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Question About Animal Cruelty

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Would you use (additional) force against him to take the cat? Would you break in to his house to take his cat?

pffft, why not go one further... line him up against the wall, put a gun to the back of his head, and blow his brains out. If you're going to violate rights, then at least be honest about it.

Honestly.

I hope this goes to illustrate that if animal "rights" are instituted, then human rights are necessarily violated.

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pffft, why not go one further... line him up against the wall, put a gun to the back of his head, and blow his brains out. If you're going to violate rights, then at least be honest about it.

Honestly.

I hope this goes to illustrate that if animal "rights" are instituted, then human rights are necessarily violated.

I agree with this senario, ultimately bestowing rights upon a non-rational entity can only result in an absurd/attrocious conclusion. However, I would argue that one would treat animals in a humane manner, as one would value a piece of inanimate property and not destroy it on a mere whim, so too would be the case with a pet. But in order to accomplish this, a person would have to be rational and also free to choose a values system, which would be the only way in which morality could actually exist.

Animal rights is not rational, period.

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However, I would argue that one would treat animals in a humane manner, as one would value a piece of inanimate property and not destroy it on a mere whim, so too would be the case with a pet.
Just to be sure I understand what you are saying, are you saying that one should not act on whim (which is a very general statement), and also that there is no significant difference between animals, plants, and non-living matter in terms of how humans should behave?
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Just to be sure I understand what you are saying, are you saying that one should not act on whim (which is a very general statement), and also that there is no significant difference between animals, plants, and non-living matter in terms of how humans should behave?

I meant it more as an analogy serving the concept of always being rational (thus not acting on whim) no matter what form of property one chooses to own. There is obviously a metaphysical difference between animals, plants, and inanimate objects that requires perspective in each given case. However, each one of these 3 entities are equally unable to form concepts, so none of them reserve any rights that would supercede the rights of man. The fact that animals particularly can not discuss such things as rights with their human masters, in of itself, draws the entire notion of "animal rights" into the realm of irrationality, for nothing that is unable to understand such things as rights can be given them since they are unable to affirm or deny them.

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How about if the neighbor was feeding the cat cheap catfood? If not, why not. Or, if he didn't pet the cat enough. If not, why not?
I wouldnt consider either of these things to be abuse. Similar to how I dont think a child should be taken away from its parents if they give it poor quality baby food or fail to fufill their weekly cuddle quota. But if they start hitting it with a frying pan, thats a different story. Edited by Hal
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On a sidenote, if animals are to be treated like any other piece of property, then we need to be consistent. For example, if I tell my neighbour that I dont want his dog to be in my garden, then I am surely entitled to keep/shoot/whatever the dog if it comes into my garden (compare to my neighbour throwing garbage onto my lawn). Similarly if I see my neighbours cat out in the street, it shouldnt be classed as theft for me to pick it up and keep it, just like it isnt theft to keep the money in a lost wallet which you find lying around (at least I dont think it is).

Edited by Hal
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A human baby is not property in the sense that a cat is; infant humans, although they don't have their full quota of adult rights yet (they don't have the right to liberty, for instance, because they can't exercise it) still have some rights.

Operating on principle means that you have to accept people that will take that principle all the way to its logical extreme. If you want free speech, that means you have to defend purveyors of pornography and crucifixes in a jar of pee. Rights are an all-or-nothing thing.

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On a sidenote, if animals are to be treated like any other piece of property, then we need to be consistent. For example, if I tell my neighbour that I dont want his dog to be in my garden, then I am surely entitled to keep/shoot/whatever the dog if it comes into my garden (compare to my neighbour throwing garbage onto my lawn). Similarly if I see my neighbours cat out in the street, it shouldnt be classed as theft for me to pick it up and keep it, just like it isnt theft to keep the money in a lost wallet which you find lying around (at least I dont think it is).

It's not? It's certainly theft to use someone's credit cards if they lose them. I think the only reason it's not "considered" theft to take cash that you find is because it doesn't have any identifying marks that can be easily traced back to an owner. Now, if it's in a wallet with someone's driver's license, that's another story.

And that's just answering whether you can be legally prosecuted for a crime: taking property that doesn't belong to you is still theft whether it's a dime or a thousand dollars. If someone crashes their car into your house, you can sue them for damages but you do not become owner of the vehicle.

hmmmm

Are you trying to pretend that those statements are contradictory? They aren't . . . having a different number of rights does not mean that the exercise of those rights are somehow limited. I didn't say that "either you have all rights or you have no rights", I said "either you can exercise a right completely or you cannot."

Humans with substantially differing capacities may never acquire the full complement of adult rights; someone so severely retarded that they cannot know good from evil is not entitled to liberty no matter their age, but what rights they do have they can still exercise to the fullest.

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I wouldnt consider either of these things to be abuse.
Nor do I, so the question is what is "abuse"? I'm denying that the frozen dog situation is (necessarily) abuse. I could imagine accidentally hitting a dog or baby with a frying pan. You didn't answer the question (which, admittedly, wasn't posed to you, but ya know what happens when you blink in public). What defines "abuse"?
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Nor do I, so the question is what is "abuse"? I'm denying that the frozen dog situation is (necessarily) abuse. I could imagine accidentally hitting a dog or baby with a frying pan. You didn't answer the question (which, admittedly, wasn't posed to you, but ya know what happens when you blink in public). What defines "abuse"?

I'm not prepared to define a rigid boundary between abuse and non-abuse, but I could you give you some examples of the sort of things which would definitely lie on either side of the line, wherever its drawn.

It's not? It's certainly theft to use someone's credit cards if they lose them.
Yeah, I said 'money' though. I think you could be right about the identifying marks thing, it makes intuitive sense.

Are you trying to pretend that those statements are contradictory? They aren't . . . having a different number of rights does not mean that the exercise of those rights are somehow limited. I didn't say that "either you have all rights or you have no rights", I said "either you can exercise a right completely or you cannot."
Ok, I misunderstood you. But given youre prepared to grant rights to beings which arent rational (and perhaps not even self-conscious), I'm not sure why youre so opposed to granting them to animals too. Animals obviously shouldnt be entitled to the same set of rights as adult humans, but that doesnt automatically mean they shouldnt be granted any rights at all (in a similar way to babies and the severely brain damaged). Edited by Hal
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For example, if I tell my neighbour that I dont want his dog to be in my garden, then I am surely entitled to keep/shoot/whatever the dog if it comes into my garden (compare to my neighbour throwing garbage onto my lawn).

No, you have don't have a right to retaliate with force yourself unless it's an emergency situation. If he continues to let his dog come onto your property, you have the right to legal recourse (whatever it may happen to be based on the situation). Same thing with trash if he litters on your property.

Aside from that, "throwing garbage away" vs. "letting a dog wander" are not treated the same because they are contextually different situations separate from the consistency of the use of the term "property". "Garbage" implies that the owner does not want the property anymore and that you could keep it or shoot it if you wanted (though shooting it might violate some local ordinance depending on where you live - discharging a firearm in city limits) without using force against him. I'm not sure why you would want to keep or shoot trash, but whatever. In letting the dog wander, the owner is not implying "I wish to relinguish ownership of this dog." He's being irresponsible perhaps, and perhaps violating other's property rights, which opens the door to your legal recourse. But taking or shooting the dog would represent a use of retaliatory force against the other person's property rights. Unless the dog were attacking you, I would say the proper recourse is through a magistrate or the police.

Edit: On second consideration, it may well be proper to defend your property if the dog is actively causing damage to it, depending on the specific situation.

Edited by RationalCop
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Ok, I misunderstood you. But given youre prepared to grant rights to beings which arent rational (and perhaps not even self-conscious), I'm not sure why youre so opposed to granting them to animals too. Animals obviously shouldnt be entitled to the same set of rights as adult humans, but that doesnt automatically mean they shouldnt be granted any rights at all (in a similar way to babies and the severely brain damaged).

I think recognizing that babies and retarded adults are "broken units" and granting them some rights is different from stretching the rights to include animals. The rights of babies are derived from starting at the perfect adult state and working backwards to include when humans may not possess that state. Whereas you can't start with an adult, rational, competent cat and work backwards to include the non-rational, subadult cat, because there is no rational cat.

Meh. That wasn't entirely clear; I'm hoping you can grasp the idea, because I'm not entirely certain how to explain it. More thinking is in order.

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If wolf kills a sheep - is the wolf guilty of violating the sheep's rights? If not, then on what basis would I be violating a sheep's rights by killing it?

Torturing or deliberate cruelty towards another living creature is profoundly immoral - and it is no coincidence that engaging in such behavior is very frequently an early warning sign that a person will also engage in similar behavior on human beings.

Obviously, there are occasions when human beings kill and cause pain to animals in order to obtain values such as food, clothing, testing new medicines and to remove animals which, in certain contexts, jeopardize one's values, such as gophers, rats, wolves, tigers, etc. But people who engage in that sort of behavior for a living tend to be very respectful for the life that they are taking and do what they reasonably can to minimize its suffering - which is the morally proper thing to do.

In a free society, the proper response towards profoundly immoral but non-rights violating behavior is ostracization. If it can be proved that someone tortures animals, than rather than calling the police and putting the person in jail for a few months, the thing to do would be for local newspapers and television stations to run stories on such a person. Civilized people would want nothing to do with such a scum bag and would probably avoid contact with him at all costs.

Another example of profoundly immoral but non-rights violating behavior which is sometimes illegal is racism. If a business owner refuses to employ people or serve customers because they are of a certain racial background - well, strictly speaking, they have every right in the world to do so. But I would want nothing to do with such a person - and, in fact, have refused to have dealings with people I have discovered were racists. And if I run across people who are not aware someone I know is a racist, I usually warn them.

I am told that one of the worst forms of hell in American society is to have your name on the registered sex offenders database. Imagine trying to get a job and have much of a social life with something like THAT being public knowledge. A similar sort of hell is exactly what racists and those who torture animals deserve and what they would get in a free society. In a free society, one's reputation becomes much more important because people are free to take it into consideration and act accordingly. Today, if you work for a large company, you are presumed to have certain alleged "rights" as an employee and, if you rent or try to buy a house, you have certain alleged "rights" that the property owner must obey. It is pretty hard for a company or a prospective landlord to openly refuse to deal with you on the stated and explicty grounds that you are considered to be a scum bag.

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If wolf kills a sheep - is the wolf guilty of violating the sheep's rights?
It would seem so: the wolf will likely receive the death penalty for its crimes, at the hand of the rancher-judge.

Seriously, though, it is unfortunate that some budding Objectivists don't grasp the distinction between "what is right" (moral) and "rights". I absolutely support the use of ostracism (osterizing?) as a means of dealing with certain kinds of morally disgusting persons. In fact, I am somewhat surprised to have hardly ever seen an Objectivist advocate it as a response to sickos.

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In a free society, the proper response towards profoundly immoral but non-rights violating behavior is ostracization. If it can be proved that someone tortures animals, than rather than calling the police and putting the person in jail for a few months, the thing to do would be for local newspapers and television stations to run stories on such a person. Civilized people would want nothing to do with such a scum bag and would probably avoid contact with him at all costs.
That's an interesting point and a good one as well. I wonder, is it your conclusion that the current set of laws on the books which prohibit animal cruelty are improper and should be repealed? Do animal cruelty laws violate the rights of man?
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That's an interesting point and a good one as well. I wonder, is it your conclusion that the current set of laws on the books which prohibit animal cruelty are improper and should be repealed?

I guess my answer depends on the context in which the question is asked.

I would NOT go out in public and/or put up a posting on the Internet proactively campaigning for the repeal of such laws - and I would seriously question the motives of anyone behind such a campaign in 2006. My reason for that is because there are so many examples of morally innocent and decent people who whose rights are violated and who suffer as a result of irrational, unjust and inappropriate laws - for example, anti-trust laws, eminant domain laws, tax laws, securities laws, wetlands protection laws and regulations far too numerous to count.

While I recognize that there are times when the defense of freedom requires one to stand up for the rights of those one despises to commit behavior which one considers evil (for example, defending Jacques Kerry's and Algore's free speech rights), one does so in the name of the good and decent people whose rights and freedom are also at risk as a result. Laws which prohibit people from torturing or being needlessly cruel to animals do not apply to good and decent people - the only kind of people who would engage in such acts in the first place are scum bags.

Yes - scum bags have rights too. But the issue here is this: what does it say about a person who chooses to spend his limited time, energy and resources campaigning on behalf of the repeal of laws inappropriately directed at scum bags instead of spending it on behalf of victims who are good and decent? Why defend a pathetic and sick-o cruel sadist who tortures kitty cats when innocent, productive people such as Martha Stewart are being locked up behind bars?

What most people will conclude when they see such a campaign is that the purpose behind it is probably a bunch of nihilists wanting to stand besides the wicked for the sake of standing besides the wicked - and any and all talk about individual rights would be viewed as merely a rationalization.

If one wishes to advocate individual rights, one must be very selective about ones battles both in terms of what issues one has a chance of making an impact with and in terms of how it will reflect on the cause of individual rights in general.

So, in that sense, I would not go around making a point to advocate that such laws be repealed. Reasonable people would properly classify me as being just some other libertarian-esque kook.

On the other hand, if you ask me whether such laws are a proper response to grotesquely immoral but non-rights violating behavior - my answer would be no.

Do animal cruelty laws violate the rights of man?

Laws which prohibit one from engaging in non-rights violating behavior constitute a violation of rights. A law which prohibits me from drinking Drain-O is a violation of my rights despite the fact that no person who is in his right mind and wishes to remain alive would wish to do so.

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It would seem so: the wolf will likely receive the death penalty for its crimes, at the hand of the rancher-judge.

Except, of course, that the death penalty would not be because the wolf violated the sheep's rights but rather because it destroyed the rancher's property.

This reminds me of one more illustration of the silliness that animals somehow have rights. People definitely have rights - and that includes ranchers and farmers. But when the wolf ate the rancher's sheep or when a rabbit eats a farmer's carrot crop, are the farmer and rancher's rights violated? Were Roy Horn's rights violated when he was attacked by one of his tigers? Of course not. Only people can violate rights and only people can have rights.

I once knew a lady who was a vegetarian and a member of PETA and asked her if why she saw nothing wrong with animals killing other animals but was offended when people kill those same animals. Her response was a smug: "Well, since we are human beings, we ought to know better." Translation: Since, unlike the animals, we have the capacity to choose to subordinate ourselves below every other living creature, we have a moral obligation to do so. And the notion that such a capacity makes us superior to other creatures - well, that is the root of all evil in her blighted and pathetic worldview.

Seriously, though, it is unfortunate that some budding Objectivists don't grasp the distinction between "what is right" (moral) and "rights". I absolutely support the use of ostracism (osterizing?) as a means of dealing with certain kinds of morally disgusting persons. In fact, I am somewhat surprised to have hardly ever seen an Objectivist advocate it as a response to sickos.

Most Objectivists I know actually do, on a personal level, ostracize people they do not like or find repulsive. But, in today's culture, it is very hard to do that on a widespread organized basis across an entire society. In today's culture,unfortunately, the mere fact that one regards certain people as scum bags will result in a sizable percentage of the population not taking you very seriously.

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David's suggestion was appropriate. There should be mandatory Osterizing for abusers.osterizer8zj.th.jpg

:warn: That's good. I like it.

Only problem is it might get some flack from the Kerry/Kennedy/Algore crowd. I am sure they would consider something like that to be intolerant and inflammatory. No doubt they would insist that we be just as respectful to scum bags as they are to terrorists! :yarr:

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Yes - scum bags have rights too. But the issue here is this: what does it say about a person who chooses to spend his limited time, energy and resources campaigning on behalf of the repeal of laws inappropriately directed at scum bags instead of spending it on behalf of victims who are good and decent? Why defend a pathetic and sick-o cruel sadist who tortures kitty cats when innocent, productive people such as Martha Stewart are being locked up behind bars?

Note that this same observation applies to the Libertarians and their insistence upon shoving to the forefront of politics the rights of drug users to obliterate their minds.

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Note that this same observation applies to the Libertarians and their insistence upon shoving to the forefront of politics the rights of drug users to obliterate their minds.

Indeed. And the freedom to walk around in public naked and to fornicate on one's front porch also seems to be a hot button issue for certain members of the Libertarian crowd. Sure shows where their priorities are. As someone aptly said.......hippies of the right.

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Count me as one of the unfortunates who haven't grasped this whole subject.

If it is not immoral to kick a pebble, then why would it be immoral to torture an animal?
Indeed. I have seen surprisingly few arguments as to why torturing animals is immoral. If a person tortures an animal for the sake of his pleasure, what is the argument that he is being immoral?

If I knew that my neighbour was torturing his cat then I would have no problem taking the cat from him, and I certainly wouldnt class this as being theft. I'm not sure how to interpret this in terms of animal rights, but meh.
*Agrees*

I would NOT go out in public and/or put up a posting on the Internet proactively campaigning for the repeal of [anti-torture] laws - and I would seriously question the motives of anyone behind such a campaign in 2006. My reason for that is because there are so many examples of morally innocent and decent people who whose rights are violated...
But isn't this to say that while there are more important rights to focus on, voting against or abstaining from a process to repeal animal torture laws would be sanctioning the violation of man's rights?
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Indeed. I have seen surprisingly few arguments as to why torturing animals is immoral. If a person tortures an animal for the sake of his pleasure, what is the argument that he is being immoral?

What is immoral - and, more than that, mentally deranged - is the mere fact that a grown adult derives pleasure from the suffering of another living creature.

Creatures with lower forms of consciousness, such as snakes and fish, may not be advanced enough to actually be aware that they are experiencing pain - but higher level animals most definitely are aware of pain and are capable of suffering tremendously. They feel the exact same sort of pain that you and I do if we were subjected to torture.

The fact that animals do not have rights does not mean that their lives are without value. Life itself is a profoundly precious value - and the fact that the higher animals do have a certain level of awareness and are capable of suffering is something which a mentally healthy human properly respects.

Having such respect does not mean that a person should refrain from killing animals when there is a purpose for doing so - i.e. food, clothing, removal of pests and, yes, even sport. But this respect DOES mean that one does what one can to minimize the animal's suffering.

Those who would take pleasure from the suffering of an innocent creature - well, the very psychology that would make such pleasure possible is profoundly twisted. It is to hold with disregard the value of life itself. If life, as such, is not a value - then why should one regard a human life as being of value? And why would one subscribe to the notion that man has rights in the first place if human life was not a value? Again, the fact that a person takes pleasure from the suffering of animals is a very strong warning sign of someone who will eventually seek to do the same with human beings - and this fact is not a mere coincidence.

The fact that we have a rational faculty while they do not brings about a huge gulf between human beings and all other creatures. But there is also a major common bond - we are all LIVING creatures. And the more advanced an animal's consciousness, the greater that bond becomes.

Values exist in a hierarchy. To say that a human life is infinitely more precious than an dog's or cat's is not to say that the dog or cat's life is without value and not morally worthy of respect.

But isn't this to say that while there are more important rights to focus on, voting against or abstaining from a process to repeal animal torture laws would be sanctioning the violation of man's rights?

Voting against it might perhaps be such a sanction. But abstaining from such a process most certainly is not. There are many reasons why a person might abstain. Maybe they are busy with living their lives. Or, as I indicated in my previous posting, perhaps they have bigger and more important fish to fry. Or, perhaps the people leading the crusade for such repeal are a bunch of sickos and kooks that one wishes to have nothing to do with.

Edited by Dismuke
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