Rebirth of Reason

War for Men's Minds

Out-Foxing Animal Rights
by Marcus Bachler

Last week (if this article is posted promptly) the pictures of pro-fox-hunting protesters breaking into the houses of parliament in London went around the world. The move to ban fox-hunting in England and Wales by the Labour Government was a decision popular amongst Labour supporters. Indeed, Tony Blair had been promising the move since he came to power in the UK seven years ago. It was interpreted by the media as a measure to appease his old Labour “class-war” party members and liberal voters prior to next year’s elections. The legislation is expected to be rejected by the House of Lords (the one last bastion of upper-class power) as it has been already several times. But the House of Commons is threatening to force the bill through anyway, by using rare emergency powers created in 1911 by the left-wing Government of Lloyd George that originally helped to create the British welfare state.

As politicians continually try to justify the hunting ban in interviews, they argue that polls show 68% of the public are in favour of the ban. Strangely enough a poll on the BBC website of 10 000 people shows exactly the reverse, 61% against and 39% in favour.


The other argument constantly made by politicians in favour of the fox-hunting ban is that it will stop the suffering of foxes that are savagely torn apart limb by limb by hunting dogs for sport. This is largely a logical extension of the concept of “animal welfare” that forms the basis of legislation already on the books in most western democracies outlawing “cruelty” to animals.

Pro-hunting activists counter that hunting is merely eliminating a country-side pest and that hunting is one of the most humane methods available to control their numbers. Also, that fox-hunting makes up a significant proportion of the countryside’s economy and therefore needs to be preserved. The final pro-hunting argument is quite rightly that “hunting” should be a matter of choice and that to ban it is to infringe upon human rights.

Subsequent to this debate there has been a growing surge of violence and intimidation by animal rights campaigners in the UK. Here in Oxford, where I live, the building of a research laboratory that was to perform animal experiments was stalled after the shareholders of the construction company were targeted by animal rights extremists with death threats. Indeed, whole towns have been terrorised, whose main business is the breeding of animals to be used in experiments. The terrorist methods usually employed are death threats, bomb scares and defamation campaigns claiming that the targeted individuals are paedophiles. Two major pharmaceutical companies in the UK (worth billions of pounds to the economy) have threatened to leave the country if the Government does not introduce new measures to stop animal right extremists from continually harassing and threatening their employees. To its credit the Government is considering (what is there to consider I wonder?) the use of the secret service to infiltrate animal rights groups as it would do any other terrorist organisation.

So, what’s all the fuss? What is the argument for the rights behind legislation that prohibits cruelty and suffering to animals?

The argument usually made by activists and a sympathetic public is that many animals are sentient and experience pain and distress just like human beings. Additionally, that they are voiceless and defenceless and therefore their pain and suffering should appeal to our sense of common humanity and justice. Human beings as rational beings should recognise this and feel duty-bound intervene in order to defend the “humane” dignity of the animal.

This argument however is flawed. First, the natural state of affairs of animals is not one of “humane dignity” but of harsh conditions with pain and cruelty from fellow animals and an unforgiving environment. A lion will unmercifully eat a gazelle while it is still alive, it will also bite the head off of one of its own lion cubs. Two gazelles may gore one another to death competing for a female or may starve to death during times when the food supply is short.

The above may be true, goes the “animal rights” argument, but animals endure these things out of necessity – whereas any suffering caused by humans to animals is not always through necessity to our own life. Also, that humans as morally superior beings should know better and act in a “humane” way towards animals.

And here lies a contradiction in the pro-animal rights argument. How can they have it both ways? How can an animal on the one hand be a defenceless “humane” being that needs our help, but at the same time also be an inferior “animal” that lives a harsh and savage life?

The final implicit argument of the animal rights movement (held only by diehard extremists) seems to be that animal lives are more precious than human ones. It is not an altogether surprising idea. After all, many Green activists and Muslim fundamentalists value the “natural” environment or their God’s “will” more highly than they do human life. This is where the general public thankfully draws the line.

Nevertheless, I do agree with the argument that some animals are sentient and human beings who purposely inflict pain and distress upon them for pleasure are both immoral and cruel. However, I would never condone the use of the law to enforce such a position because I do not believe that animals possess intrinsic rights.

Most objectivists would agree with me that animals do not have the same right to life as human beings do because they are clearly not rational volitional beings. Animals have no way of understanding or communicating either to us or between themselves such abstract concepts as morality or justice. There is only one law that animals understand and that is the “law of the jungle.”

Sadly animal rights activists, encouraged by State animal welfare legislation, are just one more group in a growing list that terrorize western societies today and would like to return mankind back to the “law of the jungle” from whence it came.
Sanctions: 4Sanctions: 4 Sanction this ArticleEditMark as your favorite article

Discuss this Article (74 messages)