The May 23, 2005 issue of The American Conservative has an extensive cover story by Matthew Scully about cruelty to animals. It’s a compelling philosophical analysis of how we should look at animals from a conservative perspective. We’d provide excerpts, but the software version of TAC annoyingly doesn’t allow users to cut-and-paste. We will, however, highlight a few of his points:
The hunting industry, which traditionally values a relationship with the land and even the animals it kills, is getting big and out of hand, offering “hunters” sure-fire kills and other abuses. One guy has even begun to offer hunting via the Internet: he attaches a rifle to a camera and the camera to the Internet. Users can pay to shoot at baited animals, using a remote control. If the user hits the animal, personnel at the ranch finish off the kill.
Factory farms are as bad as ever. “Billions of birds, cows, pigs, and other creatures are locked away, enduring miseries they do not deserve, for our convenience and pleasure.”
Conservatives can fight these abuses without becoming animal rights activists by concentrating on “human obligation” rather than “animal rights” (he is skeptical about the validity of the distinction between “obligation” and “rights,” but we can’t explore it in this post). Scully also mentions that the “usual distinctions that conservatives draw between moderation and excess, freedom and license, moral goods and material goods, rightful power and the abuse of power, will all do just fine” to address this cruelty.
He also says it all comes down to evil. “Animals cruelly dealt with are not just things, not just an irrelevant detail in some self-centered moral … Read the rest