The Fellowship of Life
Animals or Children?
From the Annual Report 1979 of the Scottish Anti-Vivisection Society:
One of the accusations leveled at campaigners for the rights of sentient creatures is that they care more for animals than they do for children. During a debate in the House of Lords on hare coursing, Lord Houghton of Sowerby replied to this taunt:
“With your Lordships’ permission, I want to avail myself of the opportunity on this occasion to refute the suggestion which came my way in the course of the debate on the Child Protection Bill Second reading stage last month: namely, that I probably care for animals more than I care for children. I am by no means alone in this experience because one frequently hears this kind of remark. I am not going to quote what was said or who said it; it is on the record. All I want to do for a moment or two is to reply to it on my own behalf and on behalf of many others who suffer, if I may say so, from this kind of insinuation.
I do not equate animals with children, nor do I make them alternatives in my affections, my concern, or my work. They are a different species each with their rights and claims upon the living world. It is not a matter of priorities, of ‘either/or’, it is a matter of the moral standards of human beings, and those to me are all-embracing and all-pervasive. They are all that justifies the continued existence of mankind. I am not called upon to apportion my deepest feelings between children and animals. I care about all living things – and for the weak and helpless most of all.
Moreover, I have no obsessions; I am not a fanatic; I am not crazy. I reject the proposition that fondness for animals implies some lack of concern for human beings. Do I have to prove a love of children by being cruel to animals? Is the person who is cruel to animals likely to love children all the more? Is that the proposition, or is cruelty an evil streak in the nature of some humans which makes selfless love, whether for humans or animals, impossible?
When Queen Victoria was urging Members of this House to support the Bill which became the Cruelty to Animals Bill of 1876, did any noble Lord suggest that Her Majesty (who had nine children) cared more for animals than for children? If not, how many children does one have to have to be exempt from this imputation? How can one disprove it? The more one analyses this taunt, the more unfair it becomes. With great respect, I ask that we should hear no more of it.”
Hansard (House of Lords report), 19th June, 1978.
The Scottish Anti-Vivisection Society became Advocates for Animals in
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