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Animal-Rights Philosopher, Published by Oxford University Press: “Let Animals Vote!”

Photo credit: laura adai on Unsplash.

The radicalism never stops. A post published by Oxford University Press — not a fringe entity! — has advocated giving voting rights to animals. Ioan-Radu Motoarcă asks, “Should Animals Have the Right to Vote?”

Many countries have adopted legislation that protects the interests of animals to some extent — see, for example, the 2006 Animal Welfare Act in England, or the 1966 Animal Welfare Act and the 1973 Endangered Species Act in the US. These laws ordinarily ban animal cruelty and place various restrictions on people’s treatment of animals.

That is all well and good. But suppose we went one step further. Suppose it were suggested that animals’ interests would be even better protected if we recognized a right of political participation to animals.

How to Do Such a Ridiculous Thing?

One way to do that would be to have human representatives cast votes on behalf of animals with respect to different legislative proposals. Thus, monkeys, parrots, and other creatures in the Amazonian forests in Brazil would have a say in the adoption or rejection of laws impacting their environment. Pigs, cows, and chickens on animal farms would have a say on laws related to their life conditions. This proposal would elevate animals to the status of actual actors in the political process. Right now, animals are merely subjects of our legal protection, but they don’t get to directly influence their own welfare. Under the proposal just stated, animals would have more direct control over their lives.

Wait a minute, Wesley! Animals are oblivious to political processes and utterly incapable of voting. So? Animal-rights ideologues would vote on behalf of those that — not who — can’t vote for themselves, and always against allowing human uses of animals:

Animal voting might take place along dimensions that are captured better by a voting system, than merely by laws for the protection of animals. For example, some candidates in an election might propose laws offering a mandatory minimum food quantity for certain categories of animals, say rabbits. Similarly, a candidate could promise shelter to various species (e.g., subsidizing farmers to build more sheds for horses and cows). In those cases, the animals’ vote would go to those candidates.

The article doesn’t say, but I assume the approach would be a matter of one animal, one vote. If so, that would mean a herd of 5,000 cattle “voting” for the human candidate in an election dealing with ranching issues promising to act against the interests of the rancher. Indeed, considering the number of animals that live among us, the potential for radical disruption of human thriving should this proposal ever be implemented is beyond describing.

Just a “First Step,” Mind You

Laughably, the proposal is defined as more moderate than what animal-rights activists really want, that is, as a “first step” toward the end goal of outlawing all human ownership of animals:

The voting proposal is actually more modest than a purported law mandating the elimination of all harm to animals . . . [A]rguing that animals should have a voice regarding their rights, the burden of proof is not as high as in arguing directly that animals should be subject to no harm whatsoever, or that they are entitled to sufficient food or shelter (and that therefore laws should be passed protecting these rights).

The end result of each argument may end up being the same, for example laws may be passed protecting animals from harm or providing them with food and shelter. But getting there in the indirect manner (through voting for candidates who support animal-oriented policies), given the significant size of conservative (in outlook, rather than political affiliation) constituencies everywhere, should be more acceptable in public debate today, and thus the safer way to go.

The article illustrates how animal-welfare laws are now scorned among the animal-rights crowd as too little protection and wrong because they allow animals to be used for our benefit. Thus, the author argues:

Indirect protection of animals through legislation has made significant advances, but the general track-record of this approach remains dismal. Animals are still being slaughtered by the dozens of billions every year (you read that right; check out the live Animal Kill Clock in the US) and turned into food (generating huge amounts of unnecessary waste in the process). By this standard, the effects of laws banning animal cruelty and protecting endangered species dwindle almost to insignificance. It doesn’t look like things are getting anywhere like this. So why not try something new? And a voting scheme for animals may provide just the right amount of novelty and provocation to jilt politicians and policymakers out of their apathy.

Sounds Crazy? Maybe Because It Is

Look, I know this sounds insane — precisely because it is. But since when does irrationality stop radicals? Indeed, that one of the foremost academic publishers in the world granted an animal-rights ideologue the space to propose such a ridiculous idea seriously demonstrates how thoroughly the intellectual set has been infected with the virus of anti-human exceptionalism.

As I always say, if you want to see what is going so badly wrong in society, read the professional and intellectual journals. Because once the craziness receives the imprimatur of the intellectual class, it often is imposed from on high as public policy regardless of what most people think.

If you doubt that, starting about ten years ago, advocacy in the journals urged that puberty blockers be administered to adolescents with gender dysphoria. People rolled their eyes and said it would never happen.  Today, puberty blocking is deemed by medical associations and much of the political leadership class to be uncontroversial “gender-affirming care,” as 14-year-old girls with gender confusion are having their breasts cut off.

Cross-posted at National Review.