Social Question

Oxymoron's avatar

Should animals, in your opinion, be able to have their own rights? More than what they have now, close to the rights that people have.

Asked by Oxymoron (1239points) February 4th, 2010

Do you consider animals to be equal to people? Should animals get the same rights as people?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

33 Answers

Spinel's avatar

Animals should not be misused and abused. Cruelty to them is just a horrid reflection of the darker side of humanity. However, it would be folly to give them all of the rights we have. For example, can you see a dog driving on the interstate, or a cat voting in the 2012 elections? Can you see a hamster attending public school? Those kinds of rights aren’t needed for animals.

6rant6's avatar

@Spinel I don’t think most dogs could pass the written test let alone the driving. And cats voting???? like they could be bothered…

Oxymoron's avatar

@Spinel – I agree, those would be pretty stupid rights for animals to have. Ha ha. I just meant legally, in the way if someone kills an innocent animal for no reason then there should be stiff penalties. Like jail time or something.

Spinel's avatar

I see. :) In that case, it might be a good idea. After all, serial killers and the like often start out with animals in the early days. If early acts are punished, it might prevent later, more horrific acts on humans.

Factotum's avatar

My understanding is that harming animals without reason has penalties associated with it. I don’t know that I would want to expand much beyond what we have.

@Spinel You do have a point there.

Oxymoron's avatar

@Spinel – That’s exactly what I always say. =)

@Factotum – Why not?

Tenpinmaster's avatar

Well, I mean I don’t plan on voting to give animals right to bear arms but I feel that they should have consideration on their habitat before we go and up root them from their home for our own gain. I believe they have every right to be here just like we do and we all make up the balance in our eco system. But the fact is that we are the superior race on the planet because of our ability to reason, advanced language abilities and the fact that we are self aware and understand our environment. In the end its not about right, or wrong. Its about power. Us humans have the power and fate over this planet and over all other species.

Corey_D's avatar

I hate to see animals being tortured. I think you have to be a truly sick person to abuse and torture them pointlessly. Killing them is another story as I am a hunter.

However, in order to have rights you must be capable of making moral choices. Otherwise the rights are meaningless. Should we arrest a fox for murder when it kills a rabbit? Should we condemn a cat for torturing a mouse? To give rights to animals is to make a mockery of the whole concept of rights.

Non human animals are absolutely not equal to humans. I would personally brutally slaughter every member of every endangered species in the world with my bare hands if it saved one human life. It is morally outrageous to put an animals life on the same level as human life.

Violet's avatar

Should animals, in your opinion, be able to have their own rights? Should animals get the same rights as people?
Yes, I think animals should be able to vote, and serve our country
Do you consider animals to be equal to people? No

Anon_Jihad's avatar

I love animals, please don’t get me wrong, but we’re vastly superior beings. It’s not our faults we evolved this way and they their way. But we’re the fittest, we’ve the right to rule simply by existing as we do, and all stupid philosophy aside, that’s as close to nature as it gets. So no, I don’t feel animals should have rights, we’ve developed the sense of what rights should be for our level of evolution, to apply those concepts to something on such a vastly different level of evolution, is absurd and downright fucking offensive.

DominicX's avatar

I don’t think animals should be abused or tortured. No animals (not just cute kittens and puppies) deserve to be treated that way and for that reason I do not support many of the ways in which farm animals are treated. However, I do believe that humans and animals are not equal in many ways and I do not believe it is wrong for humans to use animals for food.

Factotum's avatar

Rights are generally paired with responsibilities and societal purpose. Animals, generally speaking, have no responsibilities. Those that do – horses and working dogs – might arguably be entitled so rights. But then, they already are treated well by owners who understand their worth.

Causing suffering is immoral and it is that which should (and mostly does) prevent our harming animals, not a raft if new laws.

absalom's avatar

What a coincidence that I just read The Lives of Animals (recommended), which addresses this topic directly.

The most obvious thing to me is that animal cruelty is pretty much a plainly bad thing. Not so much because it’s a violation of rights (I can’t really say whether animals have rights), but because it’s kind of a violation of the potential for compassion and sympathy, cross-species or otherwise, that not only exists in humans but is decidedly (in my mind) what makes us humans.

So, anyway…

I think you should clarify when you say ‘equal to people’. Equal in what way? Value of life? We’re all animals. And it’s natural to say that our lives, human lives, are more valuable or important than the lives of (other) animals. But they aren’t.

Legally speaking, there’s an incompatibility there between us and other animals. Our laws, which coincide (however ambiguously) with morals, can’t really be applied to other animals. An animal is not capable of committing the crime of murder, or of committing any crime. An animal is not capable of reason, which is another factor that governs (however ambiguously) what we call ‘law’.

It seems to me a little cold, though, to say that because an animal doesn’t fit into our human systems of Law and Morality and Reason, it’s somehow validated as a target of our violence and our unkindness. What we do to animals, after all, is breed them so that we can then kill them. And there we actually reach what might be an applicable version of your idea of ‘rights’: the right to life, the right to freedom, etc.

I’m not even going to attempt to determine whether animals are deserving of the right to life or freedom or whatever. It’s too difficult even to find criteria for what it means to deserve something. (Does a soul justify rights, liberties? And then: Do other animals have souls? Etc.) Of course, even in the wild, animals have what we would call a right to life; they have it even when they are the victims of predation, because predation is necessary and indiscriminate. But when we begin to utilize animals, bring them up in their specially designed microcosms of preparation for death, then we are essentially removing whatever ‘rights’ could have already existed for them in the wild.

You can say, ‘Our raising/killing of animals is as necessary as predation that occurs naturally in the wild.’ But it’s not as necessary. Unlike carnivorous wild animals, we would be perfectly capable of surviving without meat. Whether through reason or cognizance or technology, we’ve reached a point where, if we really want, we can stop eating meat altogether. (And yet instead we choose to use technology to facilitate the raising and harvesting of the very animals we could ‘save’, because they taste delicious.)

So we are no longer preying and they are no longer prey. If there was ever a purpose for a living thing (and of course that’s a very debatable if), then we’ve either denied certain animals from realizing that purpose or simply reassigned a new purpose. (I.e., You exist so that you may feed me.) Consider the Bible, which says that animals exist so that we may eat them, and provides a nice excuse to indiscriminately disrupt or balloon or devour certain populations of animals.

We’re more or less looking at the world here as though it’s one giant buffet. As far as I can tell we are the only animal that does this. And I find it highly improbable that all animals exist solely for our appetites anymore than they do for other animals’ appetites. We rely on eating other animals to survive, yes, but not to dine. And we (as a species) are pretty obviously way beyond just trying to survive, in the year 2010, when so much of what we eat and subsist on isn’t even actual food anymore.

What I’m doing is just thinking about it, which act I perhaps very foolishly feel I owe the animals I consume – because I do eat meat, every day, and I doubt very much I’d ever be able to give it up. I’m probably contradicting myself and I’m probably some kind of terrible hypocrite. But it seems very clear to me that, while consuming animals isn’t a violation of rights (regardless of whether or not those ‘rights’ exist), the way we treat them is not generally speaking ‘okay’, because at the very least it violates what I think is our human responsibility to be compassionate and kind.

/flameon or whatever

ragingloli's avatar

Why not? Clearly not voting rights or any of that, but penalties for harming/killing animals should be greatly enhanced. A lot of animals have turned out to be intelligen, sentient beings with emotions, not unlike humans.
And we are not vastly superior. A small chimpanzee is many times stronger than a human. A gepard is vastly faster than the fastest runner. Our eyes, noses and ears are outperformed by countless animal species. Some bird species have vastly superior memory. We can not even fly. The only thing that is more developed than in any other animal (so far) is intelligence, but otherwise, humans are pretty pathetic animals.

I would personally destroy every human on this planet if it saved the rest of life on Earth. It is morally reprehensible to place humanity’s value above the planet’s

Sophief's avatar

I think animals should be treated a lot better than most people treat them, and I believe the people that are cruel should recieve more than a fine.

Violet's avatar

I think animal abuse and animal neglect should be a felony.

Blackberry's avatar

What should we give them, freedom of speech….? Like someone else said, they shouldn’t be physically and emotionally abused. If we tried to make them humans, the world population would be out of control then we’d really have to control the human population.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’m not sure if my 5 cats are going to need to have the right to bear arms or the freedom of religion or a few other rights they may never use. You never know, though, so I guess this is a matter that bears further scrutinization.

Harp's avatar

I’m not sure that “rights” is the best way to look at this. Rights are essentially guarantees of being able to make choices. I can choose whether or not to vote. I can choose whether or not to speak to the cop who arrests me. I can choose whether or not to own a gun. I can choose to challenge my accuser in court. I don’t think we can disassociate the concept of rights from the concept of choice. If one has a right, one can also opt to waive that right.

It’s not at all clear to what extent, if any, the faculty of choice exists in non-human animals (for that matter, it’s not all that clear that it exists in humans either, but that’s a different discussion). Weighing alternatives is a higher-order thought process that requires a degree of abstraction. So I would suggest that we don’t give animals rights; we give them protections.

That said, I’m very much in favor of strong protections for animals, not only for their benefit but for the sake of fostering our own compassion. Our very humanity diminishes when we ignore the urgings of our compassion, and we do that whenever we willingly cause any sentient being to suffer.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Animals are not equal to people. If you can’t see that than your brain is as soft as an over-easy egg with a side of bacon. Man I could really go for a barbecue right now!

tinyfaery's avatar

I’ll never buy into the notion that humans are vastly superior beings. Humans can’t even perform the basic skill of existing within our environment without destroying it. For all of our “advancement” humans are still just barbaric animals ruled by animal insticts.

Non-human animals should be protected. The needless suffering of any living thing at the hands of another just proves how inhuman we really are.

simpleD's avatar

I think we should distinguish between the “inalienable rights” and those revokable privileges that are granted under our legal system. Driving and voting are privileges that allow us to participate in human society. That each animal should be granted the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness is easy to defend. Any denial of those rights reflects on humanities darkest attributes.

Ghandi said, ”“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated…I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by [people] from the cruelty of [human kind]”

6rant6's avatar

@tinyfaery “Humans can’t even perform the basic skill of existing within our environment without destroying it.”

Okay, I’ll accept that as long as you aren’t implying that animals are somehow better. Burrowing owls make their roosts so foul that they have to move every month or so. A pair of otters building a dam will catch so many fish that they’ll starve out otter couples below them on the river. The crown of thorns starfish continues to destroy coral reefs around the world – the habitat of so many fragile species. And any gardener knows that snails have the ability to kill ALL of the edible plants if they are so inclined and so starve other species.

Elephants, sheep, even giraffes have eating patterns that leave nothing for other animals – in effect creating a “wasteland.”

Predators kill everything they can get a hold of. The prey survivors are the ones too far away, or too well adapted. In our brief tenure as the superior species, it may look like those natural orders are static, but they’re not. Predators kill off their food, and one or the other dies. They certainly have no concern for the future.

Nature is not a static balance – where things remain the same – but a dynamic balance – where things are always changing. The only difference between us and other speicies is that we can predict what the effect of our behavior or the behavior of another species will cause. We can project the effects of air pollution and global warning, and also the advance of the crown of thorns.

6rant6's avatar

@ragingloli “I would personally destroy every human on this planet if it saved the rest of life on Earth. It is morally reprehensible to place humanity’s value above the planet’s.” Hm. Maybe you should rethink that position…

How many animals have died to make place for you? Even if you don’t eat meat, don’t wear leather or wool, something’s got to give.

Maybe they’re planting crops for you in what was once open grasslands or converting forest to tree farm to build your house, or strip mining coal to power electrical plants that fuel your browsing.

Me, personally, I’m glad you’re around, and I am okay with the choice of you over the animals. Not to say we shouldn’t reflect on the morality of what we’re doing. We should.

But let’s not be silly, okay?

ragingloli's avatar

That was a response to corey’s post.

6rant6's avatar

Doh! @everyone. Sorry. Too quick to grab the soap box, that’s me.

Anon_Jihad's avatar

Humans are still animals, are natures are indeed natural as we evolved with them. We’re superior because we’re on top, we’ve created the means to surpass the animals that had us beat, flight, high speed, etc. Sure we may abuse the planet, but when you boil it down, we’re not the villains in anyway, we’re just being what we are.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I think animals should have the right not to be abused or harmed but I feel like a hypocrit because I do eat meat every so often (although I would happily live without it) and so, technically, I am supporting the killing of animals for food. Is this type of killing (for meat) murder? A human has the right not to be killed for food so maybe an animal should have that same right. I don’t know, I’m torn.

As far as non human animals being equal to humans. I don’t think of it as one group of beings being superior to another. We are very different but until I can hold my own in a fight with a lion without the use of weapons, I do not consider myself (or other humans) superior.

phil196662's avatar

ok @Dibley and @Violet ; I like your answer with stiffer penalties on animal abuse like a felony! Imagine guys in prison and one says ” I killed someone and I got life, what did you do?”- ” I am in here for 20 years for killing a litter of six kittens”...

Factotum's avatar

By making it a felony it would stamp the criminal record indelibly which means that, for example, should an animal killer be convicted of killing a person he might get a stiffer sentence. I’m not sure someone should be incarcerated for 20 years. Although kittens are kinda cute….

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

If people really cared about stopping animal abuse, more would freak out about factory farmed fish and chicken and meat – the things those animals go through in order for people to buy a burger for $1 are incredibly cruel and people just don’t know. I think humans are animals, slightly better at certain things that are necessary for us but not better at all in a sense that our skills only hurt those others around us.

Response moderated (Spam)

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther