“The righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.” Do not muzzle the ox while it treads out the grain.
My latest foray into the world of (near) vegetarianism seems to be plodding along smoothly. In pondering the needs and wants of the animal kingdom, it occurred to me that the commandment implied — as with the sixth commandment (You shall not kill) — has a contra-positive side, “You shall promote to the best of your ability the welfare and happiness of the animals.”
This means that we must, as Christians, take great care to defend the poor animals against the reigning, abusive system. Here is the brief and rough draft I am working on to that end:
THE ALEXANDRIAN BILL OF RIGHTS FOR ANIMALS
We affirm with the Word of the Living God, who has given life and breath and all good things to us and to His creation, the following rights and guarantees to the animal kingdom, or “beasts of the field,” the following rights:
1. To be free from any or all attacks, abuses (both physical and psychological) and the like, and most especially to be free from unlawful execution (save if a beast should attack or kill a human, but not in self-defense)
2. To have their basic needs met, including food, oxygen, sex, shelter (a safe and clean environment), play time, regular exposure to human kindness and friendly affection, and the other ordinary comforts enjoyed by humanity, necessary to cause them to thrive.
3. The right to have representation in court by an attorney (paid for by the Church or other willing private party, or enlightened government) to defend their rights perpetually, and to promote their cause with skilled excellence, and not simply mere or bare representation.
4. Likewise, the animals often detestably hunted as “wild game” have similar rights, especially the right to life and to a habitat conducive to their health and happiness, and to skilled legal representation.
5. Neither ought it to be lawful to transport animals, away from a protected jurisdiction, to another location, where they may “legally” be abused or slaughtered, nor ought it be lawful to prepare them for such slaughter or harm in any way, unless human survival depends upon it.
6. Animals may be subjected to non-abusive human training, by positive sanctions only (the carrot, not the stick), or else by verbal reproof not demeaning or harsh, which training is occasioned for the purpose of rendering the animal more skilled, intelligent or productive.
And now for something completely different. Here, in my studies, I have run into a quite unexpected truth:
IT IS IN FACT PRESENTLY ILLEGAL TO KILL AND EAT ANIMALS.
This surprised me, but here it is, in the form of a sound and valid argument.
A. It is currently illegal to perform all manner of abuses against animals, from food or hygiene deprivation, to inflicting overt injuries of various kinds.
B. The U.S. Supreme Court, as well the lower courts, regularly employ a form of argument that reasons from the lesser to the greater, or from the weaker to the stronger (a fortiori).
C. This implies that, since it is wrong to inflict the lesser forms of harm, it is also currently illegal to inflict the greater harm (death). Consider a parallel argument with humans: it is illegal to slap or pinch someone (assault) who does not wish it, but it is okay to kill them. This argument illustrates the absurdity of the animal-killing position by a simple parallel analogy.
Thus, we should deliberately work to make laws which render illegal OVERTLY what is already tacitly illegal — the execution of all animals in this land already protected by lesser laws affirming their rights to remain free from abuse.