Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Who are we to decide?

cow at poplar spring

I was reading a blog recently, or more specifically reading the comments to one of the posts, when I saw one of the tired arguments in favor of breeding animals for exploitation – isn’t it better for them to live, no matter how horrible their lives are? And who are we to decide for them whether they’d prefer to never exist?

I’m not trained in philosophy or law, but even so the gaping holes in such logic is obvious. Who are we to decide indeed. The people posing the question never stop to consider it in both directions. If we are to ask who we are to decide that the animals would rather never be born than live miserably as farmed animals, we also have to ask who are we to decide that the animals would rather live a miserable existence than none at all? That is exactly what is being decided every day, as farmed animals are forced into pregnancies they don’t have a chance to choose.

The other hole is the inconsistency in where the “isn’t it better to live at all, than to never be born” question is applied. At least, I have to assume it is applied inconsistently, because I have a hard time imagining that every person who voices this question is against birth control of any sort, for every species. In fact, it goes beyond birth prevention, and is basically an argument that implies each and every one of us must try to get pregnant at every opportunity, lest we deny a potential individual the chance at life. It argues that we should also be constantly breeding every animal in our care; spaying and neutering would definitely be considered wrong according to this logic. Ludicrous.

So, yes, I feel completely comfortable arguing against the forced breeding of farmed animals. I am against their being bred, period. I’m an advocate of spaying and neutering, and of women’s choice. Unless they are truly advocating constant pregnancies for every female of every species, these same people who think that humans shouldn’t be deciding whether the exploited animals would have preferred to never be born should also argue for giving those same animals the choice of whether to breed. I can be generous and ignore the inconsistency when it comes to companion animals and humans, but if they can’t be consistent in applying this logic to even one species, it is pretty obvious it is an excuse, not a logical argument. The exploiters (yes, including consumers) don’t care that they are treating sentient beings as property, as resources. Are we really to believe that they care whether these animals desire to live, when their every action proves otherwise?


2 responses to “Who are we to decide?

  1. leindiemeister December 6, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    It’s interesting that you started participating in my blog at the time you did, actually, being the advocate of animal rights that you are. I’m researching factory farming for an English paper, and this entry, especially, is relevant to what I’m learning via my research.

    I think what you’ve written about actually has a lot to do with suicide. Some people live miserable lives, either temporarily or pretty much permanently, and while some manage to battle through the depression that is life in hopes of opportunity, others choose to end their struggles forever. Or maybe if and when they get to Hell, they realize that was only the beginning… It really depends on the creature and his or her personality, and the past. I agree that no human really has the authority or the right to decide for an animal, or even for another human, on the issue of life and lack of existence.

    And I appreciate how you summed up living versus never being born in terms of pregnancy.

    Oh. But the most interesting and possibly horrifying thing I’ve learned in my research is that while industrial farmers claim they approve of the betterment of living conditions on their farms, they really have an utterly warped sense of “good” conditions. Which, like you said, they really don’t care. Same with consumers, although…I think that only half of it is that they turn a blind eye to the suffering because they know it’s necessary to get precious animal products. The other half is that really, the extreme details like statistics and the underhandedness of the whole circuit of obtaining animal products is that much of it is illegal and gruesome.

    Cute pictures, by the way.

  2. Deb December 6, 2006 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks on the pictures. 🙂

    Awesome that you’re researching these issues for a paper. If you need help finding any information, let me know. Not that it is difficult to find the info, once you are looking!

    One thing that you might or might not want to include in your paper is that the Animal Welfare Act, which is supposed to provide for the “humane” treatment of animals being farmed and sent to slaughter, only includes some animals. It skips chickens and mice, so it doesn’t protect the majority of animals being used in agribusiness and research. Pathetic, really. And of course it is hardly enforced at all.

    I was thinking about suicide (in general, not for myself!) when I was writing this post, and how it tied in. It is true, I think many people would opt out of life if they had to live as these animals do. Having a choice in the matter is important, I guess. In the normal scheme of things, I think that suicide is a tragic result of issues that can often be worked out, given time and people to talk to and maybe medication to correct things if it is a chemical issue in the brain; but these conditions on the farms can’t be compared to anything normal. And suicide is a different issue than not being conceived to begin with. Still, it does make you think.

    I am, of course, completely cynical, but I think I’m also realistic when I say that the farmers who are in favor of “better” treatment and “good” conditions for the animals are in favor of such things because they can expect increased profit. Actually, gary francione says a lot about this.

    And another big influence for me has been vegan freaks: (especially the podcasts and the blog. well, and the forums too! 😀 )

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