Wise leans to the lectern.
At Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington , D.C. , last month, about 40 people came to hear Wise make his controversial case for extending legal rights to some animals, the argument he lays out in his new book, "Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights"
Here is the unedited letter that was sent to the Boston Globe. (The text in caps was deleted in the letter published on June 9th.) Wise's categorization of species is particularly problematic.
Regarding "Between the Lines: The line that divides human from animal" by Robin Dougherty, May 26, 2002 , D4:
as attorney Steven Wise's challenge is to the existing cultural status
of nonhuman animals, his critics are not confined to those who
exploit animals. Many of us in the animal advocacy movement reject
Wise's elitist categories in
which nonhuman animals are patronizingly ranked
according to whether or not they possess "practical autonomy"
and other abstract qualities
entitling them to "liberty rights." This hierarchy
reduces the majority of earth's creatures to the level of human
infanthood and mental re
Do we really believe that the mentally intact, functioning adult members of other species are comparable to the least competent members of human society? Could a group of unaided three-year-old children create a workable society comparable to that of chimpanzees in their natural habitat? FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS I'VE BEEN WATCHING A FERAL HEN SHEPHERD, TEACH, AND DILIGENTLY OVERSEE THE WELFARE OF HER NINE CHICKS OUTSIDE OUR FENCED YARD IN THE SURROUNDING WOODS. SHE EXHIBITS "PRACTICAL AUTONOMY" IN A WAY THAT NO THREE-YEAR OLD CHILD COULD BEGIN TO DO.
Defending animals by denigrating them distorts the fight for justice on their behalf. Consigning the majority of animals to the wasteland of foregone conclusions is cruel and unjust. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO A SENTIENCE-BASED ETHIC OR ONE THAT SEEKS TO RELIEVE THE PREVENTABLE SUFFERING OF THE GREATEST NUMBER OF INDIVIDUAL ANIMALS? The whole silly structure of "liberty rights" entitlement is more medieval than modern, and the science invoked to support it is prejudicially narrow and selective.
Thank you for your attention.
Sincerely, Karen Davis, PhD President
Poultry Concerns, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that promotes
the compassionate and
respectful treatment of domestic fowl. For more
information, visit www.UPC-online.org