Animals as Victims of Scapegoating
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Animals as Victims of Scapegoating

It is always tempting to blame other individuals for our own shortcomings, because this helps preserves our self-esteem. Attributing our own guilt to other individuals is the essence of scapegoating, and nonhumans are ideal candidates for such a process for several reasons.
Nonhumans cannot verbally challenge false charges against them. They are relatively weak compared to humans and vulnerable to human mistreatment. Human communities, particularly those needing fellow humans to assist in farming, hunting, or defense, find animals far more expendable and replaceable than humans. And, probably most importantly, animals can be punished or otherwise abused without risk of retaliation from family members, friends, or others.
Routinely, animals destined for murder at human hands are regarded as vicious, licentious, stupid, ugly, or otherwise contemptible and undeserving of sympathy. Next essay, I will argue that these characterizations, which are essential to the process of scapegoating animals, are false.

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