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Animal Rights

written by Scott Hughes

Usually, the term animal rights refers to a growing movement to protect non-human animals from being harmed non-defensively by humans. It would extend some of the most basic human rights to animals, for the same reason they have been given to humans without regard to race, religion, or intelligence. Namely, these rights include the right to not be treated as property, the right to not be offensively attacked, and the right not to be used (i.e. enslaved) by humans.

Frankly, proponents of animal rights don't want animals to be treated as property or resources by humans. Animals aren't rocks or oil. They are sentient creatures with interests and feelings. Offensively hurting them is reprehensible in the same way as offensively hurting humans. For example, if it's wrong to torture humans, then it's wrong to torture animals for the same reasons.

What rights do animals have?

Generally, supports of the animal rights movement believe that animals have the right to be free from murder, assault, torture, rape, enslavement, and anything else that would cause offensive harm to the animal. supports these rights for animals and humans alike.

Of course, it may become necessary to use force against the animal and harm it in the same way it may become necessary to use force against a human. For example, if a human/animal attempts to attack an innocent little boy, we would use as much force as necessary to stop and detain the attacker, including lethal force if needed.

Animal Rights in Modern Law

79 out of 180 U.S. law schools now teach animal law courses. Additionally, the Great Ape Project has proposed the Declaration on Great Apes to the United Nations. The declaration would call for the inclusion of orangutans, bonobos, chimpanzees, and gorillas in a "community of equals" with human beings. It would extend to them the protection of three basic rights:

  • the right to life
  • the prohibition of torture
  • the protection of individual liberty

Animal Rights & Legal Competence

Extending right to animals wouldn't put animals on the same level as competent adult humans in society, nor would it give the animals the same privileges as a competent adult human. Humans would still make decisions for animals, even against the respective wills of the animals. Additionally, animals wouldn't have rights and privileges that require competency, such as entering legal contracts, owning property, and so on.

In that way, animal rights would be analogous to the rights of children. Children have the most basic of rights, such as the right to be free from murder, torture, and so one. However, children don't have rights that require competency. For example, children (i.e. legal minors) cannot enter into legal contracts, they cannot legally rent a house, and they cannot legally consent to sex.

Like it is with children, the rights that require competency would either be non-existent or exercised by a competent proxy, i.e. a legal guardian or the government.

Animal Rights - Violence Disclaimer

This site supports animal rights. However, we consider human rights to have priority. For example, we do not support using violence against humans to defend the rights of animals. We feel that such destructive extremism only sets the animal rights movement back by increasing divisiveness, angering the people we want to persuade, and giving the movement a bad reputation. We instead support the use of peaceful persuasion and rational debate to change the minds of people and the customs of society.