Dept. of straw men (and other animals)

Not that it will dissuade anyone, but Julian Sanchez points out the obvious:

I know very many vegetarians and vegans. I do not think a single one of them..holds the view that “animals are morally equivalent to humans.”

The “moral equivalence” line is a staple of anti-animal-rights rhetoric. This isn’t to deny that there are–somewhere–vegetarians/vegans/AR types who really do think that animals are “morally equivalent” to humans. But they’re entirely marginal. And yet, we’re constantly being warned by folks like Wesley Smith about the great danger AR movements pose to “human uniqueness.” I mean, for pity’s sake, a spokesman for PETA pops into Mr. Sanchez’s comment thread and says:

I don’t think that animals are the moral equivalent of human beings; I’m Roman Catholic and accept my Church’s (and the Bible’s) teachings re: our (human’s) special status. But I think that means that we should do what we can to limit our support for cruelty, to make choices that are as kind as possible as often as possible.

Sounds about right to me.


2 thoughts on “Dept. of straw men (and other animals)

  1. It’s interesting how, overwhelmingly, people use the phrase “morally equivalent” when they are describing the positions of people they are criticizing. Pro-lifers on their own almost never talk about moral equivalence of embryo and adult; but pro-choicers use it regularly when describing the pro-life position. This is another case; and there are a few others. It’s almost a sign in itself that there’s a caricature underway.

  2. I think that’s right. It also comes up a lot when people are talking about the Israel/Palestine issue, or foreign affairs generally. It’s almost as though people can’t wrap their heads around the idea of two things being similar in some respects but different in others.

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