If You Love Something, You Don’t Kill It.
by Bea Elliott
February 7, 2010
Jim Sinclair who has autism, helped organize Autism
Network International. He has written some insightful and poetic essays
regarding his autism, and his experiences living in a world in which he is
The ANI was founded not for parents or family, but rather
for the people with autism. Their annual retreat attempts to provide a space in
which they can interact with each other without the pressures of a world trying
to find a "cure" for their differences.
Sinclair is also for animal
rights. He wrote the following poignant piece in response to Temple Grandin, who
works for the meat industry by providing more efficient methods of animal
If you love something, you don’t kill it.
need to spend time in a squeeze box to learn that. Love is not killing. If you
know what another being feels--not just how you feel when you touch it--then you
know that living things want to remain alive. It doesn’t matter if they’re not
afraid of death before they know what’s going to happen to them. In the moment
when the killing happens, they know, and they want to stay alive. I have seen
this, and I have felt death happen. I haven’t seen as much of death as someone
who is obsessively drawn to slaughter factories, but I’ve seen enough to know.
Life does not consent to be killed. I don’t need a Ph.D. in animal science to
recognize that. Dying as a natural process is not the same as killing a healthy
living creature. I have witnessed sudden death from injury, and gradual death
from aging or disease. They’re not the same. (I have not witnessed deliberately
inflicted death, because I will not stand by and allow killing to happen in my
presence.) It’s irrelevant if a middle-aged scientist can say that she doesn’t
fear death, that she understands it as a natural part of life. Almost all the
beings whose lives she helps end are immature or just barely mature. Almost none
of them are close to natural death. They’re not ready to die. If someone were to
shoot or stab or electrocute the middle-aged scientist today, she might find
that she’s not ready to die either. If you understand life, you know that it
wants to continue. If you feel life throbbing under your touch, you know it’s
desecration to set your hand to stop that living pulse. If you love something,
you don’t kill it.
There’s a special technique involved in tying a
hangman’s noose so the victim is killed instantly by a broken neck, rather than
slowly by strangulation. I suppose it’s part of a hangman’s professional
expertise to learn to tie this knot properly. That expertise doesn’t make the
hangman a caring or compassionate person. The hangman’s knot, the guillotine,
the electric chair, the gas chamber, and the lethal injection were all designed
to make deliberately inflicted death less painful to the victim. But I’ve never
heard the inventors or the users of these technologies hailed as great
humanitarians. I’ve never heard them praised for their great empathy toward the
lives they’ve ended. Certainly it takes some ingenuity to invent new equipment.
I’m a pretty smart person, but my expertise with knots is limited to being able
to tie my shoes, to make a slip knot and a square knot. I tie these knots the
way others taught me to tie them; I’ve never invented a new kind of knot by
myself. If I were to try to design a knot that could quickly and painlessly kill
someone, I’d never be able to figure it out. Whoever invented that knot had a
type of mechanical creativity and skill that I don’t have. But if I did have it,
I’d use it for other purposes. I wouldn’t need to invent a way to kill with a
knot, because I would never be willing to participate in any way in killing a
bound and defenseless person. Skill and ingenuity are not the same as empathy
and caring. And love is not the same thing as killing. If you love something,
you don’t kill it. It’s as simple as that.
Grandin claims to know what animals want...I dare say they
want their lives.