Animals are people too…maybe

The fine folks at PETA, though well-intentioned, are once again showing their lack of ability to distinguish between human beings and animals.  Recently they have made headlines by throwing their support behind killer whales suggesting they be granted the same rights under the U.S. Constitution as citizens of America currently enjoy.

Fox News

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is accusing the SeaWorld parks of  keeping five star-performer whales in conditions that violate the 13th Amendment  ban on slavery. […] The suit…hinges on the fact that the 13th Amendment, while prohibiting slavery and  involuntary servitude, does not specify that only humans can be victims.

[…]

“By any definition, these orcas are slaves — kidnapped from their homes, kept  confined, denied everything that’s natural to them and forced to perform tricks  for SeaWorld’s profit,” said [Jeff] Kerr (PETA’s general counsel). “The males have their sperm collected, the  females are artificially inseminated and forced to bear young which are  sometimes shipped away.”

There has been a growing trend over the past few decades to bestow animals with human-like dignity.  From the middle-aged, single, childless person who refers to their cats as “the kids”, dressing them in outfits reminiscent of Aunt Clara’s Christmas gift.  To those who would inhibit human progression by halting construction because some brand of field mouse has decided to make its home under a particular shrub.

Either way, activists such as PETA have made it their mission to blur the line between animal and human — to the point where the human is at the legal mercy of the animal.  But animals are not people, they are not human.

There is no doubt some people would give their life for an animal, or even their own pet.  These people are in desperate need of psychological help.  How does someone get to a point where they truly believe killer whales should be protected by the Constitution, or that “arbitrary harm caused to plants[is] morally impermissible” if not by emotional imbalance?

The most important question is what caused this confusion?  Who is responsible for imparting animals with human dignity?  Walt Disney.  I blame Disney movies for this irrational madness.  Once Disney began to humanize animals, the children who sympathized with their trials and tribulations have sought to save them from their sadness.  Remember back to the first time you realized Bambi’s mother was killed by the evil human hunter and how it made you feel.  Or when Nemo was lost and all alone facing the dangers of the cruel ocean, luckily he found a friend and was reunited with his father.  Imagine that, a fish having to make it on its own in the ocean.  Of course referencing animals with  ‘him/her, he/she’ only perpetuates the humanization.

I’ll admit I love my dogs.  They are showing signs of their age and I dread the day when my buddy is no longer there to meet me at the door, and I actually get a bit misty when I think about their departure.  But having a proper perspective maintains the clarity of the line between humans and animals, and as much as we love them, they are not people.  Animals are companions, tools, and food that deserve to be protected from actual abuse, but do not hold rights equal to or greater than any person.  When a person’s perspective Disnifies animals and bestows upon them human rights, it can only happen at the detriment of people.  What actually ends up happening is humans are brought down to the level of animals — animals are not elevated to the level of people.  Human beings bear the Imago Dei and are inherently more valuable than any animal.

Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more. PETA (and others) are totally misguided on the innate value of human beings versus lower animals. Their demands range from illogical to idolatrous. I also think that Disney has done harm in the way they have anthropomorphised animals into characters that (while I agree are totally adorable and endearing) have blurred the line between humans and other animals to the point where they are actually promoting a naturalistic ideology where “every living creature has equal value and rights”. This thinking is completely in contrast to scripture and bordering on paganism.

    God bless!

    Neil

    • If it wasn’t so sad it would be quite funny. It seems to be prevalent in people who tout a high level of spirituality in a new age kind of way. There lacks an acutal authoritative God. Granted, there may be plenty of professing Christians who adopt an extreme elevation of status of animals (all God’s creatures), but even with them, the problem seems to be improper perspective.

  2. Actually, this all comes about through evolutionism, which says we are all just another form of animal. Then our children are that in schools that they descended from pond scum and that they are nothing but animals, so go ahead and behave like animals and have sex anywhere, with anyone or anything you want – just like the animals do. Kill or be killed, just like the animals. “They worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator.”

    Disney-type stuff just reinforces the evolutionism kids are taught.

    • Glenn

      I know the kinds of people you are talking about, and I don’t see that in the PETA activist “animals are practically human” types. I could be wrong. But the evolutionist types tend to want to bring man down, as though we are no more valuable than animals. Whereas the activists, in my experience, are trying to elevate animals up to our level and have the new agey spirituality. I do agree that both views exclude the Christian view of man (made in the Image of God), and as such have a low view of man in general.

      What do you think?

      • John,
        In order to bring humans down to the level of animals, you also have to bring the animals up to the level of humans. The idea is the same – evolution brought us all about and humans are just animals, therefore all animals should be treated equally.

        • hello there says:

          But egalitarianism/equality as modern man defines it is an ideology that always goes for the lowest common denominator, not the ascension and levelling out of all species (which is ludicrous to do anyway, since animals don’t even think about this or act upon it, otherwise you’d be able to observe it) There is no “equality” in nature, and there is no “equality” in humanity. Sure, we may all be made from the same stuff on a cellular level, but the manifestations are many and brains are varied. The idea of equality is like that of communism, in that it looks good on paper only. Bringing humans to the level of animals is insulting to the human and bringing animals to the level of humans is silly to the animal. People want this barrier to be broken so badly, it’s almost safe to say that the “rights” people foist on animals without their consent or agreement (how would you GET consent anyway? How does one read animal behaviour without somewhat comparing it to their own? Isn’t that what psychologists call “personification”?) is proportional to how misanthropic people are. I may sound fallacious and anecdotal here, but most animal-lovers and animal-rights people I have met and known have the biggest unholy beef with their own species, and it goes far beyond the “cruelty” reasons.

  3. Let’s first put aside PETA who, while well-intentioned, can be pretty terrible in their messaging (http://www.examiner.com/pets-in-kansas-city/peta-s-comic-book-for-kids-shows-mom-happily-stabbing-a-rabbit-on-the-cover).

    The religious argument is that people have a sacred spark that gives them inherently more rights than animals. That is one approach, but it is problematic because it is black-and-white without any justification for why animals should have rights or what those rights should be. (Or what a person’s rights should be for that matter.)

    Another approach is to accord inalienable rights based on a “persons” ability to appreciate those rights. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rights that human persons can and do seek. They actively seek to attain those rights and suffer for the lack of those rights. Animals, to the extent they have the ability to suffer physical harm, to appreciate relationships with their family and friends, and to desire liberty for themselves should also be afforded rights. To do otherwise is to cause those animals to suffer.

    In this way, “personhood” is the quality of being afforded rights. Certain ‘persons’ are greater in their ability to appreciate those rights or to suffer and so should be afforded additional rights. Certain persons, by virtue of their development (babies and fetuses for example) might be afforded rights based not on their current stage of development but on their adult development.

    That having been said, an ape, a dog, and a cow can suffer in a cage as people exploit or simply abuse the animal. The animal knows no difference. When a human tortures or kills an animal for food, cosmetics, or simple sport, then the human is causing pain for one’s own pleasure. In this way, affording ‘personhood’ in the form of at least some level of rights increases the ‘personhood’ of humans in terms of their compassion and capacity to avoid causing harm.

    There are lots of complicated questions like harvesting monkey spines to cure polio, or what to do about a human so developmentally challenged as to be less intelligent than a pig, or what to do about an ape that has more social maturity and higher intelligence than a human child. Those are hard questions, but at the macro level, it is important that protections and rights be afforded on some more enlightened level than essentially free reign for humans to do anything to animals.

    • Jason

      That gets into animal abuse. No one is suggesting that because they are not human, that they can be treated any which way you desire. As humans, we have the responsibility to properly care for animals under our control. Abstaining from abusing an animal is different than extending it rights on par with being human.

  4. Marshall Art says:

    I heard the guy pushing the “slavery” issue on Medved’s show. What a clown.

    Not too long ago, I had a similar post on my blog (strangely, I’m not all that ashamed to self-promote, but I keep it to a minimum). There is, in my opinion, a singular dysfunction that results in attempting to give to animals the honor and respect meant for human beings. To be attached to a pet isn’t usually problematic for most people. To consider them members of the family isn’t either, unless there would some confusion over whether to save it or the kids if the house was on fire.

    Animal rights? Uh uh. They don’t have any, except what any given individual grants them. They don’t even have the right to not be abused. Most people agree that they should not be abused, and I’m among them. But while I have compassion for other living creatures, that is not the same as agreeing they have rights. I would spare them abuse because I like them, not because they have the right to be protected from it. When animals are abused, I look to the abuser to extend compassion as the abuser is obviously in need of professional help. The abuse is the red flag that points to it.

    The PETA dude also makes big assumptions about whether or not true abuse is taking place simply because the orcas or dolphins are made to do tricks. He chooses not to assume they enjoy it as if playing. The sad sack only sees misery where none exists (assuming no true abuse is being perpetrated). He chooses to believe that the animals have not developed attachments to their human handlers.

    As I said in my blog post, I have a real issue with those who care so much for the “plight” of animals while so many people suffer in this country, be they the unborn, the abused child or spouse or any other human in misery. To expend such effort on animals while human suffering continues is a sad reflection on their priorities.

    • Marshall, you are right, the concept of ‘rights’ is very specific and peculiar. With your fire analogy, I would include someone who might save their pet over a stranger too.

  5. These people are laboring under reprobate minds that sets themselves against God’s order. Whether deliberately or by ignorance, humanists have replaced God’s preference for his special human creation with their own preference for animals.

    This legal tactic of suing to have Constitutional personhood applied to animals is being used because 1) leftists are by nature impatient; 2) the kooky policies of leftists cannot succeed at the ballot box or with popularly elected legislative bodies; 3) liberal judges with reprobate minds populate the judicial branch; 4) convincing one judge and then a small panel of judges is easier and quicker than convincing the electorate to elect kooky representatives.

    It is not helpful to simply laugh these people off. This isn’t about differing political views. This is about Truth vs. lies. We are at war with them intellectually and spiritually whether we would risk it or not. They believe their lies to be true. That is why they are so passionate.

    Being a Leftist too long leaves them without the ability to reason. Once the mind is no longer able to reason, all kinds of wicked behaviors and policies are justified and championed. This wickedness is expressed in actions like killing Jews or in killing the unborn. This evil is also expressed in promoting same-sex “marriage,” in normalizing sodomy or in the animal rights and environmentalist movements. You can hear the evil from those sold out to the Great Deceiver when they “jokingly” suggest killing Sarah Palin or George W. Bush.

    We are in an ideological war. It is about time we defended the Truth.

  6. @ John Barron
    I started writing a comment but it got too long. So I turned my comment into a post on my site. You have not really visited my site except for a drive-by-shooting comment (not followed), so I don’t mind drawing you there. So if you are curious, see my post on: “Disney, Star Trek and other destroyers of culture“.

    My post also introduces you to my readers, so you may get a visitor or two. I doubt many of my Buddhist readers will bother but a few skeptics who are want to sword fight may stop by. I hope my introduction was a fair enough balance between critical and complimentary — always a hard dance.

  7. Oooops, I forgot to hit the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” button. Don’t want this to be a “drive-by-shooting”. :-)

  8. @ John Barron
    I agree, “Notify” should be the default and should be checked by the site. The blogger should uncheck it if they don’t want notified. Does your site have the capacity to set that default? I can’t find it on WordPress.

    That reminds me of the discovery in England that they had more people who would donate their organs to science if they had to uncheck the box vs when checking the box was needed. We humans are simple creatures.

  9. actually, it’s not difficult to understand that animals feel emotions, including depression and pain and that the way we treat them causes those conditions.

    taking an animal out of it’s natural environment, forcing it to perform tricks for our amusement and be housed in cramped and unnatural conditions is appalling and inhumane

    I get that xtians think that they get dominion over all the animals to do with as they want, but reality supports so few, well, no religious ideas.

    I think that how we treat those who can’t pick up the phone and dial zenith 1234 is the real measure of how humane we are.

  10. Given a choice, I’d save my dog over a person any day

    people are not innately valuable, there’s 7 billion of us

    • Nina

      And you have the nerve to say people’s religion makes them do detestable things? You honestly see an animal as being of more value than a human being? Tell me you’re being controversial for the sake of goading people here. If not, that’s quite telling about yourself.

  11. @ Neil:
    Ohhhhhh, the horror, nasty paganism!

    @ Glenn:
    Ouch, can’t touch your fervor! Evolution is so evil.

    @ DogTags :
    “Reprobate minds” <– Man, you got to love that.

    @ John:
    As you said, many Christians embrace vegetarianism. Maybe this is an extra-theological issue (beyond theology — beyond the Bible). Or is the Bible a total guide to life? (I am sure you don’t think it is). But do you think the Bible is clear on whether a good Christian should be a vegetarian or not. Sure, they are ALLOWED to eat all the stuff on the lowered sheet from heaven (Peter, wasn’t it? As he tried to sell his Christianity to a broader audience.) But SHOULD he be eating anything that moves?

    BTW — Man, I love the type of folks your blog draws in.

    • @sabio

      For someone who says they like productive discourse, how was that last comment designed to produce it? Rather than dismissal, perhaps you could offer a reason why they might be mistaken.

      As far as the concepts go I think I would tend to agree. If darwinian evolution is true, it is inconsistent to chastize someone for being a stronger more intelligent species that uses that power to dominate the weak. They are just acting out their natural place in the chain.

      It does boil down to practically worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. Many “spiritual” people worship the concept of ‘life’ or ‘being’ rather than God to the point where it is idolatrous. I didnt take this route in the post itself, but I dont think it is inaccurate as far as it goes.

      Christians should follow their conscience on the issue of vegetarianism, but not impose it on others.

  12. @ John
    Yeah, I could feel the little devil on my shoulder when I made that comment. I had done some very pleasant reading before reading this thread’s comments that the contrast was abrupt. But I am pretty sure that my dialogue with those three guests would be of little value, so I won’t engage. I think many folks really don’t want to invite engagement.

    I am not sure what you meant about “Darwinian Evolution”. Just because one has skills to dominate does not mean they need to be ruthlessly employed. But I am not sure where you were going with that.

    “Worshipping the creation” — I don’t think naturalists do that. Theists just set up a false dichotomy: “Either you worship my god or you are an idolater, a pagan and worshipping nature or false gods!!” [I can hear those other posters as I type this.]

    John, you said:

    Christians should follow their conscience on the issue of vegetarianism, but not impose it on others.

    THAT is curious to me. So, you are saying that you feel your Bible doesn’t say anything about how we should eat, correct?
    “Follow their conscience” seemed an interesting choice of words. I guess you are suppose to follow Yahweh’s commands first, then have his ghost live in you so that you can trust your conscience because it has ghost power now. Right? [Well, you might not have worded it that way. But I think that is the gist.]

    • Sabio, I am saying just that about diet, read Romans 14.

      Second, I wasn’t referring to Naturalists per se about worshipping creation though I think it is true to an extent. I have come to see the absolute adoration (not so much amazement at discovery and experimentation, but adoration) of “science” in many of the naturalists I talk to. However, I was referring to the PETA types, the ones who claim to be spiritual but not religious. They are very focused on worshipping things and states of being rather than God. I wasn’t clear, sorry.

  13. Yeah, I remember Romans 14. Verse 2 is funny:
    “One person believes in eating everything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.”
    Paul called Vegetarians wimps ! What gaul!

    “Worshipping” and “Adoring” have different connotations in your Bible. Yahweh declares that those worshipping false gods should be killed. So when a Christian accuses someone of “Worshipping” something, we know the undertext.

    PETA people could accuse many Christians of “worshipping” their churches, their country, their flag, their country music and their bible. Yahweh is very secondary to many Christians. But a PETA person wouldn’t be implying that they should be executed for this worship.

    Either way, you and I both disagree with the Disney’s sharks on Nemo — fish are food! Smile

  14. Rather old fashioned or even primitive division to put humans in one box and all the animals into another. An ameeba and the orca are one type of creature and humans are a nother, simply because someone in the ancient Levant made such a claim so long ago they did not even know about ameebas. It was a claim typical for the era during a cultural evolutionary phase when humans were changing from hunting and gathering and nomadic life-style to farming and cities. In the former economies people saw themselves as part of nature and percieved nature and animals to co-exist with humans, while the second life-style was all about trying to conquer nature into human control and seeing nature as a sort of enemy. This just because you John Barron so much like to put things into context.

    The orca is a seamammal with more brainpower than any dog and possibly even more than most humans. But it does not have a soul does it? But how do we know anyone has a soul. Well, we do not know that. Some of us just so very much hope that there is one at least in humans, that they actually have faith on such a fancy.

    Evolution has given us humans enough brainpower to understand, that some animals have emotional issues as well as humans. If you prefer, you can say that a god has given humans responsibility to look after the creation. Either way knowledge of these marvellous animals gives people also the spark of emphaty for them. And that is humane. The orca might have emotional relationship with its handlers just as a slave might have an emotional relationship with his master, but yet intelligent sentient beings yearn for freedom.

    What gives us humans the right to abuse other species? It might be, that dolphins are just dumb animals, but if you do not know that for certainly, do not assume it either.

    The question remains. Are seamammals necessarily inprisoned in marine parks? Does the sacrifice of few individuals serve as a message to new generations of human population of the need to protect them and their natural habitat from the all consuming demands of the human economics, that seems to destroy the envarioment in growing and rapid pace.

  15. Hi John

    No, I am not being controversial to be controversial.

    I am just being honest. I would be more likely to save an animal than a person.

    It’s not about logic or who’s more valuable. – it’s a simple matter of I like animals more than I like people.

    Although, I don’t think humans are more valuable than any other life, why would we be?

    • Ntrygg

      I have never been a fan of any activist group. But I have to say, you are an Atheist with the most consistent view given their atheism I have met to date.

  16. I will say that I don’t care for PETA, I think they are hypocrites who condone violence.

  17. Dr. Chronosphere says:

    Animals, unlike humans, don’t have a self conscience mind- it might as well of not have lived in the first place because it doesn’t know what it is or why it is- it only has the instincts programmed into them by the Creator. True, some animals are equipped with smarter brains than others-but they still don’t have any signs of being smarter or the same as us. God made people better than animals and gave us dominion over them. Sure we shouldn’t torture them or abuse them, but I think PETA takes this a little bit too far!

  18. Dr. Chronosphere says:

    Something I forgot to add. . . When saying that they ‘might as well of not lived in the first place, I mean that their life is like a self-erasing tape. Not anything super cruel. By the way, when animals die they go into shock- which is God’s mercy on the animal. It makes it perfectly painless for the animal. Please don’t take this as advice to be mean to animals- BUT DON”T WORSHIP THE CREATION INSTEAD OF THE CREATOR!!!!!!

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