Movements with a Similar Agenda
1) The right-to-life ethic sounds egalitarian in terms
of human rights: all humans have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness, and to deny rights to a particular class of humans on an
arbitrary criteria such as race, gender, class, handicap, viability,
developmental status, IQ, etc. is discrimination. Right-to-lifers refer to
such discrimination as a "quality of life" standard.
2) The animal rights movement puts forth an equally egalitarian ethic: all animals have aright to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This challenges the traditional right-to-life ethic of membership in the human race as a criterion for personhood as just another form of discrimination: All ethical systems impose a "quality of life" standard.
3) Both movements consider their cause a form of secular social progress, like the abolition of human slavery or the emancipation of women. Both movements compare themselves to the abolitionists who sought to end human slavery.
4) Both movements see themselves extending human rights to an excluded class of beings.
5) Both movements claim to be speaking on behalf of a minority group unable to defend themselves from oppression.
6) Both movements compare the mass destruction of the human unborn and the mass killing of animals to the Nazi Holocaust.
7) Recognizing the rights of another class of beings limits our freedoms and our choices, and requires a change in our personal lifestyle. The abolition of human slavery is a good example of this.
8) Both movements appear to be imposing their own personal moral convictions upon the rest of our secular society.
9) Both movements have components that engage in nonviolent civil disobedience, and both have their militant factions. Both have picketed the homes of physicians who either experiment upon animals or perform abortions.
10) Both movements are usually depicted in the popular news media as extremists, fanatics, terrorists, etc. who violate the law. But both movements also have their intelligensia: moral philosophers, physicians, clergymen, legal counsel, etc.
11) Both movements cite studies that violence towards an oppressed class of beings paves the way for worse forms of violence in society—this is known as the "slippery slope."The term was coined by British writer Malcolm Muggeridge, a "pro-life vegetarian."
12) Both movements speak of respecting life and of compassion.
In an article about animal rights, appearing in the August 1988 issue of Harper's magazine, bioethicist Art Caplan was willing to seriously discuss the rights of animals, but warned:
"...if you cheapen the currency of rights language, you’ve got to worry that rights may not be taken seriously. Soon you will have people arguing that trees have rights and that embryos have rights..."
Art Caplan, seeing the obvious similarities between these two causes, animal rights and prenatal rights, each movement is extending rights to an excluded class of beings on the fringes of our moral community, was clearly worried: if we give rights to animals, will we have to give rights to the unborn, to be consistent?
"That's going to be the end of abortion!" he warned.
Pro-lifers, quoting law professor Gary Francione's response to bioethicist Art Caplan with, "I'm sure there's some way we can keep abortion legal..." are living in the past.
Perhaps pro-lifers are still worried about Michael Dukakis being 20 points ahead of Bush Sr. in the polls, too?
I'm sure you're aware that Ingrid Newkirk (Executive Director, of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA) admitted, dumbfounded, to conservative talk show host Dennis Prager as early as 1992, "We're divided (on abortion)."
I'm sure you're aware that animal activists are sensitive toward pro-lifers. Ingrid Newkirk is pro-choice, but spoke at the Festival for the Animals in San Francisco, CA in June 1992 along with pro-life vegan labor leader Cesar Chavez.
I'm sure you're aware that the Animals' Agenda ran a cover story in 1998, about the debate within the animal rights movement over abortion.
I'm sure you're aware that when the pro-life and pro-animal group Allies Of Peace ran an ad in Harmony: Voices for a Just Future (a peace and justice periodical on the religious left) in the late 1990s, a local San Francisco radio station, KITS 105.3 FM, sarcastically played the theme song to The Price Is Right.
(I'm sure you're aware that television game show host Bob Barker is a conservative Republican and an animal activist).
I'm sure you're aware that past president of Feminists For Life Rachel MacNair, a vegan and a pro-life liberal, moderated an email list for pro-life vegetarians and vegans in the late '90s.
I'm sure you're aware that in 2004, Maria Krasinski (a Catholic lesbian who became a Quaker -- she had issues with the Church!) mentioned a poll on the Democrats For Life email list which found animal activists evenly divided over abortion.
I'm sure you're aware it's hypocritical for pro-life Republicans to demonize the animal rights movement for not being officially pro-life when they allow their own political party to remain a "big tent" on abortion for fear of losing votes.
(It doesn't occur to them that animal activists face an identical political reality?)
I'm sure you're aware there are many pro-life conservatives, like G. Gordon Liddy (on friendly terms with Ingrid Newkirk), Bob Barker, Bob Dornan, Robert Smith, etc. who support animal rights!
I'm sure you're aware that if vegetarianism were merely about "fitting" or merely following a peculiar set of sectarian "dietary laws," pro-lifers would have no reason to be offended by pro-choice vegetarians and vegans.
Pro-lifers are offended because they know vegetarianism involves the animals' right to life, and thus these pro-choicers appear to value animal life over human life under some circumstances.
I'm sure your aware that animal issues like animal experimentation, circuses, fur, etc. have nothing to do with diet, eating, or food, but do involve the animals' right to life!
I'm sure you're aware that Leonardo Da Vinci, Count Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony, George Bernard Shaw, Percy Shelley, and Benjamin Franklin were all vegetarian, but none of them were Jewish!
I'm sure you're aware that Adolf Hitler thought Albert Einstein's scientific discoveries were mere "Jewish science" and thus not applicable to gentiles. Thus, pro-lifers are just as bigoted as Hitler, if they think animal rights and vegetarianism are solely a "Jewish" concern. It's comparable to saying, "It's only wrong to own a slave if you're a Quaker."
I'm sure you're aware that there's a sad irony here, as many liberals likewise see abortion as sectarian: if you're not born again, you don't have to be pro-life.
I'm sure you're aware the number of animals killed for food in the United States is nearly 75 times larger than the number of animals killed in laboratories, 30 times larger than the number killed by hunters and trappers, and 500 times larger than the number of animals killed in animal pounds.
I'm sure you're aware that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is challenging those who think they can still be "meat-eating environmentalists" to go vegan, if they really care about the planet.
I'm sure you're aware that peta2 is now the largest youth movement of any social change organization in the world.
I'm sure you're aware that peta2 has 267,000 friends on MySpace and 91,000 Facebook fans.
I'm sure you're aware that years ago, PETA was the top-ranked charity when a poll asked teenagers what nonprofit group they would most want to work for. PETA won by more than a two to one margin over the second place finisher, The American Red Cross, with more votes than the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity combined.
I'm sure you're aware that animal activists are tolerant of others making the transition to a plant-based diet. Ingrid Newkirk is a strict vegan, but PETA has said online, "Flexitarians (part-time vegetarians and vegans) can save the world!"
“If anyone wants to save the planet,” says Paul McCartney in an interview with PETA's Animal Times magazine from 2001, “all they have to do is stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it.
"Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty. Let’s do it! Linda was right. Going veggie is the single best idea for the new century.”
I'm sure you're aware that Les Brown of the Overseas Development Council
calculates that if Americans reduced their meat consumption by only ten
percent per year, it would free at least twelve million tons of grain for
human consumption--or enough to feed sixty million people.
The meat-eaters, on the other hand, ask anti-fur protesters if they are wearing leather, scoff at Hare Krishna devotees for opposing cow-killing and animal cruelty in general while drinking milk from the commercial dairies, etc.
The meat-eaters and animal exploiters in general, are quick to criticize anyone who isn't consistently nonviolent toward all life, while they themselves refuse to change!