Animals are not Things.
Animals are not hammers, tractors, iPods, chairs. They are not inanimate objects that aren’t affected in multiple ways by use or abuse. What they are is living beings who deserve the best care possible so that they can achieve their purpose. They are also not people. Their purposes vary, just as humans’ purposes in life vary. Just as different tools and other actual ‘things’ are used for different purposes. It is the varied purposes of animals that some people seem to be confused about. In the case of domestic food animals, that purpose is to become food. This is the reason they exist and there should be no denying that fact on either ‘side’ of the issue.
There is no moral dilemma between humans and animals because there isn’t a comparison to be made about mode or standard of living. Animals would not want to live in houses and wear clothes and use toilets. They would want to be animals. So it should be our duty to give them as much of being animals as we can. If this means that welfare standards need to be changed because we’re doing it wrong, then so be it. And if it means that for example gestation crates are the best way to keep sows safe and healthy in a climate controlled environment, then so be it.
There is constant research being done to take the best possible care of animals, and those results will determine what happens in the future of the industries as a whole. We know that every being has basic needs of food, water, shelter, and if herd animals, companionship. Animals get those things on farms where they are raised, and there should be no denying that fact either.
Many people have a problem with the fact that animals are legally property, and not regarded by law as persons or believe they should be awarded the right of freedom. What these people fail to consider is the purpose behind the animal’s existence or what would happen if the animal really was set free.
This is not in reference to certain “Animal Liberation” groups who relocate animals to new owners, but those who seem to sincerely believe that animals should somehow magically be free. We know what the MO of most humans is: “Not my family, not my property, not my responsibility.” And there is no reason to believe it would be any different if domestic animals were granted personhood and/or set free. So the animals would be free but not cared for, even though they need to be cared for because they were created that way. That’s part of what being domesticated means.
When free they would either die of starvation from not being able to care for themselves, or be part of a feral population that scrounges up whatever food it can find. In addition to being cared for and having all of their needs met through being property, animals do have legal protections from abuse just like humans do. You can buy inanimate objects and break them if you want to, and no one will say anything about. It’s also not considered morally wrong to do so as the inanimate object can’t feel anything. Propose to do the same with an animal and it is morally wrong as well as illegal to abuse an animal. This is because animals are not things and deserve the same protection from abuse that humans have.
I have also seen several arguments that suggest the reasoning for farmers or people keeping animals are the same as those used to justify slavery, because slaves were also property. This is an absurd argument because slaves were actually humans, not animals. Freed slaves were able to find a place and a purpose in society and start to function in the same way that their already free counterparts were, because we are all human and have the same general needs and wants.
Domestic animals on the other hand, would have no place to belong in human society, and no place to belong in the wild. I have been told that we should just stop breeding animals (aka prevent them from exercising their hard wired desire to reproduce) and take care of the remaining ones until they die out, and that proponents of no longer using animals understand and are totally okay with the prospect of having few or none of them left.
These people seem to believe that human life without animals would be worth it to save the few food animals who do get abused from being abused, or that it is better than using them and letting them continue to live and reproduce. So by comparing use of animals to slavery are they saying they would not have minded seeing the slaves go the same way, as if they didn’t have a purpose either just because they were previously slaves? Seems pretty offensive to compare the two now doesn’t it? They think food animals have no purpose just because we don’t need to eat them.
Some food animals are being stripped of their purpose, which in my opinion is inhumane, because animals are not things. Things become purposeless when they are outdated or broken. Animals will never be outdated, we can always use them, and even the broken ones can be healed or serve an alternate purpose. Everything has a purpose. Being bought and relocated to a sanctuary for “rescued” farm animals is not a purpose. Living to an old age is great and all but is that really what life is about? Aren’t we all just trying to find our purpose? But being used as a poster child for the proposed extinction of your species?
That’s not a purposeful life I would want to lead. The animals that are “rescued” have to rely on people who completely shun animals except for at sanctuaries and believe the animals had such horrible lives beforehand that they must be doing the right thing, not to mention these places being run purely by donations often means that their direct monetary ability, not even capability, to properly care for their animals is directly proportional to the amount of press they get.
I was told a story a couple of years ago about a sanctuary that purchased baby dairy bull calves to save them from the veal industry and raised them. If these people had known anything about dairy bulls, they would not have made this choice. Sanctuaries these days seem to pick and choose their “rescued” animals more carefully and make sure to have them neutered before they grow up, again taking away their ability to reproduce. The sanctuary in question ended up having to sell the animals when they reached a few years old and they went on to serve their original purpose as food animals. There was no press about that.
This is about preservation of purpose, not about trying to justify why millions have died, because animals are not people. Food animals are not useless, they live and die with a very specific purpose and no part of them goes to waste.
Originally published at lelper.tumblr.com.