Speciesism

Discrimination, separatism, concealment, exploitation, manipulation, misuse, violence, indifference, apathy, ignorance, hatred, hypocrisy and inconsistency.

These words represent attitudes and behaviours that have motivated many humanitarian movements throughout history.

The uprising against racism and sexism was in protest at these very behaviours and attitudes. All of these words can be applied to human attitudes and treatment of animals. The term often used to describe discrimination against animals is speciesism.

Animals & Us provides opportunities to learn and think about relationships between humans and non-human animals.

Consider the factors that influence the different ways in which we treat animals now. Are they economic, political, scientific, cultural or personal?
Read and assess testimony from people who understand and empathise with animals.
 


PETER SINGER

Australian Humanist and Philosopher

“Ultimately the most convincing way a hen can indicate that her conditions are inadequate is by dying. A high rate of mortality will occur only under the most extreme conditions, since the normal lifespan of a chicken is far longer than the eighteen months to two years that laying hens are allowed to live.

Hens, like humans in concentrations camps, will cling tenaciously to life under the most miserable conditions.” (117)

Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. Second Edition. London. Thorsons, 1991.


JEFFERY MASSON

Psychoanalyst and Writer

“We forget that a valuable egg-laying hen can far outlive her capacity to lay eggs. Most farmers put profits before gratitude, and the same hen who has given thousands of eggs is slaughtered with hardly a second thought.

The same neighbour who had had egg-laying hens by the dozen asked me to hold a particularly sweet chicken for him for a moment, while he went to get something. When he returned, he had an axe. I was six years old, and I can still remember the fear that gripped me as he seized the hen, sliced off her head, and threw it into the yard while, to my horror, the hen ran around spurting blood from her neck.

I was sickened by the sight but even more perhaps by the ghoulish laugh from our neighbour directed in my direction. After all, the hen had been useful to him, and so had I. What was to prevent him from deciding that I had outlived my usefulness? I never set foot in that yard again and don’t think I would do so to this day.“ (75-6)

Massson, Jefffrey Moussaieff. The Pig Who Sang to the Moon. New York, Ballantine Books, 2003.


FIONA FARRELL

New Zealand writer

BRON            Shit! Hey! You! Let me outta here! Let me out. I don’t want to be here. Do you hear me? Is there anyone there? If you don’t let me out this bloody minute I’ll stuff my eggs down the chute! I’ll peck the cage to bits.

I’ll hold my breath till I explode and you’ll have guts and feathers everywhere. I’ll retain my eggs. Let me out! Let me OUT!

Farrell, Fiona. Chook Chook. Playlunch Five Short New Zealand Plays. Ed. Prentice Christine and Warrington, Lisa. University of Otago Press, 1996. (Pages 88-107)