2/18/14

"Animal rights"

"I REJECT all talk about animals having the same rights as human beings, all talk about our having no moral right to kill or control them, all talk of their being perhaps better than we, all talk of the only division between us and them being the fact that they are “dumb”; which they are not."

~G.K. Chesterton: from 'Undergraduate Ragging,' in The Illustrated London News, Dec. 28, 1907.

1 comment:

  1. That reminds me of this quote (only somewhat connected admittedly, but...)

    "A short time ago the two first and most famous writers of our language to-day contradicted each other flatly, not for the first time, on a question of right and wrong. Mr. H.G. Wells wrote a defence of Vivisection, which was rather, perhaps, an attack on Anti-Vivisectionists. And Mr. Bernard Shaw wrote something which certainly could not possibly be mistaken for anything but an attack on Vivisectionists. I am not myself debating that matter in detail, because the chief mark of it, it seems to me, is a curious way which modern debaters have of debating against themselves. They do not seem to see the real inference from their own ideas...'.

    "...Neither Mr. Shaw nor Mr. Wells believes, as I do, in a mystical boundary between men and beasts. And yet that mystical boundary is really the only reason for either of the two men upholding either of the two moralities. The one thing in which they agree is the one thing which they do not admit. Mr. Wells claims the moral right to sacrifice all the other animals to man; and yet he would say that man is only a more or less accidental variety of the other animals. He assumes the very distinction that he denies. Mr. Shaw demands of man a moral magnanimity utterly unknown in all the rest of nature; and yet he would say that man is only a passing product of nature. He assumes the very distinction he denies. For it seems strangely forgotten that the unique authority of man is as much asserted in insisting on his mercy as in insisting on his mastery. If he is merely at one with nature, as all the other creatures are at one with nature, there is no more obligation for him than for them; and they certainly are not at one with each other. If he is only the brother of the wolf in the sense in which the wolf is the brother of the lamb, there seems nothing against the indefinite repetition of the brotherhood of Cain and Abel. If he is only to imitate the solidarity of a dog-fight or the natural affinities of a cannibal fish, there is no possible reason for asking him to disapprove of vivisection or of anything else. We do not expect the dog to be fond of the cat or the cat to be fond of the mouse. If we do expect the man to be fond of all of them, we are, in fact, treating him not only as a unique figure, but as a universal lord. We are, in fact, treating him exactly as he was treated in the old theological dogma which both Mr. Wells and Mr. Shaw would reject, and not in the least as he is treated by the new scientific dogma which both Mr. Wells and Mr. Shaw would accept. Even while each is arguing against the other, each is arguing against himself."

    -October 15, 1927, Illustrated London News

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