Inquisitor

Sceptical libertarianism and opera

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Location: France

July 07, 2004

Animal rites

A beautiful scene from Spain - the running of the bulls at Pamplona. There's something I find deeply moving about this. It's the combination of tradition, the element of danger, and pleasure for its own sake that touches me. Long may it last.

Of course, there will be those out there who complain that it is against the bulls' animal rights. Animal rights - now there's an interesting little can of worms.

How can any decent human being object to, for example, an animal's right not to be tortured? On the face of it, surely we must support such a right. But hang on a second. What are we going to do about cats that torment mice? Or spiders that tie up their prey to await a slow death? How do we apply rights here? Animal rights tribunals at which cats are sentenced to time in prison? It is of no comfort to the victim that it is another animal doing the torturing.

The problem with the concept of animal rights is that they are really nothing to do with animals - and everything to do with humans. Animals cannot have rights, only humans can have responsibilities towards them.

By all means, let's debate what these responsibilities should be. But don't let's kid ourselves that animal have rights. They simply don't.

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