On SPECIESISM, by Joan Dunayer
I finally read SPECIESISM, by Joan Dunayer, which was published a couple of years after ANIMAL EQUALITY, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.
This book has so many great quotes that I'm going to have to write a couple of posts about them. Off we go (and all of the below are exact quotes) . . .
- Whenever the media report that someone has killed "an endangered animal" or "an endangered species," they too confuse an individual with a species. Any animal threatened with a gun or arrow is endangered. Hunters kill members of endangered species. Conversely, animals who are personally safe are not endangered, even if they belong to an endangered species (14).
- To be consistent (and nonspeciesist) . . . "environmentalists" would have to value the life of an Atlantic salmon more than the life of a human because, in environmental terms, there are too few Atlantic salmons and far too many humans. But most so-called environmentalists make an exception for humans, even though human overpopulation causes environmental devastation and humans are the chief destroyers if species and ecosystems (14-15).
- To old-speciesists, nonhumans must justify their existence by proving useful to humans; in contrast, some or all humans have inherent value. Old-speciesists have a rights view of at least some humans but a utilitarian view of nonhumans (18).
- Despite human overpopulation and crowding, only nonhumans are said to "infest" an area (19).
- While calling themselves "the rational species," humans generally are quite irrational: bigoted, self-deceiving, self-destructive, passionate about trivia such as sports scores. Would intelligent beings riot over the out come of a soccer game? Smoke, eat, and drink themselves to death? Poison the water, soil, and air on which they rely? Believe that other religions are false but theirs is true? (25)
- In some sense, of course, many (perhaps most) humans don't know right from wrong. Society has told them that it's acceptable to harm other animals, and they've internalized that belief. Still, with regard to human victims, the law doesn't accept the victimizer's enculturation as justification. Defense lawyers don't plead that their clients should be excused for violence against women or people of color on the grounds that those clients have been brought up in a racist, sexist society (29-30).
- U.S. law is even more speciesist than the U.S. public. Most U.S. residents believe that it's wrong to kill animals for their pelts, but the pelt industry is legal. Most believe that it's wrong to hunt animals for sport, but sport hunting is legal. Two-thirds believe that nonhumans have as much "right to live free of suffering" as humans, but vivisection, food-industry enslavement and slaughter, and other practices that cause severe, prolonged suffering are legal (49).
And perhaps my favorite: "[I]f healthy, homeless humans were rounded up and killed, no one would call the killing facilities 'shelters'" (55).
Stay tuned for Part Deux, and more sentiments I could never have crafted better.