Saturday, November 8, 2008

Election Day Victories For Animal Rights

As a vegetarian, I don't often get to see one of my biggest pet issues hashed out in an election year. But Nov. 4 brought with it two major wins for animal rights, and may point the way to further victories in coming years. The Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are wising up big time about electoral strategy, using the pocketbook rather than an infrequently successful moral appeal as their weapon of choice. The New Republic has the story:
I spoke with Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States, who said that such ballot measures, introduced in states where they are likely to pass, do much more than reform a single states' animal treatment laws. They are a message to American industry as a whole that considering animal welfare is increasingly within their economic self-interest. California agribusinesses, fearing a rise in operating costs, spent heavily to combat Proposition 2 and have nothing to show for it. Markarian is hoping that all animal-related businesses will draw the lesson that it is simply cheaper to improve animal treatment of their own accord, rather than risk a costly political fight they will probably lose.
Proposition 2, which passed with 63 percent of the vote (63 percent!), says that confined animals must now be able to "lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely." If you've ever seen a vegetarian information pamphlet, you'll know how impossible this currently is given factory farming practices.

Animal rights aren't by any means a political issue per se, and in posting this here I don't want to court the perception that I consider the question part of a new Democratic political agenda. There are a few notable Republican animal rights activists (even a Bushie or two). It's a good day for everyone when we outlaw veal crates and battery cages, no matter who you voted for.

6 comments:

Samnell said...

Call me a heartless bastard, but I'm not really all that fussed about this. I find the veal cages aesthetically unpleasant, and I don't eat veal, but I'm not convinced that it's morally wrong. I find lots of things aesthetically unpleasant without thinking it imperative that they be stopped to make for a better world.

charvakan said...

Samnell, you are a heartless bastard.

I've always thought moral progress consisted mainly in the expansion of the circle of empathy. This is good news.

Moses said...

Samnell,
This has nothing at all to do with aesthetics. These animals suffer needlessly. This is the definition of "morally wrong". Please watch this video. Maybe it will convince you that this is a moral, not an aesthetic issue.

http://meat.org

Samnell said...

"This has nothing at all to do with aesthetics. These animals suffer needlessly. This is the definition of "morally wrong"."

If you were talking about the needless suffering of people, I would be right with you. But the needless suffering of non-human animals? You've got a bigger burden to meet before I begin to care.

charvakan said...

I've said it before, but I really believe that future generations, say in just 150 years, will consider our carnivory in much the same light as we consider slavery today.

That said, I ate a hamburger today and loved it. I guess I would have been one of those hypocritical freedom-loving slaveowners like Thomas Jefferson.

Samnell said...

"I've said it before, but I really believe that future generations, say in just 150 years, will consider our carnivory in much the same light as we consider slavery today."

I don't see why. The worst I can say about being carnivorous is that it's not especially efficient.