Friday, June 09, 2006

Am I all wet on this?

Rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. Even your right to life can be rescinded if you abdicate your responsibilities and commit certain acts. You have a responsibility to pay taxes and obey the law. In return, you are guaranteed the right to pursue happiness as you see fit.

Now, some people say that animals have rights. This is patent nonsense. For the reasons that I've outlined above, if an individual is incapable of fulfilling their responsibilities, they cannot have any rights.

Consider a human child. By law, it has no rights. Can a child vote? Can a child own firearms? Can a child enter into or enforce a contract? Does a two-year-old have the right to free speech? (In fact, considered properly, a child does not even have the right to life. The question is moot, however, because the child's parents have the responsibility to protect him/her and act for him/her in worldly matters. In return, the parents have the right to protect the life of their child and raise him in peace and safety. Additionally, no one has the right to take a child’s life.) Thus, the child is, for all intents and purposes, chattel.

Similarly, whereas an animal cannot fulfill any responsibility, there can be no possibility of rights. We, as humans, have the responsibility to protect them, avoid inflicting upon them unnecessary pain and suffering and maintain their numbers. In return, we have the right to use them as is best for ourselves and them.

It is only by the blood and pain of those who went before us that we have the advanced society that we have today. Analogously, it is by the suffering of some animals that we will find ways to prevent or cure disease in the future. And not just for ourselves; veterinary medicine has benefited from product testing and vivisection as well. If it is demonstrably unnecessary, then inflicting pain and suffering should be unthinkable and punishable - but if not, then let’s not fool ourselves that it is anything out of the ordinary.

The slow, painful death of an antelope run down by lions and eaten alive is not something humans can - or ought to try to - stop. Nature is immutable and it is only our hubris, in thinking we are beyond it, that allows foolish notions like 'animal rights' to flourish.


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