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Animal Rights is Pernicious Nonsense?

In "'Animal Rights:' Pernicious Nonsense for Both Law & Public Policy," Massachusetts attorney and "sportsman" Richard Latimer is on the mark with some concepts, and way off with others. However, both his perceptions and misconceptions are based on: 1) observing the work of PeTA and HSUS; and 2) the assumption that those two organizations are in the same category–"animal rights."

If you can get through the article's pernicious nonsense, there are some salient points, albeit the result of confusion on the part of the author.

The  "animal rights" focus, by contrast, is on our allegedly "cruel" treatment of individual animals in various specific, carefully selected and isolated contexts, from laboratory mice to farm mink to market hogs to broiler chickens, or whatever may be their next cause du jour, chosen specifically for getting the most uncritical media coverage and then getting a fresh flow of cash donations from their scientifically ignorant and easily duped contributors. It has absolutely nothing to do with any genuine environmentalist ethic.

Now, I know you're saying: That's not what animal rights is. But if you're on the outside, and you're hostile to the idea of respecting the natural lives of sentient nonhumans and you see them only as resources to be managed, might you have a similar idea? And though I don't think donors are necessarily scientifically ignorant or easily duped, I do think they aren't paying close enough attention to what the organizations they give to really do with their money.

And not all organizations that advocate for animals claim to have a "genuine environmentalist ethic," and the ones that do must subscribe to his ethic or they're not genuine? For an attorney, that's awfully weak.

Latimer refers to his previous two posts where he has "documented the ethical and moral shallowness of the 'animal rights' credo itself, which is based more on an anti-human self hatred, taking the form of a 'moral' squeamishness concerned more with stamping out human 'cruelty,' no matter what the social or economic costs might be . . . than with any genuine concern for species diversity or even animal welfare."

Part of me wants to see those posts out of curiosity, and the other part writes him off instantly and withdraws any previous credit given because he so obviously does not understand what animal rights is and doesn't know that many vegans and animal rights activists see their cause as one of a handful that are all connected. And one of that handful is the environment.

It's too bad that Latimer's presentation is so obnoxious, as even when he raises what might be valid points, he makes you want to disagree with him. Regarding deer:

The harm caused by overcrowding of deer herds on limited available lands, to both the deer and humans, is well documented in the scientific literature, which also documents the fact that controlled hunting is not only the most cost effective way to deal with the problem, but the only really effective way as well.

Of course, the animal activists don't even really care about the health or welfare of deer herds except to protect them against the "cruel" hunter who killed Bambi's mother.   

The issue has surfaced again recently, as focussed hunts have been scheduled in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, with the "animal rights" zealots militating for expensive and basically ineffective birth control practices to curb overpopulation.   They couldn't care less whether such programs actually work as intended, and they clearly have no concern for permitting natural selection to work in the deer herd's gene pool, as deers are permitted to live artificially sterile lives, contrary to their "natural right" to reproduce which is no less important in nature than the right to life itself.  Again, they just want to prevent the "cruel" hunters from killing Bambi's mother.

First of all, does he really believe that piffle? Animal activists don't care about the health or welfare of deer herds? What on earth would even give him that idea? I think he's the anti-human person full of self hatred, and this is a case of projection.

The point about the natural right to reproduce could have been a serious one, but couched in these terms, and mix in a generous use of the term "moonbat," and the point gets lost.

Perhaps Latimer should read some of Responsible Policies for Animals' literature (like Factsheet #4, about deer kills and ecosystems).

Latimer's ignorance also comes across in his discussion of anti-fur campaigns, so it's easy to miss this potentially good point (about some animal activists):

But did  you ever notice that we don't hear very much from them if anything about shoe leather?

Yes, they post things on their websites and magazines for the benefit of the  true believers, but we don't often see them protesting outside the local shoe store to get free television coverage by spray painting a working mom's new pair of sensible leather shoes.  Why do you suppose that is?  Like I said, the entire animal rights "ethic" is both cynical and dishonest.

He clearly hasn't heard of the low-hanging fruit concept. The ethic isn't dishonest, it's just that some people believe that due to the controversy over fur, the reality that it is unnecessary and the hideous cruelty to creatures most people have an affection for because they're cute, fur is an easy target to focus on. As for the ethic being cynical, I don't understand that so I cannot comment. But the point about leather, again, is a good one (not to mention wool, cashmere and silk).

This article/post hits home an important idea for me: When your presentation is insulting, any legitimate ideas you may have can easily be missed or marginalized due to the oppressive obnoxiousness of the way you write. And I'm as guilty of that as Latimer, or at least I have been in the past. There's nothing like a mirror to set you straight. I'll write more about this tomorrow, but if you have any constructive responses to Latimer,  you can comment (after you register).

Happy Mother's Day!

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