Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fend Off Evil: Stamping Out State Anti-Cruelty Laws

Note: This entry needed to be revised with apologies. I thought King passed his amendment into law because the article, which never clarifies in this respect, said: "King...brags that his legislation 'wipes out everything they’ve [animal rights advocates] done with pork and veal.'" The article also discussed what "would" happen given his amendment. This could be interpreted as: (1) what would happen once the existing law is applied [which is what the last quote suggests]; or (2) what would happen if his bill becomes law. The article never makes it clear that it means (2) only. His bill has not yet passed! What a relief! I have revised my essay accordingly. Unfortunately, the language of the article is not only unclear, but misleading. They should have referred to his language as proposed legislation or the like.

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The word "evil" used to be all the rage. No one doubted that evil really existed and it did indeed enrage in many quarters. In this day and age, it is unfashionable even to use the word "evil". It conjures up feelings of smiling embarrassment--how could anyone be so "ridiculous" as to use such a label? At a superficial level, employing the term is thought to be quaint. At the deepest level, evil-bashing is said to be naive to the findings of moral theory that evil does not really exist. Or that disagreement over evil-doing is so palpable that no one can fairly judge anyone by a single standard. Well, as I have argued in my writings, all sentient beings do not wish to be violated, unless, for example, they are demented. People can come to a growing consensus about non-violence if they put their hearts and minds to the matter. We do not need any fancy definitions of evil. We can just say that someone is evil if they inflict or allow violence--or violation--uncaringly. It is evil to be coldly indifferent to such suffering, but the most malignant form of maleficence is to rejoice in cruelty. Well, it is this last form of evil that has come to light in breaking news of American politics concerning so-called animal "welfare" laws. We need to start talking about evil again, folks.

So let's talk. Republican Steve King, like his literary "nominal" cousin, is seeking to create works steeped in horror. Only the horror is real that is being contemplated in the American polity. And although Steven King sells millions of books, the political King's actions could potentially affect many billions of animals with a great deal more terror and abject misery. Let's just talk about the political animal King now. He is smugly triumphant that he is getting serious consideration of a law (to be precise, an amendment to the House Farm Bill) that forbids states from creating anti-cruelty laws. Keep in mind that this man was the leading opponent of laws to ban dog-fighting, ladies and gentlemen. Let the crazed canines mutilate and kill each other, spurred on to this violence solely by their trusted "masters".

According to the article that brought me this news, King brags that his proposed legislation "wipes out everything they’ve [animal rights advocates] done with pork [sic] and veal [sic]." Countless hours of toil set off state ballot initiatives, enabling ordinary people (but extraordinary individuals who are really admirable) to mount legislative changes that had results of curbing torture. These measures resulted in even far, far more uncountable hours of some real relief for animals.

As the article relates, nine states banned the "iron maiden" sow confinement system, where nursing pigs must lie confined since they kill piglets in the literally insane squalor of factory farms--unlike practically everywhere else. Literally insane, since animals actually become severely mentally ill under such conditions. They piss and shit where they lie, develop sores, and who knows what kinds of deep wounds of the psyche. Seven states banned confining so-called "veal" calves where they cannot even turn around and must again lie in their own excrement, kept very sick with borderline anemia so that their flesh is pale. And missing their mothers who are only allowed to suckle these babies for a few days. These are only brief sketches of the horrors. And then there are the three states that banned tail-docking.

Francionists deny there is significant relief here anyway, but their hypocrisy is illuminated if you imagine them treated as these animals are but smiling and brushing it aside with their hand as "insignificant". Keeping them confined so they can only rise and lie in their waste products. Lopping off their tail-bones without so much as an anesthetic. Then let them be so cavalier. As with debating ordinary speciesists, the lie is often shown in a true light when we substitute humans for the other animals in question. Thankfully, we can keep this at the level of the thought experiment. We do not need to put them to the actual test which they would surely fail.

Those who actively oppose others who seek relief from such tortures for animals are complicit in the evil's continuance. This includes some animal rights supporters who are obviously soft on pushing the right to be free from torture as far as it can be extended. But this politician's "achievement", especially if it comes to pass as law, ranks with the orchestrators of the Holocaust. The suffering that would directly ensue from what this "gentleman" and colleagues would establish in American law is an aggregate that, if envisionable all at once, might remind us of the Holocaust that consumed many of my family members, and any number of others who all deserved to be properly cared about.

But King does care. Otherwise, you see, he would not have been so spurred to damnable action. Yet he betrays the cares of evil in a world that is blind to the very existence of evil, and would allow unplumbably deep violations to proliferate. We perceive such violations from glimpses that briefly illuminate the largely hidden world of factory farming. Among other atrocities. "Shame on King" would be too understated. Those who have no conscience in the relevant sense cannot be shamed anyway. It is up to the public, so many of whom are out there in TV Land, wandering in the pastures of shopping malls, who


cruelty in every poll by a huge majority, to take control of democracy and do all they can to oppose evil--including that of King.


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

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Should Animal Rightists Only Argue Animal Rights?

Dr. Katherine Perlo, in The Journal for Critical Animal Studies, argues that it would be wrong for animal rights advocates prominently to feature arguments such as meat-eating is unhealthy and environmentally disastrous, and that animal experimentation does not work. Like Professor Gary L. Francione's arguments against anti-cruelty laws, Dr. Perlo's reasoning needs to be widely discredited because it obstructs very important paths of meaningful progress for nonhuman animals. I responded to her article in a discussion paper, to which she responded, and I had the final response which I believe did a demolition job on her faulty reasoning. To see all four installments in the controversy, go HERE.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Contributions to Scholarship

Many of my supporters wish to see my work get out there. (Many new and improved arguments wait in the wings though.) Anyway, such individuals will be pleased to know that my animal law approach is contributing to scholarship. A few people wrote to me this week along these lines. I will keep their identities concealed because I do not wish them to be targets of anonymous harassing e-mails such as I have received from Francionists. A British lawyer who wishes to do a doctorate sent me a paper she wrote which is very erudite, reflecting a huge array of sources in animal law, and she nevertheless settles on my essential argument as a basis for anti-cruelty legislation. A man is doing a graduate dissertation in California analyzing Francione's "abolitionist approach" and indicates that he is using my work to reply to many of the ideas in question. Delighted to learn of such developments, and I believe I have much more useful material still to contribute in the future.