On Open Rescue
Check out this open rescue. I’d rather not embed it here, so as to bring traffic to it on YouTube. Notice there are other open rescues to view on the right.
Every time I see open rescue footage I have three burning questions:
- How on earth do the rescuers choose who will be rescued?
- Aren’t they heartbroken as they leave the faces who will not be rescued?
- Does nonviolence include property damage, and should it?
It’s good to know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at, and also be willing to learn new things. One thing I will never be good at or learn how to do is intentionally enter a place ever again (I did go to a slaughterhouse years ago) where I know there is unbearable suffering. I am simply not equipped to deal with that. I’ve been in therapy since my early teens (that’s what happens when your mom’s a therapist) and I can’t imagine the degree of mental health counseling I’d need to deal with open rescue. The faces of those I left behind would be indelibly etched in my brain and I’m fairly certain I’d experience some sort of breakdown. When I went to the Greyhound kennel to meet Charles, I was in tears the entire time. And it’s not as if the dogs were actively being tortured.
As for property damage, I’m not talking about wanton destruction. I’m talking about locks, windows, doors and anything else necessary to gain entry to the establishment and to access the animals. And I particularly like when rescuers pay for any damage; that hits it home that this isn’t about vandalism.
Rescuing an animal you happen upon is entirely different from deliberately entering a place of torture where you know that when you leave you’ll leave most of the animals behind (or maybe all of them if you’re there for video footage and other documentation). And if there weren’t people willing and able to endure such pain themselves, we wouldn’t know much of what we know today. We’d have to count on whistleblowers (or plant them, and that’s a whole other level of suffering, I’d imagine).
Does anyone have an ethical problem with breaking and entering in this context? And do you think it’s true that if there were children in a building being tortured, that we’d all suddenly sign up for open rescue? Or are the situations simply not at all comparable because it is perfectly legal to torture chickens, and it is not legal to torture children?
This is where I say that speciesism isn’t really the same as Nazism or pedophilia. All three are dreadful, but one is socially acceptable and dreadful and the other two aren’t. If my neighbor were a pedophile, it would be socially acceptable to turn him in. But no one is turning in their speciesist neighbors, as that would be absurd considering speciesism is perfectly legal as well as socially acceptable. Is this me being a moral relativist because I’m saying one is wrong but the other isn’t objectively wrong for practical purposes? (Meaning, I do think it’s objectively wrong, but I don’t think you can go around telling people that they’re immoral because it doesn’t get you anywhere.)
You can’t decontextualize speciesism, Nazism or pedophilia. So my saying that Nazism and speciesism are different is probably a direct result of me living where I live in the time I live. I might believe that they are all equally wrong, but does that give me the right to tell others that they need to change their lives and their ethics because mine are better?