Establishing the Rights of Animals in Law and Human Consciousness
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Establishing the Rights of Animals in Law and Human Consciousness

Comments by David Cantor - 23 Jun 2006

Dear Frank & Mary,

I've been delayed in replying to your most recent due to newsletter coming out, tabling event tomorrow, additional event arrangements, and other thing with tight schedules. I'll offer a few quick observations.

The FBI and other studies showing links between violence against nonhuman animals and against humans have all had to do with violence against nonhumans whose injury or killing is not publicly sanctioned under the existing paradigm, particularly dogs and cats. As far as I know, no social science has linked violence against humans to hunting, working in a slaughterhouse, running a factory farm, debeaking chickens, clearcutting forest, or any other of the countless acts of violence against nonhuman animals that are publicly sanctioned.

That's why those studies have all been used to promote animal welfare and never to promote animal rights and why HSUS and other organizations that have emphasized them have never advanced animal rights and oppose animal rights strategies.

But if you think there would be a way to use that kind of information to advance animal rights, I'm more than open to the precise explanation of how it would work. The studies haven't led to any rights for the animals they pertain to or in any way advanced an animal rights paradigm; quite the opposite, I think -- they've reinforced that a very few animals whom many people consider members of their families deserve better treatment and that humans are in danger when those other animals are -- as if that makes abusing those other animals a more significant crime than if abusing them didn't indicate a danger to humans.

The approach I am taking and trying to persuade others to take for linking the abuse of nonhuman animals to human problems is that which I took in the Albany presentation and that is taken in the brochure I handed out there: Human Problems: Animal Solutions -- A brief guide to long-term success in health, conservation, ecology, peace, and abundance through responsible policies for animals.

This approach reflects my belief that the way to show people how animal rights will benefit them is not to show them how they can benefit from improved treatment of nonhumans who already mean something to them but how they and their entire world can benefit from total reform of the human-nonhuman animal relationship, i.e., from animal rights. Animal welfare not only offers little or no benefit to humans (the violence connection is really not much), but, since it is one and the same as animal exploitation, it cannot do otherwise than to perpetuate the human illness, resource waste, bigotry, poverty, armed conflict and other human problems that cannot be solved except through animal rights.

Because the mass media never educate but only entertain, they do not explain interconnections like those I briefly mentioned above. If there is a way to reach very large audience with a genuine animal rights message, what would be that way? To test whether the message is animal rights, we have to ask whether it challenges the entire current paradigm or suggests to people that they can solve their and the animals' problems without fundamental change. If fundamental change -- a whole new paradigm -- is not included in communications, the message is not one of animal rights. Very few people accept a need for fundamental change very readily.

That is why I believe the most crucial audience for animal rights -- in the beginning stage the movement unfortunately is in at this time due to having promoted animal welfare instead for so long -- is people who are capable of understanding the entire message, of understanding exactly what rights are and why no amount of caring or welfare can establish rights, and so on.

Best wishes,

David Cantor

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