From our sayings to fairytales, myth, and lore, animals feature prominently in our imaginative landscapes. But we distance ourselves with words like property, pets, pests, objects of study, test subjects, nuisance, creatures, wildlife—and none of these terms are quite adequate.
We use animals to market our products, and products with an animal logo sell at a much higher rate than those without. Our sports teams call up wild, powerful animal icons. As children, we sleep with “stuffed” animals. From our goat-like vision of the Devil to our cultural preoccupation with vampires, werewolves, the Loch Ness monster, we secretly long to feel reconnected with our own animal nature, even while we fear it.
- So why do we speak of animal rights? A concern only with animal welfare, like tolerance for diversity, still allows us to dominate and choose what we tolerate. It isn’t the same thing as affording equal protection under the law. Using animals but trying to be nice about it still fundamentally allows us to determine when, how, and where we choose to be kind to animals. We must draw upon our empathic nature and respect the rights of sentient beings, whether human or nonhuman.
Selection from blog post September 24th, 2012, by Jennifer Molidor, Legal Defense Fund staff writer.