Animal
Rights
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Animal
Rights
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Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
24 May 2000 Issue

Why is Animal Rights Important?

It has been said that "no one is free until everyone is free." This ideology has been the cornerstone of much social and political change throughout the centuries. It embodies in it the implication that we humans are by nature sensitive beings who are affected not only by what goes on inside of us as individuals, but also what goes on outside of us.

The animal rights movement is as much about people as it is about animals. Civil rights movements have always included members outside of the oppressed group; the abolition of human slavery in the U.S. was orchestrated by "free" whites, and the women's rights movement has always included supporters of both genders. It is incorrect to assume that just because we are not the direct target of an action, that we are not oppressed by it. We do not ourselves need to personally experience torture or imprisonment to be affected by it. The knowledge that such a thing exists is enough to affect our own happiness, our own sense of freedom.

By addressing the atrocities inflicted upon nonhuman animals by humans, we are certainly helping those less fortunate than ourselves. We are also, however, helping OURSELVES in the process. By eradicating oppression in all its forms, we speed the creation of a compassionate society that respects each of us as individuals and all of us as a whole. As we move away from oppressive systems that perpetuate suffering, we move toward the safety of a community that protects us all. As long as any segment of the society is oppressed, all are candidates for oppression. What happens to my neighbor today, can happen to me tomorrow.

On a more concrete level, there are literally billions of living, breathing reasons why people are willing to put themselves on the line for animal rights. Every year in the United States, almost SEVEN BILLION animals die at the hands of people:

* 6 billion are slaughtered as food

* 365 million are hit and killed on roads and highways

* 200 million are murdered by sport hunters

* 50 million die in laboratories

* 25 million are murdered for their fur

* 7 million "surplus" dogs and cats are killed in pounds and shelters

Many of these animals not only die hideous deaths, but suffer through equally tragic lives. As the perpetrators of this suffering, the responsibility for the pain returns to us. Perhaps more to the point: "The blood is on our hands."

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