Saturday, May 26, 2012

An Analogy to Great Apes Activism

I have written in the past how the anti-incrementalists oppose activism to secure legal rights for the great apes. Their reasoning is that it constitutes speciesist favoritism to try to secure such rights for these more intelligent and human-like animals. It is true. But then, look at the violent speciesism in the world right now. It is obvious to most people, who have common-sense, that such activism brings about the lesser of speciesist evils and is in fact a huge macro-increment of progress for animals and actually against a substantial portion of speciesism.

Here is a new analogy. Now imagine that there is a terrible fire in a factory. There are a bunch of working class people, the majority of those under threat by far, and then there is a suite of executive offices. The local fire department is doing what they can to save people in general. The rich capitalists have managed to contact the private security company they contract with. Some of the latter have volunteered, for quadruple pay, to contribute to the effort to save lives in this emergency. But they would only act to save the rich guys.

Should the representatives of society's agency on the case, the Fire Chief, allow this private company's personnel to assist? The Chief wants to save more lives and tries to give the green light. But no, the Deputy Mayor is on the scene. (His Worship the Mayor is out of town on vacation.) The city's by-laws allow the Mayor's office executive override in the event of emergencies. He sniffs. He blinks his eyes delicately, shutting his eyes to the whole situation for just a moment. And then he insistently points out that it would be classist to save just the capitalist class. And in a way he is right. Actually, though, the Fire Chief just wants to save as many as possible regardless of class, and the offer of assistance is an important way of contributing to that goal.

But in giving the red light, the Deputy Mayor is acting foolishly not to save as many lives as possible. In any case, he lectures the Fire Chief self-righteously, "If we cannot save people equitably by using the additional crew, then we will not have them save anybody at all." One rich fellow is saved but the rest of the wealthier folks perish. It is overwhelmingly likely that more could have been saved with the additional personnel, says the fireman who saved the one rich person. The analogy between the security people and those animal rightists who want to save great apes, so many of whom are in danger of extinction, is relevant here. (True, the security staff are paid, but nothing important hinges on that here in the Deputy Mayor's reasoning--he does not consider it.)

A judicial review is conducted. The Justice in charge is really unimpressed with the Deputy Mayor's reasoning. Altogether, the Deputy Mayor is forced to resign and has to pay $8 million dollars in damages as the upshot of a class action suit on behalf of the rich people he blocked from saving. (The working class could not afford such a suit even if it suited them.) But that is not the worst consequence for him. He is also imprisoned for criminal negligence causing death. The judgment is based on the interpretation that the Deputy Mayor was obliged to carry on the mission of the Fire Department, in this case to save lives from threat of fire. It would be speciesist to want to override this foolish action but not to pass on a similar benefit to nonhuman animals. When the house is burning you save as many as you can. You don't withhold assistance based on asinine reasoning.


A Selection of Related Articles

Sztybel, David. "Animal Rights Law: Fundamentalism versus Pragmatism". Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5 (1) (2007): 1-37.

go there

Short version of "Animal Rights Law".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Incrementalist Animal Law: Welcome to the Real World".

go there

Sztybel, David. "Sztybelian Pragmatism versus Francionist Pseudo-Pragmatism".

go there

A Selection of Related Blog Entries

Anti-Cruelty Laws and Non-Violent Approximation

Use Not Treatment: Francione’s Cracked Nutshell

Francione Flees Debate with Me Again, Runs into the “Animal Jury”

The False Dilemma: Veganizing versus Legalizing

Veganism as a Baseline for Animal Rights: Two Different Senses

Francione's Three Feeble Critiques of My Views

Startling Decline in Meat Consumption Proves Francionists Are Wrong Once Again!

The Greatness of the Great Ape Project under Attack!

Francione Totally Misinterprets Singer

Francione's Animal Rights Theory

Francione on Unnecessary Suffering

My Appearance on AR Zone

D-Day for Francionists

Sztybel versus Francione on Animals' Property Status

The Red Carpet

Playing into the Hands of Animal Exploiters

The Abolitionist ApproachES

Francione's Mighty Boomerang

Dr. David Sztybel Home Page

1 comment:

  1. excellent post!

    pseudo-abolitionistic rationalizations really don't help anyone - least of all the animal rights movement.

    it is amazing that there are people who would misuse the 'speciesist' term to oppose legal rights for apes.

    the behavior is rather reminiscent of a spoiled child who pouts "if i can't have it all right now, i won't have anything!"