Guns, Politics, and Freedom
June 3, 1997

Sorry bunny huggers:

Animals don’t have “rights”

By F. Paul Valone


Published by The Charlotte Observer on June 3, 1997.


To paraphrase Elmer Fudd, "Ooh, those wascally wabbit-huggers!"  Pick up any newspaper and you'll find them shivering in the Anchorage winter wearing little but signs reading, "We'd rather go naked than wear fur!" or cavorting in cow suits at the Republican National Convention screaming, "Cut pork!  Tax meat!"  Yes, they're the "animal rights" activists.


Their efforts range from raiding the offices of fur-using fashion designers to calling for bans on  hunting and fishing, including events like "National Fish Amnesty Day."  Like the Grinch who stole Christmas, they even whined until Dasher, Dancer and Prancer disappeared from the White House Christmas Pageant.


Occasionally, the bunny huggers go overboard, like when a New Jersey grandfather  found a rat eating his tomatoes, trapped it in a cage, and killed it with a broomstick.  After calling the Humane Society to pick up the cage and carcass, he retrieved the cage, only to be presented with a summons, a photo of the dead rat and a threat of 6 months in jail.  Humane Society officials maintained the rat should have been killed "humanely" or released into the wild (is there any "wild" in New Jersey other than Newark?).


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) defended the Humane Society’s exuberance, praising their “guts,” calling for “humane rodent control” and maintaining, “anti-cruelty laws are not based on cuteness.”


Then there was Ari Hoffman, the left-coast high school sophomore ejected from the San Francisco Bay Area Science Fair because his experiment accidentally offed 35 fruit flies.  (I guess that makes me a serial murderer.  Stop me before I kill again).


Animal activism has become a cause celebre for the Hollywood chic, with stars like Kim Basinger, Alec Bladwin, and Ricki Lake joining the cause.  Lake, by the way, demonstrated the depth of her devotion by wearing a lovely pair of leather shoes to a Letterman interview.


But the fashionably altruistic got into a tiff at the Animal's Ball and Humanitarian Awards gala held at Paramount Pictures when AIDS activists, together with members of the Incurably Ill for Animal Research, showed up in protest.  Said a former radio personality, who is HIV-positive, “The PETA attacks, the terrorism, harassment and lies, [are] destroying AIDS research projects...”


It seems the more militant huggers, like the Animal Liberation Front, have moved beyond bombing mink farms to vandalizing medical laboratories which use animals for research.  (Forgive  me, but I harbor an image of Barbara Streisand planting little pink designer pipe bombs). 


According to Americans for Medical Progress, security demands have increased the cost of biomedical research by 15-20 percent.  Said the group’s president, “[celebrities] cannot support People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and a cure for AIDS at the same time.”  Meanwhile, between 1977 and 1993, the Justice Department reported 313 incidents of animal rights terrorism ranging from break-ins to vandalism to arson.


You see, in the perfect world envisioned by animal and environmental extremists, we’d be living in environmentally correct mud huts in the wilderness.  What we’d wear isn’t entirely clear, since animal skins are out of the question.  But if your children happened to die of pneumonic plague, well, that’s “nature.”


So out of enlightened self-interest - and since I don’t accept unsolicited packages by mail anyway - I’m going to let the bean curd crowd in on a little secret which the unwashed have known for millennia.  Pull your chairs close and listen carefully.  Nice and comfy?  OK, here it is: ANIMALS DON’T HAVE “RIGHTS!”


As I utter this blasphemy, please bear in mind that although my dog exercises at least an equal claim to my side of the bed, I recognize a distinct difference between humane and equal treatment. 


Lacking self-awareness, animals neither expect nor honor “rights.”  Take, for example, members of California’s resurgent cougar population.  Do they respect the rights of  wayward joggers on whom they occasionally dine?


“Rights” are protected by reciprocal agreements between members of self-conscious, reasoning species.  And until Bambi and Bessie can sign on the dotted line, the crosshairs will remain locked on target, and the filet will continue to sizzle on the platter (and it smells good, too,  doesn’t it?).


Beyond philosophical shortcomings, however, the animal advocates err by failing to pursue their cause to its logical conclusion.  They  ignore, for example, the organized slaughter of millions of benign little beings who seek merely to exist.  But fear not; we will soon address this injustice by forming the first chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Cockroaches.