Many years ago we learned that Princeton’s own Professor Peter Singer had devised a method by which to excuse some human persons from the human race and welcome into it other entities which were in fact animals, not humans. As Professor Dianne Irving pointed out in a speech on the topic, “Princeton’s Peter Singer—a ‘preference’ utilitarian…argues that some animals have more moral value than young human children or ill, disabled human adults.”
Of course Singer is not alone. Most recently he has been joined by a cadre of animal rights activists who have brought their own spin to the question of what it means to be a person. York County SPCA executive director Melissa Smith, for example, explained to her local newspaper that she took her lead from veterinarian Elliot Katz, who recommended some years ago that, if the owner of a dog or a cat is referred to as the “guardian” instead of the “owner,” a higher level of moral responsibility is required of that individual.
Katz, founder of the international organization In Defense of Animals, is convinced that, by changing the language that describes the pet caretaker, the caretaker’s behavior toward that animal will also change. He could be onto something, of course. As we know in America, since pregnancy has fallen into disrepute and is viewed as a disease instead of a natural state of expectation, millions of human persons have been killed by abortion.
Having said this, let me add that Katz and his fellow animal lovers are using some terminology that should send shivers down your spine. Rutgers law professor Gary Francione, who has written extensively on animal rights, is convinced that rhetorical modification is not enough, but rather what is needed is a change in the legal status of animals. According to Francione, “You don’t go from non-personhood to personhood through incremental changes ... (including) language changes. Once somebody has achieved personhood, then you can improve that status and ameliorate the lack of equality through various means.”
What? Yes, in his latest book, Animals as Persons, Francione sets forth the argument that “nonhuman animals should be regarded as ‘persons’—full members of the moral community.”
The attitude about animals is even changing among Americans. In an introduction to one of his books on animal rights, Francione writes, “Two-thirds of Americans polled by the Associated Press agree with the following statement: An animal’s right to live free of suffering should be just as important as a person’s right to live free of suffering.”
What’s wrong with this picture? We should reflect briefly on something Wesley Smith said regarding animal rights activists/liberationists (ARLists):
We have to understand that ARLists do not share a common frame of moral reference with the rest of society.
Whereas most of us believe that humans have the highest moral value, it is an article of faith among ARLists that no moral distinction exists between humans and animals; “a rat, is a dog, is a boy,” in one animal liberationist’s infamous assertion. Thus, while most of us believe that we have a positive moral duty to treat animals humanely and support punishing people that abuse them, ARL movement devotees believe—not metaphorically, but literally—that we have no right to use animals for any purpose, not even as seeing-eye dogs.
While I have no tolerance for those who abuse animals or wildlife in general, I see nothing commendable in the philosophical position that my cat or your dog should be recognized as a human person in the same way that some of us are. Yes, SOME, not all! Let’s not forget that America has already dehumanized preborn children, denying their human personhood in the law and the culture.
This is why our first priority as pro-life Americans must be the pursuit of HUMAN personhood—not animal, not vegetable, not corporate.
So the next time you step near your cat’s Meow Mix bowl, take care. Some may argue that you are invading a person’s space down there, rather than ensuring that Tabby has enough to eat!