The Fellowship of Life
Spread of 'speciesism'
G E Moorhouse (November 5) attempts to defend the so-called 'blood-sport' of hunting on the grounds that it is simply one of the activities of the "intelligent carnivore". The enjoyment and practice of hunting is also he hints part of a divinely instituted plan for creation which it would be arrogant of man to question.
However, it would seem to an increasing number of people that Mr
Moorhouse is simply giving expression to that most widespread of the
discriminatory 'isms' - speciesism. The results of this speciesism
cannot readily be called intelligent, and they seem to be at their
worst in our present age: the numbers of defenceless animals
senselessly and brutally hunted and torn limb from limb, the number
of creatures captured and reared in order to be tortured and maimed
often without anaesthetic for the purposes of testing new cosmetics,
weedkillers or biological and chemical weapons (etc.) or simply for
our children to dissect or experiment on at school, have probably
never been higher.
Nor have the numbers of animals reared for eating (nor the
methods been more callous) even though, quite apart from being
damaging to our health, meat production - as Mr Moorhouse admits -
is known to be scandalously wasteful of resources and thus to cost
the lives of hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings dying
for want of food in the third world.. The time for Homo sapiens to
show some of his wisdom is long overdue.
Because man's cerebral faculties and ability to shape and
determine his environment are so far advanced beyond those of the
other species, Western man at least, has got into the habit of
thinking that the planet and the whole of the 'natural realm' exists
solely for his benefit.
Unfortunately, assent to speciesism has characterised most if not
all of Christian theology, which has often in its turn provided the
justification for the speciesist perspective and the purely
instrumental way in which we regard the world and its life.
We Catholics have perhaps been particularly guilty in this
respect but there are signs that man is beginning to change his
attitude (as Vivien Clifford's article, October 8, and the
subsequent correspondence in your columns demonstrates). In
exercising power over the rest of the species man has an obligation
to consider rights, of animals.
We will have little respect for human life if we treat the lives
of the other animals to which we are so biologically close, as no
more than a resource and the obligation of our stewardship as simply
the duty not to use up this resource too quickly - as Mr Moorhouse
seems strongly to suggest.
J V Nicholson
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