November 21, 2011

Letter to the Editor: Dangerous rhetoric

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To the Editor:

Re: “Animal Ethics 1101,” Opinion, Nov. 18

A column on Friday entitled “Animal Ethics 1101” presented an argument for the non-practicality of granting legal rights to animals. Nevertheless, the logic behind the author’s statement that humans are “inherently superior” to animals is severely flawed and dangerous. The columnist states that “humans have such a significant impact on the environment that [humans] must take on a stewardship role,” and that it is “this responsibility” that connotes superiority. Although this argument seems appropriate in context, danger lies in its broader application. For instance, this same logic could easily be used to justify slavery and imperialism. Do powerful countries not have a profound impact on the political and social environments of weaker nations? Isn’t it the responsibility of the powerful to act as stewards of the weak, protecting at the expense of human rights? On a sillier note, this argument could be used to declare certain bacterial strains superior to humans. Haven’t bacteria emptied entire cities and forced us to build numerous hospitals? That seems like a significant impact on our environment. I’ll offer that I am not an advocate of extending rights to animals.  I support animal research, and I oppose the Great Ape Protection and Cost Saving Act, which would limit scientific and medical progress.  However, I believe that if one party is to declare itself superior to another party, it is the responsibility of the first party to provide adequate reason.

Daniel Acker ’13