The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 16, 2000, Page 5, Image 5

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    A weekly look at
a topic important to us
. -t
Emotions cause people
to say animals suffer
just like humans do
Animals have rights, too.
Just like black people.
You may not have known this, but the
turkeys are perturbed, and our bovine world
companions are sizzling with anger. Their quest
for equal civil rights is entwined with that of our
differently colored neighbors. Our non-human
companions are fed up.
You didn’t know this?
Well, you missed out, then. A few weeks
ago, during the unopposed Rally on the Capitol
(which was part of the jubilant Martin Luther
King Jr. celebrations), I received a flier from the
Students for Animal Rights. This flier revealed
the horrendous maltreatment of our differently
gened friends.
I would have guessed the quest to stop eat
ing animals was separate and distinct from the
quest for equal civil rights for humans, but
apparently the theme of compassion runs
through both. The chicken, the turkey and the
cow experience suffering at our hands. Their
blood cries for vengeance in the pits of our
Uh, yeah.
Among other ridiculous notidns, the flier
implies that chickens, who have been raised x
and kept in inhumane conditions, long to see /
the sunlight and to feel the dirt between /
their toes on a bright summer day. /
Cows and humans experience the / J
same emotional loss when they / J
are separated from their off
This is serious over
Turkeys, cows, fish -
these creatures have s
not read Walden and
can not possibly yearn
for the same “best of
all possible worlds”
that we think of when \ \
we talk about dirt \ %
between the toes. This 11
romanticism is pro- 11
duced by the human k
mind. f
It is equally absurd
to imply that a cow can
suffer for loss of a calf
the same way that a -
human suffers for loss , ^
of a child. Sure, we
can say our feeling of
loss is instinctual, and
we may share it with _
the bovine among us. But without any real evi
dence, how can we know?
The flier-writer tries to sell his or her case
with its quotations. One quotation is from Peter
Singer, who is a strong proponent for veganism.
However, he also is a strong proponent for
infanticide in certain cases.
He is compelled by compassion in either
case, true, but the Students for Animal Rights
group uses a blanket statement and not a com
plex moral ideology to reach its conclusions.
Students for Animal Rights chooses the quota
tions of Singer supporting its cause without
addressing the larger implications of his think
The flier and Students for Animal Rights’
fundamental problem is that the group espouses
a position that ultimately doesn’t make sense.
Ethics and morality are systems based on
human thinking - often human'rationality.
When our morals and ethics lead us to conclu
sions about the real world that don’t make sense,
our reaction should not be compliance.
Animal rights activists claim compassionate
treatment of animals is the logical conclusion of
the thinking compelling us to advocate equal
human rights. But, as humans, we control the
world in so many ways through artificial means,
it seems that meat factories are only a logical
conclusion of that, too.
Any animal rights activist not only must
renounce meat and other animal products, but
also the society that leads to their production,
for example, Western civilization.
Most animal rights activists don’t do this.
They spout off their tripe from their academic
ivory towers and show their hypocrisy. Animal
rights activists’ views don’t jive with the society
they live in; they don’t make sense. Doesn’t this
indicate that something is wrong with their
Besides, animals eating other animals is not
a distinctly human invention. If we were to take
the lead of our carnivorous animal friends and
hunt animals that are free to flee, would it still
be wrong to eat them? Or would our attacks be
the equivalent of terrorism, and thus inhumane?
If it would be wrong for us to eat animals
under any circumstances, then should we let
other animals eat other animals, too? We don’t
stand neutral in respect to terrorism among
humans, do we/
Further, what about the suffering of
animals we cause by expanding our
Think of all
the worms
that are
placed every time we dig for the foundation of a
new building, or pave a new parking lot. Indeed,
every action that we take that is good for society
is bad for some number of our non-human com
Its a matter of where to draw the lines. Is it
morally wrong to create food factories, but
morally right to plow over acres of prairie-dog
homes for our own crops? Is it wrong to abuse
dolphins, cows, chickens, fish, earthworms and
microbes? Lines are necessary in this discus
sion. Can we draw these lines?
The Students for Animal Rights takes a
reckless position and its results are completely
illogical, almost flippant. It embraces an emo
tional justification for non-intuitive actions. It
renders itself unable to outline logically appro
priate behavior and to stop the absurd extension
of its principles to society-stopping conclu
Further, they do a disservice to other, more
rational pursuits for civil rights by minorities
when they attach their agenda to Martin Luther
King Jr.’s as a “logical extension?’ It is not a log
ical extension - it isn’t even the same idea.
Jacob Glazeski is a senior music and math major and a Daily Nebraskan
Avoiding meat improves
health, stops animals’
‘pain without a purpose’
betes, and gallstones are lower” (FDA
Consumer, October 1995).
I’m probably the most cynical bastard I know.
I want a clean environment, but I’m not a
stereotypical tree-hugger, willing to sacrifice all
progress for the sake of some foliage.
I have a dog back home, but I’ll never be one
of those old ladies who keeps 27 cats because she
can’t bear to see a stray. And if I’m ever starving
in the middle of a frozen wilderness, with nothing
around but me and a deer, I can say without hesi
tation that I’ll be feasting on venison.
My support for reducing the harms we inflict
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animals doesn’t stem from a bleeding heart or
from the theoretical constructions of the learned
from on high. It stems from common sense.
There are two main reasons to respect animal
rights: health and ethics.
“The new fitness fad,’’ shouts the magazine
Americans seem to be trying anything and
everything to improve their health. Some attend
expensive fitness centers, while others scrupu
lously cut fat and sugar out of their diets. For mil
lions of Americans, however, a simple and effec
tive way to eat healthier is by becoming a vegetar
ian. The strictest of vegetarians (vegans) do not
eat any foods containing animal products. Others
make exceptions for eggs and milk.
Medical research clearly shows that eating
vegetarian is a good way to improve your health.
Johanna Dwyer, a registered dietitian at New
England Medical Center Hospital, said,
“Vegetarians are at lesser risk for obesity, atonic
[reduced muscle tone] constipation, lung cancer
and alcoholism. Evidence is good that risks for
hypertension, coronary heart disease, type II dia
Most of the vegetarians I ve met have lost
weight and have more energy since they
stopped eating meat. Although eating vegetari
an won’t guarantee a healthy diet, it’s certainly a
good start. And, of course, you don’t have to quit
cold turkey (pun intended) like I did. Some peo
ple start with one meatless meal per day and
then gradually eat two or more a day until
they’re completely meat-free.
Even in beef-infested Lincoln, with a little
work, good vegetarian food can be found. It’s
certainly worth the effort for the sake of better
St. Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant
embody the traditional philosophical view of
animals. This view is that animals are a mere
resource to be exploited for man’s use.
Therefore, we have no duties towards them
whatsoever. Some modern philosophers, such
as Tom Regan and Peter Singer, believe animals
have an inherent value. They believe using ani
mals in science, agriculture and hunting should
be abolished.
The debate is certainly interesting and worth
more attention, but I don’t have the space to go
into it here. Instead, my support for animal
rights stems from the simple fact that
y animals feel pain.
i rniriK it a aetensible proposi
?. tion that the infliction of pain
!~\ without a purpose is wrong, and
% [ animals suffer in many needless
I s/ ways because of our selfishness.
The meat we eat and the leather
J we wear does not come from an
, idyllic, farm-like creature from ~
“Charlotte’s Web.”
James Rachels, in “Elements of
Moral Philosophy,” describes the liv
ing conditions of a veal calf as one
_ example. The calves “spend
-v their lives in nens ton
small to allow them
to turn around or
even to lie down
because exercise
toughens the meat
and additional space
is expensive. The
calves cannot per
form natural func
tions like grooming
themselves or suck
ling from their moth
They’re fed a diet
deficient in iron and
roughage (which
means they can
not form a cud
to chew) and
thev are not
Udan Lonowbki UN given any straw
for bedding -they might eat it, again affecting
the quality of the meat. “As terrifying as the
process of slaughter is, for them it may actual ly
be a merciful release,” Rachels says.
The terrible thing is that all of this suffering
inflicted on animals is unnecessary. We have
alternatives to meat, animal clothing and animal
research in cosmetic testing.
Even from a utilitarian perspective, I could
not justify the lifelong suffering of a sentient
creature for the transitory pleasure some jerk
feels downing a Big Mac. The same principals
that would evoke outrage in seeing two
teenagers stomp a puppy to death on the curb
should evoke anger in seeing a pig butchered.
Both arc unnecessary, even if one animal is
cuter than the other.
Respecting animals doesn’t mean we’re per
fect. I support the use of animals in medical
research because it provides real benefits to suf
fering people. 1 still eat eggs and cheese because
I don’t have the money or the skill to be vegan in
a place like Nebraska. In an imperfect world, all
we can do is the best we can with what we have.
But give the animals the benefit of the
doubt. It won’t hurt you one bit, and it’ll help
them tremendously.
Jeremy Patrick is a first-year law student and a Daily Nebraskan columnist.