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Do Animals Really “Give” Their Lives?

In Research Mice Leaving NYC for Suburbs (AP), Jim Fitzgerald reports that "A group of hospitals and medical schools in the New York metropolitan area have decided to relocate their research mouse-breeding and mouse-holding operations" to Yonkers. Scientists use mice because their genes are similar to those of humans
(you’d think that because their similar to us, we’d find experimenting
on them to be an ethical dilemma. Clearly not.). Another similarity to some humans, is that mice are playful, social, smart, fastidiously clean, and have complex language systems.

The new digs will hold 400,000 mice, which will be given cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other ailments. Any who accidentally hit the floor are considered contaminated and will be put to death.

I mention this article for one reason, and it has nothing to do with my opposition to animal experimentation. This is a purely linguistic issue, and is one that has annoyed me for several decades. The article ends with:

Death is a common and sometimes expected outcome of mouse research, and many of the cages have notes attached-"mortality x 1" or "mortality x 2"-that mark where the little rodents gave their lives for science.

Gave their lives for science? They were created for the sole purpose of being made ill, living an unnatural mouse life, maybe getting tortured, and ultimately getting killed. When you give something, it is your decision; you have free will.

It is fair, then, to say that soldiers in Iraq give their lives for their country. They go there willingly and are aware that death-even a horribly gruesome death-might a consequence of their decision to enlist. The over 10 billion animals that are slaughtered for food, and the untold numbers of rodents used in experiments (their lives are so insignificant that they don’t have to be accurately counted, although estimates say the number is in the tens of millions), aren’t in positions to give us anything.

We take. And we don’t ask permission. We need to accurately reflect that in our language rather than lying because it makes us feel better about our abominable behavior.

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