Front Page World UK UK Politics Business Sci/Tech Health Education Sport Entertainment Talking Point On Air Feedback Low Graphics Help Wednesday, December 16, 1998 Published at 12:15 GMT

  Talking Point Do animals have rights?

 Your reaction Votes so far: 100% 0% Yes: 57% No: 43%

  No, not in the sense that we use the term "rights" in connection with humans. But I do think we owe them respect and our best efforts not to cause undue suffering when we raise them for food, butcher them, hunt them, use them for medical research, all of which activities I approve. James Hill, USA

  Non-human animals do indeed have rights. Who's to say that they don't? The only people who can possibly believe that are ignorant and guilty of species-ism. C Ikuma, Hawaii, USA

  A rabbit has no rights in the eyes of the fox - humans decide who has "rights" and who hasn't. It seems that those who propose "animal rights" are those who would impose their views on others, by violence and intimidation more often than not. Michael, England

  Anything that has the capacity to feel both physical as well as emotional pain must be given consideration as beings with whom we share our world as opposed to possession or something to be harvested for our own inconsiderate needs. Dave Barry, Canada

  Animals were put on this earth to be a renewable resource for mankind. Tony, USA

  Animals have the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as any human. It is too bad that so many humans will justify anything as long as it is convenient to do so. There is always a way to live without harming and killing others. For anyone confused about what animal rights activists mean when referring to animal rights one should read Peter Singer's book Animal Liberation. If one wants to believe in concepts such as rights, then one must be willing to support rights for all (not just the sex, race, or species to which one belongs). Anita Carswell, USA 

Someone must tell the lions. Bruce, South Africa

  To me, if you believe in a God, you should believe in rights for any of God's creations to live their natural existence. The human species has been trying to play God for centuries by showing control and power over animals/things that don't SEEM to have as much intelligence as us - if we were truly intelligent beings, we would understand the concept of compassion. Jill Wyborny, USA

  It is the consensus of every principal Eastern religion and philosophical belief system that animals have inalienable rights, and that human interference with those rights--to live healthily, freely and with innate dignity--carries the same penalty as though one interfered with those same rights as they apply to humans. The growing popularity of such thought systems in the West reveals, at last, human beings' awakening consciences to this reality, which is the only path to peace and the preservation of the planet. R. Zaid, U.S.A.

  I believe animals do have some rights. I don't believe that rights only come with responsibilities (examples include babies and the severely mentally handicapped). I don't agree with extremists, though, and I felt really sick when I found out that Barry Horne (the hunger-striker) has a 14-year-old son. I'm still working out my position on ("essential" and effective) medical research on animals. I don't any animal products, and I try to avoid them as far as is practical. I try to cause no harm to humans or animals; I don't think being perfect is possible, but I'm trying. In a perfect world, we wouldn't need to do this, but we have to base our choices on the world we actually live in. Kate L Pugh, England

  It is not US, humans, vs. THEM, animals. What is best for the animals, to live lives free of exploitation, is also best for our health, best for the health of our planet, and best for the evolution of our souls. Whether it is animal agriculture (which causes human disease, wastes resources, causes massive pollution, and which kills 8 BILLION animals per year in the US annually), vivisection (which is based on the unscientific "animal model" of disease and is responsible for the crippling, illness, and deaths of thousands of people per year), hunting/trapping (which, along with causing unconscionable suffering to animals, wreaks havoc on the environment and animal populations, just so sick people can get their kicks), unchecked development (which is thoughtlessly stripping our planet of the resources necessary to sustain all life on this planet), OR animals tortured for "entertainment" (animals kidnapped from their families and homes, beaten into performing unnatural acts, and incarcerated in tiny cages for the rest of their pitiful lives), humans are destroying themselves along with the animals. Humans have the capacity to choose good or evil and still choose evil - that is our sin. Susan Gordon, USA

  Under most current legal systems animals are afforded a hotchpotch of protection to varying degrees by legislation aimed at protecting their welfare. Such legislation does not confer "rights" as most of us understand the term. The problem animals presently face at law is that they are regarded as "property" and not as "persons" - just as slaves used to be and look at how absurd that now seems. It is wholly unacceptable to regard a sentient being as "property" so the sooner this is recognised by those who legislate the sooner we will be able to find a legal regime that will properly recognise the interests non human animals justly deserve. It will also be a system that will sensibly deal with human/animal rights conflicts to avoid the more ridiculous problems that detractors of such a system sniggeringly raise. Christopher Fairfax, England

  Within a hundred years, people will be astounded at the way animals are treated now, just like we today are abhorred to know that black people once were used as slaves by whites. History will prove animal rights supporters right. Tobias Leenaert, Belgium

  Who said the species "human" was stupid? Show me the hospitals the animals have built to care for each other. The concept of "animal rights" can only degrade "human rights". I do not propose abusing animals, they are a renewable resource, and should be used wisely. So many of the "famous" people have jumped on this bandwagon, to spout whatever nonsense comes out of their mouth. I think they are hypocrites, if they truly believe what they say, why don't they spend their millions on providing habitat for animals, instead of just asking for donations or taxes to raise more money to spread their false message. None of the animal rightist's I have ever heard have any plan that is functioning or workable to improve habitat for animals, the supposed recipient of all their "caring". They just want money, more money. No, animals do not have rights, but neither does that mean they should be abused. But to be used as a food source, that's a good function. G. W., US

  Rights (whether moral or legal) serve to protect certain basic interests from being traded away. If I have the right to liberty, that means my interest in my freedom will be protected and not sacrificed merely because it would be in the interests of others to ignore it. Animals don't always have the SAME rights as humans, because their interests are not always the same as ours and some rights would be irrelevant to animals' lives. For instance, a dog doesn't have an interest in voting and therefore doesn't have the right to vote, since that right would be as meaningless to a dog as it is to a child. Animals do, however, have the right to equal consideration of their interests. For instance, a dog most certainly has an interest in not having pain inflicted on him or her unnecessarily. We therefore are obliged to take that interest into consideration and respect the dog's right not to have pain unnecessarily inflicted pain upon him or her. Felicia Lerner, USA

  As a bow-hunter, horse- and dog-owner I believe animals should not be abused. Nature is a cruel mother and not nearly as humane a killer as some would like you to believe. More animals are lost to automobiles and land development than hunting or research. So please before you condemn me for my lifestyle remember if you drive or live on the land you are as guilty as anyone for the deaths of animals. Rick D., USA

  If a species as stupid as humans have rights, why not the rest of the animal kingdom? Sandra, Canada Those who deny that animals have rights, deny themselves rights as well. After all, humans ARE technically animals. M. Robertson, USA

  I am not about to change my diet because of some extremist. I firmly believe the extremists are looking for some purpose in their lives. There current lives lack meaning and this is one way to bring meaning to a meaningless existence. Henry David Thoreau once stated people minded their own business when it was worth minding. Animal extremists have mindless intellects incapable of bringing true happiness to their miserable lives. Bob Krug, USA

  The belief that animals are here solely for the use and exploitation by man simply reflects the self-centered egotism of the ignorant and uncompassionate. J Dan Hightower, USA

  Since animals can feel pain and suffer, they have the right to not be used as targets, food, clothing and experimental subjects. Mike Chiado, USA

  In a few words you make it look as if people who respect animals were terrorists, which is a shame. What about animals tortured in labs and factory farms, to name but a few types of animal abuse? Respecting animal rights does not mean not respecting human rights. Both struggles are profoundly linked. Sophie V, Belgium

  Animals, given the opportunity or not, will abuse each other. They only see the present, the now. No past and no future. Do they have rights? Maybe, maybe not. In a world where an unborn child has no rights, it's kind of moot! Pet Professional, USA

  The right to be tasty and juicy. To be marinated and served medium rare with a nice white wine. Ken Brown, USA

  The people who say that animals don't have rights because they don't understand responsibilities just don't get it. Human babies, the severely mentally handicapped and the senile also don't have responsibilities. But we don't eat them, cage them, torture them for fun or hunt them. Why not? Because they would suffer. Other animals can suffer like humans. It is wrong to cause suffering to any sentient being. It is entirely irrelevant whether or not you can understand the concept of having responsibilities. Simon Dresner, UK

  If humans don't decide if animals have right, than who will? It is up to us to help protect them from cruelty and experiments. Anyone who believes otherwise is the type of person who abuses their own pets and probably their own children. Lynn, USA

  Anyone who has to think about the answer to this question does not respect the value of life be it human or animal. Tom R, USA

  People have rights, people have the responsibility to treat animals humanely, animals do not have rights. Chuck Siebsen, USA

  I think animals definitely have the right to not be subjected to suffering. I believe it is ok to eat meat as long as the animals to be consumed have been able to have a life and death devoid of suffering. This means I do not believe it right to subject the animals to factory conditions and excessive confinement. I do not think it right to use animals for product testing. The area of medical research is not quite as clear to me. I think there may be some situations where this research is justified but I think there should be much tighter controls both to restrict the type of research that can be done and to ensure the minimization of any suffering caused and to improve the quality of life of the animals. Dianne Cartledge, USA

  Animals are sentient beings, have feelings and we have to take into acount they can suffer and feel pain just like us! Ann De Greef, Belgium

  I think animals definitely have the right to not be subjected to suffering. I believe it is ok to eat meat as long as the animals to be consumed have been able to have a life and death devoid of suffering. This means I do not believe it right to subject the animals to factory conditions and excessive confinement. I do not think it right to use animals for product testing. The area of medical research is not quite as clear to me. I think there may be some situations where this research is justified but I think there should be much tighter controls both to restrict the type of research that can be done and to ensure the minimization of any suffering caused and to improve the quality of life of the animals. Dianne Cartledge, USA

  Where people treat animals badly they invariably treat other people badly. Recently psychiatrists have 'discovered' something that most of us had guessed. That is that sociopaths have tortured animals as a precursor to torturing their fellow humans. I'm not a vegetarian (I wish I had the courage to be one) but surely we can spare the money and time to make their short lives happy BEFORE we kill and eat them!? Jane Hughes, Australia We owe it to animals and people not to violate their rights. At the same time it is not possible to live with out killing some living creature. We can only do our best. Helen Glover, USA

  People have rights and responsibilities, among these responsibilities are the preservation of other species. But this does not extend to the point where we give animals rights and stop eating other species, they do after all eat each other. If we give rights to animals do we then prosecute them when they violate another animals' rights. Just picture the scene, Fox in witness box, QC did you or did you not unduly frighten mother hen on the night of the 25th. Ridiculous just like animal rights. Iain Morrison, Scotland

  Animals should be treated like people. I often spend my evenings stroking and talking to my cat. She also enjoys watching the football with me. She is much nicer than some of the people I know. Michael Norton, UK

  Talking about 'rights' in the context of animals seems totally meaningless to me. Where are these rights supposed to come from, and what obligations do they impose on the animals in return? Surely better to acknowledge that we would be wise not to mistreat animals if we wish to live in a humane and caring society. Mark, UK

  I am glad I'm not an animal living in Paul De Souza's territory! Life certainly is tough out there in the Bush, and it must come down to survival of the fittest. We must remember that, even with humans not around, the animal world is awash with murder and mutual consumption. Matt Howell, England

  "Rights" are a human concept - but if we believe that everything has a "right" to be treated as we personally think correct, then the individual should act to allow these "rights" as he or she sees fit. To seek to enforce one's ideas of these animal "rights" on others is surely seeking to impose one's personal view of the world on others. Mike, England 

 Look at the way animals treat each other, it is complete anarchy. How lucky animals are to have humans to ever consider their rights. Steven Strain, US What gives humans the right to decide if animals have rights? John, USA

  Too much research is done with animals, which cannot be used to save human lives. Animals are cruelly treated and abused, respect the world and the nature which lives in it. Niki Brown, UK

  All rights are an artificial construct and consequently there is not an absolute answer to the question posed. However, one would hope that any attempt to recognise and avoid suffering would attempt to be self-consistent at least. If so, then those that argue against certain minimal rights for animals should explain precisely why the horrors that we subject many animals to are physically less relevant that that suffered by humans. For example, the nerve activity in response to external stimulus that manifests itself as pain is exactly that same within a laboratory animal today as it was for the Jews experimented upon in the second world war. How, therefore is the inconsistency in attributing importance to the latter but not the former to be explained, or more to the point justified? M. Moran, UK

  It is ludicrous to suggest that animals have 'rights'. With rights come responsibilities. Precisely what responsibilities do animals have? Paul Jemetta, UK

  All life-forms have the right to live their natural lives to the full, without interference from the Human species, unless it is absolutely necessary (this would apply to very remote regions of the planet.) Gian Jones, England

  They are also living life like us. Rajesh, India

  Animals are not simply a collection of body parts for us to use -they are beings in their own right. Graeme Wotherspoon, UK

  All animals have rights - humans included. Sadly, many humans think their rights extend to abusing those of other animals. Sally-Ann Russell, United Kingdom

  Out in the bush, you have to hunt and kill with your bare hands just to stay alive. That is a necessity. We cannot go around giving these animals rights or we would all starve. At Christmas time we try and catch Kangeroo for special treats although it is very difficult, last year I managed two, it was the happiest Christmas of my life. Paul De Souza, Australia

  Of course animals have rights. They have the right not to be tortured, brutalised and killed. They have the right to living conditions which allow them to exist in their own habitat, eat, sleep and reproduce in the manner natural to their species. We do not have the right to experiment on animals, breed them in appalling conditions, hunt them for sport or force them to perform circus tricks. It is because animals cannot speak out for their own rights that we do that for them. Fiona Kellington, UK

  Of course they do! But the question is, as far as research is concerned, would you rather have the doctors test on your kids than monkeys? Would you be willing to risk the lives of millions by bringing out untested drugs...drugs they don't know whether they will work or not, and whether they will have any side effects or not? Even though I like animals, I love my kids more...and I cannot think of a solution. It is easy to protest immaturely, but to come up with a sensible solution requires a responsible outlook, which I fear many animal rights activists lack. Kevin Peters, USA (Emphasis added)


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