English III AP – 4th P
2 January 2009
Animal Rights: Do They Deserve It?
Since the beginning of time, we have been deliberating on the role animals play in this human-dominated world. Early attitudes toward animals were heavily influenced by religion, especially Christianity. Christian theologians concluded that animals were lower than humans and did not possess souls. It was even thought that animals did not feel pain, so there was no such phrase as “animal cruelty” in those times. It was not until the times of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), the patron saint of animals in the Roman Catholic Church, did people began to consider humane treatment of animals (Hile). However, a major shift in attitudes toward animals did not occur until the nineteenth century with the publication of British naturalist Charles Darwin’s book The Origin of Species (1859). Included in this book is Darwin’s famous concept of natural selection which is basically “survival of the fittest”. Unfortunately, this had an effect Darwin did not intend. Some thought that since humans were at the top of the food chain, they were more “fit” and that they deserved to survive more than other animal species. Fortunately, others saw that animals were much more similar to humans than previously thought and therefore deserved some compassion (Hile). Today we have the ASPCA to ensure the welfare of animals, but organizations such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are the ones lobbying specifically for animal rights. Truly the question is: “Do they deserve it?” I say “Yes, they do.”
Consider that organizations such as PETA know that animals are deserving of certain rights, but not exactly the same ones as humans. The right to vote, for example, would be useless to include. Now, consider animals feel just as we do. Famous field researcher Jane Goodall is known for her work with chimpanzees. Her observations include ones that tell of human-like behavior...