Animal Rights, an anti-concept
The attempt to invent such a concept as "animal rights" is not only dangerous to the practice of veterinary medicine, but to the very survival of civilized man. It needs to be opposed vigorously, but, to do so effectively, one must first understand why there are no animal rights; more fundamentally, this means one must understand the concept of "rights."
A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context (Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights"). Man is a being who survives by the use of his conceptual consciousness, the use of reason. This distinguishes him from other animals, which survive primarily by instinct and brute force. Man uses his mind to transform nature to meet his needs. He cultivates the land using machines and implements that are the result of his thought put into action. He designs and builds shelter from raw materials found in nature. He obtains food and clothing by managing plants and animals to his benefit. But unless he is left free to use his mind, to convert his thought into action and to maintain control of the resulting products, he cannot survive.
Man's nature is the source of rights. In a social setting, rights are what protect an individual's liberty from others.
[Rights provide] a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others--the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context--the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law (Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights").
Animals, by their nature, are amoral--they can neither understand rights nor act morally. It is meaningless to ascribe rights to them. Any attempt to do so undermines the very concept, endangering man's rights and man's life. Similar to Socialists' attempts to dilute the concept of rights by claiming there are rights to the products of others' efforts, like a "right" to a nice home, a steak dinner, medical treatment or an education, animal rights advocates destroy the authentic concept. What they are really trying to accomplish, under the guise of caring for animals, is the destruction of the human species.
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the basic principle of "animal rights" is:
animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment. Animals are not to be used in any fashion to further the life of humans. Chris DeRose, founder of the group Last Chance for Animals, writes:
If the death of one rat cured all diseases, it wouldn't make any difference to me ("Biting Back" Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1990). Animal rights advocates never complain about the brutal killing of one animal by another, yet they declare milking a cow immoral. They worry, not about the difficult existence of a wild animal, but about the life of an animal kept "in slavery" as a pet. Rather than save human lives by using animals to discover a cure for diseases like AIDS, animal rights advocates seek to protect viruses. Rutgers ecologist David Ehrenfeld declares that the world's remaining supply of smallpox virus should be conserved because it afflicts "only" human beings.
Given the real goal of the animal rights movement, it is no surprise they use violence to impose their views. When the use of reason is abandoned, rights are abrogated and only the use of force remains. This is precisely why an intellectual understanding and defense of the concept of rights is necessary. Our profession, our freedom and our lives hang in the balance.