Wednesday, October 11, 2006
How to re-evaluate the world and your position in it.
a Book Review: "Animal Liberation" by Peter Singer
At the risk of losing many of you at the first part of this review, I will tell you this book was recommended by PETA. I have recently had my stomach and life turned by a few books about the meat processing system, and was eager to find more information. Those books were "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair (See previous review), "Don't Eat This Book" by Morgan Spurlock, and "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser. At first I thought it would only be fast food that I'd be turned away from. But then I realized the meat packing plants don't care if they are slaughtering for home use or fast food use, all the same abuses happen.
In "Animal Liberation," Peter Singer takes us on a journey of the mind, ethics and morality. The book is broken down into 6 chapters, each independent of each other yet building on one another, so I will break this review down to a chapter by chapter review/summary.
Chapter 1. All Animals are equal...or why the ethical principle on which human equality rests requires us to extend equal consideration to animals too.
In this chapter the author presents the idea of "speciesism." This is along the lines of racism, sexism, etc. This argument is presented with simple, straightforward facts and ideas with no emotion tied to them. In fact throughout the book the author does not attempt to influence the readers way of thinking only to spur (pun intended) the thinking process. On the idea of human equality, The principle of equality is not a description of an alleged actual equality among humans: it is a prescription of how we SHOULD treat human beings. This equality should and could be carried over to "non-human" animals. Why should animals be forced to live in conditions we would not allow the lowliest of humans live in? Why should we as humans claim the right to slaughter and eat animals. Why should we as humans think that animals are there for us to pour chemicals on just to see how they react, or "condition" through painful electric shock? The author answers these questions, by saying simply. We shouldn't.
Chapter 2. Tools For Research...your taxes at work.
This chapter is one of the 2 extremely disturbing chapters which the squeamish should not only read but ask why we do these things. Or better yet allow these things to happen. I'm talking about using animals for cruel research projects. From shocking monkeys to learn how to fly a plane and then inducing radiation sickness on them to see if they can still fly with little electric shock "reminders" to pouring chemicals into bunnies eyes that we already know are irritants. In this chapter a European scientist after viewing several psychological animal experiments is quoted as calling American Scientists barbarians. The ironic part is that really, European scientists are cruel...just not as cruel as Americans. One quote that I love is that in experiments still going on now to find how much smoking contributes to lung cancer the author asks, "If people continue to smoke, knowing that by doing so they risk lung cancer, is it right to make animals suffer the cost of this decision?" The final outcome of this chapter is that animal research is completely unnecessary. For example, in guinea pigs pennicillin causes adverse effects, if we had accepted this animal research we would never had the use of that extremely useful medicine for humans.
Chapter 3. Down on the Factory Farm...or what happened to your dinner when it was still an animal.
One of the cruelest things discussed in this book is the treatment of veal cattle. These young calves are taken from their mothers (usually machine siphoned dairy cows) and kept in cages/pens which they cannot move because if they did move...the meat would not have that tender veal quality. They are also kept from having the proper nutrients because the nutrients would darken the meat. All for some snobby rich person to have their unique meat. That is just useless waste. The atrocities to other animals are also discussed. (For more on this go to my myspace site and watch the "Meet Your Meat" Video. http://www.myspace.com/gilwilson)
Chapter 4. Becoming a vegetarian...or how to produce less suffering and more food at a reduced cost to the environment.
Finally someone not only tells you why but how. And really it is just as easy as saying...leave off the meat. The main idea behind becoming a vegetarian is that in becoming a vegetarian a person would increase the amount of grain available to feed people elsewhere, reduce pollution, save water and energy, and cease contributing to the clearing of forests; moreover, since a vegetarian diet is cheaper than one based on meat dishes, they would have more money available to devote to famine relief, population control, or whatever social or political cause they thought most urgent. That's it in a nutshell. Now, keep in mind I'm not a full fledged vegetarian, but I'm working on it. I was back in college and never felt better.
Chapter 5. Man's Dominion... a history of Speciesism.
Here we go off on a tangent of how throughout times (from biblical to modern) we have denied the "non-human" animal freedom. I found this chapter to be dull but informative. It shows how throughout times humans have been cruel...but in an optimistic turn shows how views have slowly changed.
Chapter 6. Speciesism today
Basically this shows the progress we are making...and have made in the be nice to animals campaign. Really folks it isn't hard stuff here. Why should we hunt animals for mere trophies? Why should we wear fur when synthetics are just as easily available and look just as nice?
Well what do you think?