This is a simple yet forceful ethical argument for animal rights. You can argue for compassionate social policy or the Golden Rule or use scientific studies, but without addressing the mythical belief in human superiority and its double standards you leave gaping holes that opponents will seize upon if you allow them to. The argument stated above puts the most hostile opponent into a corner from which they cannot escape unless they accept the concept of nonhuman rights or admit that every kind of human exploitation of humans should also be justified.

     In the following essay we will examine animal rights arguments and how to increase the effectiveness of your presentation by utilizing the Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument.

Introduction

    

“Religion is a great force – the only real motive force in the world; but you must get at a man through his own religion, not through yours.” George Bernard Shaw

     If you want to make the strongest moral case for animal rights, you need to go outside of your own emotions and beliefs and understand what motivates the viewpoint of the most hostile opponents in order to transform the viewpoint, or failing that, injure it. Any debate that ends with them feeling confident in their beliefs is a failure for the animal rights side. You not only need to know their beliefs, but be able to gauge how they are understanding your arguments and learn to spot the weaknesses in your approach so that you are the one speaking with authority and confidence.

     In general, many animal rights activists are sensitive and compassionate, seeking to reduce harm in society, but they can be at a disadvantage in debate situations because of these traits.

     They often wish to persuade an audience with kindness–appeals to what they assume or hope are a shared equal sensitivity and compassion in all people. Furthermore, unlike someone acting on behalf of themselves or a family member in a civil rights cause, advocates for other animal species are not considered members of the particular group being victimized–and the greater their outrage about the victimization, the more they can be perceived as overly emotional or zealous, or even a traitor to their kind. To avoid this perception, they may adopt apologetic and timid approaches which can make them more vulnerable to bullying and allowing the opposition to dictate the debate parameters.
And because they are often accused of being guided by emotion instead of reason, activists can overcompensate by adhering to elitist intellectual theories on animal rights–esoteric and complicated academic formulas instead of common sense layman arguments that are easily communicated. In addition they may not properly estimate how successfully their arguments impact their audience and dismiss anyone who does not immediately show sympathy as being beyond persuasion. And finally, the tendency to use any argument that is in favor of animal rights (or failing that, animal welfare) and a heavy dependence on scientific data (especially in vivisection arguments) can stem from insecurity and desperation–and a subconscious but nagging feeling that somehow, someway, the moral correctness of an animal rights argument is not as obvious and certain as an anti-racism or anti-sexism position even though they know intuitively that it is.

     There are many ways to present an animal rights position, but the strongest argument in terms of impact uses factual observations about human nature against those who believe in human supremacy or superiority which is the motivating idea behind the systematic discrimination/exploitation of nonhuman lives through hunting, fishing, the meat and dairy industries, medical research, circuses, zoos, etc. Even when it is denied, the false belief in human superiority to other beings is the foundation of the double standard morality that condemns or excuses violent behavior, misery, and death depending on the worth given to the victim and victimizer.

     In place of the usual strategy of trying to show that nonhuman lives are worthy of moral consideration alongside humans, you force the audience to prove why humans are worthy of special moral status.

     When this question is raised and examined, it puts the most hostile opponent on the defensive and exposes the obvious: that claims of human supremacy are just as much biased personal opinion as claims of racial or religious or gender supremacy and that extending moral concern to nonhumans is not only fair and just but a necessity–in order to prevent some humans from exploiting an ethical loophole unwittingly and inevitably created by a human supremacist position, one that would excuse violent behavior against other humans, given the fact that human intraspecies predation (aka exploiting and killing other humans) is a chronic natural occurrence across the world and has been since the beginnings of recorded history, and is one supported by supremacy beliefs based on factors besides species–such as race, gender, religion, wealth etc.

     Debunking the claim of human superiority by pointing out the perpetual reality of human exploitation towards other humans does not require that one cite scientific studies or go into lengthy philosophical digressions. It uses common sense observation and the beliefs of the audience against the audience. It is simple but can be immensely effective.

     This is a more aggressive debating stance which will not appeal to those who prefer only positive reinforcements and compassionate persuasion, and will offend those who hold to a human supremacist animal welfare ideology that masquerades as an animal rights position.

     But in considering this approach, you can ask yourself which aggression is more offensive to you, the kind that is expressed through words for the cause of fairness and justice, or the kind carried out on the minds and bodies of innocent nonhuman animal lives for entertainment, greed, and maniacal arrogance. It can be said that the truth hurts, but not as much as it does for the mass victims of humanity’s false and delusional beliefs.

     In persuasive argument you should believe you are right and state the truth—and you should also be able to show the opposition that they are wrong. It is not enough to defend your views from attack; you should also be dismantling the beliefs of the opposition. In animal rights this is crucial because the gulf between those who can reluctantly appreciate an animal welfare position and sincerely accept an animal rights one can be vast.

     In animal rights debate it is far too often the situation that an advocate merely defends a position or responds to resistance and does not actively seek to undermine the opposition’s deepest held convictions. If you truly want to persuade and convince people that animal rights is correct, you must attack the beliefs that uphold the values you oppose.

     Using this approach, you can leave any debate or conversation with the most unsympathetic members of the audience unable to refute your position as if they were saying 2 plus 2 equals 5 and you keep presenting them with evidence to prove the correct number is 4. Animal rights can be as easy as that, but it requires that one abandon vulnerable arguments and the mindset that encourages them.

Problems with the Suffering-Sentience-Speciesism Argument for Animal Rights


The popular argument for animal rights may be called the suffering/sentience/speciesism approach.

     It uses descriptions of suffering to shock the audience and appeal to their sense of compassion, it highlights sentience–a general capacity for awareness and feeling pain– to be the shared quality between humans and nonhuman animals that is the true standard for bestowing moral value instead of one considered uniquely human and it characterizes opposition to this view as speciesism, usually defined as a species-centered, unjust attitude that is the counterpart to racism or sexism.

     This argument can be intellectually lazy and not persuasive. A failure to recognize these deficiencies and compensate accordingly serves the agenda of exploiters and bigots, not that of the victims and social justice.

The expression “treated like an animal” is shorthand for being treated very badly since everyone knows that nonhuman animals are treated in ways we would not want to be subjected to ourselves. Even the most hated criminals are usually given better care than nonhuman animals.

     Therefore, while there are people who are entirely ignorant of what nonhuman animals experience in farms or laboratories, and learning of these atrocities can lead to an immediate moral transformation to either a welfare or abolition philosophy, there are many others who can easily piece together that being born in confinement, and forced to live and die by the whims of an animal species capable of deranged violence and sadistic cruelty is a very bad thing.
It can amount to stating the obvious and missing the bigger picture: the beliefs that defend and excuse these atrocities.

    Compassionate appeals are sometimes dismissed by pointing out the suffering that exists in Nature among other life forms. Human exploitation of nonhuman beings is defended by suggesting that if humans are animals, they should be able to behave as other animals do for survival. While this is not a strong defense especially as most systemic human exploitation of nonhumans is not even remotely connected to survival or necessity but choice and desire, it is enough of a response to distract and waste time.

And people become immune to shocking imagery and testimonials. The motto that everyone would be vegetarian if slaughterhouses had glass walls is naive given that there are societies where animal slaughter occurs openly without mass conversion to a plant-based diet. It even gets flaunted in blood sports for public entertainment. Thus an over reliance on the suffering issue and appeals to compassion may be ineffective, encouraging advocates to rattle off an endless catalog of atrocities instead of destroying the belief that excuses them.

The focus on sentience can divert the discussion from issues of morality into questions of whether sentience is applicable to some animals more than others, and invites the use of vivisection to probe whether a subject is worthy of moral inclusion and/or to attempt to create nonhuman life forms that feel no pain for food purposes.  Furthermore, it fails to address the beliefs of those who do not value sentience and prefer some other quality alleged to be unique to humans (intellect, creativity, moral reciprocity, a soul or Divine favoritism etc). Such perspectives are often dismissed without specifically explaining why they are false and being aggressive in criticizing them.

    Given the fact that vivisectors will engage in mental torment of specimens as in learned helplessness experiments and circus trainers will deliberately torment infant elephants so they are psychologically terrified of humans and that the deliberate abuse of animals to increase adrenaline for altering the flavor of their flesh is common knowledge to the meat industry, it is evident that most victimizers believe the victim is sentient, but inferior in value for other reasons.

    One should never underestimate the wickedness potential of human nature. While this may seem to promote misanthropic cynicism, the purpose is to ensure that your debating stance does not leave any weakness that can be exploited to the detriment of your cause. You need to see the whole problem before you can effectively correct it.

And the word speciesism is vague and subject to misinterpretation which opponents seize upon, wasting time in discussion on the false claim that all species are inevitably species-centered thus there is nothing wrong with it. The reality is that while people of any race or gender can be racist or sexist, only humans can be characterized as what we call “speciesist.”  The belief in the superiority of one’s defined group to others and discriminating systemically in ethics and policy according to that belief is a uniquely human phenomenon and this is the most important issue in animal rights and human rights. The word speciesism does not adequately define it.

The Supremacy Myth

It is an observable tendency of humans to create personal preferences and develop an inflated sense of importance without factual evidence to support the claim. An individual claiming to be superior to everyone else is usually described as an egomaniac, but when an individual professes to be part of a group of allegedly superior beings, then those who are considered “a member of the club” can be far more tolerant of such a view. And yet, these days many would agree that someone who believes that some races are categorically superior in value to others (Social Darwinism, Manifest Destiny etc.) is a bigot since skin colour or gender are widely regarded as trivial criteria for bestowing moral value.

But when it comes to believing that human lives are naturally superior in value to nonhuman lives, this claim is usually  taken as if a self-evident axiom–something known to be true without needing examination–and despite (or possibly due to) the fact that it collapses under the available evidence and common sense. It can be a core religious belief to some people and questioning it can arouse great discomfort in those who hold it dear.


The human supremacy myth is the “pink elephant in the room.” It is the imposing but imaginary belief that motivates the arguments of exploiters and their supporters. To ignore it is to focus on symptoms and not the cause of the problem.

     Human supremacists (also known as human exceptionalists in an effort to disguise the bigoted nature of the belief) justify their discrimination and systemic exploitation according to an assumption of absolute certainty based upon criteria of value such as a faculty of reason, a soul, divine or evolutionary favor, moral reciprocity, survival of the fittest, might makes right, individual selfishness, a bundle of characteristics or vaguely defined ones which cannot be proven to be shared by all humans or lacking in all nonhumans. i.e. some humans are more intelligent or creative than others, some nonhumans are more rational than some humans, humans can and do willfully break laws and yet the most despised of criminals is usually given more care and respect than the most innocent nonhuman beings.

    And the importance of such criteria can be doubted–shown not to be absolute objective truth, but subjective arbitrary personal opinions conveniently determined by those who stand to benefit from the discrimination they wish to justify. Nature (and/or deities), through environmental phenomenon, like weather, earthquakes, gravity, and most telling, the actions of other human beings, cannot be shown to care or favor humans over other life forms as an absolute objective fact.

    An absolute is something beyond all doubt and question, the final answer to everything. If it can be questioned it cannot be absolute. If one states that humans are superior as a group to other life forms according to any defined criteria, whether theistic or atheistic in origin, it can be questioned. For secular humanists it is the “absolute certain truth” of a supposedly mindless universe that yet can judge some as more important than others through an evolutionary version of the Great Chain of Being. For spiritual humanists it is one or more divinities that do not make their presence known to doubters in direct ways and have encouraged violent conflict among those that are supposedly the “chosen” people.

Human Supremacist Equals Racial Supremacist

    The inability to prove human superiority as anything other than a biased personal opinion means that a human supremacist, who wants to exclude nonhumans from equal and fair moral consideration, is using the same kind of belief structure/biased personal opinion that a racial supremacist uses. Without intending to, the human supremacist is providing the racial bigot with the justification to defend their own discrimination, focused on race not species. The same holds true for humans who may care most about gender or religion or age or wealth or class or appearance or all the other criteria and characteristics which humans have and do use to discriminate and exploit other humans.  Wishful thinking, best intentions, idealistic moral principles, and laws have not changed this reality since the beginning of recorded history.

 Human Exploitation of Other Humans (aka Human Intraspecies Predation)

     Even the most delusional human supremacist who makes the ridiculous claim that humans have a “tenacious moral instinct” to favor humans over nonhumans will lock their doors or have security because they have a far more tenacious moral instinct that they cannot trust all humans. We call the actions of these untrustworthy humans criminal or abnormal behavior depending on victim and victimizer status–but if it occurs frequently enough that we have police and laws in an effort to discourage such phenomenon then how can it be unnatural? In wars such behavior is not only tolerated but encouraged.

    The consequences of this fact of human nature is routinely overlooked (by all sides) resulting in a double standard moral blind spot in the arguments of those who reject animal rights which can be exposed by repeatedly addressing the issue of human exploitation of other humans. In other words, rubbing their faces in the truth.

     And the systemic exploitation of nonhumans is too important for you not to educate on these matters.

Humane and Inhumane: Why The Definitions Should be Reversed

     A common myth of modern times is that cruelty and sadistic violence are primal behaviors–wild, beastly, inhuman, while compassion and moderation are “humane” traits–the gift of lofty intellect evolving and progressing to a better existence.

     These are slogans humans use to set themselves apart from the mortal universe and the eventual death and decay that is the destiny of all living beings. It also demonstrates the human supremacy mythology in vocabulary.

     The human supremacist will boast about the exceptional nature of humanity and that humans are different from nonhumans not only in degree but kind. It can be demonstrated that they are right, but not in the way they boast.
Observable reality shows us that the most sadistic acts, physical or mental cruelty in history are perpetuated by humans alone, and humans are the only animal that can be proven without a doubt to take pleasure from knowing that they are making others suffer, either mentally or physically. Some even derive sexual arousal from it.

    We know that there are tribes that have engaged in sadistic cruelty against humans and nonhumans (i.e. the insertion of long sticks into the hearts of domesticated pigs in order that they slowly and painfully bleed to death).

     The Roman Coliseum was a great architectural project created for the staging of cruelty and death to amuse up to 80 000 people. Every kind of animal in addition to human (from child to elderly, able-limbed or handicapped) were tortured and killed in canned hunts. Even acts of bestiality based on myths were staged.

The Slander of the Domestic Cat: Unfair Cherry-Picking of Anthropomorphic Traits


Some humans will claim that human superiority is shown by the ability to compose a symphony or build a rocket even though only a small number of humans engage in such practices. By the same token, they will not assume that all humans are depraved psychotics just because there have been murderers and world leaders who have created war and destruction. That is an example of cherry picking. The same phenomenon occurs in how humans regard nonhuman behavior.

      We know that the domesticated cat, being fed and with idle time, will exhibit predatory behavior towards mice. There are humans who eat meat by choice and assume they are civilized who will claim the cat is sadistic—enjoying the suffering they inflict on a mouse. They will ignore the fact that a domestic cat did not ask to be domesticated nor did a mouse ask to be in man-made environments such as a kitchen or a yard where they are at greater risk from a natural born predatory animal.

     It is highly speculative if not outright ludicrous and malicious in an all too human way to interpret that natural predator/carnivore behavior to suggest cats enjoy the suffering they cause a small animal, knowing that they cause them suffering. By such logic they must assume a cat thinks a ball of string is alive and be contemplating politics and religion. These malicious assumptions are not far from the idea that nonhuman animals are demons, as was believed by some in the Middle Ages—and used to justify torturing them in witch trials.

     An animal can enjoy aggressive behavior without thinking about the mental state and bodily feelings of another. Humans can as well, but we also know that humans can and do take pleasure from the suffering of others. They will design elaborate tortures either for scientific trivia or for public amusement.

     Even the most aggressive of felines have not been observed staging mouse torture exhibitions for the amusement of other cats.

Nonhuman animals in their natural habitat are moderate in their use of violence, mostly restricted to observable survival-related behavior.

If we were fair and rational the definitions of humane and inhumane would be reversed so as to correct the twisted delusional reality created by a human supremacy belief.

Evidence of Evil: Read the Daily News


One merely needs to read the daily news to find examples of sadistic human behavior–torture, murder, cruelty, against family members and strangers. No matter how pessimistic one may be about human nature, you are bound to find some news item that will shock you for its details on atrocious human behavior.

The same capacity for “reason” that allows one to do mathematics can be used to design a torture device or urge a suicidal person to jump from a building or to tie a child to a bed, starving them and abusing them for years. We could list endless examples of humans torturing nonhumans (just the act of confining them to a cage or chain for their entire lives qualifies) but the human supremacist bigot may not only dismiss such atrocities but mock them. If you cite examples of human exploitation of humans from the news or history it can be useful in diminishing the arrogance of that type of supremacist and at the very least, take away their humorous attitude when discussing animal rights issues.

Animal Rights Elitism

Concern for the lives of nonhuman animals is ancient, co-existing with other social concerns and found among the works of literature in Ancient Greece and Rome and extending to the Eastern religions of Buddhism and Jainism. From Homer to Shakespeare to Al-Maʿarri to Oliver Wendell Holmes, you find examples of “animal rights” belief–even the Frankenstein Monster states he is a vegetarian.

     This runs contrary to a widespread neo-Darwinian urban legend that suggests “animal rights” belief only came into existence after the Industrial revolution, when technological luxuries afforded so-called trivial reflections on human relations with Nature. At its most absurd, the birth date for animal rights is listed as somewhere in the 1960s, starting with the coining of the word “speciesism” by former vivisector Richard Ryder and then the mid-1970s publication of Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, a welfarist who is called the “father” of Animal Rights by the sensational media. He was followed by Tom Regan, and there is an entire generation of philosopher/animal rights experts who each have their own special “recipe” for animal rights theory and a selection of disciples.

     No one owns common sense and the truth. This argument for animal rights belongs to everyone and is rooted in ideas that date back to ancient times. The atrocities committed against inhabitants of the world are far too serious to reduce to trivial intellectual exercises and thought games. Who owns the argument against racism? What special recipe is considered the best for gender equality?

     Singer and others are often easy targets for the opposition because they present arguments that can be attacked and/or they do not articulate themselves in ways that are easily accessible to the public.

Controlling the Debate 

It is all too common for animal activists to take the path of least resistance and let the opponent dictate the talking points and framing of issues in discussion and debate. This can create a weaker and defensive posture which is not ideal for successful persuasive argument. If you know the facts and how the opposition is wrong you can shape the debate so that you are constantly challenging their beliefs, forcing them to prove their validity (when they cannot). This is not difficult to do, but it requires that you know how debates are framed and looking beyond the specific point being discussed to understand what your audience’s mindset is and the true beliefs motivating them.

The Differing Effects of an Argument Response –Examples

     Not all arguments are the same. Their impact on an audience can vary depending on the person and the phrasing. This can be demonstrated.

     When someone mentions famous vegetarians as a way of showing that it is a good thing, it is almost inevitable that “wasn’t Hitler a vegetarian?” will be thrown into the discussion.

     Peter Singer’s response to this is recorded to be: “Just because Hitler had a nose doesn’t mean we should cut off ours.”

     We will examine this response—but first let us think about the Hitler was a vegetarian attack. Why does someone say this? The gist is usually to make vegetarians look bad or mad—by linking them to someone considered popularly to be the worst human being in history. If Hitler was a vegetarian it not only makes vegetarians negative by association, but could lead to other slanders like Hitler hated humans, preferred nonhuman animals, outlawed vivisection except on humans. These accusations have been debunked–Hitler ate meat, the Nazis did not ban nonhuman vivisection, Hitler’s inner staff included a trophy hunter, but simply stating such facts is not the only way to make an answer. You can also attack the opponent’s beliefs at the same time.

     Singer’s answer comparing vegetarianism to a nose is adequate but not strong. It is a defensive response. He is not disagreeing with the assertion that Hitler was a vegetarian, merely saying that we should not let his association with it influence our own actions. By comparing vegetarianism to a body part, it also takes the discussion out of the realm of animal rights and into detached philosophical academia. It may seem like a common sense comparison, but it is not addressing the beliefs of the person who is posing the question.

     Here are some other responses one could say:

“Gandhi was a vegetarian—so you think he was a warmongering Nazi?”

     This answer doesn’t confirm or deny Hitler was a vegetarian but it uses another historical figure with a positive reputation, and mocks the idea that vegetarianism equals evil. It is not just a defense but a counter- attack.

“Al Capone started the first soup kitchens in Chicago so you must think poverty workers are gangsters too.”

     This answer does not deny Hitler was a vegetarian but attacks the intention by using a human-focused alternative to expose the same absurdity that Singer was trying to expose—that the benign attributes of an individual known for destructive attitudes and behavior reflect negatively on others who share the same benign attribute.

“Stalin was a meat eating hunter whose actions killed many more than Hitler.”

     This answer does not deny Hitler’s vegetarianism or mock the intention behind the suggestion, instead it shows how someone associated with meat eating or hunting can be even more destructive. This is not a strong answer because the association between meat eating or hunting and destroying humans is not really denied—people have assumed the truth of “violence begets violence” since ancient times. It also requires that one trust the numbers on Stalin’s killing as well as invites challenges that Hitler’s policies were more widespread and cruel even if the death toll was less.

“Hitler was actually a meat eating catholic.”

     This answer denies the vegetarian claim and counters it by associating Hitler not only with meat eaters but widely accepted organized religion so there is an extra charge for the person who made the statement to contend with.

     It requires that one fact check the information for validity, but the “Hitler was a vegetarian” claim is also based on unsubstantiated facts. Because many people believe in a deity and many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, the assumption that Hitler was religious is easy to accept on a gut level—even more so than his vegetarianism.

“Do you really think a moral vegetarian would start wars that kill wildlife and destroy the environment?”

     This answer does not rely on a fact check—instead it questions the idea that Hitler could have been a true vegetarian and directly challenges the intent of the original statement by pointing out the common sense absurdity of someone committed to nonviolence engaging in mass warfare.

     The “Hitler was a vegetarian” issue is trivial. Now we will look at a more central kind of argument situation.

 “If humans are equal to animals they should be able to behave as other animals do and exploit other animals.”

     A common response to this is to say that nonhumans do lots of things like urinating in open spaces or running around naked therefore we are already selective in what traits we choose to emulate.

     While this answer counters the claim that true equality is intended or desired, and that we already choose what traits we follow or ignore, it is not a totally satisfying response as it does not directly challenge the beliefs of the person making the statement.

    Although it speaks of human equality to nonhumans this is not the true motive in the statement. The goal is to argue that humans are superior in worth—deserving of special rights. How do we know this? We know this because it says nothing about humans being able to exploit other humans, which is also natural.

     Now we will show how one can respond specifically using the approach we advocate.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: If the person truly wants humans to be able to behave as nonhumans do, then human exploitation of other humans should be justified since nonhumans do not use laws and have been known to exploit each other (i.e. eating their young, abandoning sick offspring etc). Why conveniently stop the exploitation at nonhuman relations? This shows that the person believes in human superiority and a moral double standard. We have already shown that human superiority beliefs are personal opinion like racial superiority claims, thus someone can justify exploiting other humans by the same belief system. This answer not only counters the idea that humans seek to behave like other animals, but forces the person to accept that the exploiting of nonhumans cannot be justified IF one wishes to curb exploitation of humans in moral policy.

The Moral Perfection Double Standard

Perhaps the most routine way that the opposition dictates the debate is in the expectation that animal rights advocates must have perfect morality. They must not harm any living creature or contribute to such harm. Even the issue of Hitler’s vegetarianism and ignoring his religious beliefs is an example of this—a vegetarian animal rights supporter is expected to be perfect, a religious person is not held accountable for inquisitions or other personal failings much of the time.

     Any perceived lapse by the advocate is called hypocrisy (a misuse of the word since a hypocrite is someone who claims to believe something but actually does not–i.e. a minister who preaches against marital infidelity and is found in the company of a prostitute-inconsistency is more often the case with animal rights advocates rather than hypocrisy).

The perfection demand provides a means of shifting the discussion to the personal conduct of the advocate instead of the issues they are protesting.

Some in the animal rights community reinforce this expectation of perfection when they are evangelical and judgmental about moral lapses by other advocates. They can appear to care more about criticizing fellow animal advocates for lifestyle imperfection than they are in challenging those who are most strongly opposed to animal rights causes.

     It is unreasonable to expect perfection when we live in societies where it is not remotely possible. I.e. when you are accused of acquiring plant-based food that kills animals in fields during mechanized crop gathering, you can answer this by suggesting that unavoidable killing is not the same as deliberate killing or that less harmful means of acquiring plant-based foods is possible. These are adequate responses although they do not address the core belief that motivates the attack, which is the belief in human supremacy and the ethical double standards that arise from it.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: advocates for human rights causes are not held to the same demand of perfection.

They are not expected to stop every homicide or act of child abuse or live on land that was not taken by force from other humans in a territorial war in the distant past. Perfection is not a requirement for human rights. The common view is that while car accidents and wars happen it does not mean that ethical concern for humans is forfeit and pointless and that concentration camps are justified. The same standard should apply for nonhuman causes if we are fair. An accidental death of an insect does not justify factory farms or vivisection labs—which do not happen by accident or sprout naturally like flowers.  They require immense energy and time to design and build and maintain which makes the excuses for them all the more ridiculous.

Unnecessary Concessions –Historical and Hypothetical


Animal rights activists are also vulnerable to accusations of being a misanthrope or human hater–a traitor, or accused of putting nonhumans ahead of human lives.

In response to this advocates may well qualify their beliefs in obedient ways and state that meat eating or hunting is wrong now but was necessary a thousand years ago, and that if one is stranded in some remote situation–on a boat at sea or in the Arctic, that it would be justified to exploit other animals to survive.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument:  human history is built upon wars, crime, rape, and slavery. By the same standards one could say that human slavery was justified at one time to build human civilization (as was argued by pro-slavery writers through the 19th century). If one needs to survive in the Arctic (what one is doing in such a place where they are at risk of resource scarcity is a moral question in itself) then exploiting other humans would also be justifiable if one is just and not blinded by delusions of human importance in Nature when no evidence exists for it–least of all in human behavior.

     It should be noted that some advocates do mention that humans would be eligible for exploitation in a desperate survival situation but it is often stated in passing or after conceding that the exploitation of nonhuman animals is justifiable. It is better to state this reality before making any concession that nonhumans can be exploited for it makes the point stronger.

Your Child or a Dog

You are either with us or against us is another common demand when animal rights issues are raised. The way this usually gets expressed is with a hypothetical “would you sacrifice the life of a human (your child, a stranger) to save a nonhuman?” The situation may be a burning building, or a river, or a lifeboat.

This attack is intended to force the animal rights advocate into an ethical contradiction. Many take the path of least resistance and attempt to answer it in a non-threatening way. They may cite utilitarian calculations to indicate why they may save humans over nonhumans or vice versa–based on “needs of the many” ideology or maximizing happiness doctrine. Some touch upon the double standard of the supremacy myth and human exploitation of humans in non-aggressive ways–using another hypothetical example of comatose patients and healthy individuals, and suggesting that a decision to save healthy individuals over sick ones does not mean that concentration camps are justified.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: There is a stronger way of responding, one that puts the question poser on the defensive.

     Ask them who they would save if the choice was a family member or a stranger? Would they choose the more familiar person? If they choose the more familiar, does that mean the loser deserves to be put in laboratories or concentration camps? If they do not choose the familiar, does that mean they love a stranger more than their own child?

     Fair is fair. This response exposes the human supremacy blind spot and puts humans on an equal footing with nonhumans as it should be in ethics and justice.

Human Rights Are In Your Best Interest

      As indicated before, some will deny that human supremacy beliefs are a factor, and claim on one hand that survival of the fittest is the true basis for the discrimination/exploitation, while on the other that human rights law is in everyone’s best interest.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: the “dog eat dog” philosophy conveniently ends at a human line, even though daily news indicates that Nature does not honor that border when it comes to human behavior.

The double standard morality is also evident in the argument that it is in one’s best interest to accept human rights beliefs for your own protection. There are tribes, dictators, and social classes who have done quite well without caring about the rights of all humans. Does a family living in the Appalachian Mountains need to care about the rights of a villager in Lebanon? In practical terms most people go about their lives with little contact with humans in the rest of the world, and could well be a dictator in their own house without ever facing justice for it. Nature does not cause a storm of hail to descend upon these violators of the absolute truth of human supremacy. The earth does not open up and swallow them. But citing survival of the fittest leads to another contradiction, some will say the reason we should respect other human beings is strictly for self interest, the Golden Rule: “do under others as you would have them do unto you,” not out of a concern for the species. Once again the best argument against the claim of human supremacy is human behavior.

Human Problems First

     There is the argument that even if nonhumans deserve moral concern, human problems must always come first.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: If you claim morality follows such a hierarchy of importance, then one could further refine and prioritize morality  based on the importance of race, gender, age, religion, family, language, territory, etc. since any such boundary is based not on fact but personal opinion. Many would say we should not prioritize morality and charity based on bias and personal opinions but follow the general aim of doing good in any situation, and if we agree with this, then nonhumans are just as valid for equal consideration.

You Will Never See the End of Nonhuman Exploitation

The flip side to the “human problems first” argument is to remind the animal rights advocate, sometimes with a detectable gloating posture, that meat eating, hunting or other nonhuman exploitation will never be stopped (and thus we should not even try).

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: we must conclude that human rights causes are just as unlikely to be eliminated completely and in some ways even less so than nonhuman rights ones.

The failure to eliminate homicide or child abuse does not seem to foster a view that we should not even try to curb them. In fairness the same should be true for nonhuman rights issues.

     Nonhuman exploitation by humans is due in large part to domestication which requires immense effort to maintain. By contrast, human slavery, child abuse, and homicide have existed as long as humans have, and will likely continue to do so in some form as long as humans can reproduce. The elimination of the former is actually a more realistic hope when you consider it from a practical standpoint.

Nonhumans Must Respect Human Laws to Have Rights Themselves

     Another tired human supremacist response to animal rights activists is that if humans have to recognize rights for nonhumans, then nonhumans have to recognize rights for humans.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: This concept of reciprocal moral regard or contractualism is, however, another subjective, personal opinion criteria conveniently determined by those who stand to benefit from the discrimination they wish to justify. There are humans (children, mentally handicapped, criminals) who receive rights even though they cannot reciprocate (or refuse to).

If humans want laws to curb their behavior they must extend this to other beings out of fairness. Only humans require such laws and can be held to them–non humans obviously cannot, and to punish them because they cannot do something you know they cannot do is as fair as demanding a blind man to read a warning sign or an armless man to grab a drowning person and punishing them when they fail.

     It is dubious to assume that humans have moral codes because they alone understand the importance of morality or lofty concepts of good vs. evil. The universe can not be shown to care about human morality, but for humble practical reasons, humans need moral codes because they can be irrational, unruly, prone to acts of violence and stupidity that risk their survival, or behavior which a fair number of individuals agree should be discouraged through laws. Non humans observed in their natural habitats do not behave the same way. Lions do not appear to need codes in their daily lives, but they happen to benefit from the problem inherent in human concepts of moral rights that requires they be considered as beneficiaries of moral concern as a matter of consistency, fairness, and justice (and in order to avoid giving an excuse to humans who do not care about human rights to discriminate as they see fit).

     And it can be noted that in a way nonhuman animals do respect our rights, if unwittingly, by not imprisoning us, exploiting us, torturing us, enslaving us, or breeding us for food and entertainment as we do to them.

Humans Are Top of the Food Chain

    Another common expression of human supremacist nonsense is to claim humans are sitting top of the food chain-whatever that is. Hierarchies in Nature are human created. For some it is “top of the food chain.” For those more inclined along racial or religious preferences it is “Manifest Destiny.” Medieval Christian philosophers called it the “Great Chain of Being.”
Humans just love to feel superior, but the fact is that humans when alive are constantly attacked by microorganisms that eat them, and when dead, are food for maggots and all sorts of other so-called lower organisms.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: it can be asked, are humans who prey on other humans (some for cannibalistic dietary preferences) “more” on top of the food chain than other humans?

Nonhumans Have No Consciousness and/or Feel No Pain

     Although common sense observation shows us that nonhumans must feel pain if they can scream or recoil from attacks, there are humans who are very stupid and follow the ravings of the deranged sadist Rene Descartes, who believed nonhuman animal screams were merely the disruption of mechanical gears.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: If we can believe that an animal scream is merely an illusion of pain, then we can also make the same assumption about other humans. We cannot be sure that what we perceive as an individual is true reality—thus we can easily claim that other humans are just soulless mechanical objects for our use. If one wants to have human rights, or believe that other human-like beings have souls and can feel pain, the same courtesy must be extended to nonhumans to close this “anything goes” loophole.

    The issue of pain and suffering is not the central issue in animal rights—it is unnecessary exploitation. The cruelty issue is secondary to this and much like the issue of sentience, can be given too much weight –leading to animal welfare ideology instead of an animal rights agenda.

     Of course part of the reason for this focus on pain and suffering and sentience is to create a boundary since the argument we present leaves the door open for giving rights status to plant life and even inanimate objects (if one wants to claim that being alive is also a subjective personal opinion criteria which it is). Ultimately rights status is decided by a consensus of individuals who agree to the belief—and if a society wishes to grant moral worth to plants or inanimate objects they can, the practicability of it is another matter. As mentioned before, moral perfection is impossible—the Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument dictates that the inability to be morally perfect does not mean one draws the line at humans anymore than it would mean we draw the line at race, gender, family, religion etc. Acknowledging moral status for pigs or rats and refraining from putting resources into building a slaughterhouse or vivisection lab is much easier to  accomplish than determining how best to respect the rights of inanimate objects. We shall leave it to those who wish to contemplate such issues.

God Gave Us Dominion Over Nature/Animals Have No Souls

     One can claim anything when it comes to invisible mute deities but we know that humans are mortal and subject to the natural phenomenon as other life forms. There is no evidence that humans have a special quality or soul that leaves the body upon death which nonhumans do not possess. Faith is not fact.

     Also, there are religious views that believe nonhumans have souls and deserve respect and compassion. In the end you have a “my god said this and your god said that” disagreement which has been the basis for endless violence and warfare in the name of invisible mute deities.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: If someone can say that their deity sanctions the systemic exploitation of nonhumans than someone else can justify the systemic exploitation of humans by claiming their deity gave them dominion over other humans. There are cultures that have and continue to do this. Whether secular or spiritual you cannot have human rights without nonhuman rights since human supremacy cannot be proven. We do not allow people to justify human slavery even though the Bible supports it, therefore nonhumans are just as worthy of moral respect.

     Note: although one can find passages in religious books like the Bible that have vegetarian or animal rights friendly wording, there are others that are clearly not sympathetic thus one ends up in a he said/she said situation with battling scripture references. In the final analysis the Bible supports many things we do not consider just nowadays–that is enough reference to use to show why we need not follow the Bible when it comes to violence.

Humans Are Managers/Stewards of Nature

     Some proponents and opponents of animal rights causes claim that humans are meant to be custodians or managers of Nature. While it can be motivated by benevolent intentions, it can also derive from malicious arrogance. For the sake of humility or sanity it can be pointed out that a common worm is more of a steward of Nature than a human being. Insects are called low and worthless yet they help pollinate flowers (occasionally they might get acknowledged for their usefulness to humans, but not to themselves). The majority of so-called stewardship that humans do is actually damage control, cleaning up rivers polluted by other humans, restoring habitats destroyed by other humans, helping wildlife or domestic animals left homeless by other humans, and that does not include efforts that backfire, like the  World Wildlife Fund’s attempt to curb the hunting of rhinos for traditional Chinese medicine by encouraging the hunting of the Saiga instead, which reportedly led to a 90 percent decline in the latter.

Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument:

     If it is acceptable to kill members of other species to keep them from crowding out other species, then the same should apply to humans if we were fair and just since humans are incredibly destructive.

     How can humans claim they are managers when they cannot even manage themselves?


Life is Survival of the Fittest/Might Makes Right/Ethical Egoism

     Sometimes the belief in human supremacy or universal morals is denied and the motto of survival of the fittest or individual selfishness is used to defend the systemic exploitation of nonhumans.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: Even though it is denied, the belief in human supremacy and a moral code is demonstrated by the convenient oversight that such a motto of survival of the fittest etc. would have for humans. It should justify exploiting other humans just as mercilessly as nonhumans since Nature does not prevent it and humans have routinely done it regardless of laws or social consequences.

     One can force the person who believes “Might Makes Right” to concede publicly that randomly killing strangers or setting babies on fire is acceptable behavior to them. If they refuse then it proves they do believe in the human supremacy myth, which is the same as a belief in racial supremacy, and therefore their ethical beliefs are founded on an unfair double standard.

Hunting

     Arguments to excuse hunting are numerous, so we will focus on the basics and how the supremacy myth animal rights argument is employed to answer them.

     A long standing fable is that humans are natural predators like a wolf or tiger, but the opposite is easy to prove. Real predators face a difficult lifestyle. They have to chase their food, risk injury which can be lethal, deal with competitors, and be thwarted by the prey themselves.

     Humans are not born with the tools to chase down, rip apart, and devour prey. They require externally manufactured instruments such as spears, stones, and projectile weapons. Without these humans, being so physically weak, would be barely able to capture a sick bird.

     The routine answer for this is that the human mind and the tools they create are the equivalent of fangs and claws.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument:  we realize that the same tool-making ability that is used for hunting non human animals can also be used for digging in the soil to plant seeds or to kill other human beings. You do not often hear about tigers and wolves planting gardens or killing other tigers and wolves. Thus humans are not natural predators unless humans are included as among their natural prey.

     In addition, humans also accidentally kill themselves or other humans when hunting. This can occur with guns or spears. It is unlikely that true predator animals accidentally kill themselves on their own claws or mistake a fellow lion for a gazelle. Natural predators have no “hunting seasons.” It can also be pointed out that the dismissive regard for the “accidental” deaths of non-hunting humans killed in proximity to hunting areas suggests that the lives of humans are considered less important than preserving the activity of recreational killing of nonhumans. Once more the human supremacy myth is debunked using the routine reality of human exploitation of humans.

    Subsistence Exploitation of Nonhumans by the Poor /Non-Caucasians is Ethical

     Animal Rights advocates can get particularly timid when it comes to the issue of non European cultures and those with limited economic resources who systematically exploit nonhumans. Usually it is considered a minor concern when compared to exploitation carried out by urban dwellers or ignored due to fears of being labeled a racist, privileged colonial trouble maker etc.

     But if you do not express a consistent ethical view that evaluates these issues with fairness and justice, you leave a back door open in your ethics which invites all exploiters to cite these exceptions as proof that they should be exempt as well, and undermining the animal rights argument in general.

     The basic idea: the closer a human lives to Nature without industrial means, the more one is entitled to commit acts of violence and discrimination against members of other species.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: If one is poor and of any racial extraction, it is not usually considered permissible for the person to exploit and kill other humans for subsistence or basic survival. If one lived in an environment where a need to kill other humans for survival was a routine occurrence, then it would be strongly encouraged or demanded that the person or persons relocate or alter their survival patterns to be in harmony with accepted moral standards. The morality of exploiting other humans when it is not absolutely necessary would trump any lifestyle or tradition argument. Even a Caucasian critic would not usually have to worry about being called a racist because they oppose these activities of non-whites.

     If we are to be fair and just in our moral principles, then racial character and economic status would not be deemed an excuse for harming innocent lives when alternatives exist.

     If a tribe was killing humans for food, we would offer support to stop this from happening. Ideally, this should be the same principle when dealing with any human group in their systemic exploitation of nonhuman animals if we regard all humans as equal.

     This is not extreme or unreasonable; it is merely exercising fairness and consistency in moral policy.

     This basic concept of morality is like the sun—people in different regions have different words for it, but they all mean the same object. The moral principle of regarding yourself and others as equal and deserving of respect is universal to any human society on earth—we are simply refining it for consistency and fairness. If a member of a pre-industrial tribe would say that it is wrong for anyone to harm their tribal group while at the same time claiming it is morally justified for the tribe to systemically harm nonhumans, they are guilty of the same double standard morality and bigoted views demonstrated by their urban counterparts.

     The practicality of implementing a more ethical lifestyle is not relevant to the ethical argument. As we pointed out—morality is not perfect and one can only do the best we can, but systemic exploitation is not doing the best you can.

     We know that humans of any racial heritage are capable of discrimination, unfairness, bigotry, and exploitation. We also know that humans of any ancestry have dealt with wars, crime, slavery, illness, disability, and injustice. We do not allow someone descended from a family who was slaughtered in a war to justify their own behavior against others because of their ancestor’s plight. Thus to be fair and just, someone descended from a designated ethnic group that experienced slavery does not mean they have the right to justify their own discrimination and exploitation of others by citing this link.

     Human societies that have access to industrialized technology, and in fact live in association with urban societies while at the same time seeking to maintain pre-industrial lifestyles, exhibit a double standard in their moral values. They are willing to embrace modern technology and instruments but reject any notion that they should give up violent behavior that arises from their own particular version of Manifest Destiny.

    If they are willing to give up human slavery or human sacrifice (which was also practiced by some tribes) than surely it is no outrage to suggest they treat other living beings as they would wish to be treated themselves. An Inuit would no doubt say that a Canadian of European descent has no moral right to exploit them, so what right do they have to do the same to seals, polar bears, elk etc? They cannot claim they are natives of the Arctic as a polar bear is, since the latter requires no artificial means to survive-while humans do.

     If one truly believes that humans are equal then race is irrelevant. To suggest that some humans deserve special consideration or moral exemptions because of their ethnic or cultural background is to endorse an ethical double standard.

Vivisection

     Vivisection, when stripped of the window dressing and excuses, is the practice of torturing captive animals in ways that would be considered atrocities if done to the most hated criminals. The only release from this suffering is death and if the tormentors had the power to prevent it you can be certain some would be keeping them alive to study the long term effects of pain and misery. There are no boundaries in vivisection. Any and every kind of torture has been conducted and new ones are contemplated every day.

     Humans have always gravitated towards sadistic behavior against those they could exploit for reasons that had nothing to do with basic survival. There are Stone Age tribes that have been documented torturing other animals for ritualistic purposes. Such behavior continues to the present in many cultures. The excuses may vary and the tools change, but the behavior remains the same.

     Vivisectors are not experts at preventing harm, they are experts at causing it. People who want to heal become doctors, not torturers.

     To make the strongest case against vivisection you must understand what motivates those that support it and be able to see past their verbal explanations and excuses to observe the scope of the problem. You want to dissect their beliefs and show them that they are wrong. They may still deny the truth but you can present your case in a way that makes their excuses as logical as 2 + 2 = 5.

     The motivating belief in vivisection is the myth that humans are superior in value as a group to other beings.

     Human supremacy beliefs are biased personal opinion just like a belief in racial, gender, or religious supremacy. Any trait, criteria, or attribute cited to confirm this alleged superiority, whether mind, intelligence, soul, creativity, Divine or Biological specialness, survival of the fittest, tenacious moral instinct, moral reciprocity, or an unspecified faculty X, are as much subjective personal opinion as the importance given to skin colour or gender. Nature does not confirm this alleged superiority through natural phenomenon like weather, gravity, earthquakes etc and the constant routine natural exploitation of humans by other humans.

     If you claim humans can justify the systemic exploitation of nonhumans based on biased personal opinion then another human can justify the systemic exploitation of humans using biased personal opinion. Nature cannot be shown to care. Invisible supreme deities are mute on the subject and allegedly indisputable religious texts are constantly disputed. If you want human rights you must accept nonhuman rights to close this loophole.

     Only humans can be shown to use laws in an effort to control their behavior thus they are the only ones obligated to follow them, nonhumans benefit without needing to reciprocate out of fairness and consistency, since punishing them for being unable to follow human laws when you know they cannot would be like punishing a blind man for not reading warning signs or an armless man for not grabbing a drowning swimmer.

     Moral perfection is impossible; you only do the best you can in any given situation. The failure to stop homicide or child abuse does not justify concentration camps, thus the failure to stop the accidental death of microbes or plants does not justify the construction and maintenance of vivisection labs.

     That in essence is the irrefutable argument that explains why vivisection is wrong.
But it is common for the animal rights activist to let the opposition lead the discussion and focus on particulars that are not as relevant.

     It is valuable in a debate situation for the speaker to state the strongest case of the opposing side and dismantle it at the same time. That way the opponent cannot do anything but restate what you have already debunked, which puts them in a weak position.

     In the typical debate, the researcher will say vivisection is justified because of the alleged benefits, which is a robotic and obvious answer that is devoid of moral justification; as if a thief or murderer stated that their acts were justified because of the material benefits to themselves or their family.

     And they will say that vivisection is necessary for medical progress and that differences between humans and nonhumans are minimal (except when it comes to moral value). Or they will say they have to use nonhumans because experiments done on humans would be unethical (you will notice that when it comes to nonhumans the word “cruel” is thrown around, while for humans it is “immoral” or “unethical.” That is welfarist thinking–as nonhumans are not considered worthy enough for respect or rights). At this point  the animal rights advocate will disagree and turn to experts on the anti-vivisection side to argue the case that nonhumans are not necessary for human research and can even be counter productive (as in the often mentioned case of Thalidomide-proven to be safe on nonhumans but not for humans).

     While the argument can be compelling it has weaknesses in its power to persuade which is why it should never be the main argument. One must look at the issue from the motivations and beliefs of the audience. The main problem is that the audience is expected to decide that a doctor representing the animal rights side cares more about human health than a researcher who is backed by the medical establishment. No matter how corrupt or sociopathic or foolish a vivisector may be, they have that public relations advantage, especially when scientific information is being discussed which often goes over the heads of the audience.

     And by entertaining a discussion on usefulness, you invite, as George Bernard Shaw observed, the idea that if animal experimentation was shown to be useful, it would be justifiable. The key issue is the morality–the right and wrong of the act–based on the false belief in human superiority. Debunk this by exposing how human superiority is nothing but biased personal opinion like racial superiority beliefs and that an acceptance of such biased personal opinions for moral policy would allow one to justify human exploitation of humans by the same logic. You cannot have human rights without accepting nonhuman rights.
The claim that vivisection is a necessity or useful is not the real motivation for vivisection. Common sense shows us that it is a choice not a need by the very fact that only a tiny fraction of humans engage in the practice. It is not comparable to requiring food or water for daily survival. Disease is unpleasant but natural. Death is natural. Also, there are many examples of exploitation of nonhumans which everyone knows is far removed from any concept of necessity or usefulness and yet exists. Why assume vivisectors would operate differently from hunters, rodeo performers, or zookeepers simply because some claim they are motivated by (grossly misguided) altruism when they engage in extreme torture of innocent beings?

     Even if the research was not useful there would still be those who say it is perfectly acceptable (given that nonhuman lives are inferior and disposable). It is seriously naïve to assume that any reported breakthrough in research technology will lead to an end to vivisection. This assumes that vivisectors respect nonhuman lives—if they did, they would not be doing any vivisection.

The Reasons Vivisection Cannot Be Justified

It is a perversion of altruism and compassion–you claim that you are attempting to heal Peter by torturing and killing Paul, Pat, and countless others and calling it an act of kindness. Some accept it with vivisection primarily because the assumption of human superiority to the victims and the blatant moral double standard is unquestioned.

If you would not think it is rational to find a cure for diseases in giraffes by experimenting on elephants why would you think it is rational to cure disease in humans by using mice, rats, dogs or chimps? Common sense indicates there are anatomical differences internally and externally between individuals and species just as there are similarities. Humans are still the best and true model for research. Nonhuman animal research is big business for scientists(how many do you know that live in poverty?), breeders, and cage manufacturers, and the former have a vested interest in conjuring up new experiments on “disposable” life forms to keep their paychecks, while telling the public that the research is important and a “breakthrough.” A week does not go by without another report of a “scientific miracle” thanks to non human animal experiments; although usually with the caution that human trials are years away.

It shares similarities with ancient augury and the practices of witch doctors. Pagan priests would cut open live animals and read their entrails to encourage the hope and health of society (a good harvest, easy childbirth). Those that opposed it endangered society by angering the gods and betraying their community. Today, researchers claim that if nonhuman animal research stopped, the world would descend into a hell of disease and misery (without explaining why society and culture endured even during the Bubonic plague). By such logic, humans should have been extinct eons ago. Animal researchers promote the view that life works according to a quasi-Darwinian “Great Chain of Being” hierarchy where animals follow a ladder of complexity–ending with humanity, and that you can take them apart and reassemble them as easily as a jigsaw puzzle. If nonhuman animal research is necessary for producing safe drugs and treatments why then do we need clinical trials on humans? Why does Pfizer have to conduct medical trials in Africa? Why do drugs like Thalidomide get pulled after being shown to be safe in nonhuman animals?

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: The ridiculousness of the claim that nonhuman research is necessary is demonstrated if you ask the research supporter this question: If they had a choice between a drug tested only on rats or chimps, and a drug tested only on humans, which would they deem safer for human use? The answer determines one’s actual belief in the importance of nonhuman animals in research.

The only reason this logical hypothetical is not asked is because of the double standard morality created by the human supremacy myth and intellectual blindness to it.

Such discussions never go far without someone saying: “if you had to save the life of your child, would you not sacrifice a rat?” Ignoring the fact that scientists cannot find cures for illnesses by simply torturing one or a few or thousands of rats to death no matter how much they want people to believe they can perform magical miracles, the answer to this should be no less controversial than the following alternative scenario.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: If you had a choice between your child and a neighbor’s who would you choose?

If you chose your child, does it mean you want the neighbor’s child to be tortured in a lab? If you refuse to choose, does that mean you do not love your child as much as your neighbor’s? This type of question is not raised, even when common sense tells us that the best and safest research model for human disease is another human. If finding a cure for disease is so important, why aren’t scientists and patients advocating the use of criminals or volunteers in medical experiments? Humans are the best and safest model for research, and we send healthy people off to be maimed and killed in wars for natural resources, religion and political ideology, and yet the war against cancer is only considered of dire importance when it comes to the discussion of abolishing nonhuman animals in research. This exposes how the double standard of the human supremacy myth is the driving force in defenses of vivisection. The more recent claims that genetic engineering can alter the physiology of nonhuman animals so they are better models for human research also exploits public ignorance since it requires faith that scientists understand Nature so well that they can predict how the physiology of other species will react to the altered genetics. But even if they could turn a nonhuman into a perfect copy of human anatomy with the same responses to chemicals, the torture and death could not be justified by the discriminatory ethical arguments based on the false belief in human supremacy as mentioned earlier. Citing alleged benefits of an action is not the same as providing ethical justification for it.

As a bullying tactic, researchers and their proponents will say that animal rights activists cannot protest animal research if they have benefited from research that has been linked to nonhuman animal research experiments.

The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument: They ignore that research on humans against their consent has also been done and the research preserved.  Do they make the same demand of human rights activists that they cannot use anything that may be traced back to human experimentation? The work of Joseph Mengele is well known, but there is also James Marion Sims, former head of the American Medical Association who experimented on black slaves and was awarded for his humanitarian efforts by a statue in New York’s Central Park. And there is Jonas Salk, reported to have deliberately infected patients at mental hospitals with influenza.
Researchers say they need to use nonhuman animals for research because they are like us–-and yet they say they deserve no rights because they are not like us. This highlights the real issue: the motivation for animal research beyond money and sociopathic tendencies is an arrogant belief that humans as a species are superior in value to all other life, based upon biased personal opinion criteria conveniently determined by those who stand to benefit from the discrimination and exploitation. Sims and Mengele and Salk thought the same way about the use of humans they deemed inferior.
If one cannot be against vivisection if they were unwitting patients of corporate medicine, then the same is true for those using Pfizer drugs (who experimented on humans in the 90s). Or those using any medication that can be linked to the Nazi research (which was kept for human medicine). Or anyone with medication treatments linked to Jonas Salk or James Sims. Beyond that one should not be advocating for human rights if they live on land that was taken in a war—or pay taxes to governments that finance human rights abuses or warfare.  No one can be perfect in an imperfect world. If human rights supporters are not expected to be perfect than the same holds true for supporters of nonhuman animal rights causes.

If we say that someone who is ill does not have the moral right to demand that other humans be used for research to find a cure (even though the results would be far more beneficial than using nonhumans) then logically since humans cannot be shown to be superior to other beings (as all standards and criteria are based on biased personal opinions like they are for racial supremacy etc.) they cannot make the same demand when it comes to nonhumans used in vivisection. It is not complicated–it simple and fair morality.

Some will charge that the animal rights advocate must come up with alternatives to nonhuman research. This is an example of a bullying tactic and upside down view of fairness.

If one seeks to find cures for human illness, the onus is on them to do it in a way that does not violate basic and consistent standards of moral conduct, not the animal advocate for pointing out the immorality of a practice.

 Conclusion

     The problem of evil is a philosophical issue that focuses on reasons why a seemingly all powerful, all knowing, all compassionate deity could create a universe with evil. The answer often given is that such a being could have made a universe without evil, but it would require that it be populated with innocent automata—for free will creatures (humans) to exist, the choice of evil had to be present.  One can debate the merits of this answer, but more important to our discussion is that the answer attempts to solve the problem by appealing to human self-interest and supremacy beliefs—the observer is expected to agree that a universe without humans and without evil is a worse reality than a universe with evil and humans.

     Given the prevalence of human supremacist thinking, it may be surprising to learn that the belief in the superiority of nonhumans to humans has been articulated. Theriophily or animalitarianism is defined as the belief in the superiority of nonhuman animals to humans–that other living beings are happier and more in harmony with Nature. Jonathan Swift entertained the idea in Gulliver’s Travels and Mark Twain, often characterized as a misanthrope in his later years, expressed support for the concept:

“Man is the Reasoning Animal.  Such is the claim.  I think it is open to dispute.  Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal.  Note his history, as sketched above.  It seems plain to me that whatever he is he is not a reasoning animal.  His record is the fantastic record of a maniac.  I consider that the strongest count against his intelligence is the fact that with that record back of him he blandly sets himself up as the head animal of the lot: whereas by his own standards he is the bottom one.”

     Twain used the newspaper of his day to make the argument that when it comes to human nature there appears to be no limits to human violence, human irrationality, and human arrogance. Many people would likely agree with this–it becomes a controversial issue only when one voices the opinion that nonhumans are better by our own standards of moral conduct and fairness.
If you look at human history it is hard not to come to the conclusion that humans have always been maniacally violent and destructive despite noble ideals to reign in human excesses and control human behavior so it is more moderate like other species.
Humans can and do engage in violent behavior, even to self-destructive extremes, for reasons that have nothing to do with practical survival.

     Whether one believes in Biblical or scientific claims on human origin the consensus is that at one time humans did not exist—meaning that the type of extreme violence and misery humans have introduced into the world did not exist. I.e. a leg hold trap which forces a captive animal to chew their own leg off or attempts to genetically alter  a species to give them human-like illnesses or psychological torture caused by a lifetime of isolated imprisonment.

     In addition to biological conditions that make one either empathetic or sociopathic, there are numerous complex layers of customs and ideology in societies that reinforce violent behavior and people are often at the mercy of what culture and beliefs their society has fostered on them from birth. To oppose these beliefs is to risk one’s social comfort and at the most extreme, to become a victim of human violence and mania.

     Seeing the contradictions in moral beliefs–i.e. claiming to be compassionate by torturing a nonhuman animal in a lab in ways that would not be done to the most despised criminal is not to be a traitor to your kind, it is rather, to be true to a fair and consistent concept of justice.

     If it is wrong to stand up for justice in dealings with a nonhuman animal tortured in a lab, then it is also wrong to stand up for justice in dealings with a human victimized by other humans. Nature cannot be shown to judge given how common human exploitation of humans is in the world.

     The logic is irrefutable. The double standard morality is due to a belief in human superiority which can easily be shown to be based on personal opinion and not fact. It is no different in structure than a belief in racial or gender superiority based on personal opinion. We call such people bigots. We know that humans have always been irrationally violent against anyone they can victimize. Thus, if we want laws to control human behavior and support fairness and justice and compassion, then nonhumans must be given full moral consideration. If you attempt to exclude them you invite humans to exploit other humans (which they have been doing regardless of laws and moral edicts).

     You cannot have human rights without accepting nonhuman rights.

Why You Should Use This Approach

     Appeals to kindness and compassion can succeed but they do not work with everyone and those that do not respond favorably to them should not be ignored. Either an effort should be made to persuade them with another approach, or at least, demonstrate why their beliefs are false even if it will do little more than irritate them. The situation for nonhuman victims is far too serious to leave to passive pleas and resignation, or for advocates to fail to examine their own beliefs and the effectiveness of their tactics.

     The Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument dissects the basic beliefs that individuals hold to in order to justify systemic exploitation of nonhumans (and humans). The more people use this iron clad common sense argument, the harder it will be for opponents to have a safe harbor and deny the truth.

If you use inferior arguments that the opposition feels confident in attacking, you help them in falsely believing that they are right. The opposition will attack the weaker argument and ignore the stronger one–if you allow them to. You can control the debate and force the opponent to go where you want them to and corner their false beliefs to expose them for what they are: the last refuge of the bigot.

In the end this does not guarantee that you will persuade the person, especially if they have a vested personal interest or financial stake in maintaining the exploitation, but if enough people are pointing out that 2 +2 = 4, then at least you can feel certain that you have morality on your side and perhaps, build momentum among those who can be persuaded to care about justice and fairness and compassion and make policy changes that help those who desperately need it.

A Bird Shot by an Arrow

A bird by well-aimed arrow shot,

Dying, deplored this cruel lot

And cried: “It doubles every pain,

When from one self the cause of ruin came.

Ah cruel men, from our wings you drew,

The plume that winged the shaft that slew.

But mock us not you heartless race,

You too will sometime take our place.

For half at least of Japheth’s brothers,

Forge swords and knives to slay the others.”

Jean de La Fontaine

 

Summary Points of the Supremacy Myth Animal Rights Argument

Instead of attempting to boost the moral status of nonhumans by citing a characteristic (i.e. sentience) that they share with humans (and hoping the observer agrees), you lower the moral status of humans to the same level as nonhumans by debunking the characteristics they claim makes humans superior in moral worth.

To make a strong argument you need to know the beliefs of the audience as much as you need to be aware of the effectiveness of your arguments.

The belief in the superior worth of humans to other beings is the motivating idea behind the excuses used to justify systemic exploitation of nonhumans.

Human supremacy (or superiority) is based entirely upon the importance of attributes or beliefs that are entirely biased personal opinion not objective fact.

Racial supremacy beliefs are based upon the importance of attributes or beliefs that are entirely biased personal opinions not objective fact.

Neither can be proven to be absolute objective truth—Nature does not make gravity and weather operate in a way that shows preferential treatment for humans.

The greatest evidence for human superiority being biased personal opinion is the observable fact that humans can and do exploit other humans.

If someone has the moral right to discriminate and exploit other beings based on biased personal opinions, then someone has the moral right to discriminate and exploit other humans based on biased personal opinions.

Human supremacist equals racial supremacist.

You cannot have human rights without extending fair moral consideration to nonhumans.

Humans create laws to govern their behavior—they alone are obligated to understand and follow them.

Nonhumans benefit from consistency and fairness requirements in human concepts of morality and justice and cannot be punished for failing to follow moral codes when you know they cannot.

Moral perfection is impossible—you do the best you can in any given situation.

The inability to be perfect in morality when dealing with nonhumans does not justify vivisection labs or farms any more than the inability to be perfect when dealing with humans justifies concentration camps or mass murder.

Any argument used by an observer to justify the exploitation of nonhumans in ways that the observer would consider immoral if done to humans can be debunked by showing the belief in human supremacy to be biased personal opinion and using the routine exploitation of humans by humans to show undesired moral cost if such subjective, biased moral preferences are taken to the logical and real life consequences.