Our Moral Compass Turns in Circles

April 11th, 2009

We lost true North along the way

Humanity Even for Non-Humans by Nicholas Kristof

I applaud Mr. Kristof’s incredible bravery in his long and heartbreaking fight for the people of Darfur and other locales where genocide plays out before the eyes of the conscienceless nations of the globe.

He forces us to see the consequences of our inaction.

Still, in looking at the ‘lesser’ cruelties done to animals (not to minimize the horrors in any way), the newer attempts to reduce them still hearken back to pure self-interest. Would the legislation for improved care of our livestock ever pass any legislature if the abusive status quo of factory farms weren’t also a threat to food safety? After reading his column, I felt the need to relate this one to his frequent theme of women’s rights around the globe. So, comment #115 reads:

April 09, 2009 1:35 pm

Mr. Kristof,

Moral indignation will no more lead to the gentle treatment of animals than it has led to the liberation of women around the globe. Forgive my cynicism but rather than promoting the welfare of any species, we have merely realized that humans can no longer expect to prosper at the expense of other lives. Just as we have learned the economic lesson of what happens to society when corporations are allowed to grow unchecked, so we have learned the same lesson through the proliferation of factory farms. ‘Excess’ does not lead to long term survival in any sphere of human existence.

The inability to manage farm waste with its subsequent destruction of the water table and air quality, tells the tale all by itself. When farm stocks become so numerous that animals are contained in areas no larger than the animal itself, we also see abuses in chemical means of disease prevention and the addition of cheap substances to their food. Antibiotics and contaminated feed are all passed down to consumers through our diets. The soaring cost of health care represents the effects of an adulterated food supply as well as the more familiar forms of environmental pollution measured in particulates and toxicants.

If we are to grant animals protection under the guise of morality, might we consider doing the same for women living under regimes which codify customs of imprisonment and abuse? Let’s grant all abused ‘species’ the status of political or economic prisoners and make them eligible for asylum. Then we might feel justified in claiming the higher moral ground.

— Barbara Rubin

Categories: NY Times, Published

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