Animal Rights

Legislators Take Aim at SeaWorld Orca Shows

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SACRAMENTO — If I were a killer whale, I'd probably enjoy performing tricks in Shamu Stadium and basking in applause rather than just floating around a concrete tank all day. Then again, it's hard to know what an orca is thinking because, however smart it might be, it's not clever enough to have a chat with a newspaper columnist.

This is the bottom-line problem that confronts many modern animal-protection efforts, including Assemblyman Richard Bloom's highly publicized new bill that would ban SeaWorld whale shows. As much as most humans understandably love our fellow creatures, we get into troubled waters as we detail what protections to provide and determine what animals to protect (oysters, plankton, rats?).

Whatever one thinks about the wisdom or seriousness of Bloom's bill, there's a reasonable discussion to be had about whether these magnificent creatures — accustomed to swimming 100 miles a day in the wild — are being humanely treated in their present tank-sized circumstance. But the first step toward a sensible debate would be to dispense with notions about animals having "rights."

The morally confused, but publicity savvy, folks at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals contended in a 2011 lawsuit that five of SeaWorld's killer whales "are being held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." Fortunately, a judge dismissed the notion that "nonhuman animals" have constitutional rights, so we won't have cats facing murder charges for killing mice. We won't have to close zoos or demolish our food-production system, either.

Bloom's orca bill takes a more traditional animal-protection route, but it is rooted in the same anti-SeaWorld campaign that has taken off after the release of the controversial movie "Blackfish" that alleged mistreatment of the whales at the park. As SeaWorld noted in a statement on Friday, "While we cannot comment on Assemblyman Bloom's proposed legislation until we see it, the individuals he has chosen to associate with for today's press conference are well known extreme animal rights activists, many of whom regularly campaign against SeaWorld and other accredited marine mammal parks and institutions."

Is this about protecting animals or promoting a controversial political agenda?

The assemblyman claims that "there is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes." His bill, however, wouldn't ban their captive display — only the (presumably) most fun part of their day. But it would reduce SeaWorld's incentive to own these creatures, and such activism always proceeds one step at a time. It's a good way to earn points in a legislative district that includes Hollywood.

Already, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, has publicized her likely support for the bill — not mainly because of animal-related issues, but because of "job quality" issues at the park. No wonder the bill will be used by national commentators to portray Californians as wacky Left-Coasters. Even in the unlikely event that it passes as is, it will do nothing to improve the well-being of animals.

That latter issue always is worth a broader discussion. There's a reason Proposition 2, which requires that chickens be given large enough cages to move around, passed overwhelmingly in 2008 despite its many flaws. It's hard to bear the thought of any creature living its short life in agony. Because animals do not have rights does not mean they should be treated as inanimate objects. It's hard to draw the right line, though, and this bill seems to go beyond the usual boundaries.

Sadly, life remains nasty, brutish and short for most animals not lucky enough to be house pets. People aren't the only problem. Two wild dogs recently chased down, tore apart and ate my tame emu, Ernie, as my wife watched in horror. Nearby goats barely even looked up from the pasture.

Most Americans are concerned about the welfare of animals. We love animals even though we also enjoy steak dinners. Life can be disturbingly complex and painful, but it's hard to see that poorly conceived animal-rights campaigns get us anywhere, especially when they target an organization known for its animal-welfare efforts — a place that preserves marine life and shares its beauty with the public.

If I were a killer whale, I probably wouldn't want to be kept in captivity. Nevertheless, if I were a member of the California Assembly, I'd focus on issues that truly improved our society.

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355 responses to “Legislators Take Aim at SeaWorld Orca Shows

  1. The assemblyman claims that “there is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes.”

    Then the bill should require their immediate release back into the ocean. A film crew should also be dispatched with each whale, to record the extreme happiness each will assuredly enjoy. These films will be shown to EVERY preschooler in the country.

    1. I would watch that documentary.

    2. These films will be shown to EVERY preschooler in the country.

      But calling them killer whales or mentioning their diet of marine mammals should be sanctioned with heavy fines and/or months of jail.

      1. Well, of course they have to be renamed ‘helper whales.’ The name ‘killer whale’ screams microaggression.

        1. I prefer orca because they aren’t whales, they’re dolphins. I learned that here at reason.

          1. Really? Huh, how about that, I just learned it here myself. That is neat.

          2. They are whales. The are also dolphins, which are also whales. Not sure how this is so hard for some people to understand.

            1. Cetaceans, to be precise.

            2. Is this like the fruit/vegetable classification people usually have fundamental misconceptions about? All fruits are vegetables.

              1. And many vegetables are fruits.

              2. It’s slightly more complicated than that, Beavis, but SusanM is correct. Cetaceans refers to whales and dolphins as a group. In linean taxonomy it is an order (in the progression Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species).

            3. None of that is really important.

              What is important is whether or not an alien species of hippies will come here, demanding to talk to them and destroying the planet in the process.

          3. Killer Cetaceans, then.

        2. Well, they have been known to help people kill bigger whales. So I guess “helper” works too.

          “Orca” is nice enough, but “killer whale” seems quite fair. Lots of animals have more than one common name.

    3. Then the bill should require their immediate release back into the ocean

      Immediate release back into the ocean may not solve the problem. Many of them have not known anything but captivity. I’m not sure some of them would acclimate good.

  2. Then again, it’s hard to know what an orca is thinking because, however smart it might be, it’s not clever enough to have a chat with a newspaper columnist.

    I disagree, because it’s clever enough to take a bite out of a newspaper columnist.

    1. But there are many reasons why it might want to do that, so still little insight into its thoughts.

  3. What does one do with an emu? Do you eat their eggs?

    1. Eggs, meat, and milk. Wait, scratch that last one. Fucking non-mammals.

      1. Well you can’t get eggs from a mammal so it seems you have a catch-22

          1. Platypuses are abominations and should not be mammals.

          2. Only in Australia….

        1. Actually, you can. If she not too old, your wife/girlfriend could supply you with one on a monthly basis.

          1. They aren’t very filling though

            1. Get more girlfriends.

              1. and the milk is tasy – so I’ve heard.

                1. Somewhat sweet, actually

            2. The extra ketchup makes up for the small size.

          2. Yes, we all know that technically correct is the best kind of correct.

        2. Goats hate emus. They often legislate against their marrying. They probably egged the dogs on. Fucking swishy emus. Raise a manly pet fer chrissakes.

    2. I wonder what whale milk tastes like? I’m not sure how to milk them, but it shouldn’t be too hard.

      1. What do you think Aquaman drinks with his kelp?

      2. I imagine it is fishy. Fishy smelling milk does not appeal to me. But then again I am not a big fan of cow milk either.

        1. Cow milk is all cowy.

          1. Right!?

          2. Cowy? You mean delicious?

            1. Vachement.

        2. Milk varies from environment to environment, like wine.

      3. I’m not sure how to milk them

        “You can milk anything really.”

        You’ve used a nipple before, right? They all work pretty much the same.

        Or maybe you’re referring more to the logistics of a whale dairy, what with the stalls, and how to make your stool have just the right bouyancy to remain stationary in the water column? Upgrade to milking machines already, duh.

      4. Milking a whale would be extremely difficult. Whale mouths are not designed for sucking, so if I remember correctly, the baby has to float in position while the mother squirts the milk into his mouth. So milking a whale would probably require the active cooperation of the whale, and I don’t know if whales would be likely to go along with any human dairying attempts.

        Actually, the cooperation of the animal is an underrated part of dairying. I don’t know if any scientists have ever published anything about it, but I suspect that this is the reason why pigs are the only hooved livestock that have never been milked regularly by humans (despite the presence of lots of titties, and small enough litter size in some breeds that would allow milk to spare).
        Unlike most hooved mammals, pigs lie down when the suckle their young, so we can’t easily coopt their natural behaviour by having them stand still over a bucket while squeezing their titties. This is probably also why we don’t milk dogs.

        1. I dated a whale once that would do that.

      5. Baby whales seem to like it.

    3. Use them as the basis for your genetic engineering attempts to recreate dinosaurs, then once you have successfully created Emusaurus sell it to Hollywood, Zoo’s, and Hunting Preserves everywhere to reap the profits

      1. You must have read about that paleontologist that wants to regress birds back to dinosaurs. Pretty cool idea.

        1. That gives me a great idea for a children’s book. An emu is stolen from a game preserve and experimented upon by an evil scientist, regressed into a dinosaur. With the help of the young son of the game preserve’s warden it escapes and travels back to the preserve spending its life guarding the flock of emus from which it came from against any future poaching attempts.

          I will call it Billy and the Brontosaurus.

  4. I think animal cruelty and animal welfare issues are, in my experience, the kind of thing many libertarians can disagree on. In some sense it is like abortion, if you think embryos/fetuses or at least certain animals (many of which seem more highly developed on a range of potentially important criteria) have moral value then measures restricting what other people do to them might be justified. I would doubt that these shows or captivity=cruelty myself, though.

    1. Well, the whole animal cruelty thing is a big problem for the pro-lifers. They’ve really painted themselves into a corner with their “ability to feel pain” initiative.

      What they don’t, perhaps can’t, realize is that establishing some sort of rights for organisms capable of feeling pain is their best hope for acheiving some of their goals. But that wouldn’t acheive the movements deep goal of ending all abortions by which they include “morning-after” pills and BCP. And it would mean finding ground with those icky animal rights people.

      1. I agree, but I think it would largely go both ways (that many animal rights people could not see what could be a natural alliance with pro-lifers).

        1. Oh, totally agreed. Here’s how I think it will shake out:

          The animal rights people will do the groundwork of establishing that organisms with a certain degree of neural complexity can feel pain, and that those organisms deserve protections against human cruelty.

          Then, somebody will figure out that, hey, human fetuses at a certain stage of development meet that established threshold for neural complexity. At that point abortions will be restricted for fetuses which have reached that threshold, or fetal anaesthesia will be required for abortions.

          It’s also possible that the anti-abortion people will gain traction with their fetal pain arguments, and that the animal rights people will camp on to that.

        2. If it has a tail, not human. Embryoes in early development have tails, therefor…

      2. Well, the whole animal cruelty thing is a big problem for the pro-lifers. They’ve really painted themselves into a corner with their “ability to feel pain” initiative.

        I don’t subscribe to the pro-life movement to the fullest of it’s extent, but it’s simple enough to see from the notion that people have rights while animals don’t that the ‘feel pain’ threshold doesn’t apply to animals.

        If Dr. No has my wife under the laser cutter and tells me I have to use the pain ray to kill a 7 yr. old human or a 1 (or 7) yr. old dog (or 7) the debate over whether I would be inflicting more pain on the kid or the dog can be had while we’re burying the dog.

        1. Well illustrated. I certainly don’t like unnecessary pain being inflicted on animals (except squirrels, fuck those guys), but I have a hard time saying that they have rights in the same sense that people do.
          I would torture 1000 cute puppy dogs to death to save one person’s life. That calculation would be much more difficult if people were involved on both sides of the equation.

          1. Depends on the person. If one of my dogs and Schumer are both trapped and needing my help in a burning building, Chuck is SOL.

          2. Another totally contrived example (un)worthy of Greenhut.

            1. Another totally contrived example (un)worthy of Greenhut.

              You’re free to use the keyboard to contrive the example where we deprive a hundred people of a meal so that a dog can eat.

              Seriously, where’s the scenario where we could/should/would hold any right that an animal may have up to even close to a privilege held by a person? A guy hits 200 dogs with his car, your position is that we deprive him of his license? Says a lot about the ‘rights’ of an animal.

              I’m of the mind that you don’t even have a scenario. You’re not advocating some actual position or right, you’re just assuaging some internal guilt by opposing convention. You don’t care if Orca gets freed, you care that people see you shouting ‘free Orca!’.

              1. He’s incapable of presenting an argument because, as you noted already, there is no position there. There’s just sniping, whinging and nitpicking.

            2. Well, duh. A deliberately hyperbolic example of similar ridiculousness to the “would you push the fat man in front of the train” sort of ethical questions.

              1. I’d push Chris Christie in front of the train.

      3. I’ve seen pro-choice people bring up this retarded ability to feel pain stuff way more than pro-life people.

        1. I think that’s a silly standard anyway. It’s the subjective experience of pain that matters.

        2. There is an entire movement, resulting in a fair amount of legislation, called the ‘fetal pain’ movement by the pro-life.

        3. this retarded ability to feel pain stuff

          Words fail me.

      4. I think a lot of it has to come down to awareness and overall health.

        Does a cow or a goat really know that they’re in captivity? No, they don’t. They just kinda stand there and eat. Would they do any different if they weren’t in captivity? Nope, they’d just kinda stand around and eat.

        There is a lot of evidence which suggests that Orca whales know that they’re in captivity, and there is overwhelming evidence that they form familial and social bonds, which are severed arbitrarily by the parks. And we also know that they naturally swim over a hundred miles a day… something which obviously cannot be replicated in a park.

        I watched Blackfish as skeptically as anyone, but I didn’t find it to be overly sensational or radical. It just made a very good common-sense case for why these whales shouldn’t be kept in captivity.

    2. “I think animal cruelty and animal welfare issues are, in my experience, the kind of thing many libertarians can disagree on.”

      Well, thank you, oh High Priest of the One True Libertarianism, for informing the rest of us what we can disagree on.

      1. I don’t see anything snark-worthy about that statement, William. It’s observed reality.

        1. The joke is one aimed at Bo’s penchant for declaring those who disagree with him impure libertarians or Republican shills.

          1. Here is the irony: I commented here for months never questioning anyone’s libertarian bona fides. It was only when others started challenging me about mine, and doing so because I was posting criticisms of conservatives and Republicans, that I began to ask ‘why, if you are a libertarian, are you so upset about postings about socons and such violating the NAP?’ Some people eventually revealed they agreed with socons and Republicans, some admitted they were not Republicans, others just got madder, but of course only at criticisms of conservatives and Republicans. It was then I drew some conclusions.

            Some of the very people I questioned came up, ironically, with this ‘Bo thinks he is the arbiter, hurp derp thing.’

      2. Bill likes to take frequent, Obama-esque vacations from observed vacations.

        1. Ah, I meant to write observed reality.

          Now I feel like that coyote.

          1. Which one? The one that runs through my yard under the sites of my .30-06? Or a different one?

  5. If I were a killer whale, I’d probably enjoy performing tricks in Shamu Stadium and basking in applause rather than just floating around a concrete tank all day.

    And the award for meaningless, self-serving drivel of the day goes to…Steven Greenhut. Come on down, Steve. Give him a big hand, folks.

    1. Agree. Because nothing makes captivity more satisfying than being prodded to perform for people’s amusement!

      Again, while this might not be the ideal whale’s life, I do not see it as wanton cruelty, but that passage is silly.

    2. Actually it is a pretty safe bet he is correct.

      Orca are far too intelligent to be able to deal with confinement like that. I don’t know that they really give a shit about the applause (although they could, I have seen whales in the wild with intent put on a show for nearby humans. Why they did it I have no idea I just know they did) but doing the show gives them exercise, intellectual stimulation, and purpose and as intelligent as they are they need all 3.

      So if they could truly not handle life in the wild for any reason then continuing the shows is probably the best course of action.

      1. It hasn’t been established to my satisfaction that they couldn’t live in the wild. Catching fish isn’t rocket science and they have evolved for just that purpose. Plus, false choice.

        1. I didn’t say or even imply that it had been established that they could not live in the wild, I merely stated that if that condition is true then continuing the shows is probably preferable to the alternatives from the Orca’s POV

          1. Well, hows about you get yourself sent to jail? Three squares, a nice bed and some, um, “required performance” is a pretty good deal, no? Better than that horrible, dangerous freedom.

            1. Because I don’t spend 99% of my day scraping for food, Susan. If I did, you may have a point AND that might not be a bad deal after all.

              1. NK, we all “scrape” for food. It’s called life 😉 And around these parts it’s a moral ideal. Isn’t the argument against socialism that even if it safety nets and such work their existence is immoral?

                I think that a person can advocate ethical treatment of animals without giving them rights.

                1. NK, we all “scrape” for food. It’s called life 😉

                  No, not unless you define the word “scrape” beyond all meaning. I probably only have to work about five hours a week to get money for food for me. The rest is gravy.

                  That’s my point. Animals don’t flourish. They don’t make art or write music or have philosophical debates. They’re animals.

                  I don’t have any problem with people who want to frame some kind of ethics on animals, but that’s not inherent to the animals themselves; that’s a chosen restraint on *PEOPLE*.

                  1. I don’t have any problem with people who want to frame some kind of ethics on animals, but that’s not inherent to the animals themselves; that’s a chosen restraint on *PEOPLE*.

                    This is reasonable. I don’t think animals have rights because they don’t have a concept of rights. However treating animals ethically is really a restriction of people’s use of animals and I don’t see how to right a law that protects animals without a slippery slope to outlawing ranching and farming.

                    1. Right. Look, we don’t outlaw adultery but I consider it to be unethical in most circumstances. If people want to approach animals the same way, fine by me. I certainly don’t think much of people who engage in wanton cruelty. That said, I have no problem with zoos, circuses or Sea World, either. Those animals are well kept. If it’s OK to have a pet cat, it’s OK to have a pet orca.

                    2. Look, I’m not advocating banning zoos and amusements. What I am saying is that zoos and humane treatment of animals aren’t mutually exclusive.

                      Long-term captivity takes its toll on the animals, first of all. And secondly, saying that captivity is better is a highly subjective value judgement – one which animals couldn’t conceive, let alone make.

                    3. Right. Animals can’t make that decision. We have to make that decision.

                      You know what else takes a toll on animals? The wild. They frequently die out in the wild, you know.

                    4. Mother Nature’s not a very good veterinarian. Captive bears live much longer.

                    5. Good comment but just a slight disagreement.

                      Cats and dogs ( of the pet variety ) are domesticated animals and are dependent upon humans.

                      Orcas..not so much.

                  2. Cetaceans predate humanity by about 20 million years. And they may well surpass us in the end, left to their own devices. They do, in fact, manage just fine without us.

                    Your last paragraph simply repeats mine. We humans have a free will and volitional consciousness. We have the capacity to choose our actions and understand the consequences.

                    1. Cetaceans predate humanity by about 20 million years. And they may well surpass us in the end, left to their own devices. They do, in fact, manage just fine without us.

                      Irrelevant.

                    2. How? Your argument seems based on the assumption that animals are incapable of survival without human intervention. Pointing out that they got on fine without us strikes me as relevant.

                    3. I never said animals are incapable of survival without human intervention. Where did you get that?

                    4. You know what else takes a toll on animals? The wild. They frequently die out in the wild, you know.

                      Because I don’t spend 99% of my day scraping for food, Susan. If I did, you may have a point AND that might not be a bad deal after all.

                      That’s my point. Animals don’t flourish. They don’t make art or write music or have philosophical debates. They’re animals.

                      What other conclusion would you like me to draw?

                    5. you don’t know the difference between survival and flourishing? That’s your problem, not mine.

                    6. Wrong.

                      Side.

                      Of the

                      Bed.

                    7. Define “flourishing” in this context. I would think that a species that clocks in at 20 million years is flourishing just fine – considering the vast habitation range that they have today.

                    8. Particular animals don’t flourish, Susan. That’s my point. You can say a “species” is flourishing, but that’s an entirely different context than whether a particularity member of that species “flourishes” in the Aristotelian sense. If we’re talking about animal “rights” we need to talk about animals as “individuals” not on a species level. I see no evidence that captivity is bad for a particular giraffe or lion as compared to the wild.

                    9. I don’t advocate animal rights. I advocate human ethics. Two people arguing over whether an animal has rights or not are both guilty of the same erroneous subjective value judgement.

                      I see no evidence that captivity is bad for a particular giraffe or lion as compared to the wild

                      And? There are plenty of individuals for whom socialism or slavery wasn’t bad. Shall we then accept that those systems are okay in general?

                      Maybe I’m just as guilty of subjective moralism by saying that, though. Most animals can’t really conceive any existence beyond what they experience in the moment. As long as they’re surviving that’s really all that counts in nature. Applying human values to animals is always iffy.

                    10. And? There are plenty of individuals for whom socialism or slavery wasn’t bad. Shall we then accept that those systems are okay in general?

                      You cited the fact that captivity “took a toll” for some reason, so you tell me what the point of this exchange is.

                      As long as they’re surviving that’s really all that counts in nature. Applying human values to animals is always iffy.

                      I agree with you there. And I think it’s entirely possible that the animals may survive longer and more healthily in captivity than in the wild. That is possible for an individual animal, right?

                    11. The point of the exchange was that you said that particular individuals do well. I pointed out that individuals often do well even in bad situations. Animals in captivity are susceptible to disease (just think of all the germs passed by 1,000 Sea World visitors on “Pet Shamu Day”), adverse climate conditions (conditions which the animals aren’t adapted to) and behavioral abnormalities brought on by the conditions in captivity.

                    12. And animals in the wild are susceptible to predators, disease, starvation and the climate. Again, this tells us nothing about the ethics of captivity.

                    13. We can avoid placing moral judgements on nature or we can deliberately cause indiscriminate damage for no tangible gain or purpose. That’s what it tells us about ethics.

              2. Uh, got a cite for that 99% figure, NLK?

                Herbivores spend a much bigger percentage of their time grazing. Carnivores such as Orcas have a lot of downtime since they eat a high-protein diet. The complex behaviors exhibited by carnivores is related to hunting behavior. That’s why dogs and cats are more interesting companions than guinea pigs.

                Shorter: Biology fail, dude.

                You’re like those pro-lifers who want to get all science-y with me on fetal development yet don’t know what a blastocyst is.

                1. Maybe you should get therapy for your obsession with pro-lifers.

                  If you don’t like the general point, refute it instead of nitpicking. The general point is that animals have to scrape and fight to get by, and by and large humans do not. If you can’t accept that as a basic observation, then I can’t help you.

              3. “Because I don’t spend 99% of my day scraping for food, Susan. If I did, you may have a point AND that might not be a bad deal after all.”

                LOL

                Life for a non officer class sailor in England during the 1700s was so bad that it wasn’t uncommon for one to try and refuse being bailed out of port’o call jails by the captain and being forced back on the ship. They had better food and safer living conditions.

            2. “Better than that horrible, dangerous freedom.”

              Why are you such a stupid asshole who can’t read?

              1. “Why are you such a stupid asshole who can’t read?”

                Some projection, wow.

                1. That seems to be all that ‘tired has going on.

            3. “Well, hows about you get yourself sent to jail? Three squares, a nice bed and some, um, “required performance” is a pretty good deal, no? Better than that horrible, dangerous freedom.”

              Um, Susa, that is some pretty serious reading fail there.

              I did not say if Orca in general cannot survive in the wild, I said if those specific Orca cannot survive in the wild for any reason (the most likely of which being they were raised in captivity and never learned to hunt or how to interact with wild Orca or deal with other predators) .

              The choice I proposed was captivity or death, not freedom. If they are capable of living in freedom I intentionally made no comment because it should have been obvious that if they could live in freedom that they be set free

              1. Things die, Ras. But you’re right, I kind of missed the mark there.

                Quite frankly, saying that keeping animals in captivity makes them unable to survive in their own habitat is a good argument against keeping them needlessly in captivity in the first place.

        2. It hasn’t been established to my satisfaction that they couldn’t live in the wild.

          You couldn’t, even though digging up roots, picking berries, catching fish, etc. isn’t rocket science.

        3. It hasn’t been established to my satisfaction that they couldn’t live in the wild.

          So? The onus is on you to demonstrate they have rights, not on us to demonstrate they don’t.

          1. Why would the onus be in that direction?

            1. Why wouldn’t it?

              1. Why would it?

                TIMES INFINITY!

        4. “It hasn’t been established to my satisfaction ”

          Who cares…

          “Plus, false choice.”

          Oh he said they were the only choices? No, he didn’t, so it isn’t a false choice and you’re an idiot.

          1. So when one says alternative one should be chosen because alternative two is bad, you can not respond with false choice?

        5. Some family groups of Orca don’t eat fish at all. They eat only other mammals and there are varying techniques of hunting the same prey among different family groups.

          Other family groups eat no mammals and only fish with learned techniques there as well. An Orca was observed killing a Great White Shark off of California and it knew that if you turn a shark upside down it will become calm and still until it drowns.

          Documentaries rule.

      2. I bet they like the attention and quite possibly the applause too. Wild killer whales will seek out and follow whale watching cruises and seem to recognize when people are watching them. And they aren’t being fed from the boats or anything. They just apparently like the interaction.

        1. Same with dolphins. They like to play. While I was driving landing craft, the fuckers would splash their tails at me and cross under the boat to tease me (probably) because the boat was so slow. I’ve seen them surf the bow wave of a fast cruiser, too. That’s why it’s easy to get them to do tricks for an audience. It’s what they do in nature, presumably for fun.

    3. Are only Reason authors eligible for your award? Because I’m sure you’ll find a more worthy recipient in the comments section of the AM Links.

    4. It’s not even about the contrived false choice between captivity/boredom and captivity/stimulation. Which also involve a huge projection as to what an Orca thinks.

      It’s primarily the mendacious projection that somehow Steven Greenhut could be a killer whale. Assume he means some sort of magical condition where his consciousness would inhabit the body of a killer whale, yet retain the human memories, reasoning capabilities, etc, of the human Steven Greenhut.

      1. Ok I get it now, you’re a fucking moron.

        Never mind.

        1. And you are clearly a mental titan.

    5. Why wouldn’t a whale enjoy performing tricks? Maybe you see no evidence they do, but what reason is there to believe they don’t?

  6. If I were a killer whale, I probably wouldn’t want to be kept in captivity.

    They’re probably swimming a 100 miles a day to get food. They may be captive but now they get all the food they want in exchange for amusing the humans for a couple hours a day. That’s not so bad.

    1. Perhaps they enjoy all that swimming? Do you even know? Do you know how they view captivity?

      1. Nope but my theory is as good as any other until we develop orca mind-reading.

        1. What about simply leaving them alone to the greatest extent possible? Libertarians are big on non-interference in other areas, but conspicuously fine with it in this area.

          1. Well, Tonio, how do you know that you aren’t causing those trees over there intense pain every time you use paper? Those dollar bills in your pocket are interfering with the cotton plants.

            1. Well, Tonio, how do you know that you aren’t causing those trees over there intense pain every time you use paper?

              Thank you for that, NLK. I know that because trees don’t have central nervous systems. In fact, they don’t have nervous systems at all. I’ve actually studies biology and stuff. You, not so much, apparently.

              1. Pain not being a physical phenomenon, what makes you think any particular physical structure is necessary to produce pain?

          2. Because they aren’t humans. Libertarians are also okay with “interference” with rocks.

            1. Are not animals closer to humans than to rocks?

              1. What kind of rocks?

                1. Really smart ones.

                    1. Of quartz.

            2. Rocks not living beings.

              Auric, meet NLK; NLK, Auric. You boys go off and enjoy your fact-free world uninformed by biology even at a sixth-grade level.

              1. Tonio, I am bookmarking this thread because this is you at your very worse. You’ve shown yourself to be an absolute dick.

                Rocks not living beings.

                Bacteria are living beings too, Tonio. So are ants. Do I violate their rights when I take antibiotics or spray bug spray? Please tell me I do. That would be a great delicious dose of how fucking nuts you are.

                1. Neoliberal Kochtopus|3.14.14 @ 1:12PM|#

                  Well, Tonio, how do you know that you aren’t causing those trees over there intense pain every time you use paper? Those dollar bills in your pocket are interfering with the cotton plants.

                  So, I’m a dick for pointing out that rocks aren’t living beings. I’m a dick for pointing out that you seem to think that plants have central nervous systems. NLK, you know nothing….

        2. I’m channeling the ghost of Moby Dick right now. I’ll get back to you, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like harpoons.

    2. T-Rex doesn’t want to be fed, he wants to hunt! You can’t suppress sixty-five million years of gut instinct.

  7. Takes about 30 seconds of thought to realize animals cannot have rights.

    1. Well, Francis, thanks for clearing that up. Good to know that we have an omniscient arbiter such as yourself as to what is, and isn’t a valid POV.

      1. Your assertion that it’s “contentious” is just as cocksure now isn’t it?

        1. Er, literally saying something is ‘contentious’ is certainly < cocksure than saying it can be dismissed in 30 seconds.

          I mean, this very discussion supports that it is ‘contentious.’

          1. No, it supports that you and Tonio are contentious, not the subject itself.

            You two could just be idiots who insist on taking stupid fucking stands on non-contentious issues because you enjoy making fools of yourselves, regardless of the subject.

            1. If we were the only people debating animal rights and interests you might have something there, but, see the article.

        2. NLK, I’ve just searched the thread for the word “contentious” and it doesn’t appear in any of my posts.

          1. So what? It’s an accurate description of what you’re doing. You’ve now been asked about 20 times to state your case in a plain, obvious and positive manner. You’ve instead decided to be a whiny douche.

          2. Straightforward question, Tonio: is eating meat morally permissible? If so, how, and if not, why not? Show your work.

            1. Yes, it is “permissible” (your word, not mine) for humans to eat meat. Just wanted to get that out there and establish (once again) to you and everyone else.

    2. No it really doesn’t because there is no objective framework for defining the basis on which rights are acquired.

      1. Oh, ho! So rights are somehow “acquired,” not inherent? How does that work, Rasilio?

        1. Them being inherent is 1 manner of them being acquired. They could also be granted, they could be earned, they could even not exist save as an artifical construct that humans created to provide humans with a semi logical framework to make themselves feel better about the choices they made.

          That said even if they are inherent what are they inherent for? Just Humans? Just Mammals? Just species with sufficient self awareness? Robots? Aliens? Democrats?

        2. Rights are neither acquired nor inherent, but invented.

      2. Actually, read: The Ethics of Liberty – Part I: Introduction: Natural Law. Murray Rothbard provides a very compelling, objective framework based on self-ownership.

        1. I’ll put that on my reading list and get back to you. And I’m saying that with all seriousness. Although I may not agree with him.

        2. I may have, I’ve read a lot of works on that subject, don’t remember if this is one off the top of my head.

          That however still fails to answer who/what gets to own themselves?

          Do Orca own themselves? How about cockroaches? Bacterium? If it is just humans what makes us so special?

          1. That however still fails to answer who/what gets to own themselves?

            That requires reading _The Ethics_of_Liberty_ [why doesn’t underline work??] a little further 🙂

            21. THE “RIGHTS” OF ANIMALS

            But the fundamental flaw in the theory of animal rights is more basic and far-reaching.1 For the assertion of human rights is not properly a simple emotive one; individuals possess rights not because we “feel” that they should, but because of a rational inquiry into the nature of man and the universe. In short, man has rights because they are natural rights. They are grounded in the nature of man: the individual man’s capacity for conscious choice, the necessity for him to use his mind and energy to adopt goals and values, to find out about the world, to pursue his ends in order to survive and prosper, his capacity and need to communicate and interact with other human beings and to participate in the division of labor. In short, man is a rational and social animal…

            There is, in fact, rough justice in the common quip that “we will recognize the rights of animals whenever they petition for them.” The fact that animals can obviously not petition for their “rights” is part of their nature, and part of the reason why they are clearly not equivalent to, and do not possess the rights of, human beings…

            1. That’s a quite binary view of rights – all (for humans), nothing (for anyone else). In nature few things are binary, there tend to be many shades of gray.

              Also, I’m not sure rights is really the correct term, I’m more invested in animals having protections from unnecessary interference from humans (not protections from other animals).

              1. That’s a quite binary view of rights – all (for humans), nothing (for anyone else). In nature few things are binary, there tend to be many shades of gray.

                So what? You have yet to assert if this case is “gray”. I say it’s not. Where’s your argument that it is?

                Also, I’m not sure rights is really the correct term, I’m more invested in animals having protections from unnecessary interference from humans (not protections from other animals).

                Ah, where Tonio gets to determine what is “necessary” and what isn’t, I am sure.

              2. I highly recommend that you read the introduction (first five or six chapters), at least, of _The_Ehtics_of_Lierty_. The view is that human rights stem from the basic nature of man. As all other animals have their own natures, different and distinct from man, it stands to reason that they do not share the same rights as man since they do not share the same nature as man. If they shared the same nature… they would be men.

                1. Thanks, I will. But that “nature” is a slippery and imprecise term. I’m a huge fan of the Age of Reason, but those appeals to romantic notions such as nature (personified as an agent) while useful at the time are very dated.

                  Also, your restatement of that argument does seem a bit tautological. Men are men because they are men; animals aren’t men because they are not men.

                  1. Thanks, I will. But that “nature” is a slippery and imprecise term…

                    Rothbard explains it in Chapter 2.

                    … Since the world does not consist of one homogenous thing or entity alone, it follows that each one of these different things possesses differing attributes, otherwise they would all be the same thing. But if A, B, C, etc., have different attributes, it follows immediately that they have different natures.[1][2] It also follows that when these various things meet and interact, a specifically delimitable and definable result will occur. In short, specific, delimitable causes will have specific, delimitable effects.[3] The observable behavior of each of these entities is the law of their natures, and this law includes what happens as a result of the interactions. The complex that we may build up of these laws may be termed the structure of natural law. . .

                    There really isn’t anything “slippery” or “imprecise” about it.

    3. Is it that easy? It is hard for me to see how at least some of them could not but a young child could.

      1. Now I assume you’re pretending to be an idiot as some kind of rhetorical strategy (again), so I’m not bother going to engage it.

        This is why “talking like a 2L” is a bad thing.

        1. Auric, look, you may want to stick your head in the sand about this, but if you are going to argue for a distinction between animals and humans you have to be ready to talk about the ‘hard cases’ where some humans and some animals seem pretty close in things like intelligence, consciousness, etc. You are basically trying to yell ‘rhetorical strategy’ because you have not thought much about the issue.

      2. And what about a seriously brain injured or mentally deficient human? We accord them rights, but there are almost certainly animals that are more sensitive and intelligent than some people in those conditions.

        I think we mostly give people like that rights because not doing so is too uncomfortable.

        I say that in order to have natural rights, a being must have the capacity to understand respect the rights of others. I don’t see many non-human animals doing that.

    4. *** scratches head ***

      Is it because they don’t have governments?

      Because they don’t believe in God?

      1. “Is it because they don’t have governments?”

        Are you saying Orcas are…libertarians?

        Or just anarchists?

        1. Well they do have a social structure. I don’t know if it counts as “government”.

          1. So more like Somalians.

            1. They don’t have roadz so……yes. Orcas are Somalians.

              1. No. Somalians are skinnier.

        2. Orcas are anarcho-syndicalists.

          I know, I was disappointed too.

    5. “When we say that one has the right to do certain things we mean this and only this, that it would be immoral for another, alone or in combination, to stop him from doing this by the use of physical force or the threat thereof. We do not mean that any use a man makes of his property within the limits set forth is necessarily a moral use.”

      — James A. Sadowsky, S.J., “Private Property and Collective Ownership,” in Tibor Machan, ed., The Libertarian Alternative (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1974), pp. 120?21.

    6. You guys amuse me. Which animals? All animals? Or just the cute ones? Whales, dogs, snakes, insects, bacteria?

      Do we stop eating meat? Are you stealing that bugs food supply by mowing our lawns? Are you guilty of manslaughter when intentionally walking outside and stepping on ants? Are you guilty of genocide when spraying mosquitoes? Are we going to stop digging in the ground because you might kill an earthworm?

      The minute you make that claim, we can no longer coexist as we cannot live without killing.

      People have rights. They have rights because they are people.

      1. “People have rights. They have rights because they are people.”

        They have rights because they are tautologous?

        As for the other part, you do not think we can find some relevant criteria that would leave earthworms out but Orca’s out? There are some pretty big differences between the two.

        1. Yep, because that’s what it comes down to, Bo. Tautologies, or justification based on mythology (see below).

        2. you do not think we can find some relevant criteria that would leave earthworms out but Orca’s out [sic, assuming in]?

          No.

          People have rights because they know what rights are, can claim them and can communicate their expectations. As soon as a whales can communicate to me their right to exist, we’ll talk.

          Otherwise it’s simply arrogant humans drawing an arbitrary line as to what animals THEY think are deserving. The animals in question couldn’t care less.

          1. So would mute people or retarded children have no rights then?

            I am not trying to be cute, I just do not think we can base rights on communication or even understanding them.

            1. You’re not playing devil’s advocate. You’re arguing in bad faith.

              1. You think I do not believe what I am saying?

                The argument I am making is a fairly common one in debates about animal interests or rights, waffles.

              2. Yeah, retarded individuals are a real problem for libertarians. However, they do exist and you can’t wish them away. And their parents sometimes die, or become physically unable to care for them. Which creates a problem that libertarians would rather not deal with.

                Mutes are a bad example, Bo. They can and do communicate, albeit non-verbally.

            2. So would mute people or retarded children have no rights then?

              I didn’t say that. You know I didn’t say that. I’m not playing this gotcha word game with you again. You know I was referring to people as a species, not on a case by case basis.

              Stop being a fucking asshole.

              1. That’s why I re-filtered him. I thought you had as well.

                1. “That’s why I re-filtered him.”

                  That is an interesting story. Yesterday Neoliberal tried to offer me some kind of life advice and when I declined he was upset and called me arrogant. The projection was interesting.

                2. Sorry, guys, sounds to me like he raised questions which you can’t answer, or don’t wish to answer.

                  1. This reminds me of the discussion yesterday about the ‘bossy’ thing. I mentioned to SusamM how for many people of a conservative bent, the way they grew up, the language used, the things they did with their family, the stories they tell themselves, etc., are seen as ‘the way things are,’ the natural order of things, and anyone questioning what might be bad things underlying these traditions is seen as kind of a threatening agitator questioning everything that is natural and good. Those persons must be quickly and angrily dismissed, or else one might have to consider that their taken for granted practices might in fact be questionable.

                    Look at the need to dismiss and be angry here by those opposing animal rights arguments. Like I said, I do not buy the more extreme forms of it, but it does make me think about a lot of things.

              2. Well, which is why I said I was not trying to be cute. I am just pointing out that not all humans have the criteria you think is important, so what do we do there?

            3. I am not trying to be cute,

              Ha!

              1. Auric, as I have said, the analogy is a very common one in animal rights debates.

            4. Toddlers also don’t meet those conditions, but they’re still afforded rights. All humans are given the benefit of liberty. “Rights” are not distributed on a case-by-case basis, dependent on when the individual asks for them. They are given to all humans, even the small minority incapable of fully understanding them or communicating their wishes. You’re merely pointing out a small exception to a rule that no one has really put forth.

              If a group of orca can satisfy Francisco’s conditions, the “rights” out to apply to all of the species.

          2. I don’t believe Francisco d’Anconia actually has rights, because he certainly doesn’t know what they are. Now admittedly, his owner has done an excellent job training him to repeat speeches intended to create the illusion he does. But this is little more than a more complex version of a parrot, repeating strings of sounds he doesn’t truly understand. He clearly lacks the sort of interior mental life necessary to be truly human.

            1. Very good, Storms.

            2. I, as a species, claim the right to do as I wish, provided in doing so, I do not infringe upon the rights of others of my species. I expect not to be harmed or have that which I own harmed or used without my consent. My rights are infinite, provided they do not require the action of another.

              Do you understand these rights I have claimed?

              When another species can confer the same, they will have rights.

              1. Uh, you’re not a species, Frank, you’re a member of the species H. Sapiens Sapiens. HTH.

                1. oooh, you got him, Tonio. More nitpicking instead of substance. You’re a real winner.

                  1. Says the person who thinks that trees have central nervous systems. It’s nit-picking when you’re wrong, but obvious and inarguable truth when you say it. Got it.

                2. Uh, you’re not a species, Frank, you’re a member of the species H. Sapiens Sapiens. HTH.

                  Entirely meaningless comment that has absolutely no bearing on the conversation.

                  Our species has rights because we AS A SPECIES, understand what rights are, we claim them and can convey our expectations concerning them.

                  We don’t need to ALL agree what those rights are to know rights exist.

                  That ALL individual humans are unable to do so does not discredit the premise. You give me ONE monkey or ONE whale or ONE dog that is able to do the same and I’ll gladly extend the rights he claims to his entire species, provided his species will do the same in kind.

                3. He never said he was a species. If you want to nit pick you should have said he didn’t own a species as his statement was ” my species”.

                  Or you could have tried to have an adult conversation and accepted his statement for what you knew he was saying.

          3. I think that the communication ability is less important than the ability to recognize and respect the rights of others. Are there any animals that do that?
            I think that the best argument against animal rights is that animals don’t demonstrate any respect for rights in their behavior. People have rights, and an expectation that they will respect the rights of others goes along with that. That’s why it is OK (and only OK) to use violence against someone who violates or threatens people’s rights. You don’t put a bear in jail for shitting on your lawn or stealing your birdseed, you leave it be or shoot it depending on how threatening it appears to be to humans. Humans are treated rather differently because they should know better. If you want me to say that bears have rights in the same sense that humans do, I need to see some evidence that bears have the capacity to respect my rights.

            1. If you want me to say that bears have rights in the same sense that humans do, I need to see some evidence that bears have the capacity to respect my rights.

              I was with you up until that “in the same sense that humans do” phrase. Could you be more specific.?

              And here’s something to think about. Humans don’t have a right to not be attacked by bears. But humans have a right to self-defend against bears. The notion of jailing a bear because it attacks a human is ridiculous. The notion of jailing a human because he attacks and kills a bear is equally ridiculous. Animal “rights” (or protections) will always be asymmetrical in regards to human rights.

              Nobody, except the people here who argue dishonestly, talks about granting bears or even chimps the vote. What we do talk about is about granting to animals the protection to be left alone to the greatest degree possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t hunt or eat meat.

              1. The reason I add “in the same sense that humans do” is that I find it is very easy for people to argue pointlessly about things when most of their disagreement is really about the definition of words. I’m not entirely sure we are all talking about the same thing when we say “rights” in this context.
                I tend to lean toward the animals don’t have rights side of things. But I do think it is an interesting and complicated issue. I do think people have some sort of moral obligation to treat higher animals with minimal cruelty and I wonder if that is not the same thing that people who support the idea of animal rights mean when they say “animal rights”. Human rights seem to come from self ownership combined with the ability to communicate and the capacity to respect the rights of others and understand the consequences of not doing so. Animals have few if any of those things. So that’s where I’m coming from.
                I don’t think that anyone has a perfect definition of what rights are, so it is all worthy of debate.

      2. Francisco,
        It is possible to have a graded view on animals like we have a graded view on humans. Not all humans get the same rights. Children don’t have the right to vote or sell their bodies. Murders don’t have the right to walk free. Hell your rights depend on what side of a line you live on. A bacteria is not on the same level as a raven. I’m not saying animals have “rights” but I don’t think it is insane to thing not all life gets treated the same without being a hypocrit.

        1. The main reason why children have rights is because they have the potential to be fully able adults some days. Dogs are not capable of that no matter how old they get.

          1. I don’t think animals have “rights”, simply because they have no concept of rights. I hate animal cruelty but I don’t know how to protect animals without violating property rights.

            1. And that is a good point, Floridian. Respect for even considering this. Most people here are afraid of acknowledging that there are complex issues which can’t be solved by merely chanting “property rights.”

              1. you still haven’t made a case other than feigning that something is “complex” when it really isn’t.

                I chanted property rights. Now refute me, Tonio.

          2. So what about severely retarded children, who will never advance much beyond a dog?

            Granting rights based on potentiality has its own problems.

            1. In the vein of Neoliberal Kochtopus:

              “Property rights”

              I don’t have a severely mentally handicapped child (I have a couple of friends who do) and barring some sort of ‘human puppy mill’ situation, I have a hard time forcing my ideas one way or the other on them.

              1. Would intervention be warranted in a ‘puppy puppy mill’ situation? In other words if severely retarded children are under the property rights of their parents, but intervention is Okay in cases of severe abuse, does severe abuse of certain animal property justify intervention?

            2. So what about severely retarded children, who will never advance much beyond a dog?

              Furthering the concept of self-ownership is individual sovereignty; for along with self-ownership comes self-governance.

              I am having a hard time finding adequate links, but it used to be an explicit understanding that only “sovereign individuals” truly own themselves and that sovereignty and self-ownership comes, in part, through maturation. To be sovereign, one must have the faculties to govern oneself; that is, they must possess the ability to use reason to make and act upon choices and recognize the consequences, good or ill, thereof. And, I would argue, not be totally dependent on others for their basic needs.

              Catastrophic mental infirmity denies, tragically, the individual of the necessary reasoning faculties to be sovereign.

            3. So what about severely retarded children humans, who will never advance much beyond a dog?

              OK, the scale used is mental age, and you’re talking about a human with a mental age of around one year. So, maybe house-trained, able to follow very simple commands (ie, Stop), and maybe able to say a couple of words.

              I think they deserve to be treated with kindness and as much dignity as possible. However, this creates a problem for libertarians since that creates a duty on the part of the state to care for them if nobody else will do so. Unless you force the parents to provide such care, and that leaves you with another problem if the parents die. My understanding is that most of the profoundly mentally retarded also have physical disabilities and often don’t live long.

              I’d love to see a robust conversation here about the rights of, and societal duty to, the profoundly retarded. That would help inform the conversations about fetal and animal rights. Because organisms is organisms.

              1. I think they deserve to be treated with kindness and as much dignity as possible. However, this creates a problem for libertarians since that creates a duty on the part of the state to care for them if nobody else will do so.

                No, it doesn’t create any such duty. Just because you think certain people deserve X does not mean I have an obligation to provide X. I may provide X out of the goodness of my heart, but someone else’s hardship does not create a check that I have to cash.

                1. OK, I’ll accept that you think that. Anyone else want to weigh in on what society does when the parents of a profoundly retarded person die?

                  I know the preferred solution for everyone is that a private charity take over, and I’m down with that, but what about when there isn’t a charity?

                  Does the sheriff give them a ride to the nearest big city (presumably to a charity facility)? Shoot the retarded person? What?

                  1. More bad faith from you. That’s severely disappointing.

              2. I’d love to see a robust conversation here about the rights of, and societal duty to, the profoundly retarded.

                Properly understood, there is no social duty except the obligation to not initiate force or fraud against the person or property of another. Regardless of condition, no one may oblige another to provide care or provisions.

                In short, it is impermissible to interpret the term “right to life,” to give one an enforceable claim to the action of someone else to sustain that life. In our terminology, such a claim would be an impermissible viola?tion of the other person’s right of self-ownership. . .

                The Ethics of Liberty, chapter 14

                That is what charities are for; invidiuals voluntarily offering resources to benefits “those in need”.

        2. Thank you, Floridian. That’s a sensible middle-path, but one unlikely to gain traction here.

      3. Francisco,
        It is possible to have a graded view on animals like we have a graded view on humans. Not all humans get the same rights. Children don’t have the right to vote or sell their bodies. Murders don’t have the right to walk free. Hell your rights depend on what side of a line you live on. A bacteria is not on the same level as a raven. I’m not saying animals have “rights” but I don’t think it is insane to thing not all life gets treated the same without being a hypocrite.

        1. *BOOM* double tap with typo correction.

      4. What about Soylent Green people?

        1. They are not delicious, but very nutritious.

      5. People have rights. They have rights because they are people.

        Seconded. We must understand that we, as people are entitled to use our surroundings/resources to suit ourselves. It is what every living thing does. We believe in and ensure rights to people because our own species is our interest. I consider other species as our interest to the extent that we an utilize them to our benefit.

        1. Group rights?

          1. Rights aren’t terribly relevant or useful if you don’t live with other people.

          2. I used “people” in the sense that the Constitution uses it. Of course I was referring to individuals.

      6. All animals? Or just the cute ones?

        Wow, Francis, it’s like you haven’t actually ever engaged the arguments about neural complexity which I know that I’ve often raised in these threads both on abortion and animal welfare. You just keep pulling out the same strawmen and beating them until the air is thick with dust.

        1. you haven’t presented a fucking argument in this entire thread. All you’ve done is whine. Make a case.

          1. Don’t taz him, bro!

          2. I will post whatever I like here, NLK. You can always ignore me, or use Reasonable to filter me out. If I get too out of line, H&R will delete those comments or void my registration as they did with WI and MS (not complaining, it’s their website).

            Cricicizing and questioning the arguments made by others is a valid part of the conversation, too. Because I say so, which has just as much validity as your dictum.

            1. If you can’t make a positive case for your position, that tells me all you have is to poke holes in the arguments of others, which is not a case at all. Hey, you’re right, some of the arguments on rights are imperfect. Wow, novel observation. That doesn’t mean you can turn an entire corpus of work on its head without offering a case of your own, Tonio.

              1. Why would it be so wrong to counter someone who is arguing that something is easily dismissed by poking holes in that dismissal? Why would the burden be on Tonio?

              2. Well, perhaps if I wasn’t spending so much time doing factual corrections on posts which display a complete lack of biological knowledge I’d have time to make such a case.

                Also, criticisms are valid no matter what the source.

      7. “Are we going to stop digging in the ground because you might kill an earthworm? The minute you make that claim, we can no longer coexist as we cannot live without killing”

        But Buddhists ?

    7. And it’s pedants all the way down.

    8. Takes about 30 seconds of thought to realize animals cannot have rights.

      I agree. To me, the leap between this and property that has intrinsic rights/ownership (for which we are all responsible) is really more of a stumble.

      Animal rights, rather explicitly, requires people be obligated to know that they should let (or otherwise mediate) a wild animal eat their pet or damage their property rather than defending themselves.

      1. As has been mentioned, we do not think you have to let some neighbors kid damage your kid, but we do not think children have full rights either. There is a middle ground between what PETA thinks and what most people who support some different idea of animal rights do.

  8. California is about to go down in flames anyway. I found this graphic pretty interesting when it comes to economic development:

    http://www.texaswideopenforbus…..2state.pdf

  9. “Legislators Take Aim at SeaWorld Orca Shows”

    At least California does have any other problems.

    1. durhp

      *doesn’t*

      ‘me like whale fishes’..

  10. “a judge dismissed the notion that ‘nonhuman animals’ have constitutional rights, so we won’t have cats facing murder charges for killing mice. ”

    Something the “animal rights” activists never understood in my Philosophy classes, If the animal has “rights”, then it can violate other animals “rights”, and should be punished for those violations…

    Carnivores are screwed. Now I’m imagining huge animal prisons… So I guess zoos are OK for predators? It’s quite funny where stupid assumptions get you.

    1. “If the animal has “rights”, then it can violate other animals “rights”, and should be punished for those violations…”

      Do very young children have rights then?

      1. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winnah! Thanks, Bo.

        But now you’ve gone there, Bo. Because in my experience nothing brings out the screeching attacks like implying that there is any equivalence whatsoever between a human at any stage of development and a mere animal, no matter how neurologically complex.

        What we’re seeing is the dying gasps of a mindset informed by the belief that humans were created as special beings in the image of god, and that animals deserve no consideration because they are as far below humans as humans are below their god.

        1. Did you wake up on the wrong side of no one this morning?

        2. The way I had it put to me was this: imagine the Enterprise boldly going and coming across an alien life form. Does it have rights? It certainly is not ‘people.’

          There has to be something about people that makes them have rights or moral interests or whatever, and to the extent something else has that, there is no good reason not to accord it the same (at least in degree).

          1. “here has to be something about people that makes them have rights ”

            People have rights because they have guns.

        3. Jesus, now who’s bringing out the strawmen? It is clear that rational discussion of this topic is not possible with you, so… moving on.

          1. What in your opinion is the strawman (an exaggerated form of someone else’s argument that no one is really making but which someone chooses to argue against)?

          2. You talking to me, Rhywun?

            I wasn’t saying that everyone who denies animal protections is a ‘thumper, I was saying that our notion of animal rights, like so much else, is informed by western intellectual traditions most of which are based on the bible.

            For the record, some of the best allies in the anti-cruelty movement are “creation care” evangelicals. I’m not fully comfortable with those people on a personal level, but buy a lot of my meat from them because I know it was treated decently while alive.

        4. Thank you for making that point, and making your opinion on a different issue appear so obviously wrong. If the animal violates another animal’s “rights”, then it should be punished.

          Failing to recognize that humans and animals are fundamentally different (with respect to unalienable rights) results in one of two things, either prisons (executions) of animals, or the freedom to kill whomever you want.

          Don’t call it “god” if you don’t want to, but one thing at the heart of libertarian thought is respect for another human’s rights. If that implies “god”, then that’s your problem. If it implies animal prisons or free murder of humans, then that’s your other problem.

            1. I could type slower, I suppose. Probably wouldn’t help. 😉

              If humans aren’t “special” animals, not fundamentally different from animals, then the same rules must apply to both humans and animals.

              Therefore, either animals are guilty of murdering each other, and must be punished, or humans are free to kill whomever they want.

              That isn’t your usual “screeching attack”, it’s just simple logic.

              1. Therefore, either animals are guilty of murdering each other, and must be punished, or humans are free to kill whomever they want.

                False choice.

                1. “False choice”

                  Trying to pick it apart to its simplest parts, I suppose you could argue the animals wouldn’t HAVE to be punished, but you’d still have to admit that it was “murder”, or something that is almost identical.

                  Simply, no. You’re wrong. If animals have rights, then they can be murdered, and by other animals. (Under that assumption) If killing an animal is murder, then killing a human is murder. If killing an animal isn’t murder, then killing a human isn’t murder.

                  It’s really not my fault that your belief system is so obviously wrong.

      2. Do very young children have rights then?

        Again, I find Rothbard illuminating. 14. CHILDREN AND RIGHTS:

        There remains, however, the difficult case of children. The right of self-ownership by each man has been established for adults, for natural self-owners who must use their minds to select and pursue their ends. On the other hand, it is clear that a newborn babe is in no natural sense an existing self-owner, but rather a potential self-owner.[1] But this poses a difficult problem: for when, or in what way, does a growing child acquire his natural right to liberty and self-ownership? Gradually, or all at once? At what age? And what criteria do we set forth for this shift or transition? . . .

        . . . The clue to the solution of this thorny question lies in the parental property rights in their home. For the child has his full rights of self-ownership when he demonstrates that he has them in nature?in short, when he leaves or “runs away” from home. Regardless of his age, we must grant to every child the absolute right to runaway and to find new foster parents who will voluntarily adopt him, or to try to exist on his own…

        1. Regardless of his age, we must grant to every child the absolute right to runaway and to find new foster parents who will voluntarily adopt him, or to try to exist on his own…

          Oh, yeah, I’m sure that everyone here is just fine with respecting the rights of their 12-yo to run away from home and seek new guardians.

      3. Yes. How was that a difficult question again?

        SOME of those rights are held by parents until [fill in time here]. The right to life isn’t included, as all here will likely agree.

    2. Something the animal rights opponents have never understood, or perhaps merely pretend not to even though it is often said to them: the concept of animal rights is about enforcing the rights of animals to be free from deliberate human cruelty. Because humans being more intelligent can be held to a higher standard.

      But thanks for pulling out that long-discredited strawman.

      1. the concept of animal rights is about enforcing the rights of animals

        I think I found the problem in your argument.

        1. Yes, Auric, and I found the problem with yours: cherry-picking.

  11. On-topic: “Blackfish” is a pretty interesting documentary about SeaWorld and Tilikum in particular.

    The interviews with the ex-trainers bugged me, though. They were all happy to work with orcas while the gettin’ was good, but after they left their jobs and/or people started getting attacked by Tilikum in particular, they were like “well OF COURSE these creatures shouldn’t be kept in captivity”. Before, they had a special bond with the orcas that told them everything was fine; after, this same bond with the orcas told them everything was horribly wrong.

    1. Right, because that’s the only possible explanation. And publicly turning against SeaWorld, or wherever, would get them other jobs in that industry.

      And, of course, no possibility that as they gained experience with the situation that they’d change the opinions they had formed while relatively inexperienced.

      1. ?

        Publicly turning against SeaWorld could very well get them jobs in some other, related industry.

        Don’t get me wrong–personally, I don’t want to see orcas kept in captivity. But again, something stunk about the ex-trainers as a whole.

        They didn’t have any special understanding of orcas then, nor do they now. They’re anthropomorphizing, the same as they always did.

        Meanwhile, the biologists they interviewed were consistent in their opposition all along, because they actually understood something about orca behavior.

        1. Publicly turning against SeaWorld could very well get them jobs in some other, related industry.

          I don’t see that. Maybe an aquarium, but SeaWorld is in the entertainment sector, not the science education sector.

          Yes, they do have a specialized understanding of orcas by virtue of their experiences with them. Orcas in captivity, granted, but still experience.

          I think the word you’re looking for is anthropopathizing – the attributing of human emotions. That other word is envisioning animals in human form – walking upright, wearing clothes, fins with finger-like characteristics, etc.

          You seem to be arguing in good faith, but it’s really annoying as an animal welfare advocate to constantly be accused of emotionalism, especially when one’s view is informed by neuroscience.

          I find it interesting that credentialism is often derided here, and experientialism revered. Interesting how that’s reversed in this case.

    2. I always considered Orcas to be mixed, not black. Kind of a racist title.

  12. Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with the punches.

    http://www.Anon-VPN.com

  13. But, writes Steven Greenhut, the first step toward a sensible debate would be to dispense with notions about animals having “rights.”

    Why, yes, Steven, the best way to win a debate is to claim that your opponents’ points are completely invalid and nonsensical.

    1. It is invalid and nonsensical, and all you’ve done is whine instead of make your case.

      1. You know what, I think Neoliberal fancies himself the discussion board’s policeman, jumping in to curb bad behavior, keep community standards, and dispense sage advice to unruly whippersnappers. Look at how he first identifies Tonio as ill mannered and then in the span of five minutes or so responds to nearly every comment by Tonio. Keepin’ the peace!

        Do not forget to get that cat out of the tree while you are at it NK!

        1. Do not forget to get that cat out of the tree while you are at it NK!

          No, see, that would be the discussion board’s fireman.

          1. CN, will you please teach your son how to form a metaphor next time?

            1. I told his mother we should have spanked.

          2. Pfft, that is not just firemen.

            Any hero does that.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4Q9DEDKZx8

  14. The Bible is pretty clear on all this:

    Genesis 1:26
    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    1. On the other hand, there’s Genesis 9:1-3

      Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

      Which leads to the bizarre conclusion that God originally intended to ban meat eating.

      1. I think Adam and Eve were vegetarians up until the apple incident.

      2. “But if you come across the blowfish…ah, I’ll just leave that one for a surprise.”

    2. Well, shit, if God said that, that settles it.

    3. Well, that settles, that, then, eh?

      See my other post about creation care christians. The wikipedia article on them has the bible verses from which they derive their anti-cruelty ethos.

  15. Fuck you, cut taxes.

    1. Thank you for reminding me why I come here. I do enjoy the side tracks into morality debates but this is where I live.

      1. The original is “No, fuck you, cut spending” yes?

        1. I like em’ both

  16. I’ll give the orcas their freedom the second they clearly and unambiguously ask for it.

    Until then, all the sadness and sorrow about their captivity is just humans projecting their feelings onto them.

  17. Serious question,

    The wife and I just had our first last year and sure enough she loves animals. Must be a genetic thing. Her first word was dog, now where ever we are if she sees someone walking a dog we have to go say hi. She walked around the fish tanks at petsmart and looked at every fish they had…for half an hour. Now, I’m not a full on bunny hugger, but I will say I’m having a tough time deciding what to say when she wants to go to Sea World or the circus. I have a problem with social type animals, especially ones with language and culture (by all measurable qualities) being bred into captivity. Has anyone else dealt with this? How so?

    1. What’s wrong with the circus?

      1. The elephants…those aren’t tricks taught with kindness.

        1. Circuses use Indian elephants which have long been domesticated.

          1. That doesn’t make it right, SIV. Plus the “entertainment” type behaviors in which circus elephants are forced to perform are far more less natural to the elephant than carrying people on their backs or picking up logs with their trunks.

            1. Doesn’t make it wrong, either.

        2. So what’s next? No rolled up newspaper for the dog?

          I hope you understand that pets are kept largely as entertainment as well.

          1. Bullhooks are not quite rolled up papers.

            SIV, you can be brutal to a domestic animal or a wild animal, it doesn’t really matter.

            To be clear, I have no problem if anyone else wants to patronize these parks or whatever, it’s just not for me. I don’t support any legislation against it.

    2. Has anyone else dealt with this? How so?

      My wife grew up in the ‘burbs with one dog her whole life that died in it’s sleep. I grew up rural and we mostly had stray pets.

      It’s astounding that people wouldn’t/couldn’t take the time and effort to train a stray into a productive animal. That said, once enough stray cat and dogs hang out that coyotes and raccoons start harassing the dogs, chickens, and other livestock you have to thin the herd one way or another.

      My wife was mortified to learn that I had done this more than once and was “good at it”. It was a very contentious point in our marriage. It ended when our dog was mortally injured on the farm. She didn’t want to see the dog suffer and she didn’t have to. She knew the dog didn’t suffer any more than necessary and that she didn’t have to deal with it because of me. Suddenly, all those stray cats and lame dogs didn’t matter.

      Enjoy the time with your wife.

    3. injanear, thank you for actually caring about this. Since you asked, here’s what I’d do:

      Seek out animal attractions where the animals are in as natural a state as possible. Petting zoos with llamas, donkeys, etc. Safari parks (aka drive-through zoos).

      Buy some binoculars and take her birdwatching, whale watching, whatever watching.

      Find a nature center where you study animals at a distance or by proxie (ie, making plaster casts of animal tracks, scat ID, and the ever popular owl-pellet dissection).

      Talk about how animals in the wild are different from animals as depicted in cartoons and in circuses.

      If she really, really wants to go to the circus or sea world take her, then at a later date discuss how the animals are not in a natural environment.

      Again, thanks. Good luck with that.

  18. Because animals do not have rights

    You write as though this is axiomatically true. Given a lot of people would dispute this claim, it strikes me as question begging.

    1. The fact that you “dispute” something is meaningless. I can dispute the sky is blue but I’m obviously wrong.

      1. Short of entirely circular logic like “animals can’t have rights because only humans have rights”, what criteria determines which organisms have rights and which don’t? That’s not anywhere near as obvious as what color the sky is.

        Which, by the way, isn’t blue. It’s transparent.

        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi…..2007-1.jpg

        1. Surprise surprise. Use a straightforward analogy and the concern troll goes all pedant on me. Do you know how obnoxious that is?

          you’re the one who wants to overturn the social order. Make a case.

          1. I don’t. I’m actually not sure what the proper solution to the issue is. I just resent treating it like a settled issue when it’s very obvious it’s not at all settled.

            1. It is settled. You asserting that it’s not is meaningless. If you don’t think it’s settled, make your case.

              1. It’s not settled. You asserting that it is as meaningless. If you think it’s settled, make your case.

                1. Believe it or not, NK entered this debate asking Tonio if he woke up on the wrong side of no one this morning.

                2. I don’t have to. You’re the one arguing *for* something, and as such the burden of proof is on you.

                  1. “You’re the one arguing *for* something, and as such the burden of proof is on you.”

                    Sheesh. He is arguing that something is not obvious. Greenhut summarily dismissed the idea that animals have rights and Stormy just said “I do not think that is obvious.” In what bizarro world would the burden be on him?

          2. Disagree with NK, you must be a pedant concern troll.

      2. While the sky certainly takes a bluish hue, is it not true that there are elements within it that make it not exactly blue? As such, there must be some middle ground between blue and the other colors that we can ascribe to it that gives a more accurate verbal picture of what the color actually is. But if you dare try to make this argument the just look at how butthurt the know-it-alls at hit & run get.

        1. JFC. Just because you assert there’s a middle ground doesn’t mean there is. I broker no middle ground between freedom and slavery.

          Some of you seem to think that finding gradations where there are none makes you smart. What it really makes you is an irritating pedant.

          1. And here I was wondering if it would be too obvious.

          2. I broker no middle ground between freedom and slavery.

            So, children don’t exist.

            1. Nor indentured servitude.

  19. “there is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes.”

    How about… entertainment?

    1. Pretend it’s research like the Japs used to do with whaling. Entertaining research.

      1. “like the Japs”

        SIV, NOT a troll.

  20. When’s he going to propose legislation to free all the captive dogs?

    1. Have you seen a stray lately? I don’t think that’s a great example.

      1. We just adopted kidnapped a stray.

  21. Well, after reading that clusterfuck of stupidity, it’s still clear Tonio and Bo are more interested in flapping their idiot fucking gums than they are in making a case.

    If either of them made an intelligent asrgument, it was swallowed up by their pathetic idiotic whinging and I certainly didn’t see it.

    You’re both just awful

    1. I never whing before 5 o’clock tired!

  22. “Two wild dogs recently chased down, tore apart and ate my tame emu, Ernie, as my wife watched in horror. Nearby goats barely even looked up from the pasture.”

    Get a llama, and fire those goats. On the barbecue.

    1. Baby goats taste best.

  23. It seems to me that it’s hard to talk about animal “rights” so much as a human moral duty to treat animals humanely. I mean, we’re not giving animals the vote or really almost any right that a human has (e.g., right to own property, free speech, etc.), nor should we.

    It’s also obviously a sliding scale, since the more sentient and aware animals, like primates, dolphins, and octopodes, clearly suffer more from physical and other kinds of maltreatment than, say, sponges.

    I hate to completely dismiss the concept of this duty to treat especially higher order animals humanely, because I have a vision of superior aliens landing here and treating us the way we treat chimps.

    1. But, apes don’t read philosophy!

      1. Yes they do, JW. They just don’t understand it.

          1. I just Kant make any sense out of it.

    2. A moral duty should be disconnected from a legal duty.

      1. Yet a legal duty is also often a moral duty, so the question is simply if we ought to have a legal duty to respect X animals in Y ways.

    3. This is one of the times I think the NAP is a bitter pill for me. I don’t abuse animals and don’t eat mammals, but that is a personal choice. I don’t think I have a right to force other people to make the same moral choices I do. The only ethical way to prevent animal cruelty is to change the culture. Make it socially unacceptable to run a farm that keeps its animals in poor conditions. It won’t prevent all abuse but we don’t live in utopia either.

      1. Suppose I decide that a certain subgroup of people doesn’t have rights and start abusing and killing them. Does the NAP prevent people outside that subgroup from forcing me to stop?

        1. Not for humans, but I don’t think you are obligated to do anything to help them either.

    4. Maybe the most reasonable post in this thread. I certainly don’t think animals have rights like humans do, but I do think there’s a pretty good case for a limited sense of rights for certain animals, especially great apes. A chimpanzee’s mental capacity is far more similar to a human’s than it is to an earthworm’s, I don’t see why it’s crazy to draw a distinction between them.

      1. To clarify, by “them” I’m referring to chimps and earthworms

      2. Because chimps do not flourish, duh. No art, and as far as music, nothing better than cymbals.

        1. But Bonobos have penis jousting.

    5. Aye, talking about animal “rights” is a bad strategy. It’s another result of rightsism. The question is whether there is a compelling reason to prevent people from treating certain animals in certain ways. What acts are to be prohibited? How are violations to be handled?

      In a libertarian world, I’d expect this problem to be hashed out over time, the way other torts were. Unfortunately, we live in a world of legislation and bureaucracies. For that reason alone, I’d definitely lean toward the status quo over a comprehensive rewriting of the law. Not staunchly against it, but very weary of what states might start doing in the (purported) interests of protecting animals.

    6. Animals don’t have rights, but humans do have responsibilities.

  24. Two wild dogs recently chased down, tore apart and ate my tame emu, Ernie, as my wife watched in horror.

    wtf….?

    Do you happen to live near a thunderdome Steve?

  25. I’ll believe that people are ready to treat animals better, when they learn to treat people better.

  26. I wish I hadn’t read this thread. Now I am all covered in the ejaculate of hyper excessive mental masturbation.

  27. I wish I hadn’t read this thread. Now I am all covered in the ejaculate of hyper excessive mental masturbation.

    1. So it is kind of like a Philosophical Bukkake?

  28. Well, I don’t know about “attributes” and all that “natural rights” stuff, but it would seem to me that rights should come from the payment of taxes. For example, on the first day you pay income taxes rights are conferred, and rights for all other non-tax-paying entities would be vicarious. What kind of world would that produce?

  29. “…however smart [an orca] might be, it’s not clever enough to have a chat with a newspaper columnist.”

    It also goes without saying that however smart a newspaper columnist might be, he’s not clever enough to have a chat with an orca.

  30. Regarding “animal rights,” it seems clear that the term has no meaning because animals have no rights vis-?-vis each other and humans have no rights vis-?-vis animals. Animals of no non-human species – take chimpanzees for example – can claim to have their rights violated by others of their species when chimps kills other chimps. Likewise, no chimp can be said to violate another chimp’s rights, because it is impossible for the chimp (or for any member of any non-human species) to behave differently. For this same reason, a tiger does not violate a human’s rights when the tiger eats the human.

    Ironically, it is this very characteristic of non-humans that animal rights activists cite in response to the question of, if it is wrong for a human to kill an animal then why is is not wrong for a lion to kill the same animal. It’s because, they would say, that the lion has no choice.

    In the first place, if humans have no rights with respect to animals and if animals have no rights with respect to other animals, then it becomes an absurdity to assert that animals have rights with respect to humans. In the second place, how does the fact that humans have a choice whether to kill an animal therefore imply that the choice not to kill it is the correct one? There is a rule of inference or a step in the logical concatenation missing.

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