Human Rights Valued Over Animal Rights

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Human Rights Valued Over Animal Rights

By Meredith Price, University of South Carolina's The Daily Gamecock
September 2010

After recent articles in The Daily Gamecock and the recent discussions in our nation regarding stem cells, I think it is time for some raised consciousness in regards to how we treat animals. This may seem like a strange connection, but what seems strange to me is that people are arguing over the research on a collection of 32 cells discarded as biohazardous waste from fertility clinics, yet they wouldn't even find it newsworthy if they were the cells of a different animal, since humans are animals after all. If you were to pause and reflect on the poor and often cruel treatment of animals present in our daily lives, I would hope that you would be as appalled as I am.

Research indicates a link between serial killers and the abuse of animals. The link lies in the fact that people who lack the empathy for the pain and suffering they cause to animals may also lack the ability to empathize with humans. Yet many people treat animals as though they are disposable, insignificant creatures here only for our pleasure or our plates. Bear baiting and cock, dog and bull fighting are some well-known examples. Animals have been used in warfare for centuries, some recent examples of which are exploding pigs to gain knowledge of terrorist attacks on human bodies and terrorists using donkeys to carry bombs.

On the domestic front, we have animal cruelty on our farms and in our homes. The majority of farms keep animals cramped together without proper nutrition, sunlight, shelter or water, and they may be branded or de-beaked. Practices such as creating foie gras (the forced feeding of ducks via tube down the esophagus and other birds that can cause ruptured organs and death to create a fatty liver) and veal (baby cows chained and kept in a small cage to prevent movement then purposefully denied iron and fiber in their diets to create soft, tender meat) I find to be cruel and disgusting.

In their homes, people abuse and neglect their pets. They deny them veterinary care and leave them chained outside without shelter, water and food. They dock their tails, run puppy mills and give them up to "humane" societies that euthanize the animals if they are too sick, if they don't have the money to treat them or if they simply don't have the space. In Richland and Lexington Counties alone, 19,000 dogs and cats are euthanized annually. This represents a rate of 83 percent.

Animal cruelty in one form or another is accepted in our Zeitgeist. It's in our movies, our media and our language. We vehemently attack research on human stem cells because it is destroying potential life, but not when it relates to the actual life of animals fully capable of pain, emotion and memory right now. We wouldn't use dead humans for Mythbusters' experiments or euthanize humans that are sick or because we're overcrowded. Michael Vick only received 23 months in jail for dog fighting, while John Lennon's killer has spent 30 years behind bars and is still there. Why is it that this is acceptable when animals suffer just as much as humans? We are an arrogant species that must learn to respect the rights to life and happiness for all Earth's creatures.