Category Archives: animals

The roots of animal rights fanaticism

A factor in the rise of the animal rights movement, writes Dalrymple, is

the absence of any contact between the great majority of mankind and animals, except for those animals that are kept for pets and that are increasingly anthropomorphised by their owners.

He points out that the movement is

an urban phenomenon, of people who have no daily contact with or knowledge of cows or pigs or sheep, as those concerned with animal husbandry do, and who might not much care for them if they did.

The only model most people have of relations with animals

is that which they have with their cat or dog, and they use it as a model or template for what they think all relations with animals should be.

The fanatic beliefs of the animal rights advocates, which often result in aggressive — even murderous — behaviour

are symptomatic of the decline in religious belief, for which they are a substitute. Without strong convictions, there can be no sense of purpose. And since we all need a sense of purpose, at least once we are freed from any real precariousness as far as physical survival is concerned, we adopt strong convictions to fill the vacuum and give us that purpose that is larger than the flux of day-to-day existence can provide.

Wild animal

Man

Dalrymple recalls a story told by Vera Hegi in Les Captifs du Zoo (1942), which he summarises as follows:

One day a man gave an elephant in the zoo three bread rolls, into the last of which, from malignity, he insinuated a razor-blade. The elephant managed to remove the razor-blade with its trunk.

Well, Dalrymple has a story of his own. He writes:

In the prison in which I worked as a doctor, a man repeatedly tried to cut himself, sometimes dangerously. He was under the constant watch of two guards.

However,

a prisoner slipped him a razor-blade embedded in a potato.

The prisoner managed to extract the razor-blade from the potato, and with the razor-blade,

he cut his throat.

Yes, says Dalrymple,

Man is definitely different from other animals.

The Hobsbawm of the RSPCA

John Bryant with the RSPCA's highest honour, the Queen Victoria Gold Medal for 'long and meritorious service in the cause of animal welfare'

John Bryant with the RSPCA’s highest honour, the Queen Victoria Gold Medal for ‘long and meritorious service in the cause of animal welfare’. Eric Hobsbawm got the Companion of Honour

Dalrymple reports that John Bryant, one of the candidates for the governing council of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, believes

the keeping of pets of any description is a contravention of animals’ rights, among which is that to freedom.

Bryant believes in

the right of every single fish to live out its life as nature intended.

All fish, Bryant believes, should be released into open waters forthwith. The fact, writes Dalrymple,

that most of the fish would not survive more than a few minutes would count for nothing. Freedom is freedom and not another thing. Did not Benjamin Franklin warn us that he who sacrificed his freedom for security would end up with neither? Why should it be any different for goldfish?

Bryant believes all dogs should be freed

from their leather nooses and chains.

All dogs

should be released from their leashes, collars, kennels, and baskets. Bryant compares their state to that of domestic slavery.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 22.50.03Bryant

does not want dogs to be released into the exterior wherever they are. The condition of ownerless dogs in Africa and Asia is not encouraging, famished, flea-bitten, battle-scarred and plagued by sores as they are.

Rather,

they should be allowed to die out by not being able to reproduce. Within 15 years they would cease to exist and would thus be released from their terrible servitude.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 22.57.34Bryant is considered one of the more moderate candidates for the RSPCA’s governing council. Another candidate, the vegan Peta Watson-Smith, has likened the hardships experienced by farm animals to that of Jews in the Nazi Holocaust, while Dan Lyons and Angela Roberts, founders of the Centre for Animals and Social Justice think-tank, which been undertaking research into

democratic theory and practice in relation to the representation of animals’ interests,

believe that

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 22.59.59animals should be represented in Parliament by members dedicated to their interests and rights alone.

An admirable suggestion, though Dalrymple points to a potential snag:

The interests of owls and mice, rabbits and stoats, spiders and flies occasionally conflict.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 23.02.45