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Well Shucks – Let’s Liberate the Animals

A little piece in the paper this past week shows an “animal rights” activist in front of a restaurant window where the Owner/Chef can be seen butchering the hind quarter of a deer. The activist had been harassing him for some time and in apparent and understandable exasperation he decided to respond in kind to the harassment of his quite legitimate and essential business. A placard, reversed so the reporter’s camera could catch it stated in bold letters, “Animals, they’re not for us to use”.

A closer reading of the article reveals a peculiar twist. The restaurateur is engaged in livestock production but produces animals in what he terms an “ethical manner’. In the article he deplores but does not specify practices carried out in large scale animal production factories.

So, one can see the strategy. By her own admission the activist says she would just be ignored by larger restaurants but this one is already somewhat committed to humane animal care (as though no one else is) so the activist has decided to go after “the unprotected underbelly” of a small enterprise, if I may use predatory language. But the activist sees this effort as just a first step on her campaign to make all restaurants go wholly vegetarian or vegan.

This stunningly simple assertion caused me to reflect again on the intelligence of such extreme activism, an intelligence that might be described as, well, ”bovine”.

If animals are not for us to use how might we have traveled about for the past few thousand years, before relieved by steam and oil sourced power? How does one explain and justify the parable of the fatted calf? How would Eskimos and other extreme northern societies survive without animal sourced foods? How would we replace the global 40% of protein that is presently derived from animal flesh and products?

These are simple but unanswerable questions.

But let us just for a moment suspend our disbelief and ponder upon the liberation of animals. It takes imagination but let me try.

The world day of animal liberation has come! No longer shall the cow or the hen or goat be subservient to man. Race horses will be liberated. All animals will and must be liberated into the wild. Some may think that we humans have a moral obligation not only to liberate these creatures but to continue to care for them as well. How do we do this if we cannot extract revenue from their production of milk, eggs and meat?

But those are mere nuisance questions. Liberate the animals. Is it not our moral duty? So, animal species that have been domesticated for millennia will suddenly find themselves free and wild, no longer fenced or fed, no longer protected from diseases or predators . Are we to believe that all of these animals will live out their lives to a ripe old age and succumb peacefully to a painless death in a wild where the lamb lies down with the lion?

If we think about this animal paradise we must conclude that having a cow or her calf run down in fright and exhaustion by a pack of wolves is a more easeful death than humane slaughter. In fact, the activist referred to above said that she was shocked and saddened to watch as the restaurant owner cut up a portion of a deer’s hindquarter and later as he returned to a table to eat the venison. Perhaps she would prefer to watch as a pack of wolves pulled that deer down and commenced eating it before it was dead. Describing nature as being “red in tooth and claw” is not an understatement.

Will any of these animal species find relief when one “predator”, man, steps aside while all manner of predators take our place? Does the fish escape the net or the hook merely to be devoured by the porpoise or the seal?

But the most obvious observation of all is never mentioned. Animal Liberation is a misnomer. The so-called liberation of domestic animals means their ultimate extinction because, with the possible exception of swine our domesticated species no longer have the capacity to survive in the wild. Some small numbers may adapt and survive but in the main animals once used and protected by a human population that has need of their products would no longer be willing or able to keep them and they would quickly disappear and approach the point of extinction. Obviously animal rightists seem completely unable to follow this simple logic. The domestication and “use” of livestock is one half of a symbiotic relationship where man “husbands” them by providing shelter and feed and active concern for their health.

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