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.”