In Reference to: Say No to Sanctified Animal Abuse
Professor Schwartz has asked us to suspend disbelief and accept his
premise that compassion for animals can be derived from values which allow
for their harm and slaughter because there is a nod to compassion. The
following is a gesture of compassion suggested by the model endorsed by the
Torah, with commentary of a sage who bases his compassion on allowable
“It is prohibited to kill an animal with its young on
the same day, in order that people should be
restrained and prevented from killing the two together
in such a manner that the young is slain in the sight
of the mother; for the pain of animals under such
circumstances is very great… ” (Maimonides, Guide for
the Perplexed, 3:48)” Commentary, Old Testament compassion
Kind gestures followed by such cruelty merely trivialize compassion.
Quibbling about the day of slaughter ignores the question of whether
slaughter should ever be allowed.
In the model of compassion endorsed by Professor Schwartz, kosher slaughter is defended as somehow more compassionate. To claim that one form of slaughter is more compassionate than another, begs the issue of whether man has the right to take an animal’s life for human benefit. To state the life of a human has more worth than that of an animal undermines the value of any attempts at compassion because it denies the intrinsic worth of an animals life. It is clear from the following example, when slaughter is justified as compassionate, conditions often degenerate to extreme abuse:
Kosher Slaughter: The Shame and the Pity:
Several issue must be confronted when one evaluates an approach to ending
animal suffering. I challenge Professor Schwartz to respond to these issues
Is it possible to derive compassion from a model which does not acknowledge the intrinsic worth of an animal’s life?
The contradiction of compassion vs allowable harm/slaughter.
The premise that an animals life has less worth than a human life and its implications for allowable harm.
Can one in good conscience promote a ’sacred’ model of animal compassion
based on allowable ab(use) and slaughter, especially when the facts indicate
a model based on respect for ALL life has been effective through the
Please consider your own response to these question as well and also consider the facts.
When a model of unconditional compassion for animals is followed, the
results for them are significantly improved and a foundation for increased
benefits is set down for greater future improvements. (See attachment)
While it is apparent that Professor Schwartz loves his religion one has
to wonder whether it is appropriate for him to promote a model of animal
compassion, generated 5000 years ago which has had such devastating results
for animals. Perhaps it is time for those who care deeply about the well
being of animals to work from a model based on the assumption that an
animals life has intrinsic worth and that the harming or slaughter of an
animal for human benefit is always gratuitous violence.
What Professor Schwartz fails to recognize, is that despite some measures
of comfort for animals, the basic premise of the values he espouses so
undermines the value of their lives that compassion is reduced to cosmetic
gestures which merely suggest the appearance of kindness. The system he
endorses creates a hierarchy, with man at the helm and grants him the right
to ab(use) harm and slaughter animals for human benefit. Claims that with
this model, man should protect animals, underestimate the power of the
contradiction it presents: have compassion for animals/allowable harm and
abuse. Once you allow for harm and slaughter any measures of compassion are
reduced to what Professor Gary Francione has termed ‘moral schizophrenia’.
So despite the many benefits claimed by the compassion of the
judeo.christian tradition, the bottomline is that this tradition does in
fact allow for the harm and slaughter of animals. Ask yourself if there is
any other movement you know of that allows for the harm and slaughter of
those it professes to defend.
The promotion of ones religion, with the offer of a free video, as having superior values of compassion given the track record of these values is chauvinism that is inappropriate considering the plight of animals. Especially so since a truly effective model of compassion has been quietly passed down for thousands of years. It is the value of ahimsa or unconditional compassion, as follwed by the Jains of India, with resulting major benefits for animals.
Chauvinism that violates the rights of one group either human or animal,
as it extols the benefits to another is inappropriate and harmful:
"I would like to offer you a complimentary DVD with our recently released
documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD."
Professor Richard Schwartz
Values that honor violence and sanctify animal abuse have not resulted in
a more peaceful world and benevolent conditions for animals. There is an
excellent film, by Tribe of Heart : Peaceable Kingdom, that everyone who is
concerned with compassion for animals should view. It speaks to the heart
compassion: animals are living beings entitled to unconditional respect. It
does not have a vested interest in preserving traditional, harmful religious
beliefs to maintain religious cohesion.
For whatever reason animals may have been harmed in other cultures in the
past, the fact that ahimsa is the only model of animal compassion that has
resulted in significant benefits for animals. With this knowledge it would
seem that those working to end animal suffering no matter what their culture
or religion, it would seem that a model of unconditional compassion is an
essential tool to accomplish the goal of ending animals suffering. To use
any other model of compassion is inexcusable, especially one which has been
ineffective in achieving this goal and has instead resulted in ever
increasing harm and abuse.
It is the 21st century. It is inappropriate to use a model of animal
compassion which has had such disastrous results for animals. The decision
to promote a religious model NOW when it is clear that this model has not
worked in 5000 years is indefensible. We have fresh vine ripened tomatoes in
New England all year long, which are grown in Maine in greenhouses. There is
no longer the need to transport food long distances to provide people with
cruelty free nutrition. With a model of unconditional compassion and the
advantages we have today of bringing vegetarian/vegan food to remote
cultures, it no longer makes sense to promote a model that at its core
allows for the harm and slaughter of animals.
To cling to harmful beliefs and try to justify them to preserve religious
cohesion is to deny the animals the best possible chance for better lives.
They have suffered long enough and deserve a whole-hearted model of
The next time a healthy young homeless dog is killed by a shelter in the
west, which is against the law in India, the next time a high school student
is forced to dissect an animal in the USA, which is banned in India for all
high school students in all states, the next time you read a horror story of
vivisectors using monkeys in the USA and Israel and breeding them….Remember
that India banned the export of its monkeys abroad so the would not be
harmed in laboratories abroad…The next time someone tells you that they eat
meat because god created animals for human benefit, remember that there are
400 million vegetarians in India…The next time a carriage horse is killed in
traffic in NYC remember that carriage horses are banned in Delhi, the next
time a church sponsors a bear hunt in the USA for its youth, remember that
India freed all its dancing bears and released them to sanctuaries, note
that on Thanksgiving 45 million turkeys are killed just for this one day and
remember that for the Jain holidays of atonement the slaughter houses of
other groups such as Moslems, Jews, Seiks, Zorastrians etc are shut down, as
killing is so intolerable.
Yes there are cruel people every where, but at least when the law is on the side of the animals and they are valued as living beings at least they have a chance. In the west animals are viewed as property by the law. Animal protection laws in the west will not improve until the mainstream religions accept the intrinsic worth of an animals life.