Unfortunately, most people are naive about the differences between animal right and animal welfare. Carl Cohen states in The Animal Rights Debate:
|Talk about the rights of animals appears to many to be harmless. It's just a way to encourage the greater protection of innocent animals, many think. To say that animals have rights, they suppose, is no more than a formal recognition of the fact that there are some things we ought not to do to animals. Not so. . .The animal rights movement, as we have seen, explicitly aims for the total abolition of the use of animals in science and the total dissolution of commercial animal agriculture. (24).|
Animal rightists believe that animals are not ours to use, and that any exploitation of them, be it for food, fur, recreation (zoos, pets, hunting) or research, is morally wrong. Thus animal rights and animal welfare are completely contradictory philosophies. Tom Reagan, one of the key philosophers behind the animal rights movement, has made it very clear that animal welfare is not an option:
|Giving farm animals more space, more natural environments, more companions does not right the fundamental wrong, any more than giving lab animals more anesthesia or bigger, cleaner cages would right the fundamental wrong in their case. Nothing less than the total dissolution of commercial animal agriculture will do this, just as . . . morality requires nothing less than the total elimination of hunting and trapping for commercial and sporting ends. The rights view's implications, then, as I have said, are clear and uncompromising. (my emphasis, Bender and Leone 40).|
|Not only are the philosophies of animal rights and animal welfare separated by irreconcilable differences, and not only are the practical reforms grounded in animal welfare morally at odds with those sanctioned by the philosophy of animal rights, but also the enactment of animal welfare measures actually impedes the achievement of animal rights. (Bender and Leone 195).|
Most animal rights groups are aware that they need examples of animal cruelty in order to market animal rights to the public, and their entire campaigns hinge on this strategy. For instance, PETA cannot market vegetarianism by claiming outright that it is wrong to eat animals because few people would listen. Instead, PETA runs campaigns like "Kentucky Fried Cruelty," which show abuses within agriculture or even normal practices that could be easily misinterpreted as cruelty by urban audiences. Once the public is horrified by alleged or actual cruelty, PETA offers to send them a free vegetarian starter kit. Without inflammatory acts of cruelty, whether real or staged, the animal rights movement cannot market its philosophy to a mainstream audience. As long as animal use is humane, the public will never accept the animal rights view that animal use is wrong.
Articles and images contained on this site are © 2003 by Karen Trinkaus unless otherwise noted and may not be reprinted or used in any way without the author's permission.