While We’re Debating Who Deserves Humanity. . .

8 01 2009

As Darwin jotted down in a notebook of 1838, “He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.

Not to learn about how the baboons think, but to learn about how WE think.

In the December 30th, 2007 issue of the [New York Times M]agazine, animal columnist Charles Siebert published a touching tribute to two of the most memorable contributors to communication studies: Alex the parrot and Washoe the chimp. With respect and admiration, he honors their place of distinction in our human sciences, while acknowledging the imposition we humans placed on them. His obituary is entitled: “The Communicators.“

See also Creature Comforts from last Sunday, and food journalist Michael Pollan’s 2002 piece about the evolution of how humans think of and treat animals, caused by our needs and changes more than theirs, just as robot theologian Anne Foerst teaches and preaches.

Her philosophy is that everything really is all about us, but unfortunately that means NOT that we should dominate and subjugate when we can get away with it, but that we hurt ourselves spiritually (and often practically too) when we do, and thus we’re the ones who must learn and change, to improve things for ourselves. Not self-sacrifice, enlightened self-interest!

Singer and the swelling ranks of his followers ask us to imagine a future in which people will look back on my meal, and this steakhouse, as relics of an equally backward age. Eating animals, wearing animals, experimenting on animals, killing animals for sport: all these practices, so resolutely normal to us, will be seen as the barbarities they are, and we will come to view ”speciesism” — a neologism I had encountered before only in jokes — as a form of discrimination as indefensible as racism or anti-Semitism.

. . .That animal liberation is the logical next step in the forward march of moral progress is no longer the fringe idea it was back in 1975. . . Once thought of as a left-wing concern, the movement now cuts across ideological lines. Perhaps the most eloquent recent plea on behalf of animals, a new book called ”Dominion,” was written by a former speechwriter for President Bush. And once outlandish ideas are finding their way into mainstream opinion. A recent Zogby poll found that 51 percent of Americans believe that primates are entitled to the same rights as human children.

If we took a close look at dominionists — including the homophobic and misogynistic — through ethically opened eyes using changed measures to assess what we consider worthy of humanity, would THEIR humanity measure up to Alex the parrot and Washoe the chimp? Maybe they’re worried it might not, and that explains why they fight so hard against any such changes or letting anyone but them and their beliefs in on the thinking and defining?

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3 responses

9 01 2009
Nance Confer

A recent Zogby poll found that 51 percent of Americans believe that primates are entitled to the same rights as human children.

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Which really doesn’t tell us much considering how some people treat their children.

Nance

9 01 2009
boremetotears

re: A recent Zogby poll found that 51 percent of Americans believe that primates are entitled to the same rights as human children.

I think puppies and kittens score even higher.

28 05 2010
Snook Animals We’ve Known and Loved « Cocking A Snook!

[…] posts and discussion, that in connecting us to their nature may help us learn about our own: While We’re Debating Who Deserves Humanity . . .: How we think of and treat animals — caused by our needs and changes more than theirs — […]

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