I am moving into unchartered waters here. I am not an expert on law, specifically non human animal rights under the law. But my husband and I did decide to attend a symposium this past Wednesday, July 16th at UQAM, the title of which is Animal Rights and Animal Law. There were three speakers who spoke very eloquently about the ethics of animal law, including their belief that current, outdated laws need to be changed.
On their website, GRIDA at UQAM states:
Although the suffering of animals has, in recent years, led to the emergence of multidisciplinary reflection on the animal condition, legislative initiatives undertaken or planned in Quebec and Canada are, unfortunately, still based on false and even negative perceptions about animals. Trapped within the rigid structure of civil law, which does not recognize animals as persons, animals are treated as chattel goods that are subject to abuse. We must therefore ask ourselves some serious questions, whether, in the twenty-first century, the law shall continue to maintain the “machine-animal” theory, an ethological hypothesis that emerged from classical theories of the mechanistic movement, which postulated that animals do not suffer any more than they think (Descartes).
Dr. Mark Rowlands is a professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami, whose field of interest is the moral status of nonhuman animals. He was one of the speakers at this event. These are some of the points he made.
All animals, human and nonhuman alike, have the capacity to suffer and, as such, have moral value. We know that non humans suffer because of their behavior and their brain chemistry when subjected to suffering and as well, because of evolutionary history.
All animals, human and nonhuman alike, have vital and non vital interests which matter to them.
Vital interests of non humans include the right not to suffer, the right not to be killed and the right to be free.
Non vital human interests include the consumption of meat for our own wants, not our health.
“Staying alive is a prerequisite for enjoying vital interest.”
“On moral and prudential grounds, the practice of eating meat should be abandoned.”
Lab Experiments on non humans for the purpose of testing the efficacy and safety of drugs have been proven to be ineffective. Phase 0 testing of drugs on animals have a 98% fail rate in the second phase of testing, which does not include testing on animals. There is a growing recognition that the vital interest of humans is not served. This barbaric practice will soon be abandoned.
I applaud the efforts of the three speakers at the event to bring into our view the destructive view we have of all other sentient beings on this planet. They are trying to inform and to change long held, archaic laws built on what we now define as speciesism.
I have not commented on the other two speakers, Valery Giroux and Martine Lachance simply because their talks were in French and I am not proficient enough to have understood everything they said. But I did get the gist of their work for nonhuman animal rights and I support their efforts.
Annie’s Vegan View
Current laws which classify non humans as property with no feelings, thoughts and interest of their own (vital and non vital), need to be changed.
Non humans need to have moral value under the law. I am not talking about laws which legislate more “humane” (I use the term loosely) treatment of non humans caught in our cruel industries.
I am talking about freedom from these industries which support non vital human interests. These industries need to die so that non humans can live with dignity, freedom, and agency over their own lives, free from pain, suffering and death.
May all beings be happy and free.