Animal Writes
6 June 2001 Issue
Why Rights For Animals?

Shell 2001
from [email protected] 

"What do you do?"

"Well, I have a boring day job, but for the most part, I'm an animal rights activist."

Blank stare.

"Oh, that's nice. I see my friend over there. Nice to meet you!"

I've had many different reactions from people when I tell them I'm an animal rights activist. The above scenario is the most common. People don't know what to say to the lady who wants animals to have rights. After all, I look so normal!

Animal rights activists are not, as some call us, "fantasy-based hippies." We do not all belong to "lunatic fringe groups," as USA Today hinted. We are just ordinary people, with jobs, families, and bills to pay, who happen to take notice of the inexcusable suffering of nonhuman animals by the hands of humans.

The animal rights movement isn't something new. Historically, great people such as Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison have spoken on behalf of animal rights. The more people come to accept that we should not inflict suffering on other sentient beings simply because we are capable of it, the more backlash we get from people who disagree.

One thing I often hear people say is that animal rights activists are selfish and try to force other people to do things.

In response to that statement, I ask you this: Is it selfish to fight for the rights of voiceless, sentient beings who are tortured, abused, exploited, and killed on a daily basis? Or is it selfish to fight for the right to keep on torturing, abusing, exploiting, and killing voiceless sentient beings on a daily basis?

I cannot speak for all animal rights activists, but as for myself, I hate attention. I'm a very private person. I don't scream and curse in people's faces or throw red paint on fur coats. I talk to people who will listen, I answer questions that people ask, and I protest against what I believe to be wrong. Slowly I reach people, one at a time. In turn, those who I have reached spread the message and reach others.

I have nothing to gain, except some free time and peace of mind, from nonhuman animals gaining basic rights. If this fight was over, I could spend more time with my family and more time doing things I enjoy. Believe it or not, I don't enjoy being an animal rights activist. I'd much rather create a fun web site filled with jokes, funny pictures, and happy stories. I'd rather write a newsletter that made people smile and laugh. There is nothing particularly fun about writing letters on behalf of a cat that was set on fire by some bored kids. I don't get much pleasure finding homes for one domesticated animal after another, going broke in the process, while some people continue to breed more litters of these animals. I don't enjoy going to a restaurant and having to smell the corpses of animals and have a mental picture in my head of how those animals became dinner. I hate lying awake at night thinking of the animals in laboratories who are alone and scared.

But what about children? If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I'd be one rich activist. Why worry about animals in labs and farm animals becoming dinner when children are suffering? If adults were allowed to torture, abuse, exploit, and kill children on a daily basis, I would fight for their rights too. After all, I fight for voiceless animals. But children are protected by law. Yes, laws are broken, but society makes those who break these laws against children pay for their crime. In a recent court case which dealt with a dog that was murdered, the murderer was sentenced to read the "Lassie" books. Can you imagine the murderer of a child being sentenced to read "Mary Poppins?" It wouldn't happen.

Some final thoughts:

Just because a person has the power to do something, doesn't mean it's right. The human species is protected by laws, and the strong are not allowed to take advantage of the weak. Now we need to extend those laws to protect other species as well.

We need to stop discriminating against certain species just because it was what we were taught to do. People tend to become outraged when something horrible happens to a dog or cat. As an animal rights activist, all I'm trying to do is extend that outrage to include other animals, such as monkeys, deer, cows, pigs, chickens, rats, etc.

I'm not an extra special person. I don't have any remarkable qualities. I didn't come out of the womb vegan. I use to eat meat and dairy and wear leather. But I have come to the conclusion that it is not right to hug your cat while eating a cow. And I'm trying my hardest to make others come to that conclusion also -- one person at a time.

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