Animal Emancipation

chimpanzee hand grasping wire fence

Ask not what wildlife can do for you: could the next wave of emancipation be the recognition of non-human people?

We like to see good triumph over evil. We like to feel a little righteous. We’re less keen on the reversal – on being ‘wrong’. At empathy grade one, ‘am I being unreasonable?’ becomes ‘how would I feel if someone behaved this way toward me?’ Similarly, ‘how could those {insert people and historic period of choice} allow that {genocide/enslavement/oppression} to take place?’ becomes ‘when have I gone along with a crowd of idiots doing something immoral?’ Or, more radically: what attitudes or practices am I complicit in now that will be judged poorly by history? That’s unsettling.

Unfortunately it’s likely: arrogance survives despite successive, massive intellectual blows to “the dominionist, anthropocentric, speciesist, theocratic, and geocentric worldview of Western society.”[1] In a progressive world, what might follow the race, feminist, and sexual-orientation revolutions? Could our treatment of wild animals in the pursuit of food, entertainment, research and material resources “seem to our descendants as unspeakable as that of the slaves in the middle passage seem[s] to us”?[2] Continue reading

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