Police Shootings and Equal Rights of All Animals
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM

David Cantor, Responsible Policies for Animals (RPA)
July 2016

Twenty-seven years of full-time advocacy for human beings and Earth’s quadrillions of other animals, studying the nature, scope, and causes of suffering, convinces me that we will not reduce violence, injustice, and human misery until we reckon with animal abuse.

Breaking from my full-time work at Responsible Policies for Animals to hear the memorial service in Dallas, I noted that President Obama’s speech might be among his best. He called upon Americans to approach injustice and calamitous events with “a new heart” and “an open heart.”

Below, I am pasting in a letter I recently submitted to a newspaper calling for an end to the belief that some lives have no value – the less-than-human attitude at the root of many shootings by and of police, as well as the incalculable animal abuse and suffering that informs civilization. The belief that some lives don’t matter starts with speciesism and humanist extremism, not with racism. That is explained in my letter, below.

The news industry suppresses this understanding so thoroughly that soon RPA will institute a page at www.RPAforAll.org of unpublished RPA letters and op-ed pieces. Visitors will be able to grasp that what true animal-rights theory – the innate equality and personhood of all animals – offers to human wellbeing is systematically kept from the human mind.

The groundhog I saw killed by a car today matters, not just human beings. As long as this is denied and people are indoctrinated into animal-abuse policy and practice and indifference to the consequences, there will be no peace or justice for human beings. I don’t yet know if my letter will be published. Let me know if you would like me to assist you with letters promoting equal rights of all animals.

LETTER SENT July 14, 2016:

Dear Editor,
 
We should all be grateful to thinking people throughout the country who voice what afflicts the human conscience after a mass shooting like the recent one in Orlando (Charles C. Haynes, “After Orlando, Reclaiming Our Common Humanity,” July 3, 2016). We should indeed “commit to speak about one another with civility and respect” and “call out divisive and hateful speech when we hear it.” But applying these principles only to human beings will not create the needed change. We must strike at the root of the problem, not just snip at twigs (Thoreau’s metaphor).
 
Twenty-seven years of full-time advocacy for human beings and Earth’s quadrillions of other animals, studying the nature, scope, and causes of suffering, convinces me that we will not reduce violence, injustice, and human misery until we reckon with animal abuse. Not just cruelty to animals perpetrated to cause pain and suffering or atrocities like factory farming done for material gain, but the vast scope of abuse systematically perpetrated for many thousands of years, authorized, routinized, and promoted as good for all of us.
 
“Abuse” means maltreatment. Our species abuses other animals through all of the salient aspects of civilization, even cutting down trees and polluting water. We’re not innately evil. We just long ago lost track of who we are, who the other animals are, and the destruction we wreak living by our unfettered imagination rather than by our biological nature. Nonhuman animals were the first targets of hate rooted in fear and perceived self-interest. Persecution of them introduced a less-than-human concept into the human mind, establishing long-lived mental frames which today fuel mass shootings, terrorism, the new Jim Crow, widespread campus rape, and other grave injustices.
 
So routinely do human beings kill other animals with full authorization – shooting, poisoning, hooking, netting, car-driving – and so thoroughly are we indoctrinated to perceive so much killing as normal, we forget that by nature we are naked, weaponless, defenseless plant-foraging herbivorous apes subject to predation by large cats, reptiles, dogs, and raptors in our original African-savanna home. When our prehistoric ancestors, tens of thousands of years before agriculture, started organizing to kill their natural predators (the Animal-Abuse Revolution), the practice required rationalization as it goes against our biological nature and our innate affinity for other animals. Convincing ourselves that humans are innately superior to and more valuable than other animals must have helped a great deal – and it still does.
 
Persecution and oppression regimes and eliminationist campaigns – the Nazi Holocaust which wiped out a branch of my family and many millions more, the American Holocaust that killed an estimated 125 million Amerind people, mass enslavement of African people, the Armenian and Rwandan genocides, and others – relied on labeling target groups less than human – innately inferior to those intent on destroying or displacing them. Authorities encourage anti-them, pro-us violence by disparaging them as beings already long deemed unworthy of life: “vermin,” “swine,” “cockroaches,” “serpents,” and so forth.
 
By acknowledging all animals’ innate personhood (we’re all bodies – persons) and equality, perhaps we can begin to act as if we acknowledge each other’s.

David Cantor
Executive Director
Responsible Policies for Animals


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