The popular British field sport of badger digging involves digging into a badger's home. When a badger is caught it is killed by being shot or hit on the head with a spade.
Anyone who wants to know more about the way the British have treated animals should read All Heaven in a Rage by E.S.Turner (published by Centaur Press).
Three Varieties Of Abuse
Animals are sensitive and emotionally labile creatures who experience the same kinds of feelings that humans experience: happiness, sadness, hope, fear, love, compassion and shame.
Cruelty to animals is a moral and ethical outrage; it is the greatest crime of our time. And yet animals are abused today in three main ways: the meat industry, vivisection and hunting.
The Meat Industry
Britons breed animals, stuff them into lorries and carry them for days without providing anything for them to eat or drink.
We cage them in tiny boxes, move them about soaked in their own urine and knee deep in their own excrement, scare them senseless and then slit their throats and eat them -- tonsils, intestines, shit and all.
Next time you're on a journey keep an eye open for a lorry taking animals to a slaughterhouse. It doesn't matter where you are, where you've been or where you are going -- the movement of animals is now big business. All over Britain animals are constantly on the move.
There probably won't be anything printed on the side of the lorry to tell you what is in inside, but the lorry will have wooden, slatted sides and through the gaps you will be able to see the terrified faces of cows, sheep, chickens and other living creatures being transported from farm to abattoir. There may be a leg or two sticking out in between the slats because the animals will have almost certainly been herded into lorries without either respect or care.
The lambs and calves crammed into transporter lorries are just as terrified as any child would be under those circumstances. Their mothers are just as much in mourning as any mother would be. When slaves were transported from one nation to another they were branded and herded into overcrowded containers. We do the same thing with animals today.
The animals are crammed into the lorries so tightly that if they get stuck in a difficult position they have to stay that way until the journey stops many hours or even days later.
Imagine how you would feel if you had to travel for 24 hours with one of your legs sticking out through your a slightly open car window. Imagine it. Think about it. The horror in these transporters is so great that the spiritual stench of it clings to the woodwork and the metalwork. If you are sensitive to animals you can feel and hear the pain and the fear whenever one of these trucks comes near. While travelling recently I stopped at a petrol station where an animal transport lorry was parked. As I got out of my car I heard the plaintive, heart wrenching cries of the sheep inside it. I filled my tank, paid at the kiosk and then felt myself drawn irresistibly, and against my will, towards the lorry. To my astonishment when I looked inside the lorry was empty. The cries I had heard had been real. But there were no animals in the lorry.
To make matters worse the animals being transported invariably travel in tiers. The more animals you can cram into a lorry the bigger the profit will be. And although animals aren't usually fed or watered while they are travelling animals, like all living creatures, need to pass urine and faeces from time to time. In a way the animals on the top tier are relatively lucky, I suppose. The animals underneath are constantly showered with urine and faeces raining down upon them from the terrified creatures above them.
Moving and killing animals is big business but it is also a truly barbaric business. Animals die, unattended and uncared for where they have fallen. Some sheep freeze to death in winter and some die from heat exhaustion and thirst in summer. As long as the numbers who die don't rise so high that the transportation process becomes unprofitable no one cares.
Animals may be moved about many times -- so that farmers, transport people and meat companies can make money from cross border subsidies. Animals are shipped from steel pen to auction house to steel pen to slaughterhouse. Thousands of animals die from "shipping fever'. Sheep and lambs are so stressed that they collapse and die. Chickens are packed into tiny cages. Pigs have their tails cut off (without an anaesthetic, of course) to prevent stress induced tail biting. Animals shipped to the Middle East are eventually killed in a brutal ritualistic style of slaughter.
The people who are involved in moving and killing animals are truly the dregs of our society. These are the sort of people who would have happily operated German gas chambers during the Second World War.
250,000 Murders Every Hour
Animal transport is big business because approximately 2,000,000 animals are murdered every working day in British abattoirs. That's 250,000 murders every hour, 4,167 murders every minute and 69 murders every second.
Animals are supposed to be stunned before they are killed -- so that they aren't conscious when their throats are cut. But stunning is a pretty ineffective business. The people who do it aren't trained -- not, at least, in a way that I would regard as proper training -- and too many animals are conscious and terrified when they are killed. (It is surely not irrelevant that more than half the abattoir owners in Britain have a criminal record.)
Moreover, there is now evidence to show that the electric shock which is allegedly used to knock animals unconscious may fail to work properly. Even after they have been stunned animals do feel intense pain. They are paralysed. But they can feel pain.
Even if stunning worked well not all animals would benefit for not all animals are stunned before killing.
The law allows Jews to slaughter all the animals they kill without stunning them first. It is called ritual slaughter. Some ritual. Think about this: the animals killed for consumption by Jews are quite conscious when their throats are cut. This is such a barbaric ritual that I'm surprised there isn't someone dancing around in war-paint and feathers while the killing is being done. In Britain around 60,000 cows and calves, 30,000 sheep and lambs and 2,500,000 hens are killed by Jewish slaughterers every year. Since not all the meat obtained from killing animals the Jewish way is eaten by Jews the meat which is left over can be sold for ordinary consumption. So, whether you are Jewish or not, if you eat meat there is a good chance that the meat you buy comes from an animal which was killed in this truly cruel barbaric way.
How Jews can support what happens in slaughterhouses in their name I do not understand. I cannot imagine that any god could possibly condone such activities.
(This has, incidentally, absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with race or religion. I will probably be accused of being anti semitic by bigots who do not understand that my objection to ritual slaughter has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with respect for animals.)
"It is often said that if slaughterhouses were made of glass most people would be vegetarians," wrote Jeffrey Masson and Susan McCarthy in their vitally important book When Elephants Weep, adding that: "If the general public knew what went on inside animal experimentation laboratories, they would be abolished."
But, as Masson and McCarthy point out slaughterhouses are virtually invisible because that is what the public want. People know what goes on inside abattoirs but they do not want to be reminded of the horrors perpetrated in their name.
Enough To Make You Proud
You are taken from a field where you are living with your family. You are separated from your surroundings and your loved ones and you are crammed into a lorry. You are then driven for hours in discomfort, without food or water and in a constant rain of urine and faeces to a slaughterhouse. There are you kept waiting -- afraid and uncertain.
Finally, you are taken into a blood stained building where your throat is cut. You then slowly bleed to death, terrified, confused, and in pain. It may take you minutes to die.
Doesn't it all make you proud to be human. Proud to a member of the Master Species?
Brutal, Crude And Merciless
The butcher's shop is the ultimate human disgrace; as much an indignity to man himself as it is to the slaughtered creatures whose blood decorates its every surface; their skinless corpses hung, as though with pride, from hooks in the window.
Walking past a window in which skinned corpses are displayed is nauseating. Every sensitive council should immediately pass a law insisting that butchers cover up their windows and serve their awful wares behind closed doors.
I have no doubt that if there was a market for such delicacies the crude, ruthless and mindless 'people' who operate and work in these shops would happily sell babies' brains, young boys' hearts, breasts sliced from teenage girls' bony chests and feet hacked from young mothers. Butchers are, inevitably, a hard-hearted group: insensitive and bloodthirsty, with no redeeming features. Given half a chance they would happily sell the corpses of the elderly, brought fresh from the killing rooms of hospitals and hospices in their neighbourhood. Jean Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher, argued that butchers (whose daily trade is death and who cannot, therefore, be regarded as being blessed with the normal quota of compassion) should not be allowed to sit on juries or testify in court.
Butchers are a dying breed. Good riddance to them all.
Farming, too, is a brutal, crude, merciless business.
Chicks never see a hen and hens are kept in tiny battery cages. (Those who eat eggs often argue that hens lay more eggs than they can hatch. But hens exhaust themselves by laying so many eggs simply because their eggs are taken away from them.) Dairy cows are artificially inseminated. As soon as they give birth their calf is ripped away from them. Calves are kept chained in tiny stalls and fed on a chemical rich diet for veal production. The mother's milk is sucked out along rubber tubes and sold by the massive dairy industry.
Farmers defend the practice of taking milk from cows by arguing that without its calf the cow has milk to spare. They do not question their right to take the calf from the cow. They argue that the calf can be given other food. They do not understand that no milk is as good for a calf as its mother's milk. They continue to pump the milk out of the cow until the poor creatures becomes weakened and exhausted.
Sheep are forced to breed at an unusual and unhealthy rate so that their lambs can be sold for extra profit. And sheep are shorn not only in the early summer (when they may be hot and uncomfortable and welcome a few months without a heavy fleece) but also, quite cruelly, during the winter when they need the warmth their own wool provides.
A Contemptible Breed
Like many sentient individuals I loathe farmers. I regard them as a contemptible breed with more front than Blackpool and with as poorly developed a sense of personal responsibility as modern politicians.
When, entirely through own stupidity and greed, they created the Mad Cow crisis their instinctive reaction was not to apologise to their customers, or to wring their hands and beg forgiveness, but to demand compensation from the government.
The Mad Cow scandal should have awakened us all to the fact that most farmers -- like the rest of the huge army of slimy good for nothings involved in the dead animal business -- are pustulant, crooked, self-centered, stupid and greedy, concerned only with their own profits.
But the eternally damned farmers are so skilful at manipulating politicians and the media that they have actually managed to make many people feel sorry for them.
Open your newspaper or turn on your television set and you will probably discover that the farmers, the butchers and the abattoir workers are, yet again, bleating about financial losses, redundancies and bleak futures.
"We have screwed up yet again so you will have to give us money to make sure that we don't suffer financially" is the oft repeated communal cry from terror stained farmyards all over the nation.
And the government, accustomed to handing out taxpayers' money to rich farmers, immediately complies.
"Whoops, oh dear," the politicians cry. "How terrible for you. How much money would you like? Will it be all right if we send round a lorry load of the stuff on Thursday?"
"Send the lorry direct to the bank," say the farmers wearily. "We can't be bothered to handle it ourselves."
You will, of course, have noticed that the individuals who contracted Mad Cow Disease were not offered compensation by the government or the farmers.
And no one will be more surprised than I am if their families ever receive any compensation.
(In late 1998 the British Labour government announced that it was going to give farmers another £100 million in compensation. This time much of the money was intended for hill farmers who were said to be 'suffering' because the lambs they were forcefully taking from their mothers and selling were fetching just 25 pence in livestock markets. It is difficult to understand why the Labour government should feel this need to compensate farmers rather than to suggest that they might be better occupied finding some other more gainful and less barbaric form of employment.)
Manipulative Money Grubbers
For years now farmers, and others involved in the meat business, have taken risks with the lives of those who buy their products simply to make an extra few billion pounds profit.
It was the farmers -- manipulative money grubbers that they are -- who chose to feed their animals with the food which created the problem. Years ago those in the animal murdering business could have protected themselves -- and the meat eating world -- from the horrors of Mad Cow Disease. They could have taken tougher, stricter action. But they didn't. They -- and the government -- falsely insisted that there wasn't a problem.
Even if they didn't know for certain that there was a problem coming (and I think they should have known) they should have realised that there was a big risk.
What would happen if any other businessman cut corners, took risks with his customers' lives and caused widespread panic and chaos? Would he expect his customers to pay for all his losses and give him compensation to make sure that he didn't lose any money? Or would he start looking for a sharp lawyer to protect him against the lawsuits that he knew would soon start thudding through his letterbox?
Why are farmers (and the rest of the meat industry) treated in such a special way? Why were the people in the animal murdering business pitied during and after the Mad Cow Disease fiasco? Why did the taxpayer have to help them out? Why did you and I have to fork out our hard earned cash to pay for their greed inspired error? In short, why, in the name of a blood soaked abattoir worker's apron, were Britain's farmers given compensation for this self created problem?
If the weather is bad does the government bale out the tourist industry? If village shops are put out of business by new superstores are they compensated? (These are, you will note, not problems which are self created. But nor are these industries which cause mass murder. Inexplicably, it seems that governments prefer to help an industry which causes its own problems and is responsible for an uncountable number of deaths.)
If you buy a lottery ticket and you don't win do you expect the government to refund your stake money? If your house is worth less than you paid for it a few years ago are you going to go running to the Exchequer for financial help?
The farming industry created Mad Cow Disease by turning herbivores into carnivores (actually, into cannibals). It was their financial problem -- not ours. But the animal abusers have a huge amount of power over the current political system.
Ignorance, Stupidity And Greed
Apart from trying to feed us beef, milk and lamb contaminated with Mad Cow Disease our farmers have been working hard to ensure that our meat contains plenty of chemicals, drugs and hormones, that many of our eggs are infected and that just about everything that comes fresh from the farm will be contaminated with chemical sprays, fertilizers and pesticides.
The overuse of antibiotics on farms has helped create a world in which infections are now rapidly increasing.
I also believe that the reckless use of other drugs and hormones has contaminated farm products for decades. The over use of fertilisers, pesticides and other chemicals has polluted our water supplies and poisoned thousands of consumers.
(There is some irony in the fact that although the tobacco industry has had to put warnings on its products, farmers -- the other major cause of cancer in our modern society -- just get bigger and bigger subsidies.)
By getting rid of hedgerows and spraying their deathly crops with chemicals farmers have managed to do probably irreparable damage to our bird life.
So, it is clear, if you want to win government support you simply have to screw up people's health, kill millions of animals in as cruel a way as possible and cause probably irreparable damage to the environment. Politicians will then give you whatever you ask for.
Today, farmers are messing around with genetically manipulated animals and crops because they see more ways to increase their profits. They don't give a damn that they are playing a dangerous game and that they are likely to produce permanent and terrifying changes in our world. Farmers don't give a fig for your health or your children's health. All they care about is profits.
A Doomed Trade
The meat trade is doomed. There is now 22 carat gold evidence available to show that people who eat meat are far more likely to get cancer and die young.
(Indeed, since it is impossible to be sure that the animal the meat eater consumes doesn't itself have cancer there is a good chance that the nice juicy steak into which the meat eater tucks with such relish could well contain a nice juicy lump of cancer in the middle of it. "How do you like your cancer cooked, sir?" "Mustard with your fried cancer, madam?")
Eating meat is bad for you and bad for the rest of the world too. When the meat trade is finished there will never again be any need for human beings to starve. Feeding cattle uses up vast quantities of grain and good land and meat eaters are directly responsible for the starving millions in Africa and Asia.
Perhaps, in a few years time restaurants will have meat eating sections and vegetarian sections in the same way that they now have smoking and non smoking sections. The meat eaters will be crammed at the back in dark and dingy corners.
Meanwhile, those of us who want to change the world, should remind meat eaters that if they eat bits of animal flesh they cannot be practising Christians, Catholics or Jews. (The bible says: "flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat." Does anyone seriously believe that even the barbaric Jewish method of killing can empty every drop of blood from an animal's body?).
Abuse In The Name Of Science
We also abuse animals in the name of science.
Every thirty seconds another thousand animals are tortured to death in laboratories around the world. Cats, kittens, puppies, dogs, monkeys, rats, hamsters: you name the species they torture it and kill it. How much difference is there between performing an experiment on a primate and performing the same experiment on a child?
The scientists who perform animal experiments, and their supporters, claim that what they do helps human beings. This is, of course, a lie. The evidence shows quite clearly that no animal experiment ever helped a human being. Moreover, animals are so completely different to people that experiments on animals are dangerously misleading. I find it impossible to escape the conclusion that thousands of experiments have been conducted on animals for money, personal advancement or intellectual curiosity.
It is disingenuous to claim that scientists are any different to barbarians watching cock-fighting, bull-fighting or other spectacles of abuse. What difference is there between those who torment animals in the name of science and the sort of people who abuse children, beat their wives or bully the weak.
Drug companies use animal experiments to get new products on the market without testing them properly. If tests show that a new drug causes cancer in five animal species the company will dismiss the evidence as irrelevant -- because animals are different to people. But, apparently without embarrassment or shame, they will then use the one experiment which shows that their new drug doesn't cause cancer in a sixth species to get their product on the market.
(Cosmetic companies use animals in a variety of ways. Countless rabbits have had chemicals dropped into their eyes in pointless and unnecessary 'toxicity' tests. But it is in so-called 'medical research' that animals are most widely used. And it is 'medical research' which so often provides the excuse for the terrible things researchers do to animals.)
Primates are killed so that hunters can capture their infants and sell them to British vivisectors who are paid with money contributed by British taxpayers.
Special breeding facilities produce millions of mice, rabbits, rats, cats and other animals. The animals are kept in small, sterile cages -- separated from one another's comfort.
The people who perform experiments on animals are largely incompetent and stupid. Their experiments are always worthless and often badly done. Successive Home Secretaries have protected vivisectors by claiming that all applications for licences to experiment on animals should be treated as "confidential'. The result has been that those who oppose animal experiments have never had the opportunity to question the validity of experiments before they have started.
It is hardly surprising that, with drug companies relying so heavily on animal experiments, one in six people in hospital are there because they have been made ill by doctors.
Vivisectors receive vast amounts of money (much of it provided by from drug companies but a good deal of it provided by the government) but have produced consistently worthless results. The only consistent factor about animal experiments is their pointlessness.
Some years ago I conducted a survey of British doctors which showed a great scepticism about, and disapproval of, animal experiments. Here is a summary of the results of that survey:
- 88% of doctors agreed that laboratory experiments performed on animals can be misleading because of anatomical and physiological differences between animals and humans.
- 81% of doctors agreed that they would like to see scientists trying harder to find alternatives to animals for testing drugs and cosmetics.
- 51% of doctors agreed that patients would suffer fewer side effects if new drugs were tested more extensively on human cell and tissue cultures.
- 69% of doctors agreed that too many experiments on animals are performed.
Despite many claims to the contrary, vivisectors regularly break guidelines for animal care. I have in my possession a photograph of a monkey in a laboratory which has the word 'crap' written on its forehead. Vivisection is nothing more than a form of pseudoscientific black magic whose practitioners have promised much but who have in reality constantly obstructed medical progress. It is no coincidence that vivisectors frequently refer to the animals they torture and kill as being 'sacrificed'.
I believe that vivisectors -- and there are 20,000 in Britain alone -- are the sort of people who have in the past enjoyed experimenting on blacks or Jews. If society currently allowed it I have no doubt that vivisectors would happily take Jews and the mentally ill into their laboratories instead of (or, as well as) baboons and chimpanzees.
What difference is there in the mental make up of a serial murderer and a vivisector. And yet vivisectors often expect, claim (and receive) respect in our society. Those who oppose vivisection are expected to prove that animal experiments are unnecessary and without scientific value. In any sane and just world it would be the job of the vivisectors to prove that their work was essential and valuable. (Something they would not, of course, be able to do.)
The vivisectors' entirely false claims that their barbarous and merciless experiments are of value (and their utterly immoral argument that the end justifies the means) are accepted without question because to question them would be to force ourselves to face difficult and painful truths.
Vivisection is totally supported by just about every section of the British establishment. Organisations which oppose vivisection are denied charitable status whereas organisations which have charitable status, and can, therefore, claim all the associated tax benefits, are allowed to campaign vigorously for vivisection -- and perform vivisection too!. What sort of world is it which gives special charitable status to organisations which abuse animals and yet denies charitable status to organisations which want to save animals?
I've been arguing for a complete ban on animal experiments for years. The supporters of vivisection now refuse to debate with me for one very simple reason: they always lose. In the autumn of 1998 I began a guest appearance on a two hour long nationwide radio programme by challenging vivisectors and vivisectionists to name one disease for which a cure had been found through vivisection. Despite the fact that many vivisectionists telephoned the programme not one managed to come up with a disease which for which vivisection had been an essential or integral part of the research process. I wasn't surprised. Vivisection is useless, always has been useless and always will be useless.
I loathe and despise scientists who perform animal experiments. I think they are truly beyond understanding, forgiveness or redemption. I believe they are the grown up, authorised versions of those evil eyed, spotty faced children who somehow obtain warped, distorted pleasure from pulling the wings off flies or peppering passing cats with airgun pellets.
Who, other than vivisectors, could argue that animals do not cry or moan or whimper in pain but are merely "vocalising'.
How could any sane, sentient being not feel disgusted by what goes on in animal research laboratories? There can be no moral or ethical justification for the legalised mayhem which, worldwide, results in the slow, painful destruction of around 1,000 dogs, cats, kittens, puppies, monkeys, rabbits and other animals every thirty seconds. In Britain, where nearly 3 million experiments are performed every year on cats, kittens, dogs, puppies and other animals there are just 21 inspectors to make sure that vivisectors obey what rules exist about animal treatment.
The Home Office claims that the effectiveness of this tiny group of inspectors: "depends upon ability to gain the respect and cooperation of the scientific community as, to function, inspectors must have unfettered access to the current and future plans of scientists".
This seems as odd to me as a statement that the effectiveness of the police: "depends upon the ability to gain the respect and cooperation of the criminal community as, to function, inspectors must have unfettered access to the current and future plans of criminals".
Why, I wonder, should vivisectors, arch animal abusers, be treated with such tenderness?
A Hollow Excuse
The excuse which is always offered for this evil business is that animal experiments help doctors treat human patients more effectively.
"If it's the health of my kid or the lives of a thousand cats and dogs then the dogs and cats have to be sacrificed," said one young father I know.
"Why would scientists do animal experiments if they weren't useful?" demanded a misguided young mother. "I don't want to know what they do," she added quickly. "But I'm sure they wouldn't do what they do if it wasn't necessary."
Those who believe that animal experiments are useful exhibit a rather pathetic mixture of ignorance and naivete. They don't want to know the facts because the facts are too awful to contemplate.
Ignorance And Naivety
The ignorance and naivety is widespread.
One BBC producer refused to broadcast an interview in which I had described experiments involving dogs. "They didn't use dogs," the producer apparently said after talking to the people who had done the experiments. "They only used dog tissue."
The sad and savage but, I believe, undeniable truth is that no experiment performed on an animal has ever saved a human life. Animal experiments are so unreliable that no doctor with a brain larger than a pea would ever trust any so called evidence obtained by an animal researcher.
On the contrary, I believe that animal experiments are not only entirely useless but that they are a major cause of human illness, misery and death.
The evidence for these stout and possibly startling assertions is not difficult to find.
I can give you the names of dozens of frequently prescribed drugs -- widely used around the world -- which are known to cause cancer or other serious diseases when given to animals.
But this evidence is ignored because doctors know damned well that the fact that a drug causes cancer in an animal has no relevance to human beings.
When a drug company tests a new drug on animals it does so because it cannot lose.
If the experiment shows that the drug does not kill the animal the drug company can claim that its tests have shown the drug to be safe.
On the other hand if the experiment shows that the drug does kill the animal the drug company will dismiss the research evidence on the grounds that animals are different to people.
The drug companies win every time. People (and the animals, of course) are the innocent losers.
Animal experiments are done because they are useful -- to the drug companies not people. Animal experiments give drug companies no-lose evidence which will be accepted by governments around the world.
Drug companies know that extensive testing on human beings would be costly and time consuming. More important: many new drugs would never obtain a licence for widespread use if the pre-launch tests on people were too extensive (because dangerous and possibly lethal side effects would undoubtedly be discovered at at an embarrassingly early stage).
If animal experiments were banned the drug companies would lose billions of pounds a year in lost revenue.
The thousands of scientists who perform and support animal experiments will deny all this, of course.
What else are they to do?
You can hardly expect them to admit that their evil but well paid work is inspired by corporate greed and self interest rather than more noble motives.
The fact is that they do not have the strength of spirit to turn their backs on the big money offered by the drug companies. And many know that if they admit that animal experimentation is flawed beyond redemption they will be admitting that they have wasted their lives.
Some of them undoubtedly want to believe their own propaganda. Those who possess some vestige of a conscience probably only sleep by denying to themselves the horror of what they do.
Scorned, Laughed At, Ruined And Imprisoned
History is full of examples of original thinkers who have been scorned, laughed at, ruined and imprisoned for daring to be creative and original and (most heinous a crime of all) for having the temerity to question (and therefore threaten) the status and authority of the establishment.
Socrates was condemned to death for being too curious. Dante was condemned to be burned at the stake. The works of Confucius were still banned in China two and a half thousand years after his death. Spinoza was denounced for being independent and every schoolchild knows about Galileo's battles with the Church. Paracelsus was the greatest influence on medical thinking since Hippocrates but the establishment regarded him as a trouble maker and persecuted him all around Europe. (He is still regarded with considerable fear and distaste by the medical establishment which, on the whole, prefers not to acknowledge his existence or his importance).
Semmelweiss, the Austrian obstetrician was ostracised by the medical profession for daring to criticise filthy medical practices. Thoreau was imprisoned for sticking to his ideals. Wilbur and Orville Wright were dismissed as hoaxsters by the Scientific American, the US Army and most American scientists. When Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X rays his achievement was described as an elaborate hoax by one of Britain's most eminent scientists.
The relationship between a diet low in vitamin C and the development of scurvy was first described in 1636 by John Woodall. James Lind reintroduced the idea in 1747 but it wasn't until 1795 that the British Admiralty decreed that lemon juice should be part of every sailor's diet. Only God can possibly know how many sailors died as a result of this appalling example of cooperative prejudice.
The inventors of turbine power, the electric telegraph, the tank, the electric light, television and space travel were all laughed at or ignored by the scientific establishment. William Reich's books were burned by the Nazis in the 1930s and by the American government in the 1950s. (The Federal Food and Drug Administration was still burning his books in 1960).
More recently Dr Dean Ornish, was who responsible for devising a safe, effective treatment programme for heart disease that depends upon a vegetarian diet, exercise and relaxation was denied funds by the American National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.
The irony about science (which is ostensibly a search for new truths) is that most members of any scientific establishment seem dedicated to opposing real progress and suppressing original thought. There is room for original thought and originality in most areas of intellectual thought except science; the one area which one might suppose would depend almost exclusively upon original thinking.
One can attack existing political or economic theories with some freedom but any scientist with a new and original idea is likely to be regarded as a dangerous crank rather than an original scientist whose ideas may be worth evaluation.
When I said on the radio recently that I thought that it was vital to maintain an open mind another panellist on the same programme commented that in his view: "Open minds are empty minds."
This grossly prejudiced viewpoint is quite common among many of the world's best known scientists and, together with a misplaced sense of professional loyalty, helps to explain why the vast majority of new and original ideas are dismissed out of hand, and their authors sneered at and dismissed as cranks and nutcases.
Anyone who opposes the use of animals in experiments will be marginalised and dismissed as out of step with the scientific establishment. The fact that the scientific evidence shows, without any doubt whatsoever, that animal experiments are entirely worthless, does not seem to be regarded as relevant by the illogical and prejudiced supporters of vivisection. They have each taken their thirty pieces of silver and are loyal to their paymasters.
More Than Just An Evil Abuse
Animal experimentation is the most evil manifestation of animal abuse. Even if it were useful I would oppose it on moral and ethical grounds.
But animal experimentation is more than just an evil abuse of animals (terrible though that is). It is one of the main reasons why doctors are now as big a cause of illness and death as are cancer and heart disease. Animal experiments are not merely part of a major scientific cock up. They are part of a huge, international conspiracy. The aim is simply to make money. And the price -- the lives of millions of animals and people -- is considered acceptable. Remember: animal experiments kill people as well as animals.
(It is interesting to note that animal experiments may sometimes be performed in order to enable companies to continue damaging human beings. For example, dogs, who would never voluntarily choose to do anything so stupid and self-damaging, were forced to smoke cigarettes in bizarre and utterly pointless experiments. I have a suspicion that these experiments were done to show that the tobacco companies were generously using their own money in order to investigate the links between tobacco and cancer while at the same time holding back the moment at which it would have to be admitted that tobacco did cause cancer in humans. Animal experiments are often used in this way.)
Those who support the use and abuse of animals in the name of science will, it seems, stop at nothing.I have spent most of my life campaigning against injustices to human beings and animals and have become accustomed to attempts at intimidation but none of my campaigns have ever attracted quite so much violent, uncontrolled, snarling hostility as my campaign to stop animal experiments.
I oppose the use of animals in laboratory experiments -- one of the great growth industries of our time -- for numerous reasons.
I believe with all my heart and soul that animal experiments are morally, scientifically and ethically wrong. What right can scientists possibly have to torture, burn and cut animals of other species? What excuse can there be for such obscene cruelty?
We should never forget that in the false name of science one thousand kittens, cats, puppies, dogs, monkeys, rabbits and other animals are tortured and murdered every thirty seconds. They are isolated, subjected to agonising pain, ignored, maltreated and left to die in laboratories around the world. By any standards of morality this must be wrong.
It is all made worse by the fact that animal experiments are totally useless and of no use to anyone concerned with scientific truth. If vivisection were stopped tomorrow it would never be introduced again because no one would ever be able to find an argument supporting its introduction. Animal experiments are so barbaric and so unsupportable on moral, ethical, scientific or medical grounds that once they are stopped no one will ever dream of letting them start again. Vivisection is the greatest abuse of our time and I find it difficult to understand the minds of those who practise and support this evil activity.
The only reason that vivisection has not yet been stopped is that the battle of words has to be fought not just against waves of commercially sustained prejudice but also against apparently endless seas of ignorance and indifference.
Animal experiments are done in our names. Those who have done nothing to stop this evil, barbaric and pointless cruelty do not deserve to sleep at night.
How We Can Really Learn From Animals
Animals can help doctors save human patients. But through observation -- not experimentation. Many vertebrates -- including monkeys, pigs and elephants, use plants as medicines as well as food. Sick animals seek out and eat plants which they know will help them; they eat some plants, they hold others in their mouths (doctors call it buccal absorption) and they rub yet others onto their skin (doctors call that topical application).
Ethiopian baboons who are at risk of developing schistosomiasis eat fruits, which are rich in a potent antischistosome drug. Chimpanzees in Tanzania use a herb which has a powerful antifungal, antibacterial and antinematode activity. If they just ate the herb it wouldn't work because the valuable compound would be destroyed by stomach acidity. So they hold the leaf in their mouths in the same way that angina patients are encouraged to hold glyceryl trinitrate in their mouths to expedite absorption. Kodiak bears apply a drug topically which helps to kill parasites. They scratch the root into their fur. European starlings combat parasitisation to their nests by fumigating incubating eggs. Lethargic chimps with diarrhoea treat themselves with a herb. Howler monkeys use herbal medicines to control birth spacing and to determine the sex of their offspring.
We can learn an enormous amount by watching other animals.
But instead of watching these sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful creatures the vandals in white coats cage them, torture them and kill them with all the scientific sense of youthful hooligans tearing the wings off butterflies.
In a generation or so our descendants will look back at the vivisectors and wonder not just at the sort of people they were, but at the sort of people we were to let them do what they did.
Animal experiments must stop. And they must stop now. For your sake; for your childrens' sake; and for the sake of the animals the vivisectors kill.
Just For Fun
Britons also abuse animals for fun.
We complain about bear baiting in Asia and about bull fighting in Spain. But we are in no position to condemn. In Britain people put on fancy dress and ride around chasing foxes, stags and other animals to their death. They do this primarily as entertainment but claim that they are trying to preserve the countryside.
If challenged and threatened with an end to hunting they sulkily threaten to kill their horses and hounds if their fun is stopped. They don't even have the courage to admit that they are merely blood thirsty psychopaths who get a kick out of killing.
Hunting continues in Britain because it was preserved by a Labour government, despite the fact that the people and parliament opposed this barbaric remnant of our infant civilisation. A year after it dramatically refused to help a private members bill to ban hunting (in November 1997) the Labour government blocked any prospect at all of a ban on hunting being introduced into parliament. It was reported that the government (the same Labour government which had, when in opposition, stated its total commitment to banning hunting) feared that outlawing hunting would damage Labour's popularity in rural areas.
The stag or the fox being chased by a pack of yapping hounds and a bunch of ignorant rural yahoos on horseback is just as terrified as you would be if you were being chased by a gang of bloodthirsty hooligans on motorbikes.
Hunters (whether they hunt with gun or on horseback) and hunt supporters are, without exception, wicked and barbaric people. When two men on a drunken hunting trip failed to find any deer they cold bloodedly murdered a deaf, black man instead. Typical and probably 'normal' behaviour for a hunter.
J. Howard Moore tells a sad story about two moose in his classic book The Universal Kinship. The two moose had been tracked by hunters all day long and towards the end of the day one of the moose was finally killed by a rifle shot. Instead of running away, the remaining moose lowered its head and sniffed at its dead companion. It then raised its head high and bellowed loudly. The ruthless hunters shot it. When the hunters reached the two moose they found that they one they had shot first had been blind and that the second moose, which had stayed with it even after death, had been acting as its pilot.
Waterfowl mate for life but human beings randomly shoot one and leave the other to mourn. The waterfowl which is left behind often falls into a deep depression.It may die slowly of starvation.
Hunters and their supporters are the sort of people who used to run the slavery trade just a few score years ago; they are not a sensitive group and they find it difficult to understand words such as 'empathy' and 'respect'.
Hunters are pretty stupid and most of them aren't very good shots either. French hunters shot 45 of their fellow hunters dead in one recent season. More than 100 hunters were seriously injured by other hunters.
A Dirty Fight
The last few years of the fight for animal rights is going to be a dirty fight. Those who want to continue abusing animals -- whether for money or for fun -- fight foul.
Although my campaigning on behalf of animals and people has always been entirely legal I have been followed by private detectives, my life has been threatened and my telephone has been tapped by those who want to silence me. I have, of course, also been subjected to a considerable amount of legal harassment. In my experience supporting animal rights seems to attract a particularly virulent type of opposition -- partly, I suspect, because this is the last great moral debate of our times (and many people feel guilty and slightly uncomfortable about the side they have chosen to support) and partly because the commercial forces which are dependant upon continuing animal abuse are large and powerful.
I do not approve of or support the use of violence in the fight against cruelty animals. In particular, I do not approve of the use of violence against animal abusers. When you fight against violence with violence you simply double the amount of violence. But I do think that it is curious to note that when South African civil rights leaders used violence in their fight for justice and equality they were regarded as folk heroes and greeted with adoration by those who undoubtedly regard themselves as free thinking radicals. But whenever animal rights protestors have indicated a willingness to take relatively modest action against property in their fight against animal abuse they have aroused almost unrelieved opposition from those same self-styled, free-thinking radicals. It seems that the rules vary according to the battle being fought. The battle against apartheid threatened virtually no institutions outside South Africa but the battle against animal abuse threatens numerous large, profitable institutions. Many of Britain's self styled free thinking radicals are, it seems, more closely allied to the needs of the establishment (and the controlling institutions) than they might like us to think. Left wing pseudointellectuals and their broadsheet champions are not quite as left wing or as intellectual as they like to think they are.
There are going to be some surprising and unexpected casualties in the last great civil rights battle. It isn't just the pseudointellectual regiments of the false left who are going to have to face some unpleasant truths as the battle against animal cruelty continues. Many other groups are going to suffer too.
For example, official Catholic teaching is that animals are here for man to use in any way he sees fit: to eat, kill for fun or play around with in the laboratory. Many Catholics believe that it is a sin to show affection to animals. Jews kill animals for food in the most barbaric way imaginable. And sanctimonious Christians frequently inform me that it is perfectly all right to treat animals in any way we wish because they don't have souls. Some exponents of the Christian religion teach that non-human races have no reason for their existence other than to serve man. They offer no evidence to support this arrogant and outrageous suggestion.
Tragically, too many citizens who might have the potential to care, pretend that none of this is happening. They close their eyes, partly because they are ignorant of the truth about the way animals are abused, partly because they are still subject to long established prejudices in favour of human beings, partly because they are frightened (the animal abusers are rough, ruthless and powerful people with a lot of money to spend on preserving their power) and partly because they do not believe that anything they do can possibly change the way things are.
Complacent And Sanctimonious
I met a stranger recently who was, so he told me, a religious man. He had an aura of complacent, sanctimonious superiority. He asked me why I spent so much of my life fighting battles and trying to change the world. "Why, for example, do you put so much effort into trying to stop animal experiments?"
"I want to stop the cruelty," I told him.
"Ah!" he said, smiling and pointing a finger at me. "But what is cruelty?"
I stared at him for a moment. I had not thought the concept in need of clarification. I thought of Gertrude Stein. Cruelty is cruelty is cruelty is cruelty.
"Unjustified violence causing unnecessary pain," I suggested. "If someone pours a toxic chemical into the brain of a conscious cat I would call that cruelty."
"But the act of cruelty may be an act of kindness. How do you know that goodness does not come out of those experiments which you abhor?" he demanded.
"Even if good did come out of them -- which it does not -- I would not consider them justifiable," I said.
He leant forward across the table and smiled. "Isn't this enjoyable?" he said. "I do find debate so invigorating, don't you?"
I sat on my hands. "If one experiment on one rat could banish all human diseases it would not be justified," I told him.
"Oh," he said, clearly surprised.
"If you support animal experimentation then where do you draw the line? A cat is more intelligent than a baby. Do you support experimentation on babies? What about the elderly? The insane? Do you think that Mengele's work was justified?"
"Ah, now that is unfair," he said, suddenly rather put out. But still he smiled. I began to feel that he was a man in whose vocabulary passion did not figure largely. I found him loathsome, contemptible and vapid but there was nothing there to hate. He was that most nauseating of creatures: a not very bright pseudo-intellectual.
"The world must be allowed to change at its own pace," he said. "Over thousands of years if necessary. That is the only type of change that will last."
I stared at him. "But slavery was abolished through protest," I argued.
"Ah," he said. "But has anything really changed? Are not today's citizens just as much in bondage as those slaves of yesterday?"
"Women have the vote and apartheid has been smashed," I pointed out, numbed by the temerity of a man who could equate the slavery of the clock, the daily bus and the monthly wage packet to the slavery of the whip and outright ownership. I rather fancied that the man at the end of the whip would swap his bloody scars for the right to choose a seat on the 8.15 to Paddington. "Change came about because people protested," I said.
He shook his head. "I suspect that these changes would have eventually occurred without all the fuss and shouting." He smiled smugly. "The only true way to improve the world is to encourage each individual to become a better person," he said. "Otherwise when you banish one evil another will come in its place."
"But if you say nothing there will always be evil!" I protested. "Even if 99% of the population become good the 1% of psychopaths who are left will disrupt and destroy and spread evil."
"Then we must wait until they too are turned to goodness," he replied.
This was clearly a man of apparently unending patience where the pain and suffering of other creatures was concerned. I stared out of the window; frustrated, angry and saddened by this man's deep callousness and the extraordinary extent of his self delusion. I felt sickened by his complacent, comfortable, patronising smugness; nauseated by his unquestioning, uncaring, unseeing mediocrity. No vision, no passion, no love. He seemed full of self satisfaction and he exuded complacency.
"Of course," he said, "I do concede that you may be partly right in what you say about animal experiments."
"But if you concede that I am partly right," I said, "don't you want to do anything to right the wrong that exists? If one lamb, one puppy, one kitten, one mouse is treated cruelly do you not feel an urge to do something?"
He looked at me without comprehension. His eyes were empty of true understanding or compassion. A religious man but a man without a soul. I knew he did not understand. I felt then, and still feel, almost suffocated by sadness; a great universal sadness. I am no biblical scholar but I found myself remembering the scene where Jesus Christ walks into a church and finds it packed with money lenders and merchants (probably selling the early equivalent of postcards, slide sets, videos and souvenir ashtrays). Christ loses his temper, pushes over all the tables and throws out the money lenders and the merchants.
My sadness is that there are millions like that stranger; he is no rarity in this world. They are driven by a philosophy of avoidance. Avoid responsibility. Avoid conflict. Avoid action. Cross over the road to avoid the blood, the embarrassment or the involvement. Too often, those who claim to have strong religious principles do not seem to be driven to fight very hard (if at all) for the downtrodden and the underprivileged.
Ignorance can be forgiven but wilful avoidance cannot. Those who neatly sidestep responsibility and produce pseudo-intellectual arguments designed to justify their silence in the face of injustice can never be forgiven. Those who go through life blinkered to injustice and to the pain and suffering of others condone cruelty. It is their silence which allows cruelty.
I like animals. And so does my god.
Part Two: Excuses, Excuses
"What you do not like when done to yourself do not do to others. "
They Claim That Animals Are Not Sentient Creatures
"...man and the higher animals, especially the primates, all have the same senses, intuitions, and sensations, similar passions, affections, and emotions, even the more complex ones such as jealousy, suspicion, emulation, gratitude and magnanimity; they practice deceit and are revengeful; they are sometimes susceptible to ridicule, and even have a sense of humour; they feel wonder and curiosity; they possess the same faculties of imitation, attention, deliberation, choice, memory, imagination, the association of ideas, and reason though in very different degrees. "
There is really only one underlying reason for animal abuse. There is only one reason why Labour broke its promises -- and why animal abuse continues. The bottom line, the real reason why Labour betrayed animals and voters alike, is a five letter word beginning with M and ending in Y.
But animal abusers have, over the years, offered an almost endless series of well rehearsed, oft-repeated pseudo-arguments to excuse their barbaric behaviour. These excuses have been frequently used to help a modern Labour government which must, at times, have come perilously close to shame and embarrassment.
For example, those who abuse animals frequently claim that animals do not need or deserve special treatment because they are not 'sentient' creatures -- in other words that they are not conscious creatures with the capacity to suffer and/or experience enjoyment or happiness.
A similar argument was used by those who supported slavery. The slavery proponents argued that Negroes did not blush because they were incapable of shame and were, therefore, not fully human. Interestingly a number of animals and birds have been observed to blush when excited (and do, therefore, satisfy these traditional requirements for 'human' behaviour). The Tasmanian devil, the turkey, macaws and monkeys are among the creatures known to blush. (Macaws, for example, have been reported to blush when accidentally falling while clambering down off a perch.)
It was also argued that black people were not capable of looking after themselves or their own interests because they were irrational. This was regarded as a good excuse for keeping black people in "protective custody', and for exposing them to unlimited abuse.
Animal abusers are similarly inventive (but shallow) when attempting to excuse their cruel behaviour. Showing an extraordinary level of inconsistency and intellectual emptiness supporters of animal abuse have claimed, when defending fox hunting, that although animals are not sentient and have no feelings they 'enjoy' being hunted. It is difficult to see how anyone can possibly hope to sustain the argument that animals who are not sentient can 'enjoy' anything but the supporters of animal abuse are full of contradictions, double-speak and self-deceit. People who deny that animals can suffer will also claim that animals can be cruel. (How can an animal be cruel if the animal to which it is supposed to be cruel cannot suffer?)
Ignorance And Abuse
The intellectual abuse and slander of animals has had an effect. Many people now don't care a damn about animals because they do not think of them as sentient creatures. It is this ignorance which is partly to blame for the fact that the cruel and abusive are allowed to continue to be cruel and abusive.
Sitting in a pub one day I couldn't help overhearing a telling conversation at the next table. A woman told her quite respectable looking companions how a friend of hers, a laboratory scientist experimenting on animals, had got fed up with anaesthetizing the rats he was using. And so, she said, instead of giving them a chemical anaesthetic he used to swing them around by their tails and knock them out by banging their heads on the workbench. She illustrated this hideous manoeuvre several times with a slick hand motion. She and her companions then laughed heartily. If a teenage thug had been spotted doing this he would have been taken to court. But I believe that this sort of thing is a regular occurrence in laboratories, which are almost exclusively populated by sickening and barbaric psychopaths. I still find it frightening that the woman in the pub, and her mindless companions, thought the evil actions of this vivisector were simply funny. But it is that sort of mindless approval of what goes on in laboratories that ensures that nothing changes and that animals continue to be abused.
At the start of 1997 Melvyn Bragg, a British television and radio presenter (who was later made a Lord by the Labour government), was reported to have claimed that animals have no feelings (and that it was, therefore, perfectly acceptable to hunt them to death).
I challenged Bragg to debate whether or not animals have feelings live on a weekly radio programme which he presented. I also asked any other TV or radio presenters prepared to broadcast the debate to contact me. When I heard nothing from Bragg I tried to make the debate more interesting by challenging him to a £20,000 debate with the subject: "Do Animals Have Feelings?" I suggested that Bragg should argue that animals don't have feelings while I would argue that they do and that those listening to the debate should be invited to choose the winner (with the votes being counted by an independent authority). I also suggested that both of us put up £10,000 -- with the winner of the debate receiving the £20,000. (I promised to give the £20,000 to anti vivisection campaigners).
I heard nothing from Mr Bragg and as far as I know he has not repeated the alleged comment that animals have no feelings.
Animals Have Moods And Feelings
Anyone with an even modest intellect and a capacity to observe should know that animals have moods and feelings just the same as human beings do. And why shouldn't they? Why should human beings be so unique in that regard? (There is surely something odd and illogical -- although undoubtedly convenient for their purposes -- about animal abusers assuming that animals and people are similar enough in anatomical and physiological terms for vivisection experiments to be of value but, at the same time, assuming that animals have no emotions. But then there is something odd and illogical about most things that the animal abusers do.)
The available scientific evidence proves that although animals are very different to human beings in physiological and anatomical terms (so different as to make vivisection experiments worthless) animals show a similar range of intellectual skills and emotions to human beings.
They are not the same intellectual skills and emotions but that doesn't make them invalid. Animals do not recognise one another by name or clothing (as we often do). But they can recognise one another by smell, by sound and by instinctive skills which we either do not possess or have lost through not using them.
Animals Are Sentient
The truth, as anyone who is capable of reading and observing will know, is that animals are not only sentient but also exhibit many of those qualities which racists like to think of as being the preserve of the human race. (I think it is perfectly fair to describe those who claim that all 'good' qualities are the exclusive property of the human species as exhibiting a form of racism. The word 'speciesism' is, it seems to me, accurate but rather clumsy. We talk about the 'human race' and so, presumably, acknowledge that there are other 'non-human races'.)
One of the absurdities of the discussion about hunting which has raged for recent years in Britain has been the sight of apparently intelligent people arguing about whether or not animals which are hunted suffer physical pain and/or mental anguish when they are being pursued to the death. How can there possibly be any debate? Those who do express doubt about this are telling us a great deal about their own innate lack of understanding and compassion, and their inability to learn from simple observation. If observation is not enough there is more than enough scientific evidence to show that birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and crustaceans all have nervous systems and all suffer pain.
Darwin showed that fear produces similar responses in both humans and animals. The eyes and mouth open, the heart beats rapidly, teeth chatter, muscles tremble, hairs stand on end and so on. Parrots, like human beings, turn away and cover their eyes when confronted with a sight which overwhelms them. Young elephants who have seen their families killed by poachers wake up screaming in the night. Elephants who are suddenly separated from their social group may die suddenly of "broken heart syndrome'. Apes may fall down and faint when suddenly coming across a snake. If a man shouts at a dog the animal will cower and back away in fear.
Animals Can Communicate
Animal abusers sometimes assume that it is only humans who can communicate with one another. This is total nonsense. Even bees can communicate. They can tell one another the direction, distance and value of pollen sources quite a distance away.
Animal abusers generally dismiss animal noises as simply that (noises) but scientists who have taken the time and trouble to listen carefully to the extraordinary variety of noises made by whales have found that there are patterns of what can only be described as speech which are repeated from one year to another.
It is generally assumed that parrots merely repeat words they have heard without understanding what they mean. This is not true. Masson and McCarthy report how when a woman left her parrot at the vet's surgery for an operation the parrot, whose name was Alex, called out: "Come here. I love you. I'm sorry. I want to go back." The parrot clearly thought that he was being punished for some crime he had committed. Another parrot, in New Jersey, US saved the life of its 'owner' by calling for help. "Murder! Help! Come quick!" cried the parrot. When neighbours ran to the scene of the crime they found the parrot's 'owner' lying on the floor, unconscious, bleeding from a gash in his neck. The doctor who treated the man said that without the parrot's cries he would have died. The same parrot woke his owner and neighbours when a fire started in the house next door.
How arrogant the animal abusers are to assume that human beings are the only species capable of communicating with one another, and of formulating a formal system of language.
Vivisectors frequently laugh at the animals they torture and abuse. The concentration camp guards in the Second World War laughed at their victims and called them lice and rats. The vivisectors talk about 'sending a mouse to college' when they want to raise funds for experiments.
We have the power to do what we will with creatures of other species. But no one has given us the right to abuse our power in this way. Civilised people respect, rather than abuse, the power they are given.
Animals feel complex emotions. But the animal abusers claim that because animals do not satisfy our human criteria for intelligence small animals do not deserve any sympathy or understanding. It is but one step from this to arguing that unintelligent humans can be used for experiments, eaten or abused in any other selected way.
Human beings who have taken the time and trouble to do so have found that they have been able to communicate well with chimpanzees and numerous other animals. It is known that monkeys can grasp the concept of numbers and can learn to count. Primates will often strive to make the peace after a hostile encounter. And uninvolved primates may help begin and cement the reconciliation. And yet vivisectors are given legal licences allowing them to do horrific things to these animals. Who gave human beings the right to hand out licences to torture?
Capable Of Love
Animals, like people, are capable of loving their partner, their families, their children, their leaders, their teachers, their friends and others who are important to them. An ape will show exactly the same signs of love and affection when dealing with her baby as a human mother will when dealing with her baby. Both will look longingly, tickle and play with their baby. Both feed their young, wash them, risk their lives for them and put up with their noise and unruly behaviour.
Anyone who doubts that animals love their young should stand outside a farm yard when a calf has been taken away from a cow and listen to the heart breaking cries of anguish which result. Who knows what inner anguish accompanies those cries?
Even fish will risk their lives to protect their young. In his seminal work The Universal Kinship (first published in 1906 and now largely forgotten) J. Howard Moore described how he put his hand into a pond near the nest of a perch. The courageous fish guarding the nest chased Moore's hand away and when Moore's hand was not removed quickly enough nipped it vigorously.
Lewis Gompertz, who lived from 1779 to 1861 and was a potent champion of the rights of blacks, women and the poor (and, indeed, all oppressed human beings) was also a powerful champion of animals and was a founder of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (Quite early on he was forced out of the Society.) In his book Moral Inquiries On the Situation Of Man And Of Brutes Gompertz wrote: "From some birds we may learn real constancy in conjugal affection, though in most instances their contracts only last for one season, but how strict do they keep this. They have no laws, no parchments, no parsons, no fear to injuring their characters, not even their own words to break in being untrue to each other: but their virtue is their laws, their parchments, their parsons, and their reputation; their deeds are their acts, their acts -- their deeds: and from their own breasts do they honestly tear down to line the beds of their legitimate offspring."
Gompertz described an incident illustrating the wisdom of blackbirds. "I observed a male blackbird flying about in an extreme state of agitation," he wrote. "And on my going to discover the cause of it, the bird retreated from me as I followed it, till it stopped at a nest containing a female bird sitting upon her eggs, near which there was a cat: in consequence of this I removed the cat, and the bird became quiet. After that, whenever the cat was about the place, the blackbird would come near my window, and would in the same manner direct me to some spot where the cat happened to be stationed."
Gompertz, who also wrote about a male blackbird which had attacked a cat which had caught its female partner, reported three true incidents which illustrated animal kindness and wisdom.
The first concerned two goats which had met one another on a narrow path between two precipices. There was no room for the two goats to turn or pass and so one of the goats lay down, allowing the other to walk over it. The second incident involved a horse who had been hurt by a nail when he had been shod. Finding it painful to walk he had gone back to the farrier and shown him his hoof. The third incident involved a sheep dog who jumped into freezing cold water and successfully rescued another dog who had been floating on a lump of ice. "I would now fain ask," wrote Gompertz, "if all this does not show reason and virtue?"
J. Howard Moore described how monkeys adopt the orphans of deceased members of their tribe and how two crows fed a third crow which had been wounded. The wound was several weeks old and the two crows had clearly been playing 'good Samaritans' for some time to keep the injured bird alive.
Darwin wrote about a blind pelican which was fed with fish which were brought to it by pelican friends who normally lived thirty miles away.
Strong males in a herd of vicunas will lag behind to protect the weaker and slower members of their herd from possible predators.
Before slavery was abolished black people who fell in love were regarded as enjoying simple 'animal lust' as a result of 'animal attraction'. Who on earth (or, indeed, in heaven) gave us the right to make such judgements about black people or animals? When black people formed life long pairs this was dismissed as nothing more than an a response to an 'instinct'. The same thing is said about animals (with just as little evidence to support it). Who gives humans the right to argue that animals do not show emotions? Animal abusers sneer and say that animals which seem to show love are merely acting according instinct. But who says? Where is the evidence for this claim? Why do animal abusers have the right to make statements with no evidence whatsoever in support? Why don't the animal abusers follow a consistent line and argue that human mothers who show love for their human babies are merely following their instincts? (Of course, animal abusers change their views when it suits them. Even vivisectors and hunters, who claim that animals have no feelings, will often claim to be loved by their companion dogs and cats.)
There are numerous, well-authenticated stories of animals risking their lives to save their loved ones. And animals will put their own safety second to protect their friends. One herd of elephants was seen always to travel unusually slowly. Observers noted that the herd travelled slowly so as not to leave behind an elephant who had not fully recovered from a broken leg. Another herd travelled slowly to accommodate a mother who was carrying her dead calf with her. When the herd stopped to eat or drink the mother would put her dead calf down. When they started travelling she would pick up the dead calf. The rest of the herd were accommodating her in her time of grief. Gorillas too have been seen to travel slowly if one of their number is injured and unable to move quickly. Remember this unquestioning generosity next time you are trapped in the midst of a crowd of selfish and impatient human beings travelling by car, train or aeroplane.
Many creatures have memories which humans might envy. Ants retrace their steps after long journeys and can recognise other ants after months of separation. When a limpet has finished roaming it will return to the exact spot on the same rock where it had been settled previously. Birds fly back year after year to the same nesting spots -- to within the inch. Fish, too, return to the same stretch of water to hatch their young. Horses used in delivery routes frequently know exactly where and when to stop -- and for how long. Squirrels who have buried nuts months before can find them without hesitating.
J. Howard Moore reported that an elephant obeyed all his old words of command on being recaptured after fifteen years of freedom in the jungle. He also reported that a lion recognised its keeper after seven years of separation. A snake which was carried a hundred miles away from home managed to find its way back.
There is plenty of evidence, too, to show that many creatures other than human beings have powerful imaginations. Spiders will hold down the edges of their webs with stones to steady them during gales which have not yet started. Cats, dogs and horses and many other creatures are believed to dream. Parrots may talk in their sleep. Horses frequently stampede because they are frightened by objects (such as large rocks or posts) which are no threat to them. This must show a sense of imagination because the horse, like a child, has created a terror out of nothing. A cat playing with a ball of wool is imagining that it is playing with its prey.
We always tend to think the worst of animals (and other creatures). We assume that they are stupid and our interpretation of their behaviour is based upon that ill founded prejudice. It is, for example, generally assumed that the ostrich sticks its head in the sand in the assumption that when it cannot see the rest of the world, the rest of the world cannot see it. But where is the evidence for this theory? Could it not be equally possible that the ostrich sticks its head in the sand because it cannot bear what there is to view in the world around it? When a human being covers his or her eyes to avoid looking at a horrific accident we do not say that they believe that they can't be seen.
Animals don't just show love; they frequently exhibit behaviour that can only be described as altruistic. Old lionesses who have lost their teeth and can no longer bear young are, theoretically, of no value to the rest of the pride. But the younger lions will share their kills with them. Young, agile chimpanzees will climb trees to fetch fruit for their older relatives. Foxes have been observed bringing food to adult, injured foxes. When one fox was injured by a mowing machine and taken to a vet by a human observer the fox's sister took food to the spot where the injured fox had lain. The good Samaritan sister fox made the whimpering sound that foxes use when summoning cubs to eat (even though she had no cubs).
Animals have been known to give food to hungry humans. Koko, a gorilla who learned to communicate with humans through sign language, gave medical advice to a human woman who complained of indigestion. Koko told the woman to drink orange juice. When the human revisited ten days later and offered Koko a drink of orange juice Koko would not accept the drink until assured that the woman felt better. Whales have been observed to ask for and receive help from other whales. J. Howard Moore describes how crabs struggled for some time to turn over another crustacean which had fallen onto its back. When the crabs couldn't manage by themselves they went and fetched two other crabs to help them. A gander who acted as a guardian to his blind partner would take her neck gently in his mouth and lead her to the water when she wanted to swim. Afterwards he would lead her home in the same manner. When goslings were hatched the gander, realising that the mother would not be able to cope, looked after them himself. Pigs will rush to defend one of their number who is being attacked. When wild geese are feeding one will act as sentinel -- never taking a grain of corn while on duty. When the sentinel geese has been on watch for a while it pecks at a nearby goose and hands over the responsibility for guarding the group. When swans dive there is usually one which stays above the water to watch out for danger. Time and time again dogs have pined and died on being separated from their masters or mistresses. Animals can suffer, they can communicate and they can care.
A Border collie woke a young mother from a deep sleep and led to her to her baby's cot. The baby was choking on mucus and had stopped breathing. What is any of this but compassion? How can animal abusers regard themselves as sentient when they mistreat animals who can feel this way?
Konrad Lorenz described the behaviour of a gander called Ado when his mate Susanne-Elisabeth was killed by a fox. Ado stood by Susanne-Elisabeth's body in mourning. He hung his head and his body was hunched. He didn't bother to defend himself when attacked by strange geese. How would the animal abusers describe such behaviour other than as sorrow born of love? There is no survival value in mourning. It can only be a manifestation of a clear emotional response -- love.
A badger was seen to drag another badger which had been killed by a car off the road, along a hedge, through a gap in the hedge and into a burial spot in nearby woods.
Coyotes form pairs before they become sexually active -- and then stay together. One observer watched a female coyote licking her partner's face after they had made love. They then curled up and went to sleep. Geese, swans and mandarin ducks have all been described as enjoying long term relationships.
Vanity And Self-Consciousness
Animals have also been known to show vanity, self consciousness, embarrassment and other allegedly exclusively human emotions. Masson and McCarthy reported that chimpanzees have been observed using a TV video monitor to watch themselves make faces -- the chimpanzees were able to distinguish between a live image and taped image by testing to see if their actions were duplicated on the screen. Chimpanzees have even managed to use a video monitor to apply make up to themselves (humans often find this a difficult trick to learn). One chimpanzee has been reported to have used a video camera and monitor to look down his throat -- using a flashlight to help the process.
As for vanity: "...males (baboons) with worn or broken teeth yawn less than male baboons with teeth in good condition -- unless there are no other males around in which case they yawn just as often," write Masson and McCarthy.
One gorilla who had a number of toy dolls used sign language to send kisses to her favourite puppets and dolls. But every time she realised that she was being watched she stopped playing.
When a bottlenose porpoise accidentally bit her trainer's hand she became "hideously embarrassed', went to the bottom of her tank, with her snout in a corner, and wouldn't come out until the trainer made it clear that she wasn't cross.
Jane Goodall has reported that wild chimpanzees can show embarrassment and shame and may, in addition, show off to other animals whom they want to impress. (One chimpanzee who fell while showing off was clearly embarrassed).
Many people who live with cats will have noticed that if the cat falls off a piece of furniture it will appear embarrassed -- often beginning to wash itself as though making it clear that the embarrassing incident didn't really happen at all. Elephant keepers report that when elephants are laughed at they will respond by filling their trunks with water and spraying the mockers. And many dog owners have reported that their animals have made it clear that they know that they have done wrong. For example a dog which feels it has done something wrong may go into a submissive position before the owner knows that the animal has done something "bad'.
There are many myths about animals and the animal abusers tell many lies in an attempt to belittle the skills that animals have. It is, for example, sometimes said by animal abusers that animals cannot see in colour. This is a nonsense. Four sheep who lived with me, who were accustomed to being fed from an orange bucket, would come running across a field if they saw the orange bucket. When used a blue bucket they showed absolutely no interest. The colour was the only significant difference between the buckets.
A chimpanzee has been observed staring at a beautiful sunset for fifteen minutes. Monkeys prefer looking at pictures of monkeys to pictures of people and prefer looking at animated cartoons rather than at still pictures.
Gerald Durrell wrote about a pigeon who listened quietly to most music but who would stamp backwards and forwards when marches were being played and would twist and bow, cooing softly, when waltzes were played. Dogs will alter their howling according to the other sounds they hear. One gorilla enjoyed the singing of Luciano Pavarotti so much that he would refuse to go out of doors when a Pavarotti concert was being shown on television. Animal abusers have for years dismissed bird song as merely mating calls. But who can say that birds do not sing to give themselves and others pleasure? Animals get pleasure from their food too.An Indian elephant in a zoo used to split an apple into two and then rub the two halves onto the hay to flavour it.
Many apes have painted or drawn identifiable objects while in captivity. And when a young Indian elephant was reported to have made numerous drawings (which were highly commended by artists who did not know that the artist was an animal) other zoo keepers reported that their elephants often scribbled on the ground with sticks or stones. When one Asian elephant got extra attention because of her paintings nearby African elephants used the ends of logs to draw on the walls of their enclosure. (I do not approve of keeping animals in zoos but these simple observations are of value.)
The animal abusers invariably try to think the worst when considering animal behaviour. When a bird takes bright objects to decorate its nest the animal abusers will claim that the bird doesn't really know what it is doing. When a human being collects bird feathers to decorate a room they are said to be showing artistic tendencies.
Vivisectors, and others who abuse animals, are blind to all this because they want to be blind to it. Animal abuse is driven by economic need and there is no place for sentiment and compassion when money is at stake. Vivisectors tear animals away from their partners, their friends and their relatives with no regard for their feelings -- or for the feelings of the animals they have left behind.
When animals are born in zoos the keepers and jailers claim that this is evidence that the animals are happy. Would they also claim that the fact that babies were born in concentration camps is evidence that concentration camp inmates were happy?
What trickery the animal abusers use in their sordid attempts to excuse their brutality. Animals in captivity often die far younger than they would die if they were allowed to roam free.
Smarter, Kinder, Better
Many other species -- from families as varied as ants and dolphins -- are smarter, kinder and better at creating societies which work than are human beings.
A survey showed that almost half of all the women in one US city had been raped, or subjected to attempted rape, at least once in their lives. Just think of the torture performed by humans on other humans.
Animal abusers will leap on every example they can find of apparent 'bad behaviour' by animals and use that example to draw far reaching conclusions about all animals. They ignore the fact that the 'bad behaviour' to which they refer may well have been triggered by human aggression.
Do the animal abusers who regard one example of bad animal behaviour as significant also suggest that because one human murders, tortures or rapes we must all be judged by that individual? Are all human beings to be judged to be as barbaric and evil as murderers, rapists and vivisectors?
As I have described in my book Why Animal Experiments Must Stop (published by the European Medical Journal) experimenters have deliberately planned and executed experiments designed to make animals feel depressed. When they have succeeded in making animals depressed they have written about their experiments as though proud of themselves for having succeeded in their evil aims. What possible purpose can there be in creating depression when there is already so much of it in the world? (But, incidentally, does not the ability of the experimental scientists to 'make' animals feel depressed provide yet more proof that animals are sentient creatures?)
Enjoying The Suffering
No animal, other than the human animal, has ever deliberately performed experiments on another. No one animal, other than the human animal, has ever deliberately tortured another being.
Human beings are the only species who abuse one another (and members of other species) for pleasure. Human beings are the only species who torture. Only human beings chase and attack living creatures for fun -- and for the pleasure of watching the suffering.
Contrary to myth cats do not 'play' with animals for fun -- it is part of their learning and training process. Cats kill so that they can eat and they need to practise their chasing skills. It is, however, important to remember that a cat or a kitten will be just as happy chasing a ball of paper or a piece of string (particularly if it is manipulated in an effective and lifelike manner). This shows that the cat doesn't chase and catch because it enjoys the suffering which is produced. How much 'fun' could there possibly be in 'torturing' a ball of paper or a piece of string?
Foxes are often criticised (by those who hunt them) on the grounds that they sometimes kill large numbers of hens. The implication is that the fox kills for pleasure. The truth, however, is that, like other predators who may kill more than they can eat when they have the opportunity, foxes store (or intend to store) the food they have killed.
Animals As Carers
In When Elephants Weep Jeffrey Masson and Susan McCarthy report how a man called John Teal, who was working with endangered musk oxen, was at first alarmed when some dogs approached and the musk oxen snorted, stamped and thundered towards him. Before John Teal could move to escape the oxen formed a defensive ring around him and lowered their horns at the dogs. The musk oxen were protecting their new human friend in exactly the same way that they would protect their calves from predators.
Animals have even been reported to have pets of their own. A chimpanzee who was thought to be lonely was given a kitten as a companion. The chimpanzee groomed the kitten, carried it about with her and protected it from harm. A gorilla called Koko had a kitten companion which she herself named All Ball. An elephant was seen to routinely put aside some grain for a mouse to eat. Racehorses who have had goat companions have failed to run as expected when separated from their friends.
A Sense Of Fun
Human beings are not the only animals to have a sense of humour and fun and to enjoy playing.
Masson and McCarthy report that foxes will tease hyenas by going close to them and then running away. Ravens tease peregrine falcons by flying close and closer to them. Grebes tweak the tails of dignified swans and then dive to escape. I have watched lambs play their own version of 'King of the Castle' (and many other games customarily played by children). A monkey has been seen to pass his hand behind a second monkey so that he could tweak the tail of a third monkey. When the third monkey remonstrated with the second monkey the first monkey -- the practical joker -- clearly enjoyed himself.
When scientists examined the dung of lions the lions (who had watched them do it) dug up the latrine the humans had been using -- and inspected the contents. Ants, fish, birds, cats, dogs, sheep, horses, monkeys, porpoises and many other creatures often play games.
The Barbaric Abuse Of Sensitive Creatures
Animals frequently make friends across the species barriers. There is much evidence showing that animals have helped animals belonging to a different species. So, why do we have to be the only species to abuse all other creatures? Is our cruelty to other creatures really to be regarded as a sign of our wisdom, superiority and civilisation? What arrogance we show in the way we treat animals. Where is our humility and sense of respect?
Animals have passionate relationships with one another, they exhibit clear signs of love, they develop social lives which are every bit as complex as our own. By what right do we treat them with such contempt?
Perhaps those who torture and kill animals had to claim that animals have no feelings when they first started their evil practices (otherwise they would have had to admit that they themselves were acting cruelly) but how they can continue to do this when there is so much scientific evidence to prove that they are utterly wrong? I believe that some of those who torture and kill insist on being allowed to continue to torture and kill partly because they know that if they stop and admit that they were wrong to do what they did, they will have to admit that they have spent their lives in the senseless, unjustifiable and barbaric abuse of sensitive creatures.
No one with any intelligence or sensitivity of their own can possibly doubt that animals are capable of suffering. Animal experimenters, abattoir workers, hunters and others of that ilk degrade us all and diminish our worth as a species.
Better Than Animals?
The animal abusers will frequently argue that since human beings can speak foreign languages and do algebraic equations they are inevitably 'better' than animals. What nonsense this is. Does this mean that humans who cannot speak foreign languages or do algebraic equations are not entitled to be treated with respect? And who decides which are the skills deserving of respect? If it was decided that the ability to fly, run at 30 mph, see in the dark or swim under water for long distances were the skills worthy of respect there wouldn't be many human beings qualifying for respect.
Cats can find their way home -- without map or compass -- when abandoned hundreds of miles away in strange territory. How many human being could do the same? How many humans could spin a web or build a honeycomb?
We owe it to animals to treat them with respect and, at the very least, to leave them alone to live their lives on this earth free from our harm. Darwin wrote that: "there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties". He also argued that: "the senses and intuition, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, memory, attention, curiosity, imitation, reason etc. of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or sometimes even well-developed condition in the 'lower' animals."
Turtles have been observed learning a route from one place to another. To begin with they make lots of mistakes, go down cul-de-sacs and miss short- cuts. But after a while they learn how to reduce their journey time dramatically. Birds, who might normally be alarmed by the slightest noise, learn to ignore the noise of trains and cars when they build their nests near to railway lines or busy roads. Even oysters are capable of learning. Oysters who live in the deep sea know that they can open and shut their shells at any time without risk. But oysters who live in a tidal area learn to keep their shells closed when the tide is out -- so that they don't dry out and die. This might not quite rank alongside writing a classic novel but how many human beings can write classic novels?
Animals use reason and experience to help them survive and they exhibit most of the skills which the animal abusers like to think of as being exclusively human.
Most people think of sheep as being pretty stupid animals. People who claim to have studied animal behaviour often argue that sheep do not have long term memories. But consider the following true story from when I had four sheep (Septimus, Karen, Cilla and Snowy) living with me.
One March I got my ride-on-mower out from the shed where it had been stored for the winter and started up the engine ready to drive it across the courtyard towards the garden. I intended to start by cutting the croquet lawn. As I started up the engine and the mower chugged slowly out of the shed I watched the four sheep, who were grazing in their field, prick up their ears and start to run. I watched as they ran for several hundred yards and then stood waiting at the very spot where, the previous summer, I had dumped the grass cuttings I had taken from the lawns.
It slowly dawned on me that the sheep had, after a gap of five or six months, recognised the sound of the lawn mower's engine (differentiating it from the numerous other engines they would have heard in the intervening period), recognised that the sound of the engine meant that I was about to start cutting the grass, remembered that they liked munching a handful of grass cuttings, remembered where I had dumped the grass cuttings some five or six months previously when I had last cut the lawns, and had instantly run round the field to be in position ready for the first batch of cuttings of the season.
Now all that seems to suggest to me that sheep are really very bright. I know a good many human beings (most of them politicians) who could not have used that one piece of information (the starting up of a lawnmower engine) and drawn such an accurate conclusion.
All animals accumulate information which helps them to survive and live more comfortably. Moreover, they do it just as man does -- by discriminating between useful and useless information and by memorising information which is of value.
A puppy who has been burnt on a hot stove will keep away from the hot stove just as surely as a child who has suffered a similarly unpleasant experience. Older fish learn to be wary of lures -- and become far more difficult to catch than young ones. Rats learn how to avoid traps, and birds learn where telephone wires are strung (so that they don't fly into them). Arctic seals used to live on inner ice floes to avoid the polar bears but after man arrived and proved to be a worse enemy they started living on the outer ice floes.
Many animals know that they can be followed by their scent and act accordingly. A hunted deer or hare will run round in circles, double back on its own tracks, go through water and leap into the air in order to lose its pursuers.
And flocks of parrots will send an advance scouting party ahead to check out that all is well.
To describe cruel people as 'animals' (something which the animal abusers often do) is a foul libel.
Animals As Teachers
There is no doubt, too, that animals actively teach their young in order to pass on skills which the animal abusers generally regard as being "nothing more than instinct'. I have watched an adult cat giving lessons to orphan kittens for which he had taken responsibility. The adult cat, teaching the art of stalking, would edge forwards and then stop and look over his shoulder to see if the kittens were following in the correct style. After the lesson had gone on for some time the kittens started playing behind the adult cat's back. They got away with this for a while but eventually the adult cat saw them. He reached back and gave them both a clip with an outstretched paw. The kittens weren't hurt but they paid attention to their lesson again.
We tend to ignore the actions of other creatures because we don't have the time to watch what they do. But even the seemingly lowly ant has a complex and sophisticated life style. Ants can communicate with one another and they can recognise their friends. They clean one another, they play, they bury their dead, they store grain; they even clear land, manure it, sow grain and harvest the grass which they have grown.
When animal abusers hear about this sort of behaviour they dismiss at as nothing more than instinct. But is it? If a Martian looked down on earth and watched us rushing about on our routine daily work would he perhaps be tempted to describe us as incapable of original thought and responding only to instinct? We may not like it but many races of non-human beings have a much greater influence on their environment than many men have. There are still tribes of men who live almost naked in very crude huts and whose social structures are relatively primitive when compared to, say, the beavers who cut down trees, transport them long distances, dam rivers, construct substantial homes and dig artificial waterways. Ants plant crops and build roads and tunnels. Birds build astonishingly beautiful nests from the simplest of materials.
Animal abusers claim that man is the only animal to use tools. But this simply isn't true. Even insects use tools -- using small stones to pack the dirt firmly over and around their nests. Spiders use stones to keep their webs steady when the weather is stormy. Orangutans and baboons use sticks and stones as weapons. Monkeys use stones to help them crack nuts. In one zoo a monkey who had poor teeth kept (and guarded) a stone hidden in its straw for nut cracking. That monkey had a tool which it regarded as its own property. Chimpanzees drum on hollow logs with sticks. Monkeys know how to use sticks as levers. The Indian elephant will break off a leafy branch and use it to sweep away the flies.
Ants know how to keep grain in a warm, moist atmosphere without the grain sprouting. The honeycomb and the bird's nest are wonders of architecture. Insect communities practise true and decent socialism.
The wonders are unending.
Animals are often curious and determined and hard working; loving and loyal and faithful. (But they do not harm themselves with tobacco and alcohol.)
We do not understand how a cat which has been taken a hundred miles away from its home (in a closed bag) can find its way back again.
But animal abusers will sew up a cat's eyes, plant electrodes into its head and subject it to unimaginable pain and suffering in their search for financial, intellectual or personal reward.
The eagle and the vulture have eyes as powerful as a telescope. The swallow will travel thousands of miles every spring -- only to be trapped and shot by a Maltese hunter when it dares to land to find fresh water.
Many animals, birds and insects can predict the coming of storms far more effectively than our allegedly scientific weather forecasters.
Weight for weight the tomtit has more brain capacity than a human being.
The animal abusers claim that animals cannot reason. But it is clear that it is the animal abusers who find reason a difficult concept.
The facts are abundantly clear: animals are sentient creatures. As J. Howard Moore put it: "The human species constitutes but one branch in the gigantic arbour of life."
How cruel and vicious a species we must look to lobsters who are boiled alive, to donkeys who are beaten beyond their endurance and to all farm animals.
Generally speaking, man is the most drunken, selfish, bloodthirsty, miserly, greedy, hypocritical being on the planet. And yet we think ourselves so damned superior. Man is the only being on the planet to kill for the sake of killing; to dress up and turn killing into a social pastime. It can truly be said that not all men are humane.
The animal abusers sneer at hyenas but they do not kill for fun.
Only man gloats over the accumulation of material goods which he does not truly need.
No creature is as immoral as the animal abuser. Only man needs an army of lawyers to fight over what is right and wrong. Only man has forgotten the meaning of natural justice.
We have created a hell on this earth for other creatures. Our abuse of animals is the final savagery, the final outrage of mankind in a long history of savagery and outrage. We have colonised other species in the same way that White Northern Europeans colonised other parts of the world. Instead of learning from other animals, instead of attempting to communicate with them, we simply thrash around wickedly, abusing, torturing, tormenting and killing. We destroy the relationships of animals with one another, with their environment and with our own race. We diminish ourselves in a hundred different ways through our cruelty and our ignorance and our thoughtlessness. "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn and his inhumanity to not-men makes the planet a ball of pain and terror," wrote J. Howard Moore.
If man was truly the master of the universe he would use his wisdom and his power to increase the comfort and happiness of all other sentient creatures. Sadly, tragically, man has used his wisdom and his power to increase the misery of other sentient creatures. Animal abusers imprison millions of animals in cruel and heartbreaking conditions and ignore their cries of pain and distress on the grounds that animals are not 'sentient creatures'. What self delusional nonsense this is.
Sheep and cattle are left out in huge fields in cold, wet weather. They shiver and search in vain for shelter because all the trees and hedgerows have been removed to make the farm more efficient. The animal abusing farmer cares not one jot for animals: he cares only for his profits.
It is quite simply just as immoral to regard animals as existing for the glorification of man as it is to regard black men or women as existing to serve white men.
"Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things," wrote Albert Schweizer, "man will not himself find peace."
The merciful man is kind to all creatures.
Animals Have No Souls And Take No Responsibility And Therefore They Can Have No Rights'
"Animals are those unfortunate slaves and victims of the most brutal part of mankind."
John Stuart Mill, 1868
A few years ago I was invited to speak about animal issues in Johannesburg, South Africa. There was initially some difficulty in finding a supporter of animal abuse in general (and vivisection in particular) who was prepared to debate the issue with me in public. The only local academic who was prepared to defend his work in public agreed to do so on condition that the entire debate was conducted in Afrikaans. As he undoubtedly well knew, I do not speak Afrikaans.
Eventually, a speaker was flown in from somewhere else in South Africa to support the contention that scientists should be allowed to continue performing animal experiments. In the end science, the new savagery, must always be defended against the gentle campaigners at the citadel walls.
One of the main tenets of this speaker's argument was that since animals do not have souls they do not have rights. This is, of course, a point of view first put forward by René Descartes a long time ago. Descartes believed (with no evidence whatsoever to support the belief) that non-human animals lack souls, intelligence and the ability to feel pleasure, pain or, indeed, anything. According to Descartes if you hit an animal then it would cry out for just the same reason that a clock chimes or a bell rings. Despite his continuing reputation Descartes was clearly not a bright individual.
I recall rather angrily asking the woman in South Africa who had told her that animals do not have souls -- and whether her god had confirmed this allegation. I seem to remember a lack of a clear response to this question.
The Intellectually And Morally Deprived
Bizarre though it may sound the primitive and self serving argument that animals have no souls is widely used by the intellectually and morally deprived.
The woman who goes to church on Sundays, wearing her fur coat with her hat adorned with feathers torn from birds, and who eats meat and hunts, undoubtedly thinks herself a godly and gentle woman when she mumbles prayers she does not understand and gives unearned pence for the building of ever more glorious churches.
Those who argue that animals have no souls usually add that animals are on this earth solely for the use of human beings and that it is, therefore, perfectly acceptable for us to do with them what we will.
This is, of course, exactly the same argument which was used in favour of slavery. "Negroes have no rights which the white man is bound to respect," said a member of the US Supreme Court. (Ample proof, if proof be needed, that judges and the courts can and do make blunders of criminal proportions and may not always be capable of melding law with justice and moral rights.)
The attitude of the animal abusers towards other species should not be too much of a surprise to us. After all, every nation and, indeed, every tribe of human beings, has at some time or another looked down upon outsiders.
Some tribes in Africa used to punish theft within the tribe with death but encouraged and rewarded thieving from other tribes. In Afghanistan it was traditional for a woman to pray that her son would become a successful robber of strangers. The ancient Germans did not regard crimes committed beyond their boundaries as crimes at all. The Jews believed themselves to be superior to all other races, selected by their god to be above all others and given the right to make war upon the weak and to take their lands. The Greeks regarded all non-Greeks as barbarians and the Romans regarded all non-Romans as barbarians too. Romans kept slaves in abundance (they had so many slaves that a Roman would have one slave whose sole duty was to look after his master's sandals) but those slaves had no rights. The Chinese regarded their country as being the centre of the earth and the Spanish, the English, the French and the German have all regarded themselves as superior to the rest of the world. Even the US, a young nation with remarkably little to commend it other than size and wealth, has acquired an arrogant belief in itself as leader of the world.
The Christian looks down his nose at the Jew who looks down his nose at the Moslem who looks down his nose at the Christian.
An Easily Demolished Argument
A variation on the 'no soul -- no rights' argument is to claim that animals do not, and can not, have any rights because they do not take any responsibility for their actions.
This must surely be one of the most easily demolished arguments in history and yet it is frequently repeated by people who obviously regard themselves as sentient and intelligent human beings. It is even used quite frequently in print and is consistently popular with pro hunt supporters.
The fact is, of course, that this is a pseudo argument which can surely only have been thought up by, or be sustained by, the intellectually disadvantaged.
If not taking responsibility for ones actions denies one any rights then one must presume that the animal abusers would also be happy to deny rights to babies, the mentally ill, unconscious patients in hospital, the subnormal, patients suffering from disorders such as senile dementia and so on.
None of the people in these groups take responsibility for what they do. Does that mean that we are free to do with them what we will?
The animal abusers may have money, and they may have power, but they don't have much in the way of brains.
In fact, there is ample evidence that animals do often take a great deal of responsibility. They may not show much responsibility towards human beings (or towards human values) but in that respect they are no different to human beings -- who do not show much responsibility towards animals and animal values.
There is a great deal of evidence to show that animals have powerful social structures and even systems of justice. Animals who do wrong to other animals are punished and animals frequently make an effort to right injustices.
There is another point here which is rarely made by the animal abusers -- who may not be sensitive enough or intelligent enough to have thought of it. If we, as human beings, are so astute, so clever, so sensitive and so superior is it not our responsibility to behave towards other species with kindness and respect?
Mischievous animal abusers will argue that people who insist on treating animals with respect must afford the same level of respect to all other living organisms. "If you want to be kind to animals," they will claim smugly, "then if a wasp wants to sting you you should let it."
They also try to force us to draw lines. If we are going to be kind to animals do we have to be kind to all animals or should we choose certain groups for preferential treatment? Should we be particularly kind to the primates? After all we are closer to the primates than we are to rabbits or snakes. Should we treat mammals with more respect than other creatures?
It is a common mistake to assume that Darwin regarded the human being as the finished product in the evolutionary process. Darwin actually wrote that: "animals may partake from our common origin in one ancestor...we may all be netted together".
He argued that humans and apes and orangutans are evolutionary first cousins. Darwin disapproved strongly of the attempt to use the philosophy of natural selection to excuse racism. (Racists have on many occasions argued that black people are members of a different species to white people.)
Evolution, as described by Darwin, is a result of random genetic mutation. There is no sound moral basis for arguing that one mutation is better than another -- or that the mutated version is inevitably better than the unmutated version. It may be different and have different attributes but that doesn't necessarily make it better.
The big answer, of course, is that this isn't our earth. We don't own it. We may have colonised it but we don't have the freehold. And we have a simple duty to treat all the other inhabitants with respect. We should not abuse or torture any living creature. There is no need for the drawing of lines between species which deserve our respect and species which don't. We should have respect for all other living creatures and we should not authorise or legalise cruelty. We should live our lives so as to cause as little pain as possible to other creatures (whether human or animal). We have no right to dominate any other creature. And although we do, of course, have the right to use whatever power is necessary to dissuade a wasp from stinging us there is no need for us to kill it to do this.
Any individual, of whatever species, who has the ability to suffer and to feel pain deserves to be treated with respect. We do not have the right to dominate any living creature or to despoil our environment. The abusers of animals abuse themselves too.
Those who abuse animals often argue that pro-animal campaigners do not care about people as much as animals. This is, of course, arrant nonsense. Just about everyone in history who has campaigned for people has also campaigned vigorously for animals. Abuse is abuse, whoever the victim may be. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the US who abolished slavery, believed that animal rights were as important as human rights. William Wilberforce and Henry David Thoreau both fought for animals as well as people. Lord Shaftesbury, a social reformer who campaigned for free education and to stop children being employed in the mines campaigned against animal abuse and for the total abolition of vivisection. Albert Einstein was a vegetarian who fought for animal rights. John Locke, the philosopher, believed in animal rights as well as human rights and wrote that if children were cruel to animals it would harden their hearts towards other humans. Dr Albert Schweitzer, the theologian who won the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, and is famed for his work in his African hospital was a vegetarian who believed in reverence for all forms of life. Leonardo Da Vinci was a vegetarian. Buddha, who founded the religion named after him, taught that men should not hurt or kill any living creature. Charles Darwin believed that to love all living creatures was the most noble attribute in man. C. S. Lewis and Robert Browning both campaigned against vivisection. Gandhi, who led the Indian people to independence by non violent means, was a vegetarian who believed that vivisection was the blackest of all the black crimes committed against god and his fair creation. Voltaire, the French author, attacked the absurd Cartesian principle that animals were no more than machines. Mark Twain, the American humorist who supported many social reforms was a stern critic of all forms of animal abuse. Sir Isaac Newton believed that humanity should be extended to include animals. Jeremy Bentham, the philosopher and legal reformer believed that humanity should protect every creature which breathes. George Bernard Shaw, the Nobel Prize winning social reformer was a vegetarian who campaigned against all animal abuse including vivisection. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote that "compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man."
As a counterbalance to this short and by no means complete list of caring individuals Gill Redfearn, who runs Plan 2000, the anti vivisection group which I am proud to have founded, compiled a list of murderers who had also done unspeakable things to animals -- thereby neatly proving the point that cruelty is cruelty and cruel people are cruel people.
She listed Peter Kurten, known as the Dusseldorf Monster, who murdered more than 50 people and practised bestiality on dogs as he tortured and killed them; Luke Woodham who stabbed his mother and killed two teenage girls and who also set fire to his own dog; David Berkowitz who killed six people and who also shot his neighbours dog and poisoned his mother's parakeet; Patrick Sherrill who murdered 14 people and who stole local pets for his dog to attack; Jack Bassenti, a murderer and rapist who buried puppies alive; Richard William Leonard, the murderer whose grandmother forced him to kill and mutilate cats when he was a child; Randy Roth who killed two wives, and who also used an industrial sander on a frog and taped a cat to a car engine; Jeffrey Dahmer who killed 17 men and who also killed many animals; Edward Kemperer who killed his grandparents, mother and seven other women and who also chopped up cats; Henry Lee Lucas, who killed his mother and his wife and who also killed animals and had sex with their corpses; Michael Cartier, a murderer, who also threw a kitten through a closed window and who pulled a rabbit's legs out of its sockets when he was four years old.
There is, it seems clear, a strong relationship between those who are cruel to animals and those who are cruel to humans. The sort of people who abuse animals (whether by experimenting on them, hunting them or hurting in some other way) are the same sort of people who abuse humans.
Surely we should be kind and considerate towards other creatures for exactly the same reason that we should be kind and considerate towards other human beings.
Why should we consider it a crime to torture a man to death -- but support a government which gives public money to support a vivisector who tortures a monkey to death? Where is the justice or the logic in it? There is none.
If aliens landed on earth and started to treat us in the way that we now treat animals we would protest vehemently. What, pray, is the difference in the way we currently treat other living creatures?
"The love for all living creatures," wrote Charles Darwin, "is the most noble attribute of man." By that definition man is not a particularly noble creature.
As a final note it seems relevant to point out here that it is in any case impractical, if not impossible, to separate animal abuse from people abuse in the way that animal abusers try to do. Animal abuse and people abuse are inextricably and permanently linked. For example, the abuse of animals in the name of science, performed by vivisectors in laboratories, may appear to be solely an abuse of animals. But since the end result of such experiments is the production, marketing and prescribing of drugs which have not been adequately tested for human use people do suffer as a result of animal experiments. Similarly, the abuse of animals in the preparation of meat may not, at first, appear to involve much abuse of human beings. But since it is now known that eating meat is closely linked to the development of a number of types of deadly cancer those who are involved in killing animals for human consumption are also, inevitably, involved in killing human beings.
The farmer, the abattoir worker and the butcher who abuse animals in order to provide meat for the dining table are also directly responsible for the deaths of those people who have contracted cancer through eating meat. Since those who work in the meat industry should know that the product they sell kills people it does not seem unreasonable to describe meat industry workers as murderers.
From A Human Standpoint
We look at everything from our unique, human standpoint. If a mouse wanders into an animal abuser's house and nibbles at a piece of cheese the animal abuser immediately puts down poison and sets traps all over the house. Animal abusers tear baby chimpanzees from their mothers, drag them thousands of miles, stick them into tiny cages and do unspeakable things to them in order to obtain academic status and glory.
J.Howard Moore tells a remarkable story in his classic book The Universal Kinship.
"One of the greatest obstacles missionaries have to contend with," wrote Moore, quoting from letters written by an American missionary in Burma, "is the hostility aroused in the people by the killing and flesh eating habits of the missionaries themselves. The native inhabitants, who are the most compassionate of mankind, look upon the Christian missionaries, who kill and eat cows and shoot monkeys for pastime, as being little better than cannibals. Contemplate the presumption necessary to cause an individual to leave behind him fields white for mission work, and travel, at great expense, halfway round the earth in order to preach a narrow, cruel, anthropocentric gospel to a people of so great tenderness and humanity as to be kind even to 'animals' and enemies!"
Anthropocentricism, a founding philosophy of Judaism, Christianity and Mahometanism, is an attitude of mind which has for centuries shaped the history of the world, and is undoubtedly the most conceited expression of human provincialism (and colonialism) ever devised.
According to this view of the world man is the centre of the universe -- and of life itself. Everything else (including women and all other living creatures) is there for the pleasure of man.
If this were so one might reasonably assume that the several million non-human species on the planet earth would all be of value to mankind. But they aren't. Some species are a threat to man's life and survival as a species. Many are neither a help nor a hindrance. And what of the planets? What possible use are they to man?
Ancient man's assumption that the world was created for him should be a historical absurdity; but it isn't. This bizarre and obviously ill founded nonsense is still the basis for the widely held parochial conceit that animals, birds, fish and so on are all here solely for our delight. And anthropocentricism seems to get stronger by the year.
In The Sunday People newspaper on December 6th 1998 a columnist called Carol Sarler wrote: "This country is going animal crackers..".
Sarler then dealt with two topical issues.
First, she attacked an animal rights campaigner called Barry Horne who was, at the time in prison, close to death, on hunger strike to draw attention to the government's failure to fulfil its pre election promise to hold a Royal Commission to investigate the scientific value of vivisection. Barry Horne had been on hunger strike before the Labour Party had won the 1997 election but I had helped to persuade him to come off his hunger strike by sending him a copy of the letter I had received from Elliot Morley MP, (written on behalf of the Labour leader Tony Blair) in which Morley had written that the Labour Party was: "proposing a Royal Commission [on vivisection] to investigate the claims that animals need to be used and to recommend on alternatives".
However, towards the end of1998 Horne was said to be so frustrated by the Labour Party's decision to abandon what many had seen as a promise that he went back on hunger strike. Sarler described Horne as a "monstrous blackmailer" and wrote "may he rot in hell".
One wonders if she would have described Gandhi, another man who went on hunger strike to fight for something he believed in, in the same words. It might have been valid to question the practicality of attempting to influence a corrupt, insensitive and dishonest government through a hunger strike but it seems to me that Sarler's comments were simply grossly offensive. Sadly, Sarler was not alone in her views.
Second, she was less than complimentary about a man who was offering a £10,000 reward for the return of his missing cat. The man who had lost his cat had explained that for him and his wife losing the cat was just like losing a child. Sarler wrote that he should "think, before he ever opens his daft mouth again'.
At the time I wrote a column in the same paper as Sarler. I had never been terribly impressed by her column but I asked the Editor of the paper to print a piece attacking her comments. I found Sarler's comment about the man who had lost his cat brutal and insensitive. I felt that although Sarler might not understand it millions of people regard their family pets as family members. And I thought that Sarler's comment about Barry Horne was the most inhumane piece of mean spirited low class gutter journalism I had ever read.
I wrote that: "Sarler may not believe in the same things that he believes in but he has a cause he is prepared to die for and if she can't respect that then I regard her as pretty low down on the evolutionary scale".
I went on: "When I read Sarler's comments I felt thoroughly ashamed to be a member of the same race (I have never met her but am assuming that she is human) let alone a contributor to the same newspaper."
I was sad but not particularly surprised when the Editor of The Sunday People refused to print my comments in my column. He allowed Sarler to attack animal lovers. But he wouldn't allow me to attack Sarler.
The theory of the 'universal kinship' of man and other creatures, as taught by Buddha, Pythagoras and Plutarch has been pushed aside. Both Shelley and Tolstoy favoured universal kinship but few modern writers would dare to espouse themselves to such an out of favour philosophy.
The fact that not all creatures have equal rights does not, in the slightest, affect the principle that all creatures have rights. No one would argue that all men have equal rights (though many would argue that they should) but only a simple minded person would attempt to argue that inequality justifies taking away rights from some.
Some creatures fly, some make their home in the sea, some live for a day and some for a century or more. Some are brown, some are white, some are blue and some are green; some are tall and some are small. Some are wise and social, others are solitary and simple in thought. Some roam constantly while some are content to stay at home.
They are all tenants, and all entitled to share the glory of our earth.
The Underestimated Moral Argument
Pro-animal campaigners who oppose animal abuse in general and vivisection in particular have, in recent years, allowed themselves to be suckered into concentrating almost exclusively on scientific issues and arguments and virtually abandoning the moral issues. Moral and ethical arguments have been ignored; deemed to be less powerful than scientific arguments and therefore largely irrelevant.
This has been a huge mistake for the moral and ethical arguments are in many respects more powerful, more convincing and more difficult to oppose than the scientific arguments. It is impossible to nitpick or create false facts when arguing on moral or ethical grounds.
Our failure to utilise the moral and ethical arguments is, I believe, largely a result of the fact that the animal abusers and their allies and supporters know that they are more vulnerable when facing moral and ethical arguments.
It simply isn't possible to bend the truth so easily when discussing moral and ethical issues as it when discussing scientific issues.
In concentrating on opposing vivisection solely with the scientific arguments we have fallen into a clever trap carefully laid by the pro-vivisections. After a good deal of thought I have come to the conclusion that the scientific argument against vivisection tends to give vivisectionists an opportunity to marginalise their opponents and to trivialise the argument by concentrating on minor specifics.
Those of us who oppose animal experimentation will not ever win with the scientific argument alone because there will always be room for dispute and the vivisectionists will always be able to find doctors and scientists whose pro-vivisection views can be used to frighten and confuse the public.
As a result anti-vivisectionists end up spending much time arguing about obscure specifics. Often, there are no clear cut answers and as a result there must always be doubt in the uncommitted listeners mind -- particularly since the vivisectionists are skilled at adding to the confusion with misleading, inaccurate and cruelly dishonest information.
Would a treatment for diabetes have been found earlier or later than it was if there had been no animal experiments in the 1920s? As an anti-vivisectionist I can produce evidence proving that the animal experiments delayed progress. But facts and evidence really aren't enough. The vivisectionists will do anything to win and since they are dishonest and (by definition) unethical and immoral people they will produce fake facts and create false theories to help them argue the opposite. The only half interested listener will be totally bewildered. He will eventually abdicate from taking any decision and allow himself to be bullied by the claims of the intellectual terrorists campaigning for vivisection who argue that to stop animal experiments would be to put at risk the health and survival of small children.
"If it's a choice between my child and a rat then I'll come down on the side of my child," the weary (and frightened) observer will insist.
It is possible that those who have chosen to argue exclusively on scientific grounds may have harmed the anti vivisection cause and delayed the defeat of the barbarians.
Indeed, could it be that some of those who have promoted the scientific argument most ferociously (and who have insisted on totally excluding the moral arguments) might have been financed or in other ways supported by the vivisectionists? Some of those who have been most emphatic in their insistence that only the scientific argument is of value have also been the people most likely to attack others in the anti-vivisection movement. The infighting which has more or less destroyed the anti vivisection movement in the last few decades appears to have come largely from those who have also insisted on following the scientific argument to the total exclusion of the moral argument.
Black and White
The ethical argument against vivisection is black and white (vivisection is immoral) and is constantly being strengthened by new evidence showing the extent to which animals have feelings and are (contrary to the claims of those who support vivisection, hunting and other obscenities) sentient creatures.
Ethical arguments are now regarded by some as being as out of date and irrelevant but they are powerful and it is a mistake to neglect them. Even among the best scientists (and animal experiments are the refuge of the second and third rate scientists) scientific truths and methods are not real truths and have no permanence. They are regularly replaced as new discoveries are made. The only real truths are moral truths, the only unquestionable certainties relate to man's responsibilities, duties and rights.
It was, after all, the ethical argument which led to the defeat of the last great moral outrage -- the slavery of black humans.
Anti-vivisectors have fought a losing battle for over a century because whether we like it not history is built upon perception not reality and myths can be more important than facts. True history is what we remember and what influences our lives. Facts are, of themselves, of considerably less significance than myths and perceived truths. A widely believed falsehood is more likely to prove influential than a little known truth.
If all else fails the vivisectors will happily lie (they are, by definition, intrinsically corrupt and intellectually barren but though they may be narrow-minded and prejudiced they are also sometimes cunning and exceedingly devious). For example, they will (and frequently do) argue that vivisection has helped us to conquer cancer when the facts show that the battle against cancer has been and is being lost. The myths and lies of the vivisectors have produced confusion but have also become gradually accepted as fact. There are many scientists, politicians, journalists and apparently well informed and reasonably intelligent individuals who seriously believe that laboratory experiments on animals are valid and essential.
(It is because perception is more important than reality that politicians use spin doctors. It is worth remembering that Goebbels is the spiritual father, and the patron devil, of all spin doctors.)
Winning The Moral And Ethical Arguments
The vivisectors say: Animals are merely 'things' which exist to be used by humankind.
The truth is: Rene Descartes, who propogated this theory with enthusiasm, is regarded as one of the greatest thinkers in history and one of the greatest men of the seventeenth century, but he had massive blind spots. The biggest was probably his belief that because they had no immortal soul animals had no conscious life, no desires, no feelings and no emotions.
Animals, declared Descartes, with the enviable certainty of a man who is inspired by powerful religious prejudices, were no more entitled to respect or consideration than were clocks. He claimed that horses were no more 'alive' in the human sense than were the carriages they drew.
If Descartes had spent just a little more time looking around him and a little less time trying to understand the secrets of the universe, he would have known that he was wrong. If he had had enough common sense to talk to any child with a dog, cat or rabbit he would have learned the truth: that although it may be impossible for us to imagine precisely how animals do think, or what they think about, there cannot possibly be any doubt that they are capable of as much thought as many humans. Simple observations would have told Descartes that animals feel pain, suffer when they are sick, get bored, endure unhappiness and depression, grieve, mourn and can be driven mad by abuse.
Each member of the animal kingdom is different, but that does not mean that cats are any less alive than Frenchmen, or that dogs are any less deserving of our compassion than children. Even rats -- perhaps the most despised and least loved of laboratory animals -- are intelligent, alert and sociable animals. They can develop relationships with one another and with human beings and they quickly become bored and frustrated when imprisoned.
But Descartes did not look around him, and did not talk enough to children, and his theories rapidly became accepted as fact by a society which was always better at thinking up theories than it was at sustaining them with facts. Descartes was a powerful and influential member of the academic establishment and, most important of all, his beliefs fitted in comfortably with the beliefs of other scholars.
As the years went by so Cartesian logic spread throughout the scientific community and before long a scientist who wanted to look inside a cat would do so simply by nailing it to a board and cutting it open. He would ignore its squeals of protest as of little more significance than the squeaking of a rusty door hinge or a stiff axle. To a large extent, therefore, it was Descartes' crude, simplistic and undeniably inaccurate philosophy which led to the development of modem day vivisection.
In order to keep thinking of animals as 'things', rather than sensitive individuals, most researchers have developed the habit of talking and writing about the creatures they use in a totally impersonal way, often using a strange vocabulary to describe what they are doing. Researchers will, for example, refer to cats as 'preparations', will describe crying or miaowing as 'vocalisation' and will use phrases like 'nutritional insufficiency' instead of saying that animals starved to death. At least one group of researchers has used the term 'binocularly deprived' to describe domestic tabby kittens which they had deliberately blinded. When animals are finished with at the end of experiments they are frequently 'sacrificed' or 'subjected to euthanasia'. Maybe researchers do not like to remind themselves that they are killers.
The vivisectors say: Animals do not have rights.
The truth is: Researchers with a simple way of looking at the world will frequently argue that animals do not have any rights. When pushed they will explain that the sole purpose of animals is to make our lives easier. The furthest they will go towards accepting that animals deserve to be treated with respect is to say that human beings share a responsibility to ensure that animals are not subjected to unnecessary suffering. The word 'unnecessary' is, of course, impossible to define satisfactorily and very few active researchers will ever admit that any experiments have ever involved 'unnecessary' suffering.
This is, of course, the same elitist talk that graced the dinner tables of the pre-Wilberforce slave traders and it is the same sort of talk that still graces the (invariably) well stocked dinner tables of the exceptionally fortunate and heavily prejudiced. People, they will claim, are the centre of the universe; all else revolves around us. People, they argue, are entitled to do as they wish with the rest of the world. They will insist that if it were not for human beings animals would have no role to play on this earth. Animals, they say, exist. solely to provide people with food, clothing and pleasure. This arrogant attitude has been described as speciesism and condemned as cruel and insensitive, but these thoughts are widely held and are not easily overpowered by logic or any of the other tools of the intellectual.
The primitive mind which sees humankind as the sole purpose of creation, and the single reason for life, is unlikely to be swayed by anything which demands such subtle expressions of intelligence as reason, insight or humility.
The vivisectors say: Animal experiments are not illegal, so how can they be wrong?
The truth is: I am constantly saddened by the fact that there are still men and women around the world who regard themselves as reasonable well educated and of adequate intelligence but who can accept such a narrow, selfish and unforgiving argument. I confess that when I hear this argument aired I feel overcome by weariness and despair. "It is against the law to torture and maim human beings in the name of science but it is not against the law to do these things to animals, so where can be the objection?"
Who can possibly live with such an absurdly mechanistic approach to life? What is legal is not necessarily moral, any more than what is moral is necessarily legal. A few generations ago the legal status of a black person in America was roughly similar to that of a field of corn. The truth is that what is legally acceptable and what is morally acceptable are two very different things. Most of us would agree that it is immoral to threaten or frighten children unnecessarily but such acts when committed within a family unit, are rarely illegal. In some conditions rape may be considered legally acceptable. But does that make it morally right? Parking a car in the wrong place is illegal but does that make it immoral?
If we take 'legal rights equal moral rights' to its logical conclusion, consider what would happen if extra-terrestrials were to land on earth. Under our present law no one from outer space, however charming, gentle or peace loving, could be protected from brutality. We are the only species protected by the full force of the law. A research scientist would be perfectly entitled to perform experiments on an alien, secure in the knowledge that such actions were legally proper.
It is not difficult to find many other flaws in this often voiced but shallow and remarkably simple-minded argument. For example, are animals outside our law because they do not have souls? And if so how do we know that they do not have souls? And even if it were true that they did not have souls (and were therefore denied another life) why does that give us rights over the one life that they do have? And what about those individuals who believe in the theory of reincarnation? According to their beliefs, a scientist who chops up a mouse may be destroying a former relative of theirs. Are such beliefs wrong? Do they have no legal or moral standing? Are we entitled to make judgements about our neighbours' theological beliefs simply because a written law does not forbid a particular activity?
There are no easy answers to any of these questions and I pose them simply to make it clear that there can be no inevitable agreement between activities which are legally acceptable and those which are morally acceptable. But there is one final argument which, I think, makes it crystal clear that on balance it is dangerous to assume, as so many vivisectors do, that because their work is legal it must be moral and ethical. This final argument concerns the question of consent.
A researcher who wishes to experiment upon a human being must first obtain that individual's consent. Without consent any act of vivisection on a human being would be an illegal assault. But how can a researcher obtain consent from a monkey when planning an experiment? Although obtaining consent is impossible we do know that monkeys can understand one another and can communicate with some human beings. So what gives a researcher the moral right either to assume that the monkey has given consent or to assume that obtaining that monkey's consent is unnecessary? The law may say that a monkey is not a human being and therefore has no legal rights, but just because vivisection is legal that does not make it morally right. As I mentioned earlier in this book, Gandhi described vivisection as: "the blackest of all the black crimes that man is at present committing against god and his fair creation."
The vivisectors say: Animals do not matter because they cannot think.
The truth is:I first heard this argument on a television programme some years ago. The dark-suited scientist who put it forward made the statement as though it were an accepted fact and as though it excused any sort of barbarity. "Animals can't think", he said bluntly, looking around him as though that settled that. "What about babies?" asked a young man whose hair was dyed bright green and who had a cluster of safety pins through his nose and ears. "Can they think?" He paused and thought for a moment. "And what about the mentally ill, the educationally subnormal and people suffering from senile dementia?" The scientist had no answer. The fact that animals cannot think (even if it were true) is no excuse at all for treating them without respect.
But it is not true that animals cannot think. Is there any good reason to believe that a baby monkey does not feel when separated from its mother and family, placed in a drum and left there, alone, for several weeks at a time?
Just because animals do not automatically speak our language, do we have any right to assume that they are stupid?
This is, indeed, the sort of argument once followed by the worst sort of colonial Englishman. "The natives don't speak English and so they must be stupid", he would argue with enviable simplicity.
The truth is that anyone who has ever lived with a cat will confirm, it is nonsense to say that cats are incapable of thought. They are remarkably intelligent and emotional creatures. They can communicate with one another and with human beings very effectively. And they even have skills that we certainly do not seem to have. There are, for example, numerous accounts of cats finding their way home on journeys of several hundred miles. Cats whose owners have died will walk for miles -- crossing motorways, rivers and railways and passing through cities and across fields -- in order to be with other human beings whom they like. Without maps or compasses cats can make long, arduous journeys with startling skill.
The only thing we know for certain is that there are no creatures in the world quite as cruel and unthinking as some of the humans who work in experimental laboratories.
The animal abusers say that those of us who oppose animal experiments are guilty of anthropomorphism, and that we are worrying unnecessarily about creatures whose lives and lifestyles we do not fully understand. We are, they say, projecting our feelings, fears and hopes onto the animals they use. There is, as ever, a strong streak of arrogance in this argument, for those who put it forward seem to be saying that although we are over-estimating the needs and rights of animals, they have got things just right.
The truth, as always, is that the pro-vivisectionist campaigners are limited by their own lack of perception and although they have managed to begin a train of thought they have been unable to see it through to a sensible conclusion. It is perfectly true to say that animals are not like people and it would be foolish to imagine that animals see things in the same way that we do. Each animal sees the world in a different light. Animals are not like people, but they are not like rocks either. Cats think and behave like cats. Monkeys think and behave like monkeys. Dogs think and behave like dogs.
Only when we have made the effort to understand how dogs think and behave will we understand the full extent of their suffering when they are used in laboratory experiments. All animals are different. Cats like eating freshly killed mice. Cows like eating grass. Monkeys use their tails to help them swing through trees. Some creatures are happy eating food that we would feel uncomfortable about stepping in. Although it is clearly wrong to anthropomorphise and to read ambitions and hopes into behavioural patterns that may mean something quite different, it is perfectly possible for us to learn enough about animal behaviour to understand something about what they like and what they dislike.
Back in 1965 the British government decided that the thin, hexagonal wire mesh used to make up the floors of cages in which hens were kept was uncomfortable for them to walk on. A well-meaning committee of human experts decided that thicker wire would be better. But when the chickens were given the choice they showed, quite clearly, that they preferred the thin, hexagonal wire. And the chickens overruled the distinguished team who had advised the government because in the end they managed to show that they knew best what they preferred (out of two cruel options).
By observing animals carefully it is possible to decide what sort of life they like best and it is also possible to discover that when given a choice animals will always choose the least distressing of all the available options.
But the people who conduct animal experiments do not bother to find out what the animals they use are really like. They do not want to know that the animals they are using have the intelligence to make choices. They do not like to think that the animals they are keeping might prefer a different lifestyle.
The conditions in which laboratory animals are kept are crude, cruel and barbaric. The way in which animals are used and abused shows that those who perform animal experiments have never made the slightest effort to understand the creatures whose lives they regard so lightly.
The final irony is that researchers frequently claim that they can make judgements about behavioural patterns, or the toxicity of tested substances, by making laboratory observations. These observations and judgements are utterly worthless because the circumstances in which the animals are kept and tested are unnatural and quite divorced from reality.
The vivisectors say: If vivisection were stopped then millions of animals which are specially bred for laboratory work would never have a chance to live.
The truth is: The people who put forward this argument obviously have no idea of the sort of 'life' that is involved. I have absolutely no hesitation in denying the prospect of life to a sentient creature which would, if it was conceived and born, spend its days alone, in a tiny cage, in constant physical and mental pain. What sort of 'life' is that? If this argument were to be followed then it would excuse a host of cruelties and obscenities -- including bear baiting and bull fighting. Taken to its logical conclusion it would also mean that -- since sterilistion would not be allowed -- many animals, such as stray cats, would starve to death.
The vivisectors say: It does not matter whether animals can think or not: we are stronger and more powerful than they are so we have the right to do as we like with them.
The truth is: Surprisingly, this argument is put forward quite frequently and there seem to be a large number of vivisectors who believe that the strong have a moral right to do what they like with the weak.
What those who favour this argument do not seem to realise is that the same argument can be applied with equal logic within the human race. So, if it is perfectly right and fair for humans to torture, maim and kill baboons because we are more powerful than they are, then it must be equally acceptable for the strongest and most powerful human beings to use the weakest humans for their own purposes. If it is morally acceptable for a researcher to use this argument to support experiments on dogs, what is there to stop the same argument being used to justify experiments on children, old people or the mentally or physically disadvantaged?
Scientists who promote this argument might like to think carefully about their own status in our society. If the intellectually deprived and socially worthless are to be used in experiments, then the vivisectors themselves will be among the first to find themselves selected for death in the laboratory.
The vivisectors say: Animal experiments are justified because without them human progress will be held back.
The truth is: One of the favourite debating tricks of those who support animal experimentation is to select a convenient date sometime in the past, point to all the scientific developments that have taken place since that time and to then argue that without animal experiments none of those things would have happened. This argument is to logic what marshmallows are to a balanced diet.
First, it is illogical to argue that just because animal experiments took place they were relevant, necessary or productive. Animal experiments have held back progress rather than aided it. You might as well argue that because people have managed to run faster and jump higher since animal experiments were started, there is a link between the two. You could as easily and as sensibly claim that the development of television was a result of experiments performed on animals and that without torturing monkeys, cats and dogs we would still be relying on the town crier.
Second, even if animal experiments had been relevant it would be absurd to argue that without them scientists would have made no progress at all. This is a gross insult to the intelligence and ingenuity of scientists and assumes that the only scientists with any capacity for original thought are the ones who chop up live animals. This is clearly nonsense. No one complains that we have been denied progress because scientists have not been allowed to experiment on human beings.
The vivisectors say: The use of animals in experiments is justified by the fact that such investigations enable us to add to our store of knowledge.
The truth is : Scientists usually try to justify the work they do by claiming that they are helping to save lives. They are ruthless in the way they exploit public fears and anxieties in their attempts to preserve their own careers. But such claims only stand up in the absence of evidence and more and more often scientists are having to abandon this line of defence.
When they are cornered and are unable to defend their work on practical or medical grounds, scientists will often claim that their work is justified simply because it adds to the sum of human knowledge. The work justifies itself, they say, and does not need to have any practical purpose.
It is probably as pointless to try to counter this claim with moral or ethical arguments as it would have been to try to dissuade Josef Mengele from his evil work by telling him that it was "wrong'.
Throughout history there have always been scientists who have claimed that the search for knowledge justifies any activity, however repugnant.
Like the Nazi and Japanese scientists who experimented on human beings and were convinced that their work was justified, today's animal experimenters seem to belief that their work, however barbaric, is justified because it adds to the storehouse of human knowledge.
Those who are convinced by this argument might like to ask themselves where, if ever, the line should be drawn. Does the pursuit of knowledge justify any activity?
There are some scientists who would say that it does; and there is no shortage of evidence that even today there are doctors who are willing to perform hazardous experiments on human patients under their care.
In my book The Health Scandal (published by Sidgwick and Jackson and in paperback by Mandarin) I describe a variety of experiments performed on human beings including one in which drops were put into the eyes of women in order to study the formation of experimental cataracts and one in which children were given drugs to stop them making a natural recovery from a liver infection. Most startling of all, perhaps, were the experiments in which a total of forty-two babies aged between eleven days and two and a half years were used. The experiments involved holding the babies under water to see how they responded. The scientist who conducted these experiments reported that the: "movements of the extremities are of the struggling order" and went on to say that the babies clutched at the experimenter's hands and tried to wipe the water away from their faces. She seemed amazed that the "ingestion of fluid was considerable" and made the infants cough.
During the last few decades thousands of human patients have been used in experiments (readers wanting to know more about medical and scientific research should read my book Paper Doctors -- published by Temple Smith).
In Britain, surgeons have deliberately and permanently damaged the brains of many patients in attempts to treat people suffering from disorders as varied as eczema, asthma, hysteria, chronic rheumatism, anorexia nervosa, tuberculosis, hypertension, angina and anxiety brought about by barbiturate toxicity. Were these operations experiments? Were they justified?
Patients have been injected with cancer cells to see whether or not they develop cancer. Without anyone bothering to obtain their permission, patients around the world are frequently given new and untried drugs so that doctors can find out what happens.
Many scientists who perform and support animal experiments also support experiments on human beings and will argue that such experiments are justified, either because they add to the sum of human knowledge or because they help doctors develop new types of treatment.
One American scientist recently claimed that: "a human life is nothing compared with a new fact ... the aim of science is the advancement of human knowledge at any sacrifice to human life".
When another scientist was attacked for using people in a nursing home for an experiment, he replied that he could not very well use scientists for his experiments because they were too valuable.
It is also worth remembering that although many scientists are prepared to excuse the foulest of deeds on the basis that they are searching for knowledge, very few, if any, scientists are prepared to conduct their experiments at their own expense or in their own time. The vast majority of modern scientific experiments these days are performed by extremely well paid scientists working in well equipped laboratories. Often the money they use is yours.
Those members of the public who find animal experiments unacceptable (however much 'knowledge' they may give us) should also be aware that many of these experiments are conducted with public money at a time when doctors and teachers seem to agree that public services are suffering from a lack of funding. I wonder how many animal experimenters would carry on with their work (allegedly determined to add to the sum of human knowledge for the general good of humankind) if, instead of getting fat salaries from public funds, they had to pay for their experiments themselves? I suggest that some scientists would suddenly find that they had something more important to do. In other words, many vivisectors are driven not by a search for knowledge, but by simple, old-fashioned, financial greed.
The vivisectors say: Every year thousands of animals are put down because they are ill or have been abandoned. It makes sense to use those animals instead of wasting them.
The truth is: What the scientists who favour this argument fail to realise is that there is a considerable difference between putting an animal to sleep painlessly, and subjecting it to a series of painful, humiliating and degrading scientific procedures. If this argument were sustainable then it would also make sense to use dying, lonely or 'unwanted' human beings for experiments.
The scientists who favour this argument also fail to realise that killing animals because they are ill, or have been abandoned, is usually done to satisfy human rather than animal needs. The killing of animals simply because they seem surplus to requirements is morally unjustifiable. It is absurd to attempt to build an argument on foundations that are ethically unsound.
The vivisectors say: The results from animal experiments can be utilised in the prevention or treatment of diseases which affect human beings but that animals are so different from human beings that we do not have to worry about them suffering any sort of pain or distress.
The truth is: These two arguments do not fit comfortably together. If animals are similar enough to human beings for the results to be of value to clinicians then the thousands of barbaric experiments which are conducted every day are insupportable, inexcusable and unforgivable on moral and ethical grounds. On the other hand, if animals are so fundamentally different to human beings that they do not suffer during procedures which would clearly be terrifying and enormously painful for human beings then the results obtained must be valueless.
Chapter Four: The Scientific and Medical Arguments Used By Animal Abusers
"Pain is pain, whether it be inflicted on man or on beast; and the creature who suffers it, whether man or beast, being sensible to the misery of it, while it lasts, suffers evil...The white man....can have no right, by virtue of his colour, to enslave and tyrannise over a black man...For the same reason, a man can have no natural right to abuse and torment a beast. "
Dr Humphrey Primatt, 1776
The animal abusers try to support meat eating and vivisection with as many pseudo-scientific arguments as they can. They claim (quite falsely) that human beings need to eat meat, drink milk and eat eggs. They claim that vegetarians and vegans who do not eat meat, drink milk and eat eggs will suffer from vitamin, mineral and protein deficiencies. These are, to put it bluntly, lies for which there is no scientific basis.
Many of the lies told by animal abusers revolve around the use of animals in laboratory experiments.
The animal abusers ignore or defy the evidence and claim that vivisection is essential for the development of new forms of treatment. They argue that without vivisection we will never find a cure for cancer. (At the same time they usually manage to give the entirely false and unfounded idea that vivisection has already helped us find cures for many diseases, and is on the verge of helping us make great breakthroughs which will make cancer, heart disease and stress of nothing more than historical interest.)
Those with a personal, vested interest in the survival of the meat industry have started many rumours. It has, for example, been claimed (largely, I suspect, by people working for or paid by the meat industry) that people who do not eat meat must inevitably suffer from anaemia and other disorders.
(It is, incidentally, interesting to note that in my view the vast majority of the individuals who support and defend animal abuse do so because their wealth or jobs depend upon animal abuse. And an equally large proportion of the money used to defend animal abuse comes from corporations and individuals who have a vested interest in animal abuse. In contrast to this a massive majority of the individuals who oppose animal abuse do so in their own time and at their own personal expense -- often taking personal risks to do so.)
The animal abusers much prefer scientific arguments to moral ones because it is much easier to create confusion when arguing on scientific grounds. Moral arguments -- which are simply about what is right and what is wrong -- leave relatively little room for discussion.
One big mistake many pro-animal campaigners make is to assume that science is based on truth -- and that scientists are honest and honourable individuals for whom the truth is of paramount significance.
Sadly, this simply isn't true.
To begin with many scientists are second rate and only marginally competent. In my years of studying research reports published by vivisectors I have constantly been astonished by the lack of wisdom shown and have come to the conclusion that vivisection is a branch of science practised almost exclusively by second rate scientists of very moderate intelligence.
Vivisectors routinely make such crass and fundamental mistakes that even if their work were based on intelligent theories it would still be without value. For example, when performing their experiments they often make no allowance whatsoever for the fact that the animals they are using are extremely stressed and anxious because they have been removed from their friends and their normal environment. Nor do they seem to understand the significance of the relationship between diet and health. Bizarrely, it is by no means unusual for vivisectors to perform experiments without making sure that they take any note of the age or sex of the animals they are abusing. Vivisectors have such a false understanding of the animals they abuse that they deny that they have emotions (such as love and fear) and can feel pain. In addition, against all the available information, they falsely believe that there are anatomical and physiological similarities between animals and humans which are great enough for them to draw conclusions about humans when experimenting on animals. If the vivisectors were not so cruel they would be pitiful.
Many scientists are fraudsters -- little more than second rate crooks -- and the scientific literature is littered with untruths and half truths.
The truth is that animal experiments have held back science for centuries. Two thousand years ago Galen dissected pigs. His work misled other doctors for a thousand years. The first attempts at blood transfusion ended in disaster because blood from animals was used. Vivisectors have, time and time again, misled doctors, delayed the development of useful treatments and been responsible for the deaths of countless thousands of human patients.
Human Wrongs continued 2