3 Jun 2015 34 Respondents
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By Amanda Lees
Mega Mind (39858 XP)


In the Sydney Morning Herald, Sam de Brito argues that 'We are all Nazis when it comes to animal rights'.

When you watch movies such as the Oscar-winner  12 Years a Slave  or any film that deals with the Holocaust, you can’t help but ask yourself how you’d react if you’d lived through the events portrayed.

We think we’d have the moral steel to be abolitionists or stand against Nazism, yet we’re often indulging in the “condescension of posterity” – overlaying modern enlightenment onto situations in which people had few means to know or act better.

Instead, he examines the logic of placing human pain and palates above those of animals, a concept popularised by Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer in his watershed 1975 book  Animal Liberation .This is the core argument of the 2013 documentary  Speciesism,  a disturbing movie about the ethics of eating meat. Unlike most films of this genre, filmmaker Mark Devries does not just shock with undercover clips of animal cruelty.

Arguments that humans deserve better treatment because we “think for ourselves” and “know right from wrong” collapse when you accept we protect the welfare of infants or the profoundly disabled – who can do neither – above the welfare of animals. We know pigs and chickens feel pain and fear, yet we brutalise them in ways we’d never allow to happen to a newborn human – undoubtedly less aware than an adult cow.

A telling moment in the 2013 documentary is when a scientist observes “space is so much larger than even astronomers of a few generations ago could have dreamed of. Over and again, our intuition is wrong ... your ‘common sense’ has failed you.”

Devries then asks a haunting question: “What if [our assumption of superiority] really is just a prejudice? What if we’re … one species more powerful by luck, tyrannising over all the others and not stepping back to notice what we’ve been doing?”

Is the belief “animals are for our benefit” a failure of common sense, destined to be seen as horrifically cruel and as ignorant as the slave master who “knew” their “property” didn’t mourn when their children were taken from them?

Another interviewee observes: “When you come out on the other side of the argument intellectually, you’re confronted with a holocaust that's occurring everywhere, at all times, and everyone you know … they’re all participating.”

Devries also interviews a Holocaust survivor, who describes how he visited the death camps where his family was exterminated and was struck by the piles of hair, glasses and boots.

'Years later I visited a slaughterhouse in the US and there again I saw piles of hearts and hooves ... and I got to thinking about the highly efficient and dispassionate process used in both cases, that the perpetrators felt no guilt ... that my fellow Jews were transported in cattle cars.'

The survivor concluded: 'It made me realise the slogan we'd been using, 'never again', was not really about what others shouldn't do to us.'

The idea of a holocaust on your plate has been controversially used by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in its ad campaigns, as well as by writers such as Nobel Prize laureates J. M. Coetzee and Isaac Bashevis Singer, who was Jewish, who wrote in his story The Letter Writer : 'In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka.'

There's a thought for your next barbecue. 

From:  www.smh.com.au/comment/we-are-all-nazis-when-it-comes-to-animal-rights-20140426-zqy0b.html  

As 'civilised' human beings do we need to examine more closely the 'holocaust' on our plates? 

Are animals really for our benefit? 

Are we superior beings - when we treat animals so poorly?

Is the holocaust an appropriate comparison?

Lots of questions.

What do you think?

Vote now and add your reasons, then debate with others.

Image source

It is proposed that humans should stop eating animal products