26 December 2007

Animal Rights

Here is an essay by Wesley J. Smith.

24 December 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Locavore, Get Your Gun,” by Steven Rinella (Op-Ed, Dec. 14):

To the animals being slaughtered, it does not matter whether their killers are local or whether they will be eaten or displayed on a wall. Their suffering is the same.

Hunting is cruel and cowardly, and any attempt to rationalize or gain acceptance for it as a sport does not eradicate this fact. There are no “lofty pedestals” for those without compassion or empathy for other creatures.

It’s time to stop pandering to hunters and the gun lobby and turn to humane measures to control the deer population and outlaw this barbaric pastime.

Rebecca Sunshine
Hartsdale, N.Y., Dec. 16, 2007

22 December 2007


Here is a New York Times story about the growing problem of vehicle-animal collisions.

19 December 2007

Animal Rights and Animal Responsibilities

Should animals be doing more for the animal-rights movement? See here for the surprising answer.

From the Mailbag

The horrific practice in China of skinning cats and dogs alive for their fur must go down as one of the worst cases of sustained mass cruelty to animals in human history. Every year, more than 2,000,000 cats and dogs are skinned alive in China for their fur. They are left to die slowly in shock and excruciating agony and their bodies fed to the other animals being reared for the slaughter. The horror must be stopped.

The Animal Saviors Awareness Campaign is taking the fight to the Chinese government. Please help. Visit http://animalsaviors.org/ and decide for yourself. Every day another 5,479 plus defenseless animals die in terror and unspeakable pain. Now is the time for action.

Sentiment + Action = Results

Peter Steele
Campaign Director
Animal Saviors Awareness Campaign

18 December 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “An 8-Second Ride Lures Sponsors Beyond the Rodeo” (Advertising column, Dec. 11):

So bull riding could represent the next big thing in corporate sports sponsorship. Even private equity is getting in on the action, with one manager believing this could be the next Nascar.

This is music to the ears of advertisers. But bulls are not cars, but rather living beings that experience pain and suffering.

If there were transparency to the public spectacle of bull riding, it would be clear that this is a frantically scared animal desperately trying to escape. Bull riding events in rodeos are notorious for using spurs, flank straps and electric prods to promote bucking and to control the bull.

The use of animals in entertainment when animal cruelty is involved is deplorable, whether it is dog fighting or bull riding. Corporations should reject the notion that this is a sport worthy of their ad dollars.

Brad Goldberg
President, Animal Welfare Trust
Mamaroneck, N.Y., Dec. 11, 2007

17 December 2007

Culling the Herd

The National Park Service has announced a plan to cull the Rocky Mountain National Park elk herd with sharpshooters.

14 December 2007

The Politics of Meat

Here is a Wall Street Journal column about foie gras.

13 December 2007

Canis Familiaris

Here is a New York Times story about man's best friend.

08 December 2007

Twenty Years Ago

12-8-87 . . . There was a senseless killing last night. Someone entered the premises of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, cut the lock on the bighorn sheep exhibit, and shot the male bighorn to death. Then—and here's the grisly part—the assailant cut the sheep's head off. It has not been found. Police officers speculate that the killing was cult related. Tucson, like other communities in the southwest, has satanistic, witch, and other occult groups. There was a full moon Saturday night, which may have had something to do with it. Whatever the circumstances, I can't help but think of the killing as a murder. It was obviously premeditated, the sheep was defenseless against a high-powered rifle, and the assailant mutilated the body. Needless to say, animal-rights and other groups are up in arms. If apprehended, the suspect should be tried and convicted of murder. He or she is an evil person.

30 November 2007


To post comments on this blog from now on, you must use your full name. No pseudonyms, nicknames, noms de plume, or online personae. Don't be a coward. If you have something to contribute to public discourse, take responsibility for it. You know who Mylan and I are; why should we and the other readers not know who you are? Think about it.

29 November 2007

Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, and Willie Soon on Climate Change

There are no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in human hydrocarbon use or in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing or can be expected to cause unfavorable changes in global temperatures, weather, or landscape. There is no reason to limit human production of CO2, CH4, and other minor greenhouse gases as has been proposed.

We also need not worry about environmental calamities even if the current natural warming trend continues. The Earth has been much warmer during the past 3,000 years without catastrophic effects. Warmer weather extends growing seasons and generally improves the habitability of colder regions.

As coal, oil, and natural gas are used to feed and lift from poverty vast numbers of people across the globe, more CO2 will be released into the atmosphere. This will help to maintain and improve the health, longevity, prosperity, and productivity of all people.

The United States and other countries need to produce more energy, not less. The most practical, economical, and environmentally sound methods available are hydrocarbon and nuclear technologies.

Human use of coal, oil, and natural gas has not harmfully warmed the Earth, and the extrapolation of current trends shows that it will not do so in the foreseeable future. The CO2 produced does, however, accelerate the growth rates of plants and also permits plants to grow in drier regions. Animal life, which depends upon plants, also flourishes, and the diversity of plant and animal life is increased.

Human activities are producing part of the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere. Mankind is moving the carbon in coal, oil, and natural gas from below ground to the atmosphere, where it is available for conversion into living things. We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of this CO2 increase. Our children will therefore enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed.

(Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, and Willie Soon, "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide," Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 12 [2007]: 79-90, at 90 [parenthetical reference omitted])

28 November 2007

Fourth Anniversary

I started this blog four years ago today. Where did the time go? There have been 74,220 visitors to the blog. That's an average of 50.8 per day (counting the leap-year day of 2004). The blog's readership has increased each year. Here are the figures:
First year: 12,007 visitors
Second year: 14,655 visitors
Third year: 16,158 visitors
Fourth year: 31,400 visitors
Thank you for visiting. I will try to pick up the pace of my posting. Mylan vows to do the same.

Addendum: Here is the blog's first post. Here is the first-anniversary post. Here is the second-anniversary post. Here is the third-anniversary post.

From the Mailbag

Dear Animal Ethics bloggers:

We posted a story today about Matthew Hiasl Pan. I hope you’ll take a look.

Thanks, and all best,

Jessica Bennett
Blog Editor
Beacon Press

27 November 2007

Twenty Years Ago

11-27-87 . . . Today—the day after Thanksgiving—is traditionally the busiest retail sales day of the year. Needless to say, I stayed away from the stores. But I saw on television that certain animal-rights activists demonstrated against the wearing of furs. It was obviously orchestrated; and it succeeded in getting television, radio, and newspaper attention. The message is that wearing fur is wrong. Apparently, the primary consumers of furs these days are young, career-oriented women. They consider furs a luxury item, a sign that one has “made it” in the business world. They’re also soft and feminine, which plays into another tradition besides conspicuous consumption. One woman on television, trying on a fur, exclaimed “I wouldn’t mind finding this under my Christmas tree!”. I agree with the protesters that producing, selling, buying, and wearing furs is wrong. I’m not sure I agree with their tactics, however. Demonstrations may raise people’s consciousness, but they also alienate. We need empirical studies to determine which effect predominates.

26 November 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

It is disappointing that our government plans to keep approximately 550 chimpanzees in the laboratories where they reside, rather than provide them a sanctuary they deserve (“After Hard Labor, a Soft Landing,” special Giving section, Nov. 12).

Many chimpanzees in American labs are simply being warehoused—some for more than 50 years—wasting taxpayer money that could be spent better to help alleviate and cure human diseases.

The use of chimpanzees for research has declined significantly in the last decade mostly because of high costs and growing public opposition to relying on these animals in invasive experiments.

It is time to retire chimpanzees in labs to sanctuaries like Chimp Haven.

Kathleen Conlee
Washington, Nov. 13, 2007
The writer is a program director at the Humane Society of the United States.

25 November 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Child Matadors Draw Olés in Mexico’s Bullrings” (front page, Nov. 19):

It is so sad to see children being taught to torture and kill calves. For what? The tradition and glory of bullfighting? Please!

Bullfighting is simply prolonged animal torture. Most children start life with a love and reverence of animals. Cruelty and disregard for them are taught. In this country, this lesson is usually less direct: that it is somehow logical to teach kids to love and respect animals while feeding them animals that have been raised and slaughtered in genuinely terrible conditions.

Our world would be a much better place if we could teach our children respect for all living creatures.

Edward L. Machtinger
San Francisco, Nov. 19, 2007

Note from KBJ: I would replace "living" with "sentient." How do you respect a plant?

24 November 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Bluefin Slaughter” (editorial, Nov. 17):

As a young man I was privileged to work for and to know Capt. Charles A. Mayo II of Provincetown, Mass. He was the legendary sport fishing captain of the Chantey I, II and III, the inventor of skip baits and a lover of the oceans.

On a late summer day in the 1960s, we stood on McMillan wharf in Provincetown harbor watching as the Silver Fox came steaming into port after setting the first purse seine around a school of giant bluefin tuna in Cape Cod Bay. My recollection is that it took an additional two beam trawlers to help Captain Silva bring in his catch of 600,000 pounds of tuna he had captured in one set of his net.

Captain Mayo told me to remember that day as the beginning of the end of tuna in the North Atlantic; how prophetic and how sad a day it was. Incidentally, the catch was all sold for cat food at less than 10 cents a pound.

We need to stop making holes in the world’s oceans.

Stephen E. Goldsmith
Wailuku, Hawaii, Nov. 17, 2007

22 November 2007

From the Mailbag

Hi Mylan,

We just posted an article "Top 50 Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in the World." I thought I'd bring it to your attention just in case you think your readers would find it interesting.

Either way, thanks for your time!

Amy S Quinn

14 November 2007

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith—

In case you want to put a link on Animal Ethics—here's a post about traditional Eskimo whaling and the perennial question, what to eat for Thanksgiving dinner. Complete with recipe!


11 November 2007

Jimmy Carter, Cat Murderer

Those of you who think highly of Jimmy Carter might find this interesting.

08 November 2007

Moment of Zen

"I did not become a vegetarian for my health. I did it for the health of the chickens." Isaac Bashevis Singer

Animal Altruism?

Dolphins appear to have saved a human from a shark. See here.

01 November 2007


This past October was the best month ever for this blog, in terms of number of visitors. There were 3,404 visitors during October, which is an average of 109.8 visitors per day. The previous record for monthly visitors was 2,825. If you're the author or publisher of a book on animal ethics, please send me a copy so that I can add it to the bibliography.

31 October 2007

From the Mailbag

The inventor of the programming language LISP once proposed that the U.S. Declaration of Independence be debugged by adding a single syllable: change "equal, that" to "equal, in that." Abraham Lincoln made the same insert-an-“in" amendment (while changing the original spelling "unalienable" to "inalienable"). Details here.

Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)

Note from KBJ: The expression "all men are created equal" is not an informative; it's a directive. It doesn't describe; it prescribes. It means the following: There are differences and there are differences; some differences make a moral difference and some do not; morally speaking, everyone is equal—in spite of our nonmoral differences (such as height, weight, age, sex, nationality, religion, skin color, and intelligence).

Note 2 from KBJ: Here is Peter Singer's essay "All Animals Are Equal." Singer is no fool, and neither was Thomas Jefferson. They knew that there are many differences among (respectively) animals and humans. What Singer is saying is that, in spite of their many and obvious differences, animals (including humans) have something morally relevant in common, namely, the capacity to suffer. (Actually, there may be some animals, such as insects, who lack this capacity.) Jefferson is saying that, in spite of their many and obvious differences, humans have something morally relevant in common, namely, possession of God-given rights.

30 October 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Two Pigs” (The Rural Life, Oct. 25):

Thank you for another thoughtful piece by Verlyn Klinkenborg, who admirably makes the point that taking an animal’s life should not be a cavalier endeavor.

As a longtime vegan with three vegan-from-birth children, I would like to suggest that since vegetarians are generally healthier than meat eaters, there is no excuse for compassionate people to eat animals.

The American Dietetic Association, based on all the scientific evidence, states that vegetarians have “lower body mass indices than nonvegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.”

There is no moral difference between eating a dog or a pig, a cat or a chicken. For the same reason that most of us would not eat our pets, we should also not eat chickens, pigs or other animals.

John D. Borders Jr.
Louisville, Ky., Oct. 25, 2007

28 October 2007

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith,

I love your blog and have added it to my blogroll. It would be great if you could do the same for me :-)

My blog is www.animalblog.co.uk

All The Best

27 October 2007

Twenty Years Ago

10-27-87 Tuesday. I’m troubled by certain advertisements that have recently appeared on television. They’re apparently produced by the beef industry. The slogan is “Beef: Real Food for Real People”. I’ve seen two actors so far: James Garner and Cybill Shepherd. In the Garner ads, he talks about eating “real food” rather than vegetables and other fare, then sits back with a large, juicy steak. Music plays in the background. In the Shepherd ads, the setting is again Texas or someplace in the west. Men wear blue jeans and cowboy boots, while the women are dressed in traditional feminine clothing like dresses. The message of the ads is one of machismo, and specifically that only sissies and wimps eat vegetables and bread. The troubling thing is not that arguments are presented on behalf of beef-eating, but that they’re not. Instead, the beef industry has gone in for nonrational persuasion. The idea is to get viewers to associate beef with things that they already desire or value, such as hardiness, machismo, pretty women, and fast cars. Beef, they want us to believe, is part of a healthy and happy lifestyle. Needless to say, this is false, and if I get a chance to say it publicly, I will.

23 October 2007


Justice consists in giving each person his or her due. What do the culprits in this incident deserve?

22 October 2007


Vegetarianism is overdetermined. If all you care about is animals, you should be a vegetarian. If all you care about is the natural environment, you should be a vegetarian. If all you care about is yourself, you should be a vegetarian. If all you care about is human beings, you should be a vegetarian. If all you care about is your children, you should be a vegetarian.

21 October 2007

Twenty Years Ago

10-21-87 Wednesday. I had a nice discussion with Clark Wolf this afternoon. It ranged over music, politics, and philosophy, but the most interesting subject was how each of us came to discover and fall in love with philosophy. As I explained to Clark, I came at philosophy in an odd way. My original interest was narrow: animal rights. The book that started everything was Barry Holstun Lopez’s Of Wolves and Men [(New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1978); I finished reading this book on 28 December 1980]. That book exposed me to natural history (Aldo Leopold, Henry Beston, and Stephen Gould), wilderness (Roderick Nash), and moral philosophy (John Rodman and Peter Singer). Eventually these interests brought me to Joel Feinberg [1926-2004] and Tom Regan, and that opened up my philosophical world. After arriving at the University of Arizona to attend graduate school [in August 1983], my interests expanded even further, into other branches of philosophy. Now I’m interested in epistemology, philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and philosophy of language. The metaphor that I chose to describe this process is a zoom lens. Originally, I said, I was focused on animals. But gradually I’ve pulled back the lens and begun to explore or examine other subjects within what is conventionally known as philosophy.

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “New Battle of Logging vs. Spotted Owls Looms in West” (news article, Oct. 18):

Saving old growth forest and spotted owls is wise for many reasons, including controlling infectious diseases. Owls, kestrels and hawks are guardians of the fields. Just as lacewings and dragonflies keep mosquito populations in check, birds of prey eat rodents that can carry Lyme-bearing ticks, hantavirus, plague bacteria and other ills.

Preservation of nature is not just an abstract aesthetic issue; our future depends on survival of things that fit.

Paul R. Epstein, M.D.
Boston, Oct. 18, 2007
The writer is associate director, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School.

12 October 2007

Dog Update

This past Monday, I wrote about my attempt to help an overheated dog. Two days later, during my next run, I noticed that both dogs, instead of just one, were moving about freely in the fenced yard. It made my day. Today, things were the same. It would be a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy to infer that my talking to the owner caused him to untie his dog, but it's possible that my intervention made a difference. Next time I see the man, I'm going to thank him. Or maybe I should leave well enough alone. What do you advise?

09 October 2007

08 October 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It's still hot in North Texas. Today, while running in 84º heat (and excessive humidity), I noticed a dog lying on a slab of concrete in someone's back yard. It looked as though the dog was lying in the shadow of a basketball backboard. When I got done with my 3.1-mile run, I was drenched in sweat. I walked a quarter of a mile to the house to inspect. Sure enough, there was a black dog (a pit bull) lying in the three-by-three-foot shadow cast by a backboard on the concrete. The dog was tied to something and had only the small shadow to stay out of the blistering sun. The dog's black hair was soaking up the sun's rays. When I approached the fence, I noticed two things: (1) the dog was panting profusely; and (2) there was no water bowl.

I knocked on the door. Realizing that I was poking my nose into a stranger's affairs, I apologized to the man who answered the door. "Please don't get mad at me," I said; "I wanted to see whether anyone was home." I pointed out that the dog was trying to avoid the sun's heat by following the shadow across the concrete. The man said, "My dogs is [sic] fine." I asked whether the dog had water. "My dogs is fine," he repeated. By this time he was walking with me around the house, to where the dog was. A second dog came running up to the fence. That one was untied. The black dog got up and approached. I pointed to the small shadow on the concrete and explained that the dog would begin to have convulsions if he or she got overheated. The man said, "My dogs is fine." He insisted that the dog had water, but I didn't see a bowl. I figured I had done enough and walked home.

The man was clearly upset with me. I knew this was going to happen, but I decided to risk injury to myself for the sake of the dog. Had I done nothing, I would have felt guilty. Now, because of the man's anger at my officiousness, I'm afraid. It was a no-win situation. What would you have done? Perhaps I should have gotten the house number and called the Humane Society or Fort Worth Animal Control. I considered this, but decided that nothing would be done. It was either go to the house personally, risking the owner's wrath, or do nothing. Can you believe that people are so cruel to their dogs? I only hope that I gave the man something to think about.

04 October 2007


I enthusiastically recommend these. You can buy them from Amazon.com or from any of these retailers.


Here is a profile of my friend and co-blogger Mylan Engel Jr. We went to graduate school together at the University of Arizona. I didn't like Mylan at the time, and I'm sure he didn't like me. Mylan worked in epistemology. I worked in ethics. Years later, after he had gone off to teach at Northern Illinois University and I had gone off to teach at the University of Texas at Arlington, we discovered that we had a shared interest in animal rights. I consider Mylan's essay "The Immorality of Eating Meat" the best thing I've read on the topic.

03 October 2007


On the relation between obesity and meat-eating, see here.

02 October 2007

From the Mailbag


We need your help. As you know, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is committed to protecting the lives of animals everywhere. But you may not know that we have filed a lawsuit against Mendes Calf Ranch for its violation of California animal cruelty laws.

The ranch is a facility that dairy producers use to house and raise newborn calves while their mothers are milked. The babies are taken soon after birth and shipped away to live in Mendes’s cramped, filthy crates with barely enough room to move.

Day after day, these calves live by themselves in crates so small they can’t even turn around or lie down naturally. They must contort their bodies even to stand in the small space, which is often covered with their own excrement. (Video footage here.)

While our lawsuit to stop this cruel practice is pending in court, there is more we can do for these animals right now. We need to reach Mendes through the people they’re most likely to listen to: their clients.

Major dairy producers Land O’Lakes and Challenge Dairy get their milk from calves confined at Mendes Calf Ranch. It’s time to let dairy corporations know that these practices are unnecessary—and unacceptable.

We’re launching the Free Baby Mendes campaign to mobilize consumers and animal lovers to sign on to a letter we’ll deliver to Land O’Lakes and Challenge Dairy. We hope that you can help us spread the word.

Would you be willing to post something on your site about the campaign?

Information about the campaign can be found here. Also available are Free Baby Mendes banners for your website here.

Together, we can make a difference for these cows—as we work to make sure that animal cruelty laws are taken seriously. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

April Nockleby
Animal Legal Defense Fund
170 East Cotati Avenue, Cotati, CA 94931
Phone: (707) 795-2533 • Fax: (707) 795-7280
E-mail: info@aldf.org • Web: www.aldf.org

30 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Let the East Bloom Again,” by Richard T. McNider and John R. Christy (Op-Ed, Sept. 22):

The solution to scarcity of water in the United States could be solved rather quickly if more people became vegetarians.

Just think of the savings in water use if we didn’t have the need to raise millions of animals for human consumption!

On top of that, think of the growth of a healthier and slimmer population that wasn’t burdened by the costs of poor health brought on by animal consumption.

Roy Esiason
Granville, N.Y., Sept. 22, 2007

28 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Antibiotic Runoff” (editorial, Sept. 18):

As a microbiologist, I know that study after study has highlighted the human health threat from using antibiotics as feed additives for hogs, chickens and cattle, creating super-bugs—bacteria that no longer can be treated with antibiotics. While some chicken producers and poultry purchasers have taken steps to reduce antibiotic use, the hog industry remains largely resistant to change.

To address this problem, I have introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 962), which would phase out antibiotics use in livestock for growth or preventative purposes unless manufacturers could prove that such uses don’t endanger public health. It also provides money to help farmers adopt alternative approaches to preventing illness among their herds, like cleaner housing and natural supplements.

The American Medical Association, the Infectious Disease Society of America and the American Academy of Pediatrics are among the more than 350 health, agriculture and other groups nationwide that have endorsed this bill. To preserve the effectiveness of our antibiotics, all meat producers need to back away from the overuse of drugs.

Louise M. Slaughter
Member of Congress, 28th District, New York
Washington, Sept. 20, 2007

22 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

I applaud “Antibiotic Runoff,” your Sept. 18 editorial about the abuse of antibiotics in industrial hog farms. It not only brings light to a serious issue, but also begins to make the connection between factory farm practices and consumer choices.

Farmers of hogs and all other types of food employ such indefensible methods not because they are cruel or irresponsible, but because for decades their consumers have demanded that the food they produce be cheap and abundant.

The legislative and regulatory remedies you suggest are valid, but they will not solve the problem alone. Eliminating factory farms and the like will happen only when a majority of consumers recognize their shared responsibility for the food system and start paying farmers a fair price.

Lisa M. Hamilton
Mill Valley, Calif., Sept. 18, 2007

21 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Drummer Denies He Intentionally Spooked Horse That Died” (news article, Sept. 16):

As a New Yorker who cringes with disgust and shame every time I pass an overloaded horse-drawn carriage dragging tourists around the streets of this horribly congested city, I was shocked and appalled by yet another incident leading to the death of an innocent animal.

The recent report by the New York City comptroller points out the absolute failure of city agencies to protect these indentured slaves. Horse-drawn carriages in today’s congested cities are an absurd anachronism, as demonstrated by the frequent incidents of “spooked horses.”

For years, the public has had to endure tragic accidents, heat prostration, deaths and severe injuries to both people and horses. It’s time to put aside foolish romantic notions and reject the demands of a self-serving industry.

Thousands of New Yorkers and visitors have signed petitions demanding an end to the senseless tragedies and inhumane treatment of these gentle giants. Shame on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the City Council for ignoring the plight of these horses.

Zelda Penzel
New York, Sept. 16, 2007

18 September 2007

Industrial Agriculture

The wrongness of factory farming is overdetermined. See here for one sufficient ground. By the way, the editorial board of the New York Times is progressive (as opposed to conservative). Why does it not call for the abolition of factory farming? Instead, it seeks to reform it. Animal rights is neither progressive nor conservative. Think of all the progressives—Michael Moore, for example—who either eat meat or go out of their way to ridicule vegetarians. (Moore looks like he has eaten one too many hamburgers.) Many progressives care only about human beings. Many conservatives care about animals as well as human beings. Why animal rights is considered a progressive cause is mind-boggling.

12 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Audit Criticizes City on Care of Carriage Horses” (news article, Sept. 6):

While it’s commendable to finally see an official acknowledgment of the hideous conditions in which the carriage horses are forced to exist, the suggested remedies would just be a Band-Aid for an inherently inhumane situation.

No amount of regulation, advisory panel oversight or coordination by city agencies will change the fact that those horses are tired and broken, and their needs are not being met.

Now that the carriage industry is being held under a microscope, it’s clear that it puts a black mark on the city. There is only one way to avoid future noncompliance and free city resources that are already spread too thin—institute a ban.

Jackie Vergerio
Portsmouth, Va., Sept. 6, 2007

Note from KBJ: I couldn't resist highlighting the metaphors.

11 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The School Cafeteria, on a Diet” (Business Day, Sept. 5):

While we need to ensure that healthier foods are sold in vending machines and served during school celebrations, parents should also know that the “strict nutrition standards” that govern federally subsidized school lunch programs still fall short of being truly healthy for children.

The United States Department of Agriculture purchases food, including high-fat meat and dairy products, under the direction of Congress based on agricultural surpluses and price support activities to help American agriculture producers.

These products are then dumped into schools as part of the National School Lunch program. High-fat, cholesterol-laden chicken nuggets and burgers meet requirements set by the U.S.D.A. in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and schools can be reimbursed for selling them.

But like sodas and sugary snacks, meat and dairy products also play a role in our children’s expanding waistlines. The cheeseburgers and meat tacos our children eat at school also deserve our full attention.

Dulcie Ward
Washington, Sept. 6, 2007
The writer is a staff dietitian at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

06 September 2007

Raw Milk

Have you heard of the raw-milk movement? See here.

02 September 2007

31 August 2007

Does the End Justify the Means?

How many of you think this sort of behavior helps animals, in the long run? How many of you think it hurts them?

30 August 2007

From the Mailbag


The volume „Tierrechte – eine interdisziplinäre Herausforderung“ (literally „Animal Rights – an interdisciplinary challenge“ has just been released from Harald Fischer Verlag (publisher), Germany. Basis of this collection are the interdisciplinary lectures on Animal Rights which took place from April to October 2006 at Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg (Germany). It was the first lecture series of its kind in german speaking world organized by the members of the Interdisziplinäre Arbeitsgemeinschaft Tierethik (literally “Interdisciplinary Study Group on Animal Ethics”) – an initiative of students.

25 well-known scientists, philosophers and politicians from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the United States informed in a comprehensible manner and on a high level about the current status on animal ethics studies, answered open questions and introduced their approaches. The goal was to encourage scholars and students of the university of Heidelberg to a more intense discussion on this topic and enable to give a more detailed view on the university activities in our days.

The results of the lectures are written down in this book. It should support a stronger attention in research and teaching and should guide as the latest reference for all those who are dealing with the moral status of animals and related questions.

More information on the book can be found here.

Despite this book is written in german I address this to you because we know that there are a lot of german speaking visitors attending your blogs and this information might be interesting for them as well and because we want to show the English speaking world that Germany is catching up in the Animal Rights debate.

We would be pleased if you would support us by announcing the book in your Blog (Newsletters, Website etc.). We really appreciate it!

Thanks a lot!

Kind regards from Heidelberg, Germany

Matthias Müller
Interdisziplinäre Arbeitsgemeinschaft Tierethik
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

28 August 2007

Jean Kazez

Here is a blog by one of my fellow graduate students at the University of Arizona. (I will add it to the blogroll.) Jean and I overlapped by one year: August 1987 (when she arrived in Tucson) to August 1988 (when I departed for College Station, Texas). Jean teaches philosophy just down the road from me at Southern Methodist University. Want to hear something weird? I mentioned Jean in my journal 20 years and four days ago (on 24 August 1987). I'm transcribing my journal to the computer in real time, 20 years after the fact; so four days ago I typed up the entry in which I mentioned Jean. She was new on campus at the time, so I got her name wrong. I called her "Jean Kazak." I have had no contact with Jean all these years, and today, out of the blue, she sent me an e-mail notifying me of a blog post about animals and telling me that she likes this blog. I hope I don't embarrass her by mentioning this.

23 August 2007


Is there a morally relevant difference between hunting and dogfighting, such that only the latter is wrong? If there is no morally relevant difference between these activities, then either both are right or both are wrong. Which is it?

Addendum: Let me put it formally. The following propositions are inconsistent:
1. Hunting is morally acceptable.
2. Dogfighting is morally unacceptable.
3. There is no morally relevant difference between hunting and dogfighting.
Everyone must reject at least one of these propositions. Which do you reject?

22 August 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Virus Spreading Alarm and Deadly Pig Disease in China” (Business Day, Aug. 16):

Given our exportation of large-scale intensive confinement facilities, it is tragic, though not surprising, that disease is devastating the Chinese industry. With this industrialization often comes overcrowding, inadequate ventilation and related physiological stress—factors implicated as heightening the risk of disease outbreaks.

Though it may be too late for too many, we can only hope that diseased animals are not left in pain but are humanely euthanized to end their suffering.

In the long term, there is a glimmer of hope for China’s pigs. In 2005, a survey commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare showed that the Chinese are similar to Americans in their concern for animals. Indeed, if public sympathy is changing in China regarding how we treat animals raised and killed for food, as it is here in the United States, then we can only expect future improvements in the welfare of farm animals.

Wayne Pacelle
President and Chief Executive, Humane Society of the United States
Washington, Aug. 16, 2007

20 August 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Suddenly, the Hunt Is On for Cage-Free Eggs” (front page, Aug. 12):

While this is a step in the right direction toward reducing the animal abuse inherent in all factory farming (from the chicken’s point of view), it’s still a long way from what nature intended.

Chickens enjoy being together in small flocks, sunning, dust bathing and scratching in the soil for food. The rooster watches over the flock protectively and often participates in a hen’s egg-laying ritual, an extremely important and private part of her life.

“Free range” does not solve the problem of painful debeaking, enormously oversized flocks or the unnatural isolation of the birds from other sexes and age groups.

Though chickens can live for 5 to 11 years, after two years, they are hauled away to slaughter just like battery-caged hens. All of the male hatchlings are either smothered or ground up alive.

Let chickens be chickens, and avoid the whole moral dilemma by going vegan.

Jean Bettanny
Port Townsend, Wash., Aug. 13, 2007

From the Mailbag

Dear Friends Who Love Animals,

I am writing to ask you to help me get the word out about a wonderful free service to your patrons/customers. Any links you can put up to our site will be helpful to them. Forwarding this email to any other people or groups who may be interested is also appreciated.

We are the Interfaith Association of Animal Chaplains. We provide scriptural / spiritual support and free phone counseling to bereaved pet owners. Some of our professional Chaplains also provide other services (euthanasia visits, memorial services, congregational sermons, etc.) on a fee-for-service basis, while others perform them at no cost as part of their congregational ministry. Each Chaplain works independently to serve people and animals in need. To find Animal Chaplains in your area, go to our site at www.AnimalChaplains.com and click on "clergy list".

Our site also has many other free services, such as memorial readings, pet blessings, interfaith scriptural support, sermons on pet ownership, animal ministry support, guest book/blogs, etc. If you have a section of your website that assists your clients with pet loss support, we would appreciate being listed there. We thank-you for helping us to get the word out about the many free services available on AnimalChaplains.com to pet owners and the animals they love.

If we have corresponded before and you already have a link to our site, please forgive me for this duplicate email. Thank-you for the wonderful and important work you do.

Yours in peace and friendship,
Chaplain Nancy Cronk

19 August 2007

From the Mailbag

Hello Keith, Mylan, and Jonathan

We stumbled across your very worthy site and read some recent posts . . . you have a very interesting blog! We’re going to go and have an in-depth look this morning, in the meantime, please take a look at our website.

It is an animated website aimed at educating and inspiring children about endangered species, and all of our characters actually exist in a real-life camp in Tanzania which protects black rhino and wild African hunting dogs . . . whilst employing a local workforce and improving school and water supplies for surrounding villages.

Unfortunately we cannot link to your site since ours is a protected safe site for children, but we would love to be included as one of your links.

Please have a look and let us know what you think!

Thanks so much—Amanda (one of the Dotty Humans)

17 August 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “An Ape Types in Iowa” (column, Aug. 9):

Gail Collins writes: “Human-ape conversation was a very hot topic back in the late 1960s, when researchers first taught a chimpanzee named Washoe to use sign language. It lost steam once it became clear that while the apes could put together simple statements and requests, they were not prepared to have discussions about their deepest feelings, hopes and dreams. The Great Ape Trust is the only place in America where this kind of research still goes on.”

In fact, the Language Research Center at Georgia State University has engaged in continuous social, cognitive and biobehavioral research on primates, including language training and research, since 1981. The bonobos at the Great Ape Trust learned their language skills at Georgia State and lived at the Language Research Center for two decades before moving to the Great Ape Trust in 1985.

Georgia State and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development still support language training and cognitive research with four chimpanzees, and do other cognitive research work with resident populations of macaques and rhesus monkeys.

Andria Simmons
Public Relations Coordinator
University Relations Dept.
Georgia State University
Atlanta, Aug. 10, 2007

Note from KBJ: By what right do we take these animals out of the wild? Please don't say that they were born in captivity. They're wild animals! They're not like dogs and cats, which evolved with humans. All of their natural urges are being frustrated. They are being deprived of their liberty. Wild animals should be left alone. They are not objects for our manipulation, study, or entertainment. If you're an alumnus of Georgia State University, please consider withholding your donations until this abominable research stops.

15 August 2007


Buffalo meat is all the rage. See here.

11 August 2007

Cage-Free Eggs

Here is a New York Times story about the latest hot thing.

10 August 2007

Using Cows as a Mere Means to Their Ends

Here is a New York Times story about women who sacrifice cows on the altar of romance. What man wouldn't love a woman who's that shallow? I like the part about vegetarians being pretentious and neurotic. Could anything be more idiotic?

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

A Factory Farm Near You” (editorial, July 31) is in a time warp.

Yes, concentrated animal feeding operations, or “factory farms” as you call them, are a key feature of modern agriculture. And, yes, they are increasing in number as farmers attempt to survive the challenges of modern global agricultural economics. But today these livestock operations don’t have to be unwelcome neighbors in their communities.

You did not mention the tremendous progress made in ensuring that these farms are environmentally sound. At least as far as hog farms are concerned, catastrophic manure spills are a thing of the past. In fact, the study cited in the editorial had to reach back eight years to 1999 to find a major environmental problem associated with hog farming.

America’s pork producers have met the environmental challenges and are proud of their achievements. The pork industry has acted on its own over the last decade to solve water-discharge problems and create top-shelf manure management systems. Producers like me are ready to comply with tough new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that protect the nation’s water supply, by adopting a policy of zero discharge into rivers and streams.

There are still challenges remaining, such as tackling the issue of unpleasant odors emanating from hog farms, and pork producers continue to address this issue. Recently they have invested millions of dollars into research conducted by Purdue University. But the progress of the last decade should not be ignored.

Jill Appell
National Pork Producers Council
East Altona, Ill., Aug. 1, 2007

09 August 2007

One Mind at a Time

A reader sent a link to this column, which raises the perennial question of how best to change society. Resorting to violence against person or property is not in the long-term best interests of animals, as Peter Singer has argued. Those who break duly enacted laws should be punished. If they believe the law they've broken is unjust, they should take their punishment as a way of (1) demonstrating their sincerity and (2) opening a dialogue with those who disagree with them. This is what Martin Luther King Jr taught. It's called nonviolent civil disobedience. All of us are entitled to work within the political system to enact laws we believe just and to repeal or amend laws we believe unjust. All of us are entitled to spend our money in animal-friendly ways. (If you want, you can think of this as "punishing" those who use animals as resources.) I've been a proponent of animal rights for more than a quarter of a century. I am convinced that the best means of change, in the long run, is rational persuasion. Not force. Not coercion. Not manipulation. If you care about animals, as I do, you will work within the system to improve their lives. Yes, this will take time, for it means addressing individuals one by one, respectfully, showing that their own beliefs and values commit them (logically) to changing the way they treat animals. (See here for an example of this approach.) Nothing worth doing is quick, cheap, or easy. Think long-term. Do what's best for the animals, not what makes you feel good.

Addendum: In case you're wondering how a conservative such as me can support animal rights, I have just explained how. Conservatives are not opposed to change; that's a vicious progressive stereotype. They're opposed to exogenous change. Change that comes from within the system, practice, or institution, in response to the felt needs and desires of individuals, is perfectly acceptable to a conservative. Progressives, by contrast, seek to impose change from without. They are impatient with endogenous change. Another difference is that conservatives want change to be gradual, so that mistakes can be identified and corrected before they become disastrous. Progressives, by contrast, advocate abrupt change, which, while satisfying to those with an engineering mentality, is dangerous. It's interesting that when it comes to the environment, it's progressives who insist that, given the complexity and fragility of ecosystems, we should intervene cautiously, if at all. Society is every bit as complex and fragile as an ecosystem. Why should the same caution not apply there? In short, conservatives can and should work to change the way people treat animals. They should work within the political system to elect people who take animals seriously. They should work within the legal system to see that laws against abuse and neglect are enforced. They should spend their money in animal-friendly ways. Most importantly, they should engage in rational persuasion. I believe that rational persuasion is the most secure basis for change. You might say, cynically, that I believe this because I'm a philosopher. No. I'm a philosopher because I believe this.

06 August 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Should Most Pet Owners Be Required to Neuter Their Animals?,” by Verlyn Klinkenborg (Editorial Observer, July 30), is right: “The rate at which dogs are purchased and euthanized in this country is not a sign of our affection for them. It’s a sign of our indifference.”

We’ve been educating, helping and begging people to spay and neuter their animals for years, but three million to four million cats and dogs still die in shelters every year because of simple math: too many animals, not enough worthy adoptive homes.

This crisis calls for mandatory spay and neuter legislation. Given the current dire shortage of homes, no breeding is responsible. Every time someone buys a puppy or kitten from a breeder, a shelter animal loses its chance at a home and pays with its life.

Breeders kill shelter animals’ chances to find good homes. It is time to practice your A B C’s (Animal Birth Control)! Animals aren’t possessions to use, abuse and throw away when we tire of them.

If people won’t be responsible for their animals on their own, it’s time to make carelessness criminal.

Daphna Nachminovitch
Norfolk, Va., July 31, 2007
The writer is the director of Domestic Animals and Wildlife Rescue & Information for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

05 August 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

A Factory Farm Near You” (editorial, July 31) does not mention any issue of the morality of factory farming—treating living beings as factory products.

Cruelty to animals on such a scale should be the centerpiece of any discussion on raising animals for food. The problem is that there is no possible answer to why we allow such cruelty, other than that we are barbarians. Is that why we conveniently omit it from all discussion? Shame on us.

Mary de La Valette
Porter Cove, New Brunswick, July 31, 2007

04 August 2007

Canine Inequality

In terms of welfare (i.e., overall well-being), there is great inequality among dogs. Some, such as my niece's Tag, are utterly spoiled. They have the best food money can buy, climate-controlled shelter, comfortable bedding, ample exercise, liberty to move about, toys to play with, and medical care (including control of parasites). Some dogs have their basic needs satisfied, but little more. Some, sadly, do not have their basic needs satisfied. (This latter category includes those that are abused.) Should we be concerned with this inequality? I don't see why we should. What we should be concerned with is not the gap between "rich" dogs and "poor" dogs, but the absolute welfare level of dogs. No dog should have its basic needs unsatisfied. Think of it as creating a floor below which no dog is allowed to fall. Once we create this floor, who cares whether some dogs are above it? Who cares that some dogs are spoiled when every dog has a decent life? Do you see the distinction I'm drawing? Inequality per se is morally irrelevant. What's important is welfare.

Now let's focus on human beings. Does anything change? It seems to me that it doesn't. One difference between human beings and dogs is that human beings can see how others live, can measure the gap between their own resources and those of others, and can envy those who have more. But why should any of this matter? Should we base public policy on envy? If people who have their basic needs satisfied are pained at the sight (or thought) of others who have more than they need, they have a problem; but it's not a problem for which there is a public solution. In other words, it's not a matter of justice. You hear a lot these days about the "gap" between rich and poor, and about how the gap is increasing rather than decreasing. How many of the poor for whom crocodile tears are being shed have their basic needs unsatisfied? How many are suffering for lack of food, fuel, shelter, clothing, or medical care? If any of them are, then we should be concerned with that, not with (1) how far they are from others or (2) whether they're getting farther from others.

Progressives (i.e., egalitarians) are trying to shift the debate from welfare to equality, because they know that, as regards human beings, they have lost the welfare argument. The best sign of this is the obesity epidemic among those at lower income levels. Far from having too little food, they have too much!

03 August 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

The real thrust of the American Kennel Club’s opposition to California Assembly Bill 1634 as stated in “Should Most Pet Owners Be Required to Neuter Their Animals?” (Editorial Observer, July 30) is not economic but rather that creating a one-size-fits-all law such as mandatory spay and neuter is not a workable, enforceable solution to reduce the diverse demographics of the state’s shelter population.

Lawmakers, animal control officers and animal welfare organizations need to work together and delve into the origins of shelter subgroups—such as stray, feral or surrendered pets—to address the issues that bring them to the shelter.

California’s shelter populations have declined in recent decades, and most pet owners (70 percent dog, 84 percent cat) are acting responsibly and spaying/neutering their pets without government involvement. Targeted programs that address specific segments of the companion animal population and broad public education programs have been and can continue to be effective.

Lisa Peterson
Director of Club Communications, American Kennel Club
New York, July 31, 2007

31 July 2007

Factory Farming

Here is a New York Times editorial opinion about factory farming. I have added the Factory Farm Map to the blogroll.

From the Mailbag


My name is Chad and I am working with the easy-to-understand explanations web site HowStuffWorks.com. The site recently posted a section called “How Dog Fighting Works” in response to the Michael Vick court case. “How Dog Fighting Works” is a look into the illegal sport of dog fighting and gives readers information on the issues and its effects. Also readers can find other information on the history of the sport, dog fighting laws, and links to other articles about dogs and pet care. You can find the article here. I think it would be great if you could link this website on your blog so that your readers can get more information on this topic.

Chad Davis

30 July 2007

W. D. Ross (1877-1971) on Animal Rights

A general discussion of right or duty would hardly be com­plete without some discussion, even if only a brief one, of the closely related subject of rights. It is commonly said that rights and duties are correlative, and it is worth while to inquire whether and, if at all, in what sense this is true. The statement may stand for any one, or any combination, of the following logically independent statements:
(1) A right of A against B implies a duty of B to A.
(2) A duty of B to A implies a right of A against B.
(3) A right of A against B implies a duty of A to B.
(4) A duty of A to B implies a right of A against B.
What is asserted in (1) is that A's having a right to have a certain individual act done to him by B implies a duty for B to do that act to A; (2) asserts the converse implication; what is meant by (3) is that A's having a right to have a certain act done to him by B implies a duty for A to do another act to B, which act may be either a similar act (as where the right of having the truth told to one implies the duty of telling the truth) or a different sort of act (as where the right to obedience implies the duty of governing well); (4) asserts the converse implication.

Of these four propositions the first appears to be unquestion­ably true; a right in one being against another is a right to treat or be treated by that other in a certain way, and this plainly implies a duty for the other to behave in a certain way. But there is a certain consideration which throws doubt on the other three propositions. This arises from the fact that we have duties to animals and to infants. The latter case is complicated by the fact that infants, while they are not (so we commonly believe) actual moral agents, are potential moral agents, so that the duty of parents, for instance, to support them may be said to be counterbalanced by a duty which is not incumbent on the infants at the time but will be incumbent on them later, to obey and care for their parents. We had better therefore take the less complicated case of animals, which we commonly suppose not to be even potential moral agents.

It may of course be denied that we have duties to animals. The view held by some writers is that we have duties concerning animals but not to them, the theory being that we have a duty to behave humanely to our fellow men, and that we should behave humanely to animals simply for fear of creating a disposition in ourselves which will make us tend to be cruel to our fellow men. Professor D. G. Ritchie, for instance, implies that we have not a duty to animals except in a sense like that in which the owner of an historic house may be said to have a duty to the house. Now the latter sense is, I suppose, purely metaphorical. We may in a fanciful mood think of a noble house as if it were a conscious being having feelings which we are bound to respect. But we do not really think that it has them. I suppose that the duty of the owner of an historic house is essentially a duty to his contemporaries and to posterity; and he may also think it is a duty to his ancestors. On the other hand, if we think we ought to behave in a certain way to animals, it is out of consideration primarily for their feelings that we think we ought to behave so; we do not think of them merely as a practising-ground for virtue. It is because we think their pain a bad thing that we think we should not gratuitously cause it. And I suppose that to say we have a duty to so-and-so is the same thing as to say that we have a duty, grounded on facts relating to them, to behave in a certain way towards them.

Now if we have a duty to animals, and they have not a duty to us (which seems clear, since they are not moral agents), the first and last of our four propositions cannot both be true, since (4) implies that a duty of men to animals involves a right of men against animals, and (1) implies that this involves a duty of animals to men, and therefore (4) and (1) together imply that a duty of men to animals involves a duty of animals to men. And since the first proposition is clearly true, the fourth must be false; it cannot be true that a duty of A to B necessarily involves a right of A against B. Similarly, the second and third propositions cannot both be true; for (2) and (3) taken together imply that a duty of men to animals involves a duty of animals to men. But here it is not so clear which of the two propositions is true; for it is not clear whether we should say that though we have a duty to animals they have no right against us, or that though they have a right against us they have no duty to us. If we take the first view, we are implying that in order to have rights, just as much as in order to have duties, it is necessary to be a moral agent. If we take the second view, we are implying that while only moral agents have duties, the possession of a nature capable of feeling pleasure and pain is all that is needed in order to have rights. It is not at all clear which is the true view. On the whole, since we mean by a right something that can be justly claimed, we should probably say that animals have not rights, not because the claim to humane treatment would not be just if it were made, but because they cannot make it. But the doubt which we here find about the application of the term 'rights' is characteristic of the term. There are other ways too in which its application is doubtful. Even if we hold that it is our duty not merely to do what is just to others but to promote their welfare beyond what justice requires, it is not at all clear that we should say they have a right to beneficent treatment over and above what is just. We have a tendency to think that not every duty incumbent on one person involves a right in another.

(W. D. Ross, The Right and the Good [1930; repr., Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1988], 48-50 [italics in original; footnote omitted])

Mandatory Sterilization

Should there be a law that mandates spaying and neutering of dogs and cats? See here for Verlyn Klinkenborg's column.

29 July 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “States Try to Weigh Safety With Dog Owners’ Rights” (news article, July 23):

Any law that deems a dog as dangerous or vicious based on appearance, breed or phenotype is unfair and discriminatory. Canine temperaments are widely varied, and behavior cannot be predicted by physical features. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

As an organization comprising dog trainers, behaviorists and other animal professionals, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers is aware that any dog can bite, any dog can maim and any dog can kill. A dangerous or vicious dog is a product of a combination of individual genetics, upbringing, socialization and lack of proper training.

Designating certain breeds as inherently dangerous implies to the public that behavior is not effectively influenced (positively or negatively), by training, and also encourages the faulty perception of other breeds as being inherently safe.

The solution to preventing dog bites is the education of owners, breeders and the general public about aggression prevention through selection, socialization and training.

Richard Spencer
Executive Director, Association of Pet Dog Trainers
Greenville, S.C., July 24, 2007

Note from KBJ: Pit bulls and Rottweilers account for the vast majority of dog bites, including the most serious ones. See here. Are we to ignore this fact in order to avoid the charge of "discrimination"? It seems to me that discrimination against pit bulls and Rottweilers is eminently justified.

28 July 2007

Another Leap Forward for Mankind

Science per se is neither good nor bad. It all depends on how it is used. What do you think of this use?

25 July 2007


Here is a New York Times story about the use of animals for food. By the way, all of my donations are to organizations that care for animals. Is that speciesist?

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

For ‘Animal Precinct,’ Reality Subject to Dispute” (news article, July 23) missed the entire point of comprehensive animal welfare: that effective animal welfare requires both response and prevention. Response is what our humane law enforcement officers do; the prevention aspect is then taken care of by the other resources of the A.S.P.C.A., be they medical, behavioral, placement or training and education so that, in the long run, the cycle of cruelty to animals is broken.

The real story here is our tireless commitment to fighting animal cruelty. We constantly stretch our limited resources to save lives as a nonprofit organization. We would welcome greater public support for our programs, which set a shining example for animal welfare across the nation.

Edwin Sayres
President and Chief Executive
New York, July 23, 2007

From the Mailbag

Hey there-

I thought you might be interested in letting your readers know about the site we just created to start an organized boycott of Nike until they drop Vick's lucrative endorsement deal.

What Vick did to those dogs is sickening, and the fact that Nike continues to sell products with Vick's name is even more disgusting.

We just launched the site this afternoon and are hoping it will really take off.

Let me know if you would like any more information or if you think you could post something on this.

rusty trump

24 July 2007

Rattus Rattus

Here is a New York Times story about the lowly rat. (I'm being facetious. Rats have feelings, just as you do.) Do you suppose stories such as this will change people's attitudes toward rats? If so, will that make experimentation on them less likely?

23 July 2007

From the Mailbag

To whom it may concern,

Please consider posting a link on your Web site to this Orange County Register Morning Read story on feral cats that are taught to be good citizens by being cared for by foster families.

Julie Anne Ines
News Assistant
Orange County Register

The Abolitionist Approach

Here is Gary Francione's new web site. I will add it to the blogroll.

19 July 2007

It's Back! The Horror of Horse Slaughter in DeKalb

Think of your favorite horror film: A brutal ruthless killer is on the loose, slashing hapless innocent victims to death right and left. After witnessing hours if not days of senseless killing, someone finally musters the courage to take on the killer and delivers what has to be a devastating blow. The vicious villain has finally been destroyed, once and for all. We relax and let out a sigh of relief, and just as we let our guard down, the wicked monster suddenly reemerges (from the flames or the lake or the bathtub or the earth itself) to kill again and again.

In DeKalb, Illinois, that monster is Cavel International, the only remaining plant in the U.S. that slaughters horses for human consumption. Since it is illegal to sell horse meat for human consumption in the U.S., you might wonder how it is that Cavel has been able to brutally slaughter horses for human consumption right here in the U.S. The answer is the proverbial loophole. One can't kill horses for human consumption within the U.S., but that leaves open the possibility of slaughtering horses for human consumption abroad. Cavel, a Belgian company, kills horses in Illinois for export to Europe.

In response to citizen outrage over horses being slaughtered in Illinois, the Illinois legislature decided to tie off the loophole for good by passing House Bill 1711. This bill amends the Illinois Horse Meat Act by banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption and also banning the possession, import or export of horse meat for human consumption. On May 24, Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the bill into law. Finally, the vicious killer, Cavel International, would have to close its doors for good. Illinoisans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

But with millions of dollars on the line, the killer Cavel wouldn't be dispatched so easily. Less than 24 hours later, Cavel was back—this time in court seeking an injunction to prevent the new law from taking effect on the grounds that it interferes with international commerce. [Apparently, Belgian citizens must have a say regarding what businesses can be engaged in in the state of Illinois!] Numerous court motions and counter-motions ensued. [A timeline of these legal proceedings is available here.] Then, on July 5, 2007, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Kapala ruled that the new law was constitutional and violated no state or federal laws and ordered Cavel to close down its operations permanently. A dagger straight to the heart of Cavel. At long last, the monster was dead.

Or so we thought! [See the Northern Star story "Cavel's Doors Closed Forever" here, and see my post of two days ago.] Sadly, the horror continues. On July 16, Cavel appealed Judge Kapala's ruling. Yesterday, the federal appeals court granted an injunction allowing Cavel to resume killing horses in its DeKalb facility while it awaits a final decision on its appeal of the amended Illinois Horse Meat Act. [See this Daily Chronicle story for details.] The Daily Chronicle quotes Cavel Manager Jim Tucker as saying that the plant "will be operating soon." It's unclear when the appellate court will rule on the case, but since no court date has even been set yet, it will probably be weeks if not months before the final ruling is made. While we wait for the ruling, hundreds of innocent horses will be killed in true horror-film fashion—their heads smashed by captive-bolt pistols, their throats slit by the slashing knives of Cavel employees. You can learn more about the harsh realities of horse slaughter here and here. An 8-minute film documenting the horror of perfectly healthy horses being slaughtered for no good reason can be viewed here.

Freddy Krueger and Alien have nothing on Cavel. The only difference is: Cavel's victims are real.

Dog Fighting

Is there anything creepier than dog fighting? How could someone support, much less organize, such a vile practice? Dogs evolved with humans. They are our trusted friends and companions. To train them to fight one another, and then to kill the losers of these fights, is barbaric beyond words. Michael Vick should be punished to the full extent of the law if he is convicted of the charges filed against him. I also hope that the National Football League banishes him. I'm tempted to say that the man is sick, but that would exculpate him. He's vicious.

17 July 2007

Horse Slaughter No More

For several years, conscientious U.S. citizens have been struggling to bring an end to the inhumane practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption. Happily, that struggle is finally over. As reported in this Northern Star story, on July 5, 2007, Cavel International, the last remaining horse slaughterhouse operating in America, was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Kapala to close down its operations permanently. For previous posts on the ethical issues surrounding the slaughtering of horses for human consumption, see here, here, and here. Additional AP stories about the forced closing of Cavel International are available here and here.

07 July 2007

From the Mailbag

Dear Keith,

I have discovered this essay by David Oderberg called "The Illusion of Animal Rights."

I thought that you may be interested in it.

Paul Barnes

05 July 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Don’t Cry Over rBST Milk,” by Henry I. Miller (Op-Ed, June 29):

Monsanto’s genetically engineered hormone has not held up to scrutiny. When recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH; also known as rBST) is used, it elevates levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 in milk, which has been linked to increased risk of breast, prostate and other cancers. No wonder rBGH has been banned in Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Seventy-four percent of Americans are concerned about negative long-term health effects from rBGH, while Starbucks, Publix and Safeway supermarkets and others have refused to use rBGH in many locations.

I dispute Dr. Miller’s assertion that rBGH-injected cows can help reduce milk prices. The only national study on the subject contradicts his claims. Farms using rBGH are likely to use more grain, water, fuel, emit more greenhouse gases and spend more on feed and other inputs, offsetting any economic gains.

Dr. Miller’s argument distracts from the real concerns over rBGH. Consumers are right to be wary; rBGH threatens to undermine the safety of nature’s most perfect food.

Andrew Kimbrell
Executive Director
Center for Food Safety
Washington, June 29, 2007

To the Editor:

Henry I. Miller argues that we should “embrace” the use of bovine growth hormone (rBST) in order to feed people more cheaply, save the environment and so on. He characterizes opponents of rBST as “cynical,” but I read Dr. Miller’s arguments as cynical.

I have no idea if rBST is safe. But I do know that the dairy industry and its lobbyists do not want to require labeling milk produced with rBST. In fact, they are so intent on reducing information available to consumers that they are lobbying to prevent dairies from labeling their milk as “rBST-free”!

There’s good reason for cynicism.

George Entenman
Chapel Hill, N.C., June 29, 2007

To the Editor:

Henry I. Miller’s Op-Ed article provides a welcome breath of fresh air.

Anticorporate activists have campaigned against this and other ag biotech products for years in denial of the demonstrated environmental, economic and health benefits. It is most welcome to see the facts finally given some exposure.

The data speak to a clear reality: If we are to meet the challenges of feeding and clothing a growing population in the 21st century without totally despoiling the planet, we will need all the tools we can find.

Biotech is already making huge contributions toward meeting these challenges, and more to follow. There is in reality no greener approach than biotechnology.

L. Val Giddings
Silver Spring, Md., June 29, 2007
The writer, a consultant, was vice president for agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a trade group, from 1997 to 2005.

To the Editor:

I read in horror Henry I. Miller’s latest recommendation for biotechnology in food. Is this really the conversation we want to be having about nutrition—how to pump cows full of even more chemicals to keep up with our ravenous, fat-laden diets?

Dairy is the No. 1 source of saturated fat in the American diet. It is also full of cholesterol and hormones (natural and otherwise). Trying to make unhealthy foods cheaper by genetically modifying them is absolutely the wrong direction to be moving.

How about spending all that time, energy and money on something productive, like figuring out how to get fatty foods out of the American diet and replaced with whole real fruits, vegetables, beans and grains.

It would make my life as a dietitian a lot easier.

Susan Levin
Washington, June 29, 2007

To the Editor:

Urging more hormone injection of cows to increase milk production is backward. It suggests there’s a milk shortage. The United States has long vastly overproduced milk. In recent years, the government accumulated a $1 billion stockpile of powdered milk from excess production.

Consumers want less use of drugs and chemicals in milk production, not more, as shown by skyrocketing organic milk purchases. Such hormones may increase the risk of breast, colon and gastrointestinal cancers, according to a University of Illinois study.

In cows, the hormones have been shown to increase lameness, udder infections and bone cancer. Europe and Canada outlawed using hormones on dairy cows because of such human and animal health concerns.

Increasing rBST milk would just move food production in the wrong direction.

Bill Niman
Nicolette Hahn Niman
Bolinas, Calif., June 29, 2007
The writers are cattle ranchers.

To the Editor:

Dr. Henry I. Miller’s article about the benefits of rBST is correct and thoughtful. Sustainable agricultural in the future, of necessity, will be largely sustainable intensive agriculture—an agriculture that produces more (and often better) food, fiber and fuel on a smaller environmental footprint.

Dr. Miller has clearly stated the evidence that shows rBST to be part of sustainable agriculture: more milk that is identical to all other milk, produced by fewer cows with reduced environmental impacts.

As a society, we can make sensible choices to promote sustainable agriculture. Choosing rBST is one such sensible choice.

Drew L. Kershen
Norman, Okla., June 29, 2007
The writer, a law professor, collaborated with Dr. Miller on a published article in Nature Biotechnology and on a book chapter several years before the published article in Nature Biotechnology.

To the Editor:

What parent or teacher has not noticed that girls are maturing far earlier than they used to? Years are being stolen from their childhoods. These added years will extend the time their bodies deal with adult hormones.

There is as yet no medical research showing the cost of several extra years of hormones flooding the system. Since this is a new phenomenon in our lives, we can’t know the ultimate costs to our children.

But for Henry I. Miller to write blithely of the benefits of rBST to farmers, and to Monsanto, without considering the effects on our children is shortsighted at best. If the Food and Drug Administration chooses to value benefits to business above the health of our children, we should at least be informed of its decision.

Label the milk that is rBST produced. Place obvious labels, and then let parents choose the milk they deem best for their children.

Sally E. Carp
Staten Island, June 29, 2007

04 July 2007

Food Labeling

It's outrageous that powerful industries, such as the beef industry, are able to prevent labeling of food to show where it originated. Consumers have a right to know not only the nutritional value (if any) of the foods they eat, and not only whether it was organically produced, but where it originated. See here for a New York Times editorial opinion on this topic. One way for meat-eaters to send a message to the beef industry is to stop consuming beef.

02 July 2007


Here is a New York Times editorial opinion about the house cat.

From the Mailbag

Dear Keith,

I work with Wesleyan University Professor Scott Plous (founder of Social Psychology Network), and I'm writing to let you know of a new web site related to animal protection.

The site uses a unique interactive technology to offer "human-like" interviews that probe the ethical dimensions of diet and lifestyle choices. This probing often leads people to examine their own practices and to better understand the choices made by others.

Please stop by for a visit, take the interview as a meat eater to see how it works (regardless of whether you eat meat), and consider adding a link to eInterview.org from your web site. You are also welcome to contact Professor Plous for further information.

With kind regards,

Jen Spiller
Wesleyan University

29 June 2007

Moove to American

Here is a good reason to boycott A&W products. (Watch the video.)

17 June 2007


According to this New York Times story, goat is "the most widely consumed meat in the world."

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

My Dog Days,” by Arthur Phillips (Op-Ed, June 10), gave me those warm, fuzzy feelings and made my eyes tear.

People who adopt from animal shelters will tell you that it’s not only a rewarding experience, but also that shelters are filled with a smorgasbord of the most amazing, delightful, intelligent dogs you’ll ever find on the planet.

There are puppies with puppy breath and slobbery kisses; young dogs with enthusiasm, devotion and intelligence; older dogs with patience, loyalty and wisdom. You can find purebreds, mixed breeds and designer dogs. But one thing they all have in common is the strongest desire imaginable to love you, protect you and bond with you.

When that happens, you’ll understand the bond between human and companion animal of which Mr. Phillips wrote.

Sherrill Durbin
Tulsa, Okla., June 12, 2007

To the Editor:

It’s strange, I have started to do the same thing as Arthur Phillips—counting my years by my beloved whippet, Gracie. Cherishing her puppy days but also cherishing every moment we have together, and all the smiles and laughs because of her.

Life is so much better with a dog friend at your side.

Karen Benzel
Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., June 11, 2007

Note from KBJ: I concur.

11 June 2007

R. M. Hare (1919-2002) on Animals

This line of reasoning also helps to explain why we recognize certain duties towards both men and animals, but certain others towards men only. For example, nobody would be thought to be oppressing animals because he did not allow them self-government; but, on the other hand, it is generally thought to be wrong to torture animals for fun. Now why is it that we do not acknowledge a duty to accord animals self-government? It is simply because we think that there is a real and relevant difference between men and animals in this respect. We can say 'If I were turned into an animal, I should stop having any desire for political liberty, and therefore the lack of it would be no hardship to me'. It is possible to say this even of men in certain stages of development. Nobody thinks that children ought to have complete political liberty; and most people recognize that it would be foolish to introduce the more advanced kinds of political liberty all at once in backward countries, where people have not got to the stage of wanting it, and would not know what to do with it if they got it. So this mode of reasoning allows us to make the many distinctions that are necessary in assessing our obligations towards different kinds of people, and indeed of sentient beings. In all cases the principle is the same—am I prepared to accept a maxim which would allow this to be done to me, were I in the position of this man or animal, and capable of having only the experiences, desires, &c., of him or it?

(R. M. Hare, Freedom and Reason [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963], 222-3 [italics in original])

10 June 2007

Canis Familiaris

Here is a New York Times op-ed column about man's best friend.

01 June 2007

May Statistics

This blog had 2,708 visitors during May, which is an average of 87.3 visitors per day. That makes it the second-best month ever, not far behind April 2007. Thanks for visiting. I hope you are making use of the bibliography in the sidebar. If there is a website that you think should be added to the blogroll, please bring it to my attention. If you're a publisher and want your book listed, please send it to me for review.

31 May 2007

Organic Milk

My cousins Craig and Kevin Hicks are dairy farmers, specializing in organic milk. They also sell pasture-fed beef and pasture-fed chicken. I spent some of the best times of my life on their farm in North Branch, Michigan. Here is their website.

30 May 2007

Fox and Hound

How do you protest fox hunting? You eat a dog, of course! See here for details.

27 May 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Your overture in “My Dear Fellow Species” (Week in Review, May 20) to the 150th anniversary celebration of Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species” through his letters is a fine attempt to briefly summarize his personality.

But in a Darwin letter of April 3, 1880, which I have, where he thanks Georg Heinrich Schneider for sending him a copy of his recently published treatise “Der thierische Wille”—a valuable contribution to animal psychology—Darwin seems to sum up his life’s work in one sentence: “Everything about the minds of animals interests me greatly.”

Fittingly, few words, much content!

Alfred S. Posamentier
River Vale, N.J., May 20, 2007

23 May 2007

Cow Flesh

The demand for beef is soaring.

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Death by Veganism,” by Nina Planck (Op-Ed, May 21):

I am a nutritionist who testified as an expert witness for the prosecution in the criminal trial of the parents of Crown Shakur. As the lead prosecutor in this case told the jury, this poor infant was not killed by a vegan diet. He was starved to death by parents who did not give him breast milk, soy-based infant formula or enough food of any kind.

Well-planned vegan diets are healthful for pregnant mothers and their infants, as well as for older children, according to a large body of scientific research. Contrary to Ms. Planck’s assertions, there are healthy plant-based sources of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA; calcium can be absorbed about as readily from soy milk as from cow’s milk; and soy does not inhibit growth.

Studies have found that vegan children are within the normal ranges for weight and height, and I personally know vegan mothers and vegan children who are healthier than many of their omnivorous peers.

Amy Joy Lanou
Washington, May 21, 2007
The writer is senior nutrition scientist, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

To the Editor:

Nina Planck’s article touches on a particularly important topic. Her use of the term food “fashion” is appropriate: many people today do not make informed choices about their diet; rather, they are influenced by trends, advertising and the political correctness of food.

Many adults do not understand the difference between feeding a baby, a child and themselves. Babies and young children who do not receive a balanced diet, with complete proteins, fats and vitamins, face potential lifelong developmental and cognitive delays. The medical journal Lancet recently published findings showing that children who are not adequately nourished in the first five years of life sometimes never catch up to their peers.

A diet that may be adequate for an adult is not always good for a baby or a child. Feed your children properly now; they will thank you later.

Ross Smith
New York, May 21, 2007

To the Editor:

I am shocked by the ignorance of the recent outcry against vegan diets in the media, most recently Nina Planck’s article about the dangers and irresponsibility of vegan diets during pregnancy and infancy. What these naysayers consistently neglect is that vegan diets, as with all other restricted diets, must be well planned.

It is not enough to simply cut animal products (or carbohydrates, or calories) out of one’s diet. Without a concerted effort by the consumer, restricted diets of any kind may fail to provide adequate nutrition.

Generalizing from a handful of ignorant vegans to the entire vegan population does a disservice to those of us who have spent years educating ourselves on human nutritional needs and how to meet them on a plant-based diet.

Well-planned vegan diets have been shown repeatedly to be sufficient, and even beneficial at all stages of life, including during pregnancy and infancy.

Nicole Speer
Boulder, Colo., May 21, 2007

To the Editor:

“Soy milk and apple juice” is not a vegan diet. Such a regimen would jeopardize anyone’s health, whether infant or adult.

Although vegans do not eat foods derived from animals, we do eat everything else—and enjoy a delicious array of high-nutrient foods, including grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and herbs prepared in tantalizing combinations and textures. It is well settled that a balanced diet of these foods provides the same essential amino acids that Nina Planck finds in an egg.

I’ll leave the question of infant care to the physicians, but I know firsthand that an adult vegan can enjoy robust physical health without contributing to the cruel suffering of animals on today’s factory farms.

Lynette C. Kelly
New York, May 21, 2007

To the Editor:

Thank you for publishing Nina Planck’s excellent article, “Death by Veganism.”

It’s appalling that anyone would think that a diet based on a dubious morality would build a human infant. Children need protein.

George Mazzei
St. Petersburg, Fla., May 21, 2007

To the Editor:

“Death by Veganism,” by Nina Planck, strays far from the truth about vegan diets. I’ve raised a vegan child since conception. Although I am a 5-foot-1, 98-pound woman, and my husband is 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds, both of us having grown up on meat and dairy, our son was a long 22 inches and 8 pounds 9 ounces at birth.

His pediatrician marveled at his outstanding health. She warned us to expect him to have colds and fevers regularly once he started day care, but he got sick only once during his first three years of life. He’s now 13 and remains healthy and strong.

Yes, vegans need to ensure that their children get proper nutrition, including vitamin B12 and omega-3s, but this is easy to do. What’s harder is having a child who eats the typical American diet stay healthy.

Zoe Weil
Surry, Me., May 21, 2007