'Church Times' debate (1984)
Facts about animal welfare (9/11/84)
Sir, - As your issue of October 26 contains two items calculated to
make the heckles rise on animal welfare workers' backs, it is necessary
to correct certain factual inaccuracies, non sequiturs and, last but not
least, bits of faulty logic.
To deal first with your correspondent
(a) There are at least 156 different species of grass in the British
Isles, some of which are edible and digestible by man, though few of us
are able to recognise them when on a country walk! Both herbivores and
omnivores have very long intestines, whereas true carnivores have short,
thick ones. If Mr. Sewell's dogs (omnivores) refuse rice, that is not
necessarily because of their "design": other species than man have
differing individual tastes likewise - for example, one of my two dogs
likes soft fruit but the other does not.
(b) Employment for butchers? I have heard of a butcher - in Scotland
- who has shown the way by selling meat-substitute as well as flesh
meat. Other jobs involving animal exploitation can be phased out in
time, equally painlessly for man (as well as for the animals). What
became of the slave traffickers and the employers of slave labour?
(c) One can generally quote Old and/or New Testament in support
either side of a controversy: Shakespeare drew attention to that fact in
The Merchant of Venice ("The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose").
Eventually one must ask: who is the less likely to be hooked up on the
hotline to the Holy Ghost? (Christ did not condemn cannibalism either!)
(d) Mr. Sewell may not suggest (even "respectfully") to any animal
welfare worker, or indeed to workers for any other charity, that they
divert their energies elsewhere. He should address his "respectful"
suggestions to that very large section (probably the majority) of the
population who are doing little or nothing for any charity.
Much of what Margaret Duggan says in her article in the same issue is
reasonable and fair comment, but responsible anti-vivisectionists are
very careful to get their facts right - from the horse's mouth, viz.,
the publications of the enemy himself. As regards "misleading,"
"inflammatory" and "exaggerated" literature, it makes no difference
morally whether it be the minority or the majority of experimental
animals that suffer pain or stress. There should be none at all.
"The end justifies the means" is an ancient heresy condemned by St.
Paul - full-stop. And what's wrong with extremism anyway? Christ was an
Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare,
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