To the Editor:
The following letter is a response to two letters critical of animal rights in last week's Review, and a justification for last week's in-class protest against experimentation on live rats in a neuroscience lab.
Those who oppose OAR's protest of vivisection do not understand my or other animals rights activists' positions. Most of us, as humans, attribute certain rights to each other, regarding certain interests that we have, including the rights to live and to be free. We attribute these rights to each other out of moral compassion and respect for each other, as living beings who possess an interest to live and to be free, and an interest not to suffer.
All animals are living beings and have their own individual lives. All animals suffer and have an interest to live, and it is in their best interests to be free and allowed to live their lives as they choose. Rats want to live and be free, not be the subjects of experimentation and have their lives taken away. So, I extend my moral compassion and respect to include all animals, and I attribute to all animals the right to live and be free, because all animals have an interest for such. To deny nonhuman animals these rights is to discriminate against their interests for no justifiable reason. They may lack the reasoning, awareness and moral compassion that most humans have, but so do several mentally disabled humans and human babies, yet we still give them these rights. Besides, those qualities are irrelevant to my basic moral compassion and respect. It is simply one's interests and suffering that matter morally. To make another living being suffer and to take his or her life away is terrible and wrong, no matter what his or her intelligence or species.
I and others are not willing to let animal experimentation happen without attempting to protest against and stop it. The purpose of our protest was to defend and protest those rats from vivisection. I don't give a fuck how much money anyone has paid to learn through vivisection. Nobody has that right, and lives and rights cannot be bought away. It is not an issue of personal choice. If it were humans who were being experimented on and killed involuntarily, there would be no issue about anyone's personal freedom and what they paid for. Just the same, those rats have rights to live and be free, and there is no other issue.
While scientific advances certainly have come through vivisection, vivisection today must cease out of moral respect for the rights of all animals. Non-vivisection alternatives must be sought and used. Where we currently cannot find such alternatives, vivisection must still be abandoned, even at the expense of possible further advances. Undoubtedly, this position will seem ridiculous to some people. However, if we look at the same situation from a human rights standpoint, we will all agree that it would be wrong to experiment on each other, even if it would be scientifically or educationally beneficial. In extending the rights to life and freedom to non human animals, I believe that it is equally wrong to experiment on them, no matter what the possible benefits.
My views and the animal rights movement are not anti-human. Just like the civil rights and gay rights movements, which are not anti-white or anti-heterosexual, respectively, the animal rights movement and my animal rights views are for equal rights. My beliefs are for the equal rights of all animals to live and be free.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 23; May 3, 1996
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