Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Animals deserve human love, not inhuman lust

Laura Vanderkam '01 shrewdly contends in her March 8 column that Princeton professor Peter Singer is not simply moonlighting in bestiality to supplement his philosophic day job. Singer's latest affront to mainstream morality ("Heavy Petting,", March 2001), his seeming endorsement of bestiality, makes his previous assaults on the public mind tolerable by comparison.

But Singer's downplay of the animal's experience in a bestial situation, while emphasizing "examples" of animals' willful dalliance with humans, has upset many people. Any discussion of relations between human and nonhuman animals that does not give equal consideration to the nonhuman animal's point of view is unjust and, in part owing to Singer's philosophical insistence on equal consideration of interests, out of date.

Vanderkam concludes that conceptually attacking the taboo against bestiality could help make homosexuality, by comparison, acceptable to the average person, but she does not say that it could help people to overcome their profound prejudice and discrimination against nonhuman animals. Yet this is what animals need. The taboo that needs to be shattered is not the prohibition against bestiality, but against caring about nonhuman animals in a respectful, nonpatronizing and unapologetic way.

Karen Davis, Ph.D.


United Poultry Concerns, Inc.

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