Any line that we draw regarding animal rights, if it is not applied to all life universally, will be arbitrary.  Life feeds on life.  We can not sustain ourselves at present without destroying life to do so.  There is no rational argument for completely avoiding the consumption of all life.  And there is no moral argument.  The universe does not care whether people eat chickens, lions, or automobiles.  We can however come up with cogent arguments for why we would not want to deplete another species to the point of extinction.  Many species are vital to our continued health.  Those of us who wish for our species to continue would do well to focus on sustainability.  

        But not all arguments bear close scrutiny.  Take for example PETA's recent declaration that a man "ought to hang" for killing a lion.  This is prima facie ludicrous.  What purpose would it serve?  To appease the lion's immaterial spirit? How would it benefit us to adopt such a policy?  And would even the killing of insects and plants deserve such heavy-handed retributive justice?

        How many lions, elephants, and other animals are slaughtered every year that don't get the same attention?  What made this particular lion more important than its fellow animals?  Zimbabwe's president recently had an elephant slaughtered for his birthday.  What is an elephant's life worth?  After the lion incident made the media, Zimbabwe banned lion hunting for approximately one week before lifting the ban and allowing hunting again.  Where is the consistency in how we treat these issues?  And how much is any animal's life worth?  Why do we place more value on a lion than a cow, sheep, or pig?  We kill millions of animals every year for food, clothing, medicine, and sport without hesitation or trepidation.  How many deer do hunters kill for sport?  How many meat products do we consume?  How many insects, plants, and bacteria do we kill consciously or unconsciously?  How can we presume to say that a lion is worth more than a colony of bacteria or a field of plant life?  By what criteria do we judge?  Any criteria we choose will be arbitrary, subjective.  There is no cosmic arbiter in the sky who tells us which animals rank higher in his divine plan.  And apparently different people assign value differently.

        I am fond of dogs, but the Chinese held a dog meat festival this year, wherein dogs were cruelly treated and slaughtered daily.  I object to this practice, but the Chinese may point out that we eat chicken and pigs.  What makes one more valuable than the other?  It depends largely on where one grows up.  There is no universal standard, so how then do we decide an animal's relative worth?

        I question the logical consistency of certain of the arguments that have been put forth.  I value consistency as much as I despise hypocrisy.  People will weep when one animal dies but fail to register anything when an entire species goes extinct.  This is I suppose not unlike how people will deplore the killing of one of their countrymen but fail to respond to the bombing of a children's hospital in a country in which their country is engaged militarily.  Perhaps it is failure of imagination.  The inconsistency is I suppose one more way in which we humans are irrational.

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Comment by Pat on October 21, 2015 at 3:12pm

A quote attributable to Josef Stalin during the height of the famine in the Ukraine in the 1930's, during a meeting of the Soviet Commissars to discuss the starvation.

If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics. 

While brutal sounding, Stalin made a salient point on the reaction of humans to death, in general. Cecil the Lion is a worldwide tragedy. The same people screaming about a pet lion don't know about, or seemingly don't care about, the near extinction of black rhinos.

People go into hyper emotional states if a porpoise is caught and killed in a fishing net. They're cute, so we have to protect them. No one blinks an eye about rattlesnake 'roundups,' where the reptiles are slaughtered for sport. Even though they keep down the rodent population that carries fleas that host bubonic plague in the US west. Rattlesnakes are not cute, so who cares.

Much more than just a humorous cartoon book.

Comment by Gerald Payne on October 18, 2015 at 6:30pm

Your right, animal rights are a contradiction in terms. Even our attempts at conservation seem to have more to do with human vanity than concern for the animal kingdom. ''Cruelty to animals'' is another grey area where opinions are divided. Ritual slaughter according to Jewish or Muslim  law is a practice I personally find occult as well as cruel and yet it's a perfectly legal method of slaughter, allowed for other reason than religious appeasement. These opinions coming from an ex-hunter, are again hypocritical. 

Comment by Wyatt on October 18, 2015 at 8:23am
Thank you, Michael. I will say that I see no point in hunting for sport. What the dentist did was stupidly wasteful. I think he should be required to take medication for ADHD and complete one year at a school for the severely retarded. Upon graduation he should be required to hang his diploma in the lobby of his office and take the title "special" for the rest of his life.
Comment by Michael Penn on October 18, 2015 at 7:19am

When I was in Africa in 2004 I chose not to eat elephant meat. Doing so would have made me feel guilty and all I would have gained is being able to say later that "I had eaten elephant meat before."  Somehow I thought I would feel less guilt by choosing goat.

As for that lion killing dentist, I think they should have made him eat the meat. Putting my ironic humor aside, your post has many good points that are very well said.

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