New Book about the Animal-rights Movement

February 19, 2010

Just because I wrote about PETA a little while ago, I have to share this:  Earlier today I was wearing my leather jacket, eating a delicious ham dinner, when I learned that someone had written a new book about such matters, A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement(The title comes from a quote from PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk.)  According to the preface, by another author, “Among other things, this book is a rational, reasonable argument for the need to accept the nuanced complexity of the world and to resist the dangerous simplifications of antihuman ideologies.”

Again, I can’t claim to have read it, but it sounds good to me.

Update (February 28th, 2010): It no longer sounds good to me.  Today I read a review of this book (requires subscription) in a trustworthy, conservative publication, National Review.  At risk of oversimplifying (the lengthy review spans three pages), the reviewer found that the book was simplistic and not thoughtful (very much contrary to the claims from its preface, quoted above).  As the reviewer points out, such disparate figures as C. S. Lewis, Rush Limbaugh, and the current pope have recognized the moral complexity involved and spoken out against cruelty to animals; meanwhile, according to the reviewer, the author of this book takes a position at one extreme of the continuum, basically saying that humans can do whatever they want to animals and it doesn’t matter.

I want to emphasize again that, as I said in my original post, I have not read this book myself.  Take my second-hand reporting for whatever it’s worth.

Update (March 30th, 2010): The author of the book, Wesley J. Smith, responded to the review in the subsequent issue of National Review (requires subscription).  Smith said that he is in favor of concern for animal welfare, but is opposed to (and wrote the book to oppose) the movement to give animals “rights”.  The reviewer, Matthew Scully, replied (same page as Smith’s response), among other things criticizing Smith for “declining once again to specify a single reform he would support.”

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2 Responses to “New Book about the Animal-rights Movement”

  1. Glenn Beck Says:

    Why must you take pleasure in cruelty to animals and cruelty to homosexuals? Ironically, this is one of the tell tale signs of psychopathy. And judging from the nature of this blog, there seems to be a pervasive lack of empathy.


  2. Or assuming that you have a monopoly on empathy, and that anyone who disagrees with you must be morally deficient, is one of the tell-tale signs of pathological commitment to liberalism.

    If and to the extent that you may have actually read the book I mentioned (or at least heard more about it than I had), and were criticizing me specifically on that basis, not just making generic snide comments, my update above bears some relation to your comment.

    On the other hand, to the extent that you were criticizing my blog generally, let me suggest that it’s not exactly possible for us to have a conversation unless you make specific actual arguments. If you said, say, “Don’t you agree that at least some modern ‘factory farm’ practices are cruel and immoral?”, maybe I could agree with you to a certain point and we could argue, or debate, or have a conversation, if you will. If, on the other hand, you say, “Why must you take pleasure in cruelty to animals and cruelty to homosexuals?”, there’s no answer to that. It’s like the difference between “You don’t approve of wife beating, do you?” and “So, do you still beat your wife?”

    Of course, if you see your role more as that of a secret detractor, you may not have much interest in a debate—which is mostly fine with me, actually. In that case, I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t always dignify your comments with an answer—in fact, if that’s the case, maybe you didn’t want one anyway.


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