Animal rights should not be a priority

R. Gray
Opinion Staff Writer
rgray1@unca.edu

With animal rights activism, the biggest problem ensues from the many supporters ignoring human issues in favor of animals rights. The meat industry is cruel and unethical in many ways, or at least where big businesses are involved, but that does not excuse putting animal lives above human lives. A lot of the attitudes they take towards animal rights activists stems from a place of privilege.

Most commonly, activists for animal rights tend to be both white and upper middle class. In their activism, often they recommend going entirely vegan in order to boycott the meat and dairy industry. The issue lies in the fact many lower class families simply cannot afford or survive on a vegan diet. The time and money it takes to to survive on a vegan meal plan is simply not a reasonable option when a faster, cheaper and hardier meal is available.

In rallying for animal rights, many activists have a tendency to compare issues in the meat and dairy industry to very severe human issues. They have compared the treatment of the animals in these industries to issues like rape, slavery and even genocide.

This is inexcusable. It dehumanizes those who faced these issues and undermines the struggles of the histories of those who fought against it. It is also worth mentioning many minorities who have historically gone through these atrocities were often compared to animals by their oppressors. Comparing the meat industry to these struggles is a mockery.

Striving for a more ethical manner of producing a product is not a bad thing by any means. Rallying for more humane treatment of living creatures is also good. Fighting to have stricter regulations on health codes for the animals, which also makes it safer for people, is admirable. Shaming people who cannot afford to go vegan is not acceptable. Dehumanizing people for the sake of shock value for a cause is unforgivable.

 

17 thoughts on “Animal rights should not be a priority

  • September 24, 2016 at 10:34 am
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    Wow. What a naive article. Most poor people in the world eat vegan because they can’t afford meat. And the whole argument of animal rights activists is that animals have feelings and preference like humans do, so the abuse in the meat industry is as bad as human suffering throughout history. Saying they’re wrong because the comparison mocks human suffering just ignores their whole argument.

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  • September 24, 2016 at 12:56 pm
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    Ummmm
    Humans are a species of animal. Like the aquire or dolphin. Animal rights is human rights. We’re all animals. Humans just happen to be the vile factor that needs to be controlled to allow all animals peace.

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    • March 20, 2017 at 10:42 pm
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      No you are wrong! There is a big difference between humans and animals. Are you too stupid to see the difference? When you start replacing your children and grandchildren with animals there is a major problem. Do you go to your dogs high school football games? Do you buy dog food instead of paying your house payment?

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  • September 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm
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    The author seems to write from a position of examined prejudice. How like us does someone else have to be before they ought to be treated as we would want to be treated if we were in their place? How like us does another have to be before the Golden Rule should be applied to our dealings with them? What are the moral-bearing characteristics that humans have that no other species have? This question has to be answered prior to passing judgement on others’ decisions as to whom the Golden Rule applies. How like us need they be?

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  • September 24, 2016 at 1:56 pm
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    …So you do understand that humans are, in fact, animals as well? Instead of categorizing animal rights activists (humans are included into the Animal Kingdom, in case you forgot) as all white and upper middle class and giving the idea that these said activists are “dehumanizing people”, I think you need to take a step down off of your pedestal and do a little more research before calling them privileged. ((Apparently being privileged means eating beans and rice, caring about ALL animals and the environment, and acting in ways to promote a healthier living and future for the earth, compared to someone who is not privileged enough and eats fast food, which is more expensive… Okay…))

    I’m short, thank you for making us activists that much more concerned about the world and the future of the planet, based on your slanderish, biased article, we have a lot of work to do and will continue to improve the lives of all that reside on this planet.

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  • September 24, 2016 at 2:05 pm
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    Er, let me guess… you’re religious, right?

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  • September 24, 2016 at 2:40 pm
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    “I would have no trouble admitting that my positions on animal rights originate from a place of some privileges, but the same would apply to the commitment I would have to *any* issue of social justice, no?

    Maybe I should follow the example of Grey and others, in adding insult to injury by using my position of privilege on nothing better than criticizing anyone else who dares to use it for something good such as ethico-political reflection.

    Besides, when immigrant labor is kept in slavery-like conditions in slaughterhouses, some of the most privileged people are precisely the ones who express complacency about animal agribusiness.

    >>Striving for a more ethical manner of producing a product is not a bad thing by any means. Rallying for more humane treatment of living creatures is also good. Fighting to have stricter regulations on health codes for the animals, which also makes it safer for people, is admirable.<<

    ^That is like the omni version of the most obnoxious mansplaining: "here, let me outline for you, according to my own special preferences, what actually constitutes proper activism"."
    Jan Vilse

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  • September 24, 2016 at 7:03 pm
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    Correction to the previous comment I made!

    Being able to eat an animal that had to die in order for you to have a dinner is the ULTIMATE human privilege. Not recognizing that privilege is YOUR privilege. You can go through a dinner without realizing the devastating impact it had on the animal that you are eating. That animal does not enjoy that same privilege.

    Furthermore, eating vegan is cheap. Rice, beans, lentils, and root foods are some of the cheapest foods available. This “mostly middle/upper class white argument is an unverifiable claim. Not to mention there are plenty of quick and cheap vegan foods. How long does it take to cook an apple? A banana? I could go to McDonald’s and get a double cheeseburger or I could go to Dell Taco or Taco Bell and get a rice and bean burrito.

    Is animal agriculture rape, slavery and genocide? I dont know? How bout we ask the industry on that. Oh, they call the cages that they keep cattle in during artificial insemination, “rape racks?” Hmmm… That’s interesting. Merriam Websters says rape is “sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will.” Is forcibly exploiting the sexual and reproductive capabilities of another being rape? Then yeah, its probably rape.

    Is it slavery? What was a slave? Mirriam Webster says a slave is, “someone who is legally owned by another person and is forced to work for that person without pay.” Are animals owned by someone and forced to work or be exploited without pay? Unquestionably yes. The only thing that could be objectionable about either of those definitions is how you define the words “someone” and “person.” (Ahhh… we might be onto something here.)

    How about genocide? Well… we know that the most classic example of genocide was the holocaust. What happened in the holocaust? The capture and forced imprisonment of certain types of people and then the systematic destruction of those people including the gassing of 6 million jews in gas chambers. What is considered the ethical way to kill an animal? First you forcibly imprison it in large warehouses or small fields, then you systematically exterminate them by slitting their throats or… putting them in gas chambers.

    You do mention something that I think is important. You say, “It is also worth mentioning many minorities who have historically gone through these atrocities were often compared to animals by their oppressors.” So the “de-humanization” that you speak of is the act of “de-legitimizing” by making the assumed value of that human equal to that of an animal, which you then claim is bad. Why is that bad? Because YOU are making the ASSUMPTION that an animal’s state of being is of less value than that of a humans, and in doing so you are de-legitimatizing animals. Do you follow?

    “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.”
    ― Theodor W. Adorno

    “”The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.” – Leonardo Di Vinci

    “The idea that some lives matter less is THE ROOT of all that is wrong in the world. Dr. Paul Farmer

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    • September 29, 2016 at 8:21 pm
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      ^^^^ Everything above this comment is spot on.

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  • September 25, 2016 at 6:26 pm
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    What a terribly opnionated article! I know people of many different races that are fighting for animal rights. As said in previous comments, it’s a fight for rights thoughout the entire animal kingdom, but it’s people like YOU that make animals seem a heck of a lot more worth fighting for. And, in case you haven’t noticed, animals cannot cry out for help and their abuse is mostly kept behind closed doors. Why wouldn’t we want to scream louder for them?

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  • September 25, 2016 at 9:48 pm
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    Is this a real article, or did some guy just copy and paste his findings from a google search of: “the top 10 dumbest arguments against animal rights”?

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  • September 26, 2016 at 8:44 am
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    Where do humans get the idea that it is ok to kill or murder “nonhuman” life for whatever reason? Whoever decided that it is ok to consume “certain” animals (e.g., chickens, cows, fish, pigs) and not others (lions, elephants, giraffes) to please the human insatiable and gluttonous stomach? What gives humans the right to exploit and abuse nonhuman animals for experimentation or entertainment? Certainly not God. These atrocities against nonhumans must stop, now. “All” life is precious, and I am sure the Creator values every single one of them equally. But there is only one and only one “evil” animal in this world, and that is the human animal. Repent, repent…. repent. Go vegan… for the animal… for the planet… for your health… for your soul!

    “We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.” (William Ralph Inge)

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  • September 29, 2016 at 8:20 pm
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    A speciesist writing about the validity of animal rights, now that’s rich.

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  • October 1, 2016 at 12:51 am
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    I would like to point out to the animal rights followers that while we are all animals, it should be noted that there are plenty of animals that survive by killing and eating other animals, from lions and tigers, to your local feral cat which is busy killing our native wildlife. So, if we are all going to be animals, then certainly it should be recognized and appreciated that SOME of us animals are going to consume OTHER animals. That is nature’s way.

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    • December 20, 2017 at 2:16 pm
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      The animals that eat other animals must do so to survive–their bodies are made to require meat–humans’ bodies do not require meat to live.

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  • March 14, 2017 at 11:23 am
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    Most of us have a ready ability to be concerned and work towards greater justice on more than one front. I consider myself an Animal Rights activist and a Human Rights activist at the same time. All injustices are rooted in the assumption that others are lesser than because of attributes they have no control over. It is not an “either or” proposition, and when one considers the horrible working conditions of slaughterhouse workers and the highly preventable diseases caused by a diet of flesh, dairy, and eggs , it is easy to see that Animal Rights is a Human Rights issue, too.

    If one eats the foods that poor people eat in much of the world, e.g. rice, beans, fruits, vegetables, other grains, veganism is just as easy, fast, and hardy as the standard american diet which is being adopted more and more to the detriment of the climate, the air, land, and water, and human health.

    And, though I do not compare the atrocities done to other animals to those done to human animals because I know this is controversial and hurtful to many, it does not diminish the fact that animals are tortured and violently killed for what we do not need, and in their capacity to suffer, they are no different. This does not diminish humans. It elevates other animals to what is justly theirs.

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  • April 2, 2017 at 9:22 pm
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    Whining that veganism is “privileged” and pretending to stand up for poor people feels a lot better than saying that you simply like your pork dumplings too much to give them up, doesn’t it?

    Forcing this narrative by talking about how vegans “tend” to act is a lot easier than talking about the reason why they ARE vegans, isn’t it?

    Also a lot easier than interviewing actual animal rights activists and asking THEM these questions, instead of painting a false picture of what an average animal rights activist looks like.

    A few quotes from the article:
    “Most commonly, activists for animal rights tend to be both white and upper middle class”
    “In their activism, often they recommend”
    “many activists have a tendency”

    NO, no, no. Saying that most animal rights activists are white and upper middle class is completely unfounded…. you must PROVIDE EVIDENCE for such a claim. This completely disregards all of the POC who fight for animal rights daily. —> http://www.blackvegansrock.com/

    You should not discredit a movement because you dislike the perceived methods of those that espouse it…

    If your title is going to be “animal rights should not be a priority” then you should debate the philosophy of animal rights and explain why exactly the breeding and slaughtering of animals for their meat is worth these “faster, cheaper and hardier meals” that you speak of. (Guess what? These fast, cheap meals are usually really, really unhealthy for the marginalized human population that you are championing!)

    Very poorly written article that is regurgitating worn out arguments about privilege without providing any insight into the actual problem at hand. I am embarrassed that it’s on UNCA’s site.

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