Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wearing dead animals

Back when just about all I wore were buckskin clothes, I used to have animal rights advocates fuss at me from time to time over my buckskin jacket. Possibly only the ones who didn't notice the guns and knives hanging on my belt. For some reason they never seemed to get upset that my pants were also buckskin.

The question was always the same: "How can you wear dead animals?"

My answer evolved into this:

"I know how many vertebrates died for me to make my jacket. Three deer, a pig (for the brains I used to tan the hides), and an elk, which is where the sinew used to sew the jacket came from. (Various numbers of yellow jackets were also crushed when I rung out the wet hides during tanning.)
"How many animals died due to the farming or manufacture, and transportation, of your cotton, nylon, or hemp clothing? Habitat loss, agricultural chemicals, the trucks and factories and fuel all took a toll on animals. Both of us wear clothes that resulted in death. At least I own it."

Those who say they believe killing animals is wrong are confused. I can understand believing that killing our closest relatives, like bonobos and other great apes is wrong, even if I don't completely agree (although I don't believe animals have rights, and that the ZAP doesn't cross species lines*). But, let's say for a minute that killing chimps is wrong. Where to draw the line? Apes? Primates? Mammals? Warm blooded animals? Vertebrates? What about wasps or worms?

If it is wrong to kill other animals it shouldn't matter if you are killing them to wear, to eat, by running over them with your vehicle, or by destroying their habitat. After all, they wouldn't care why you were killing them. And if you shouldn't kill other animals, then neither should the other animals kill each other. Humans wouldn't be subject to inconsistent special conditions.

I can understand how religion made such questions easier. After all, if you can just say "Souls." you don't actually need to think about anything deeper.

So, maybe I'm just an animal hater.

I very recently had to have a cat put down. A stray which had adopted me and had lived on my porch for a couple of months- and who suddenly suffered liver failure and possibly other health problems. It completely tore me up inside. I cried, and I have hardly gone outside since. His absence is very painful, as I had gotten used to his friendly companionship every time I went outside. And I actually like many other animals much more than I like cats. I have rescued and raised many injured and orphaned wild animals So, the idea that I don't love animals is absurd. I try to treat them well because I am a decent person, not because they have rights.

*If the ZAP applied to how you should relate to other animals, do you believe they are wrong for not applying it when they encounter each other or individuals of other species? Are they even capable of doing that?


  1. Sometimes I tell people that if they can convince a lion to respect the rights of zebra and wildebeest and become vegetarians I'll consider their argument.

    Sometimes I ask people how they can campaign to protect whales and seals even though they know that whales eat seals. If they say that's just their nature I respond that it's my nature to eat a Big Mac.

    Sometimes I just tell people "This beef I'm eating came from a cow and cows are vegetarians so I'm eating a vegetarian animal. That makes me a vegetarian"

    1. LOL. Yep.

      The whole thing just becomes so internally inconsistent- more so the deeper you go- I'm astounded they can keep it up.

  2. Kent, maybe if your wore “live” animals instead of “dead” animals, they wouldn’t complain. Or would they then claim “abuse?”
    Don’t these people realize that nearly every action they do to survive results in the death of some animal, even if they are only microscopic? Every time they wash their hands in hot water they kill bacteria.

    1. That's why my response evolved. At first I wasn't as nice.

  3. I always regarded the self-righteousness of vegetarians to be based on nothing more than a narrow anthropomorphism; a tree or a carrot is every bit as 'alive' as a cow or a pig. I also learned not to get into discussions with the pet fanatics who in my personal experience seem to regard these creatures as having superior "rights" to humans, especially the humans who aren't their 'owners' while blithely ignoring the routine disrespect/abuse accorded them by those who are and treat them as enabling tools for their own gratification no matter how alien this is to the animals nature.

    I think the honorable and ethical path is to acknowledge the truth that all living things exist at the expense of other living things but to modify one's behavior to accord those so utilized with a respectful treatment that is a reflection of your own expectation for decent behavior from yourself to the other entities you encounter in life (which is just a different phrasing of what Kent said). I am open to the interpretation that other creatures may share to some degree the self awareness of humans but then I am also dubious about the universality of 'sapience' in all so-called 'humans' !