If you're an animal enthusiast, I suggest you turn away now. This post won't be pretty.
Last Saturday after severely breaking its ankle, Kentucky Derby second-place contestant Eight Belles was euthanasized. NBC was on the scene reporting as it all went down:
As a result of the euthanasia (which I should remind people is a MERCY killing), PETA has been all over the place protesting this event and the jockey who was riding the horse. My frustrations with pointless protests aside, the most bothersome aspect of this story is the unusually high premium placed on animal "rights", all in a time where human rights are seemingly being trampled on ad infinitum.
I was over a Jared's place where he made a convincing argument which I support. Though it's not entirely related to euthanasized thoroughbreds, it ties in to my feelings about animal "rights":
Currently, the ASPCA is running commercials that publicize a new program through which you can sponsor an animal in a shelter, and provide food, care, and medicine, etc. The approach is indestinguishable from that of Compassion International, World Vision, or any number of other groups who do the same things - but for kids. That's the somewhat frightening thing, here; those kids are now fighting dogs and cats for a limited pool of charitable resources...and it's a given that in many peoples' minds, it's a 50/50 proposition as to which group will get their donaitons.
When you honestly think - even for a second - that a dog in a shelter in Mumbai is more worthy of your $30 a month than the Dalit kid dying of dysentery in the street outside of that shelter? When you spend more mental and emotional energy worrying about the animals being displaced and killed by China's Three Gorges dam project than you do in trying to find a way to bring some semblance of hope to a North Korean family huddled in a safehouse in that country? You've lost me, and further convinced me that - as a culture - our perspective continues its slide off the rails.
But he also concedes to the issue of compassion toward animals, as do I:
Obviously, there's nothing wrong with loving your pets, taking care of animals, or believing in the inherent evil of animal cruelty (and taking steps to stop it, and to punish it). I'm right there with you on each of those counts. It's not an either/or proposition, of course. We can be compassionate toward people and animals, but for some reason, we're struggling more and more with the order of things.
Simply put: there is nothing wrong with having a love for animals. Indeed, they're cute, cuddly, and all of that other good stuff. But at the end of the day, they are just animals. They DO NOT possess the same faculties of reason and morality as humans even if they can feel pain. Since they don't have the same faculties as humans; as Dr. Ed Locke from the University of Maryland argues; the same rules about honoring "rights" should not apply. Nevertheless, somewhere down the road our priorities have gotten horrible lost. When PETA can come out and declare that they would be opposed to a cure for AIDS if it came at the expense of animal testing, there is some fundamentally flawed thinking at work. Incidentally, this is the same group which launched a campaign where animal killings were compared to the Jewish Holocaust; using Theodor Adorno's famous quote as their foundation (a bad quote, by the way, since oppressed groups like Blacks and Jews were dehumanized and treated like animals; whereas animals are already animals. There's a HUGE difference.). So I suppose I can't be suprised by PETA and other similar groups. But still, I am at least disappointed.
As I've always maintained: animals have an important place in this world. Above anything we may think about them, they are -- first and foremost -- God's creatures. As such, they are deserving of love, respect, and compassion. But if you think for a moment that they warrant as much attention and care as the abused, neglected, and persecuted people of the world, you're sadly mistaken.
PETA, how about we have a nice steak dinner? My treat.