Thanks Stacey !
Bigotry begins when categories such as race, age, gender, sex, sexual orientation, or species are used to justify discrimination.
Speciesism—like sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination—is an oppressive belief system in which those with power draw boundaries to justify using or excluding their fellow beings who are less powerful. A human supremacist line of “reasoning” is used to defend treating other living, feeling beings like research tools, fabric, toys, or even food ingredients—even though they share our capacity for pain, hunger, fear, thirst, love, joy, and loneliness and have as much interest in freedom and staying alive as humans do.
From childhood, most humans are conditioned to view certain species as worthy of care and compassion and others as less important or unworthy—based on arbitrary human preferences. This toxic view also leads humans to draw groundless distinctions between animal species based on the worth of those animals to them. Consider the following examples:
- Animals are often referred to as property. Many humans call themselves an animal’s “owner” and refer to the animal as “it,” as if he or she were an inanimate object like a table or a chair.
- Most humans wouldn’t dream of keeping their dog in a cramped, crowded warehouse on a slab of filthy concrete, which is the way pigs are treated in the food industry—even though pigs are able to experience the same pain, joy, fear, and misery that dogs can.
- Some people wear coats trimmed with fur from coyotes or stuffed with feathers pulled from a screaming goose, but most of them would never consider tearing fistfuls of fur out of a crying kitten’s back with their own hands.
- Many people judge other cultures for eating dogs or poaching wildlife while willfully turning a blind eye to their own cruel habits—as if eating other animals or hunting deer were any different.
It’s speciesist to believe that the differences between humans and other animals are enough to warrant torturing and killing those we don’t relate to. It’s speciesist to think that we are superior and are therefore somehow justified in raping, caging, and mutilating animals who don’t look exactly like us. It’s speciesist to exploit others because we don’t understand them fully or at all, to assume that they’re not as intelligent as we are when we measure their intelligence in human terms, and to dismiss their suffering because it benefits us.
Whether we have feathers or fur, skin or scales, we’re all able to experience complex feelings such as love, sadness, pain, and joy and we all have a will to live—these things are not unique to humans. Consider these examples:
- Elephants and chimpanzees will mourn and shed tears if a member of their family dies.
- Mother cows will walk for miles to find their stolen babies.
- Many orcas stay with their families for life in the oceans.
- Rats willingly put themselves in harm’s way to save others.
- Fish like physical contact with other fish and often gently rub against one another—in the same way that a cat weaves in and out of your legs.
Help end speciesism by pledging to recognize that animals are not ours to use or abuse and that all living, feeling beings deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.
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