Hayley is a Ghost

I gone and done a bad thing

Posted on: July 28, 2011

I had originally deleted this blog post because I was annoyed at the amount of people I was having to debate with.

“After Morrissey made the headlines yet again after saying outrageous things about humans and their treatment of animals, I gone and done a bad thing by suggesting on facebook that all living creatures are equal.
I said that Morrissey was an insensitive bastard and made a really distasteful comment… but actually did have a point, but it was a point that didn’t need to be made at that time.
I then had to spent nearly an hour justifying my belief that all living creatures are equal and that humans, just like other creatures on this planet, are insignificant. I’ve posted about why I don’t eat animal corpses before here and here.

People often seemed outraged at my view that humans are animals, just like animals, and thus aren’t any more important than a field mouse or a rhino or a cow. I’ve posted a video inteview by Richard Dawkins with Peter Singer before (see below), and my vegetarianism is similar to Singers.
Yet despite this, the same people seem to question my take on life and my choice to not eat meat time and time again. I’m starting to think some of them are simply not at all interested in why I believe what I believe, and are 100% sure they’re right. That is closed minded.”

Tom, over at SkepticCanary wrote a blog post after our debate on facebook outlining why he thought that humans were more important than other animals, when I don’t think that.

He says:

 I thought that the egregiousness of this comparison, and the concept that humans are more important than other animals was self evident. Apparently not.

It must have been a shock to know that people have other opinions than the ones you hold… anyway, Tom then provided a long and short explanation as to why humans are superior. The short version was “we went to the fucking moon”. The long version was basically about how humans have imagination, cognition, and potential and other animals tend not to.

You can read his full blog post here.

My main issue with Toms argument is that if we take ‘cognition’ and cut it down to its very core definition:

perception, learning, remembering, judging, and problem-solving

Animals do that too. Sure, not as intelligently as humans… but animals and insects remember, problem solve, judge and have perception of their surroundings. The argument that humans are more superior to other animals is speciesism, which has often been described as akin to attitudes towards racism or slavery when it wasn’t largely frowned upon.

Those who owned slaves, or were socially racist felt morally uneasy, but it was the done thing, so they justified it because of that.

I wonder where one draws the line at deciding how important an animal is compared to humans? Squid, chicken, dogs… they’re intelligent creatures and all get eaten by humans, so how does intelligence play into this? It doesn’t.

I left the following comment on Toms blog and I’m sure I will be told that I’m being illogical again, or that my thoughts have shocked Tom because he can’t believe people would actually think what I think. I felt compelled to write this blog post out again though because I’m not stupid and I think that I do because it makes sense morally and ethically to me.

If you choose to eat meat then it’s your decision, but I choose not to, and that was my decision. If you don’t agree with that then just accept that we see the world in different ways.

Hi Tom,

So let me get this right. Humans are more important because of their sentience?

Would you therefore happily kill and eat someone who is brain dead?

Many of your suggested distinguishing features of humanity – intelligence; imagination etc. are not present in marginal cases such as young or mentally disabled humans, it appears that the only distinction is a prejudice based on species alone… that’s known as speciesism.

All animals have inherent rights &  we cannot assign them a lesser value because of a “lack of rationality, imagination, dreams” etc. while, in the same breath, assigning a higher value to infants & the mentally impaired solely on the grounds of being members of a specific species.

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13 Responses to "I gone and done a bad thing"

Hi,
I tracked your blog from Autumn Sunshine’s page.

I would like to say you have every right to believe in equality of animals.

There will always be the ‘know-all’s who are deluded that they know everything there is to know about us humans; not just about our place in this universe and this reality, but also of what may lie beyond our feeble understanding.

With every passing year of my life, I become more convinced, that we humans are indeed insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Who knows, there can very well be another reality beyond. Where all ‘souls’ will again meet as equals. None of these moronic ‘know-all’s can prove it is not possible.

I am not a vegetarian. But I would never derogate anyone for their beliefs to be one. I can only say, please do not heed what anyone else says.

It is, after all, your belief that you have to live by.

your comment was approved though?

“I choose not to for ethical reasons, that doesn’t bother others who choose to eat meat.”

Again, you are tarring all meat eaters with the same brush. Why do you assume that all meat eaters haven’t considered the ethical implications of their actions?

Tom, with all due respect, you’re starting to really piss me off with your patronising attitude. I don’t assume anything.

I’m just reacting to what you’ve written. By writing “I choose not to for ethical reasons, that doesn’t bother others who choose to eat meat.” it looks like you think that all meat eaters aren’t bothered by the ethical implications of eating meat, which isn’t the case.

Do you read everything as literal? “others” doesn’t mean “all those” it means “others”. Gosh.

Hi Hayley,

I’ve by chance noticed that you’ve changed this post in response to a post on my blog. I don’t want to sound demanding, but if you are going to do this could you please tell me so that I can respond? It’s only fair, especially if you are going to equate my position on this issue to one of racism and slavery? I responded to your comment on my blog a few days ago, but I’ve yet to receive a reply from yourself.

Anyway, back to the debate. I don’t understand why people like yourself and Peter Singer feel the need to simplify this extremely complicated issue by looking at the core definitions (eg cognition) and boiling them down until you reach a position that fits both ourselves and other animals. Isn’t concentrating on one point you find favourable and ignoring everything else cherry picking? You could equally say “Humans and plants are both eukaryotic organisms, so we shouldn’t eat plants”.

I do object to the accusation of ‘speciesism’, because it’s a form of prejudice. I clearly went over what I consider to be the evidence for humans being more important than animals on my blog, I don’t just think that we are better than animals because of our species.

I’m not going to comment on what looks like an attempt to muddy the waters with racism right now. If I do, I’ll be opening a huge can of worms.

I need to emphasize that my blog post was not an attack on vegetarians, I was merely examining why Morrissey’s comments were so shocking and why humans are more important than other animals. I don’t consider your position on this issue to be illogical, but if I’m being honest I think it’s simplistic for the reasons I’ve given earlier. If anything, it’s too logical!

Do you think it was OK for Morrissey to say what he said? Would it make a difference if he mentioned a past atrocity instead of the recent Norway attacks?

I thought the inclusion of a link to your blog would have made it update on the different feeds, sorry.

I’m not equating your opinions with racism but was explaining specisism and outlining what is often said about the position held by many. It wasn’t an attempt to muddy the waters at all.

If I have simplified things down until they are the same for ‘us and animals’ thrn surely it suggests that things aren’t as simple as YOU make them out to be, rather than the other way around.

As for your question, of course it was ok for Morrissey to say what he did. It was distasteful, but he has the right to express his opinions. Now maybe you can answer the questions in my blog post? Or you could just take this comment as a personal attack too and skim around the topic at hand? It’s a good tactic.

I don’t think it’s a question of who is being more or less logical, it’s simply a matter of the weight you give to one argument over another. I can see how you both arrived at your conclusions and I don’t think that either of you can be said to be definitively right or wrong.

Personally I’d rather not have to kill any complex multicellular being to live but seeing as that is currently near-impossible I don’t make the distinction between plants and animals. What I do do is support the humane treatment of animals that are raised for their meat and oppose factory farming. Oh and I HAVE given the matter plenty of thought.

Hello!

Just because, for example, you might think that humans are more important than other species, doesn’t inevitably lead to you thinking that those other species are completely worthless and can be exploited without moral implications. Tom, as I understand it, was saying that killing a human is worse than killing an animal (or indeed a great many animals). On those terms, I think that in the circumstances he was referring to – the Oslo shootings – he would be right – that would certainly be my gut feeling anyway. However this isn’t the same as saying that a human’s desire for food or clothing *always* trumps an animal’s desire to not die, or be exploited in some other way, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t saying that. In fact he explicitly said that he didn’t want to bring the subject round to vegetarianism.

I think part of the problem here is that Morrissey muddied the water in the first place by drawing a comparison between that senseless act of violence in Oslo, and the long-term industrialisation and outsourcing of animal suffering and death on a vast scale. These two things cannot and should not be compared, IMHO. Referring to an atrocity like this is verging on Reductio ad Hitlerum and is unhelpful at best.

It might have been useful if Tom had provided examples of what he thought the practical implications would be of humans being more important. I believe that Hayley came to the conclusion that he meant that animal suffering was unimportant, which might well not be the case.

Hayley, we can’t expect animals to be treated equally on every level. We’re not campaigning to give dogs the vote. However we can argue for the suffering of (sentient) animals to be given some weight in moral arguments, I quite agree.

Tom, your example of deciding to choose between saving a baby or a cage of mice from a burning building is one I can understand, of course. But I suppose that the problem with that argument when it comes to factory farming or similar is that as a society we’ve put the mice in the building deliberately. Of course get the baby out first, but once we’ve done that it might be worth thinking about not chucking any more cages of mice in through the window 🙂

To conclude (and apologies for the long comment):

Tom – this is a good page of FAQs about animal rights etc which you may find interesting to ponder: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/faqs/
Hayley – are you a vegetarian or a vegan?

Thanks, and kind regards

Matt

Tom’s right; you’re thick.

I appreciate your constructive feedback. No. No wait. I don’t.

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Hayley is a ghost

Hayley Stevens is an advocate for science-based research into seemingly paranormal experiences and occurrences. With a background in the pseudo-scientific research into ghosts, Hayley offers a unique insight into the strange world of ghost hunting through her experience.

She describes herself as 'a ghost hunter who doesn't hunt for ghosts' and this is her personal blog where she writes about ghosts, people, and other interesting things. Read more here.

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