Friday, May 26, 2017

Is it a Dog Eat Dog World?

In his review of Barbara J. King’s wonderfully titled Personalities of the Plate (TLS, 4/28/17), Richard Smyth provides the following précis: “We meet beloved pigs named Esther and Ursula and a ‘therapy chicken’ called Mr. Henry Joy”, who is described as ‘gentlemenly.’” But the reviewer finds "that farmyard anecdote is too often deployed where foresensic analysis would do a more effective job.” Personalities of the Plate, despite its colorful title is compared invidiously to works which deal more effectively with animal consciousness such as Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation. But titles are the thing to capture the conscience of the king. Consider some of the others which cited in the piece: Tense Bees and Shell-shocked Crabs, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? Beyond Words: What animals think and feel and last but not least The Soul of an Octopus. Smyth explains that King "describes herself as a 'reducetarian' rather than an 'abolitionist.'" However, let’s face facts. It’s plainly apparent that animals have feelings. Just look in the window of any puppy mill or look at the fish banging their heads up against the aquarium in the local Chinese place. True pigeons don’t seem very bright. Perhaps they’re fair game. The philosopher Peter Singer, who is the author of a tome entitled Animal Liberation, has pointed out that babies are not fully conscious people and "the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig." But it’s a dog eat dog world and if you're going to eat man’s best friend as they do in some parts of the world, you’re going to have to forget that he or she has a mind and just think of them as meat.

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