What do these 3 examples have in common?
1) Ingrid Newkirk's PeTA launching and sustaining for 2 years the "Holocaust on your Plate" campaign, a grotesque, touring, ad blitz that likened the farming of animals for food and their consumption to the gassing of 6 million Jews; likening meat eaters to Jeffrey Dahmer; likening murdered girls in Canada to the slaughtering of pigs; and AR luminary Karen Davis' reason-challenged effort to equate the farming of chickens to the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust.
2) Dr. Jerry Vlasak, former spokesman of PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group closely tied to PeTA) and presently a self-appointed "Press Officer" for ALPO (Animal Liberation Press Office, an entity reborn to apologize for the actions of domestic terrorists) finding it "morally acceptable" to assassinate a few scientists (and, later, violence against seal hunters) on the grounds that that would instill such fear in others that the use of animals in biomedical research (and the hunting of seals) would stop. And later Dr. Vlasak openly advocating the practice of assassinating scientists itself.
3) Professor Steven Best, also an ALPO "Press Officer" and additionally the Chairman of the Philosophy Department at the University of Texas, El Paso, nonchalantly informing an audience at the University of Iowa and again at Texas Christian University that in the event he could save either his dog or a human stranger from a burning building, he'd save his dog because his dog gave him pleasure and the stranger did not (an example of the "Me First" ethic — an attitude that masquerades as an ethic, really — an attitude that places oneself and one's pleasures above other human beings).
Answer: all three are concrete examples of the Animal Rights "philosophy" put into practice. It (the "philosophy") is based squarely on the unsupported assertion that human life is of no greater value or consequence than non-human life. In short, if it's immoral or unethical to do something to a human, it is no less so to do it to a non-human.
Such equivalency is the very core — the heart and soul, to use a misplaced analogy — of the Animal Rights movement.
If you believe that human and non-human lives are equally worthy, then you believe in Animal Rights, and you will find nothing disturbing about any of the 3 examples.
To the contrary. You will find it outrageous that animals are kept in cages, killed for food, hunted and used in biomedical experiments, and the Holocaust analogy will resonate with you. After all, the life of a chicken, dog, research rat, hog or cow is every bit as valuable as the life of a human . . ..
You will appreciate that when Dr. Vlasak advocates assassination, it's a fine idea, a matter of expediency, and you will applaud him: if a few scientists (or sealers) are assassinated, it may be possible to terrorize the rest of the evil-doers — or at least those people tagged by Dr. Vlasak as evil — into complying with your demands. After all, if the lives of humans and non-human animals are equally valuable, then killing five, ten or fifteen humans makes perfect sense if it saves thousands of non-human lives!
Indeed, if you believe that non-humans and humans are equally valuable, what is the argument against assassination? It's worth a try, right? And if killing 15 doesn't turn the terrorist trick, perhaps killing 50 or so would . . .
And, you will find it entirely acceptable that Professor Best would choose to save his dog from a burning building before he would save a stranger: each life is equally worthy of being saved, and his dog is more valuable to him than your child, parent sib or spouse is — to him.
Joseph Stalin reportedly said: "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic." I suspect that for a large majority of Jews, that's dead wrong: I think most Jews can place individual faces, personalities and stories within the 6 million done to death by the Nazi regime. To them, the 6 million victims are not simply a statistic — they are human beings.
But — sadly — for most of the rest of us, those of us who didn't lose a relative or know someone who did, the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust has become a statistic, and it is the abstraction of human lives — 6 million of them — to a mere statistic that provided cover for PeTA and Newkirk to market the "Holocaust on a Plate" (and other such campaigns) without PeTA — indeed the entire Animal Rights industry — provoking a fatal backlash.
Similarly, Jerry Vlasak's defense of the moral acceptability of assassinating scientists and his open advocacy of that practice are also abstractions. Most of us don't know scientists, nor have we been touched personally by someone's murder. To most of us, scientists are anonymous and distant — they lack faces and personalities and they do arcane things that nobody but other scientists can understand, or would even want to. For most of us, science, scientists, and murder, are like statistics: they are abstractions. And because they are abstractions, Dr. Vlasak's comments are easily dismissed as the extreme ranting of an individual head-case, rather than the extreme ranting of an individual head-case who has simply followed AR reasoning to it's logical conclusion.
But it is Professor Steven Best's grotesque "Me First" morality that takes an abstract philosophical idea — that non-humans and humans are equally worthy, equally valuable — and gives it an urgent, vulnerable human face. Curiously, it is Professor Best's "Me First" morality that illustrates the absurdly depraved core belief of the Animal Rights movement as a whole.
Because every human and non-human life is equally valuable, Professor Best would save his dog's life before he would save the life of your child, parent, sib or spouse. After all, his dog's life pleasures him and the human stranger . . . well . . . screw him!
In choosing to save his dog rather than a human stranger, Professor Best is simply applying AR doctrine to an every-day kind of decision. But there is nothing abstract about a house burning down, or about a loved one being trapped within as it does. Indeed, somewhere in each of our minds, perhaps first kindled in childhood, a time when so many fears take root, we share a fear of being trapped in a burning house, or of a loved one being trapped instead.
And as we share that fear, we can all see in our mind's eye the horror at an ideologically pure Professor Best rushing to save his dog rather than someone near and dear to us, but unknown or unimportant to him.
As unique as Professor Best's grotesque "Me First" morality might at first appear, it is not unique at all.
It is simply a particularly concrete manifestation of the core principle of the Animal Rights movement that is all too often hidden as an abstraction. But it is the same core principle that drives odious public relations campaigns of the sort that Newkirk and her PeTA colleagues launch — like the "Holocaust on your Plate" campaign — and it is the same principle that Dr. Jerry Vlasak invokes when he expediently advocates saving thousands of non-animal lives by assassinating 5, 10 or 15 scientists.
If you accept that humans and non-humans are equally valuable, equally worthy, then join PeTA, applaud Dr. Jerry Vlasak, and celebrate Professor Steven Best's decision to save his dog from a burning house instead of a stranger as just another one of life's little decisions.