Friday, August 8, 2014
"Animals" Don't Fly Planes Into Buildings
Can we please end the speciesist rhetoric comparing nonhuman animals to human animals? Enough already with overused and vacuous expressions like "he's worse than an animal" or "they acted like a bunch of animals."
First of all, humans are animals, too, although we seem to conveniently forget this when it is in our favor to do so. Second, it's quite hypocritical to compare the deeds of humans to nonhumans only when those deeds are flagrant. Third, and above all, the actions of human animals are—by far—worse than anything nonhuman animals have done or could ever do.
Have nonhumans created tools of death and destruction and used them against other nonhumans? Have nonhumans waged wars to annihilate other nonhumans who think differently? Are nonhumans cruel to other nonhumans for the sake of being cruel or because the color of their skin, fur, or feathers is different from their own? Do nonhuamans destroy the environment or abolish other species?
Nonhuman animals are not sadistic, self-conscious, greedy, egotistical, hypocritical or shallow. Nonhumans may not be able to do all the things humans can do, but they are capable of doing extraordinary things that we can only dream of. For example, we can't soar above the clouds or swim the depths of the oceans without the benefit of some serious technology. Yes, some nonhumans kill for survival; they're called carnivores, and they only eat raw meat. Despite common cultural misconceptions, humans are not carnivores and the physical traits differentiating humans from true carnivores are numerous. For one thing, we can't eat raw flesh. We may be able to digest cooked meat, but we don't do it well, and doing so compromises our health. Those nonhumans who are natural carnivores only take what they need. As Laura Moretti eloquently states in her essay, I Like Animals, "A pride of lions doesn't get together and decide how to exterminate zebras—their very source of nourishment. I don't think it's because they don't know how," she says. "I think it's because it's counter-productive."
Nonhumans don't create torturous events and activities that exploit other animals for monetar gain under the pretense of sport or entertainment. They don't imprison other animals, display them in cages and tanks, and force them to perform for their own amusement. They don't chase other animals down to ride them, torment them, or spear them for a crowd's applause.
It is nonhuman animals—not human animals—who are the most victimized beings on earth. Some 60 billion nonhumans who live on land and one trillion who live in the sea are bred and slaughtered each year, just for "food." Nonhumans don't produce the likes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot (Thank God for that!) and yet we humans murder more nonhumans annually than the total number of humans who have ever walked the earth, demonstrating that we—not nonhumans—are the ones to fear. We are the sadistic oppressors who operate as a mob of tyrants, reaffirming what Stalin purportedly once said: one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic.
It is nonhumans—not humans—who are continually exploited for entertainment, science, clothing, food, and every kind of atrocious use our diabolical minds can conceive of. As both individuals and a group, we humans do to other species things that they would never do to us or other animals and yet, we continue to look the other way, ignoring our complicities in their pain and suffering, while managing to compare our most dreadful acts to them. There's absolutely no comparison.
"Animals—not humans—are the best this planet has too offer," Ms. Moretti says at the end of her essay. I couldn't agree more! Nonhuman animals are good and they offer us a chance to see ourselves for who we really are and to strive to be better. Until we recognize them and their moral value, we will continue to make excuses for our egregious conduct, and we will continue to blame others for our failings as human beings.
Image from Bjork video for Human Behavior
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