Thursday, February 10, 2005


Just when I was looking for something weighty to blog about, along comes an interesting discussion (via Charone) on an important ethical and philosophical question: Would you first save the dog you love or a (human) stranger if both were drowning?

According to Townhall wingnut Dennis Prager (as quoted by the Zebra Report),
The answer depends on your value system. One of the most obvious and significant differences between secular and Judeo-Christian values concerns human worth.

One of the great ironies of secular humanism is that it devalues the worth of human beings. As ironic as it may sound, the God-based Judeo-Christian value system renders man infinitely more valuable and significant than any humanistic value system. The reason is simple: Only if there is a God who created man is man worth anything beyond the chemicals of which he is composed.

So what Dennis Prager is saying is, if you’re a secular humanist, you would likely save the dog first. And he goes on to rant that “That is why people estranged from Judeo-Christian values (including some Christians) support programs such as ‘Holocaust on Your Plate,’ the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) campaign that teaches that there is no difference between the slaughtering of chickens and the slaughtering of the Jews in the Holocaust. A human and a chicken are of equal worth.”

Well, I’m not sure I’d take Prager’s approach of blaming all this on Evil Secular Humanism. I think it’s just plain stupidity, but more about that later.

Just to let you know where Yours Truly stands on this issue, I’ll tell you:

If I have to choose between saving an animal I love and an unknown stranger, I will choose the human every time. I mean, I love my cats - really, I do - but a human is worth more than a cat.

I don’t even have to play the religion card. Sure, I can invoke the “we are made in God’s image” mantra - hell, I say it every day as part of my morning prayers: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has created me in His image. But absent any religious justification, humans trump animals every time on the Sentience and Intelligence Scale.

Anyone - secular, religious, whatever - anyone who would save an animal before a human (unless we’re talking Wilbur the Pig versus Scott Peterson) is a fucking moron has a system of values and ethics that differs radically from mine. Really.

Let me say it again. Humans are worth more than animals. Every time.

We are at the top of the food chain - usually. We’re capable of abstract reasoning. We communicate. We invent. Animals can be or do some of these things, but they cannot do them all.

This is not to say that we should go out of our way to inflict suffering upon animals. Cruelty is cruelty. That’s why I admire the Jewish laws of kashrut, even if I practice them mostly in the breach. Animal slaughter that is in accordance with Jewish food laws is as humane and painless as that process can possibly be.

But I will eat beef. And chicken. And fish. And eggs, milk, and cheese. And that brings us to PETA, the perpetrators of the “Holocaust on a Plate” ad campaign, a campaign I find disgusting in the extreme. I really don’t want to sound like I’m agreeing with ol’ Dennis, but he’s right on that one score: equating the slaughter of chickens for food to the deliberate genocide of humans for the purposes of “racial purification” is utter bullshit. I’d like to believe that the PETA people used this inflammatory and misguided comparison because they knew it would generate attention-getting controversy, but I fear that it’s really because these people have a warped sense of values. And, no, Dennis, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Secular’s just plain dumbassedness. As a Jew, I find it particularly insulting.

I eat animals. I believe humans evolved as omnivores: we eat anything that’s not nailed down. Just go to China if you don’t believe me. I believe animal protein is a necessary component of a human diet - although we in Western countries tend to eat way too much of it owing to the fact that we have made it cheaply available.

And I loves me my kitties, too. They share a loving home with us - food, veterinary care, a warm place to sleep and upon which to shed Massive Amounts of Hair. We’ve had other Companion Animals in our lives, too. I ain’t hatin’ on animals, people. I’m just saying that, as a human, I outrank them. I am a rotten speciesist, I admit it.

To any PETA member who takes the “Drowning Dog” test: If you elect to save the dog, you are an idiot. What would you do if you had to choose between a drowning chicken and your drowning baby? The question is the same; the details have been tweaked. What would you do?

If you don’t agree with me, kindly let me know, so that if you are drowning next to that one-in-a-million dog that can’t swim, I’ll save him first. As a human, you are entitled to your opinions - opinions which may not be the same as mine.

Ah - opinions! Animals don’t have those.

No comments: