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The following review of Speciesism appears in the current issue of Vegetarian Baby and Child.

Speciesism by Joan Dunayer (Derwood, Md.: Ryce, 2004). $18.95 paperback. 204 pages.

Reviewed by Glenn Perrett

Books that further the rights of nonhuman animals are vital and should be embraced. In her book Speciesism, Joan Dunayer provides considerable information on how nonhuman animals have been enslaved and brutally treated by our species.

In defending her definition of speciesism, which she defines as "a failure, in attitude or practice, to accord any nonhuman being equal consideration and respect," Dunayer provides insightful and compelling arguments on why nonhuman animals deserve life, freedom, and other basic rights and how these rights can be obtained. When will this occur? According to Dunayer, when public opinion changes: "Many more people must recognize and reject speciesism."

Besides providing rational, extensively documented arguments for giving animals rights, Dunayer provides considerable, sobering information pertaining to how our species cruelly treats and exploits other species. The following are a couple of examples.

With regard to pigs, Iowa is a major slave state. In the preceding chapter, you read how sows are restrained during pregnancy. The crate in which a sow gives birth and nurses her piglets is even more confining than the pregnancy stall. Metal bars directly above the sow restrict her to a lying position, or straps bind her to the floor. Sows and boars are fed only once every two or three days (just enough to leave them able to reproduce), so they're perpetually hungry. Soon after birth, piglets have their ears notched, needle teeth clipped, and tail cut off--all without anesthetic. As previously mentioned, male piglets also are castrated without anesthetic. Prematurely taken from their mother, piglets are confined to cages stacked in rows. Each cage commonly imprisons eight to ten piglets. Forced to stand on wire mesh, each piglet has less than two square feet of floor space. At about two months of age, the pigs are crowded into pens with concrete, slatted floors. By the time they go to slaughter, many pigs are crippled. Most have pneumonia, from breathing ammonia produced by accumulated waste. Is it any wonder that Iowa excludes pigs from its general cruelty statute?

Many goat enslavers burn away kids-- horn buds with a red-hot iron. As the iron is pressed to their head, the kids struggle and, often, scream. (Some die from shock--further evidence of severe pain.) At slaughter, salmons are dumped into water infused with carbon dioxide. Before they become paralyzed, they make "vigorous attempts to escape." Why would fishes try to escape from water? Carbon dioxide is painful to breathe. On "fur farms," foxes are electrocuted. With one electrode in their anus and another inside their mouth or clipped to their lip, they remain conscious as the current passes through their body. They scream before dying of cardiac arrest.

Are you guilty of speciesism? Dunayer provides an easy suggestion to find out: "The test for speciesism is simple: If the victims were human, would you be speaking and acting as you are? If not, don't speak and act that way when the victims are nonhuman."

Anyone who cares about how nonhuman animals are treated will benefit from reading this book.
 

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