Philosophy > General AR Philosophy > Why AR?

April 21, 2006
Why I am an animal rights activist
Nadine Saunders, National Post

Re: Animal Rights Activists Have Gone Too Far, Michael Coren, April 20.

I became an animal rights activist as a result of several defining moments in my life:

- I grew up in an abusive home, where I quickly realized the link between kicking the family dog and physical violence towards humans.

- Realizing that there is no fundamental difference in the ability of animals to feel pain, whether it be the pig I ate for dinner or the dog that slept at the foot of my bed.

- The link between sexist attitudes toward women and similar behaviour towards animals during their slaughter.

- When I found out that it is legal in Canada to use shelter animals for vivisection (animal experimentation).

Today, I am a passionate animal rights activist. I volunteer at a local senior's centre with my dog, to bring a ray of sunshine into an otherwise boring and lonely day of a fellow human being.

Perhaps Mr. Coren needs to use his column space to educate people on the true lifestyles and work of animal rights activists in Canada.

We could all use a bit more compassion in this country; toward humans and animals.

Nadine Saunders, Vancouver.

National Post
April 20, 2006

Animal rights activists have gone too far: The final outrage was digging up the body of Hall's mother-in-law

Michael Coren, National Post

Three men are facing 12-year prison sentences in Britain after
admitting last week to a prolonged terrorist campaign against the
owners of a guinea pig farm in the English midlands. The animals were
sold to laboratories for experimental purposes. The farm owners,
brothers Chris and John Hall, were the victims of systematic abuse and
violent attacks on their property. Animal rights extremists used
explosives in an attempt to so frighten the village community that the
owners of the farm would be ostracized and have to sell their

The brothers and their families became virtual prisoners and their
neighbours were afraid to be seen even speaking to them in case they
too would be targeted. One man who supplied fuel to the farm had a
brick thrown through the window of his home at his head, and his
clients received letters accusing him of being a pedophile.

The final outrage occurred when activists dug up the body of Chris
Hall's mother-in-law, Gladys Hammond, from St. Peter's churchyard. The
remains have never been returned and the body is thought to have
dismembered. The Hall brothers surrendered. Another victory for the
animal rights movement.

Johnny Holmes, a spokesman for the campaign, told reporters: "This is
the most fantastic day of my life. It's a victory for the animals and
it's a fundamental victory for the animal rights movement." There was
no comment from those suffering from chronic respiratory diseases,
many of which are being treated with medication developed from
research on guinea pigs.

Here lies the quintessence of the debate. It is entirely rational to
have compassion for animals and even a moral and intellectual
objection to the abuse of powerless creatures for the sake of human
want. But there is something fundamentally different, and
fundamentally dysfunctional, about obsessive opposition to the
responsible use of animals for the sake of human need.

Once the difference is obscured, it is a short leap to use violence
against people for the sake of guinea pigs, dogs or, for that matter,
earthworms. In fact, it is only logical: If humanity has no right to
use animals at all, animal supporters have every right to use any
means necessary to achieve their ends.

Which is why the sort of people Lenin referred to as useful idiots --
Pamela Anderson, Paul McCartney and the like -- are not merely
eccentric and foolish but downright dangerous. While they are not
violent, they help create a climate where violence is not only
possible but inevitable.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was at one time on
the radical fringe of the movement; now it has gone mainstream. When
it compares the killing of chickens to the Holocaust, as it did in
2003 with its "Holocaust on Your Plate" exhibition, there is
occasional outrage from the public but little if any dissent from
within the animal rights community.

The relativist slide began more than 30 years ago when militants in
Europe planted bombs in stores selling fur coats. The past three
decades have seen an exponential growth in the feelings industry. We
are no longer asked what we know, but how we feel. And kittens and
puppies make us feel just like we're supposed to feel when we see them
staring at us from glossy calendars or PETA propaganda.

Neurosis has smothered thought. We find ways to explain away starving
Africans or the homeless but insist, to use the animal rights line, on
speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. It's a bourgeois
conceit. Impoverished Peru, for example, produces more fish than any
other nation in the world, but most of the catch goes to North America
as cat food. A fish equals a cat equals a Peruvian child.

In 2002, Ontario MPP and current provincial Immigration Minister Mike
Colle broke down in tears at a press conference because his draconian
bill demanding extraordinary punishment for people who raise dogs for
sale in dreadful conditions failed to become law.

Of course people who run cruel puppy mills should be punished. Yet
this particular law may well have meant that a convicted rapist would
receive a lesser sentence than a dog abuser. When did we last see any
politician crying in public because a home for mentally challenged
children was being closed or because a woman had been murdered by her
ex-husband due to inadequate state protection?

Newly sensitive North Americans and Europeans define themselves by
what offends them and, increasingly, what moves them to tears. It's
certainly not the plight of people, let alone guinea pig farmers and
their deceased relatives.

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