Thank you, Ms. Parandekar.
I’ve spent decades struggling to frame the controversies surrounding the animal rights movement in terminology simple enough for sound bites yet strong enough to leverage public and political perceptions.
You did it in in one sentence:
“As much as I love animals and think that they should be treated with respect, I believe that the nature behind the human-animal relationship makes it impossible for them to have legal ‘rights,’ which implies equality with humans.”
Thankfully, Nikhita Parandekar is a veterinary school student at Cornell University, which like most universities, is a hotbed (and fertile recruiting ground) for the “humans are meant to be vegan” movement, of which animal rights proponents are an allied faction linked to lawyers looking to live a little larger by launching a whole new arena of litigation.Hopefully, students who encounter the “Hoof in Mouth” column she writes for The Cornell Daily Sun, will read and react to her take on a most misunderstood issue.
Indeed, animal agriculture would benefit from a hundred of her fellow future vets willing (and able) to speak out on behalf of what must be considered a commonsense position on the treatment of animals. Heck, the fact that the phrase “animal rights” itself has legitimacy proves how far the debate has swung toward the anti-industry zealots and vegetarian ideologues and away from those who engaged in the raising of food animals.
Critiquing the concept
Which brings up the most important point to be made in the “do-they-or-don’t-they?” debate, and again Ms. Parandekar phrases it succinctly: “Humans have such a significant impact on the environment that we must take on a stewardship role and be responsible for taking care of the world and everything in it. This responsibility makes us inherently superior to animals, which makes the concept of animal rights difficult to apply.”
Not if you’re an attorney willing (and able) to bring a lawsuit forward on behalf of a whole new class of litigants: The four-legged kind who eat hay and provide food for the 99 percent of people who aren’t vegans. But for the rest of society, the concept of awarding legal status to animals is fraught with problems that would eventually dwarf the current battles over humane handling and slaughter regulations.
The ultimate goal for industry must be the severing of debate over what is in essence a legalistic safari searching for big (bucks) quarry from the legitimate discussion of how best to ensure the well-being of all animals: food animals, domestic animals and wildlife.