Animals & Ethics:
A Report of the
convened by Edward Carpenter
From the former journal of the British Union for the Abolition of
Vivisection, Animal Welfare (October 1980 edition):
by John Pitt
In moments of acute indecision, it has commonly
been observed that cats determinedly wash themselves.
appears that humans form committees.
One of the lesser-known
recent variations on this particular theme is that which was convened
between 1977 and 1979 by The Very Rev. Dr. Edward Carpenter, the
present Dean of Westminster who, as chairman, got down with a mixed
bag of veterinarians – including Dr. Michael Brambell Committee fame,
and other ecclesiastics, including the Rt. Rev. Dr. Hugh Montefiore,
Bishop of Birmingham (but not the subject of the well-known limerick)
and the Rev. Andrew Linzey, who has been an anti-vivisectionist since
he abandoned short trousers.
And the book they produced
between them isAnimals & Ethicswhich has the rare distinction of
encapsulating a whole lot of etheric-ery (sic) into a mere 44 pages,
which explains why it costs only a modest £2.00 instead of the £9.00
demanded of a similarly directed, if diametrically opposed book
written by only one author and which I reviewed in the last issue.
“This outstanding study of great practical relevance by
scientists, vets, theologians and others is urgently needed by people
working in the animal field and by citizens grappling with the
complexities of change. It offers constructive proposals as a way
forward on each of the main issues and, it is hoped, gives firmer
ground for getting to grips with the problems on a world-wide basis”.
Not my words but those of an anonymous
blurb-writer – but I’ll go along with them. Even though this book has,
I understand, been roundly condemned for containing more water than
wine by a large segment of the non-secular, I – as an agnostic – do
not find the tonic too diluted at all. It is, perhaps like such
beverages as Lachrymi Christi, not sufficiently full-bodied to give
the imbiber high blood pressure, nor so ethereal to go too far up his
I particularly like the suggestion: “In complex
situations where no authoritative judgement can be made, the animals
should be given the benefit of the doubt: they cannot speak for
Mind you, upon reading the publisher’s imprint,
and discovering it to be Watkins “(London office at Watkins Bookshop,
21 Cecil Road, London WC2N 4HB)”, and well remembering how I used to
sell a large number of review copies to the original Mr. Watkins – who
claimed to have had his brain picked consistently over the years by
Denis Wheatley, and with whom I used with some mutual amusement to
discuss Aleister Crowley and other antic occultists, I am beginning to
have doubts of another kind.
Could it be that this product of
twelve active minds will be regarded within the animal welfare
movement as a true spell-binder?
Reproduced with thanks.
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