Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The conscience of a pro-life, vegan conservative

October 7, 2013
Pro-Life, Pro-Animal

Matthew Scully has been a speechwriter in each of the last six presidential general-election campaigns and was a special assistant to President George W. Bush. He is the author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy.

"The idea of animal protection as a cause of the Left is wildly overstated, put about by livestock interests and other animal-use industries to scare mainstream America away, just as NARAL et al. want us to think of protecting the rights of the unborn as the crazy obsession of the Right."

Mr. Scully discusses both the LEFT...
Some in the animal-protection movement mistake the cause for a part of the liberal progressive agenda (as if the Obama years have ushered in some golden era of cruelty-free living in America) and can be so wrapped up in that ideology as to ignore the most obvious of connections. In what moral universe does it makes sense to protect a wolf, pig, dog, or any other animal from needless suffering and violence, but not a human baby stirring in her mother’s womb? To their lasting credit, many animal activists post pictures on the Internet from factory farms, slaughterhouses, laboratories, and elsewhere, scenes so nightmarish at times that you have to study them for a moment before the horror of what’s unfolding becomes clear. How many of those same good people have ever brought themselves to look at pictures and films (even the ultrasonic and relatively endurable Silent Scream) showing what happens in an abortion, especially after the second or third month of fetal development, and to whom it happens? Different people are called to serve different causes, and if your vocation is to protect animals then no one is saying you have to sign up right away at National Right to Life. But if the creed is empathy for the weak, shouldn’t your sympathies at least lie in that direction?

...and the RIGHT:
Representative Steve King of Iowa, for example, is a solid pro-life vote every time and, just as dependably, an apologist for animal cruelty. He typifies a certain way of looking at animals that manages to be both lofty in tone and morally obtuse in practice. An influential member of the House Agriculture Committee, the man has opposed any kind of leniency for farm animals, dogs in puppy mills or dog-fight rings, birds used by cockfighters, horses bound for slaughter plants, exotic wildlife slain by big-game trophy hunters, any creature at all. All the while, he uses his pro-life principles as a pretext for doing nothing on behalf of animals, in a version of the abortion–cruelty connection that other conservatives have also traded on. The idea is that since the law does not now grant full protection to the unborn, any attempt to protect animal life is an expression of profoundly misplaced priorities, subversive to the sanctity of human life, an affront to Man in all his glory. The result of this high-minded stance? Glorious man, made in the image of God, can go back to his dog-fighting, cock-fighting, chick-grinding, hog torture, wolf slaughter, and general abuse of the animal world without being held to account.

If it is possible to give pro-life principles a bad name, little tyrants like Steve King are the ones who can do it. They are making excuses, not arguments. They are friends of power, not of life, serving no cause except human arrogance — in the spirit of what Governor Bob Casey used to call the Imperial Self. By showing such contempt for the healthy majority of voters in both parties who care about animals, they aren’t doing the Republican party any favors, either.
"The factory farms — producing almost every animal product we see sold or advertised, in our country and most others — are places of immense and avoidable suffering. And though the moral stakes are not the same as with abortion, the moral habits are, relying in both cases on the averted gaze and a smothering of empathy."

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