The Plight of Animals

The plight of animals, how must it be
Ordained thus, either by a just God or
A merciful? By nature meek and poor,
They have no hopes, no future can they see
And all they own their living now as we.
No retrospect, their past is nevermore,
Their present short, a wretched end in store
Though dear their lives to them as mine to me.

Our ends will come, in torment or at peace,
For we too hold mere tenure of a lease,
Yet proudly we alone anticipate
A future life if we can expiate
The past. But why are helpless beasts outcast,
And who will give the sinless peace at last?

 

 

Pigs at the Fair

A summer country fair, no matter where,
And by the dodgems, swings and roundabout
In livestock pens found hereabouts are stout
Prize boars and bloated sows that cannot bear
Their weight but lie prostrate. Too late to spare
Them their impending fate, each comic snout
And corkscrew tail, each oink and squeak no doubt
Belies their desperation and despair.

And children here poke fun at them and mock
Their girth and make of them a laughing stock,
Or voice disgust, revile their fat and flab,
A preface to the shambles and the slab!
Their massive waistlines no-one could deny:
We fatten them to give us more to fry.

 

 

We Don’t Know What They Are

We don’t know what they are, nor why they’re here,
We know not whence they came nor where they go,
But some of them give comfort to the low,
Some help the blind to see, the deaf to hear.
They leave us poignant memories that cheer
And some that ache, remembered deeds that show
The lowly creature kindnesses we know
Once Eden knew when Eden knew no fear.

We don’t know what they are and never will,
But sure it is they know themselves and learn
And think and understand, when parting yearn
For us and grieve sometimes; and sometimes still
It feels we would be better, to my mind,
Allied to them and far less to our kind.

 

 

Peter Hartley is a retired painting restorer. He was born in Liverpool and lives in Manchester, UK.

 

 

 


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53 Responses

  1. Leo Zoutewelle

    These poems beautifully express the hurt and misery our kind has caused their kind. Reading them hurts, but I am persuaded that their creator has his own plans for them. Thank God for that! Thank you, Peter.
    Leo

    Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      Joe – Thank you for your kind remark about what I think is a subject that should be thought-provoking for all of us.

      Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      James – First of all I should say that these three poems are not intended to be inter-related. They were written several months apart so that if you find inconsistencies or contradictions between one and another I can only say that what I have written is simply what I felt, or the train of thought I was pursuing at the time. We all know that dogs have occasionally bitten/killed their owners: we all know that events like this are exceedingly rare. They are notable, like plane crashes, BECAUSE they are rare; and it does little for cyno-anthropic relations to headline such incidents when for the most part the company of a dog eclipses all but that of one’s fellow man. Any dog that kills a human being (unless it has been specifically trained to do so) should be put down of course, and not as an act of retributive justice but in order to prevent a recurrence. Where there is no conscience there can be no responsibility, no guilt and no blame, but it is still recommended that we prevent a recurrence. I believe that certain cetaceans have more convoluted brains than we have, and I have heard of a pod of whales in concert trying to prevent a wounded whale from drowning by keeping its blow-hole above the water line. Descartes believed that animals did not feel pain, that the screams of animals in extremis were merely their reaction to a stimulus, that their insensate bodies operated like clockwork. I don’t think many people believed him even then. But I shall reserve judgment on relative sentience and the issue of morality. However, regarding my statement that the lives of animals are as dear “to them as mine to me” I intended no equivalence (if only because taking things to their logical conclusion the life of a human being has the same value as that of a flea). I merely meant that, as for most of us, life is the most precious thing an animal possesses, immeasurably valuable to the particular creature concerned; so much so, I imagine, that if it were given a choice, and the means to exercise it, the average garden slug would probably prefer to attend your funeral rather than its own. Thank you for your kind comments about my poems.

      Reply
  2. James A. Tweedie

    Peter,

    Well written and well constructed as always–and thought provoking. The second is my favorite insofar as it is laser-focused like a cruise missile heading straight towards its closing couplet.

    While I agree on the innocence/sinlessness of animals I am also aware that there have been at least two nationally reported incidents of pet dogs killing their owners this past week, and my neighbor was recently admitted to the ER with his hand torn open by another neighbor’s otherwise docile pet Labrador two weeks ago; none of which quite lives up to your idyllic Edenic scenario.

    I also find it hard to embrace the thought that the lives of animals are as dear “to them as mine to me.” This implied equivalency seems to require that animals be raised to the moral/sentient level of humans or humans be lowered to the level of animals–a philosophical matter that you seem to modify several verses later when you assert that “. . .we alone anticipate
    A future life . . .” Perhaps humans are in a different category after all!

    Good poems regardless . . . or perhaps because!

    Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      James (Tweedie) – It has occurred to me I should apologise for the pathetic naivete of my comments re Descartes etc., forgetting you know more about Cartesian philosophy than he did. I think at the time I was writing it more to myself and for my own benefit. I do hope, though, that my explanation of “As dear to them as mine to me” you find acceptable.

      Reply
      • James A. Tweedie

        Peter, Your explanation was clear, lucid and on point. Satis est. And as for Cartesian philosophy and Descartes, perhaps he should be the one offering an apology for failing to address the presence of mind and intelligence in dogs and for failing to offer a cogent explanation for it!

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    There’s a bit too much wide-ranging animal worship going on in the Western world today. My Asian and African students can’t believe the absurd lengths to which some Westerners will go to protect animals and make them comfortable.

    This is growing into a major ideological problem. There are some fanatics in university philosophy departments who argue passionately that animals have the exact same rights and privileges of legal protection as human beings. They decry “species-ism” as just as evil as racism. In the United States, vegan partisans are seriously trying to limit the consumption of meat products by others. This is more than just a political movement — it is a sick cult.

    You think these people are going to stop? Think harder.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      No surprise, Joseph, you’ve got things exactly right. Any Asians or Africans that are not pragmatic are probably already dead. I’m not certain whether this one made it into your A GALLERY OF ETHOPATHS or not. What most people do not grasp is that “rights” only apply to morally autonomous creatures, and not to creatures driven by instinct. Humans tend to project their feelings, emotions and motives onto creatures that are perfectly unable to generate these categories of existence themselves. It’s a sickness of the mind that no beast has ever been guilty of. Enough, already!

      Reply
  4. C.B. Anderson

    Peter, in “The Plight of Animals” I did not understand “And all they own their living now as we.” Would you care to explain?

    I sense that the third poem, “We Don’t Know What They Are” has something to do with dogs. I like dogs, most dogs at least, especially dogs that like me. But let’s not canonize them quite yet, despite what St. Rover & St. Fido might “think” about that.

    “Pigs at the Fair” is closest to the truth, though hogs, in their present situation, would not exist at all if humans didn’t like to eat bacon. Fattened hogs ARE ridiculous, and it’s no wonder that persons who have done the same thing to themselves are compared to them. So let me give you this, to make of what you will:

    CRYING FOWL

    The turkey that we blithely ate
    Had little cause to celebrate
    The final Thursday in November.
    It’s customary to dismember
    A hapless bird that’s plucked and trussed
    To satisfy our boundless lust
    For juicy chunks of roasted meat.
    The friends and relatives we seat
    Are thankful for the now deceased
    Large fowl on which we get to feast.

    Reduced to clean-picked neck bones, ribs and shanks,
    Poor Tom is in no mood for giving thanks.

    Can you believe that one person to whom I sent this (mass-mailed) actually seemed to think that I was advising her to forego Thanksgiving dinner?

    Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      CBA – By “And all they own their living now as we” I mean “And all [that] they own [is] their living now (in the present) as we [do]”, in other words: “All they own is their very existence in that fraction of time that is the present.” I would not dream of canonising my dog, by the way, unless I had a solemn undertaking from him to clear every cat from within a thirty-mile radius of my house to give me a chance to make some headway into clearing the twenty-foot high mountains of cat crap from the lawns without them all piling up again two days later.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        So the problem with that line, Peter, is that there is so much ellipsis going on that it is beyond comprehension syntactically. In other words, the line is elliptical and obscure. I trust that you would rather be lucid and (God willing) lucent.

  5. Lannie David Brockstein

    To answer the question asked by the speaker in Mr. Hartley’s “The Plight of Animals”:

    As one of the largest contributors of climate change causing GHGEs are factory farms, it is likely they will be completely phased out in the West during the next few decades of the 21st century, and replaced by warehouses that use cloned stem cells to “farm” cruelty-free cultured meat products in hamburger-shaped and steak-shaped petri dishes.

    During the latter half of the 21st century, that technology is likely to be minaturized and marketed as a kitchen appliance, so that everybody can grow their own cruelty-free beef burgers and beef steaks at home, and as inexpensively as it is to grow herbs at home.

    It is the consumer that chooses to buy cruelty-free cultured meat products over factory farmed meat products “who will give the sinless peace at last.”

    Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      Lannie – Thank you very much indeed for your extremely heart-warming contribution and for giving me a genuine answer to a question that was purely rhetorical. And the day can’t come soon enough!

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        My advice to anyone with or without second thoughts about consuming meat is to raise, slaughter and butcher your own livestock. I have done all of this, and no better ethical education is to be had. After you have done all that, your moral decision about such matters will already have been made. My own decision was to keep on eating meat, but to own my responsibility in regard to the entire process, even if the slaughtering was done by proxy.

  6. Peter Hartley

    Leo – Thank you for the kind remarks about my three little poems. I know you are an animal lover too and I’m sure you will be as pleased as I am with Lannie’s contribution to this site above. And you may be right about an animal heaven. C S Lewis believed in an afterlife of some kind for pets at least, as their constant proximity to human beings he thought lent them a part of our humanity.

    Reply
  7. Christina

    Dr. Salemi, I am surprised that these thought-provoking poems should have provoked such a vehemently-expressed negative response from you! You refer to your Asian and African students who “can’t believe the absurd lengths to which some Westerners will go to protect animals and make them comfortable”. The language suggests that the treatment of pet animals, especially dogs, has been the focus of such disbelief. Your Asian and African students are almost certainly Muslims and you must know as well as I do that in Islam dogs are ritually unclean. I live in an area of high Asian population, and the young children are taught to scream at the very sight of a dog, while Asian delivery men leave my Amazon parcels at the top of the drive because I have a very friendly dog! Westerners have nothing to learn from the disbelief you describe, but they may well be confirmed in their care for and love of animals by Christian tradition – the Good Shepherd in His tender care fot His sheep, the God who marks the sparrow’s fall, and the life stories of many saints, such as Francis of Assisi and Cuthbert, in which animals feature prominently.

    What you describe in your second paragraph, of course, are various aspects of the modernist insanity that is destroying all that is left of Western civilisation. I don’t think that they have anything to do with true care for animals or with the thinking behind these beautiful animal poems.

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      I do not believe in cruelty to animals. That kind of thing is vicious and inhumane. But the traditional Western friendliness towards dogs and cats and sheep and horses and beasts of burden is today being dangerously confused with a sick ideology that equalizes human beings with all animals, and that is deliberately denigrating human life in favor of animal life. People who have no qualms at all about aborting babies are the ones who scream for the ASPCA if a mangy cat is stuck in a tree.

      Vegans are just the tip of the iceberg. What about P.E.T.A., with its apologies for terrorists who wreck laboratories and animal research centers? What about the physical risk that any woman takes who dares to wear animal fur in public? What about maniacs who stop you and question why you have a leather jacket and shoes, or a pigskin belt? What about environmentalist creeps in London who accost you on the street, and berate you for eating beef?

      All of these things are real, and are happening now. These people are dangerous, and are not a joke. But they are able to “hide in plain sight,” as it were, because there are far too many overly sentimental animal lovers on our side of the political divide. Forget St. Francis — he didn’t take his cat to be manicured, or build an air-conditioned kennel for his dog.

      Some of my students are Muslims, but many of the Africans are Christians of various denominations. A typical comment from one of them is this: “In Africa we don’t feed dogs or knit pullovers for them. Dogs just eat whatever they happen to find in the street. It’s absurd to pamper them!” My Asian students are either Buddhists or Christians or secularists, but they too can’t believe the insanity of buying winter booties for dogs, or paying big prices for heavily advertised dog foods that are presented on the TV screen as sumptuous banquets.

      We Westerners loved our animals in the past. But we never went to these idiotic lengths! This is a symptom of a disoriented misperception of what is important.

      Reply
      • Christina

        No sane person could find very much to quibble about here. If I choose to look outside my own immediate countryside environment at the totally disoriented world in which we live, I can find examples of all the insanities you mention. In my mind they range from the merely stupid to something close to idolatry.

        For many years I have owned dogs and trained them to do the work proper to their breed and/or play activities based on those working skills. I have also had much contact with local gtoups doing the basic work of pet training for obedience and general good behaviour. Never, in those years of training and competing in trials and game fairs did I see a dog with manicured toe nails or wearing a pullover!

        I objected to your original comment because of its stereotyping – it failed to separate the sheep from the goats! If you are an animal lover, you seemed to imply, then you are ipso facto a modernist maniac who dresses up dogs and is party to the disorientation and disimtegration of our culture.

        My one quibble remains. It is that the opinions of your Asian and African students, brought up in parts of the world where attitudes to animals have always differed from those in the West, are irrelevant in this context. You have strengthened my argument by quoting your African student’s ‘typical’ remark on the subject – ‘Dogs just eat whatever they happen to find in the street’. Of course they do, where, as I know, dogs often live on the streets. In Great Britain dogs are not allowed to be loose on the streets, and if found so are picked up by the relevant authority. There are big fines for the owners of dogs who do not pick up their dog’s excrement and local authorities see to it that the streets are cleared of anything that might feed a dog. So here we have to keep our dogs indoors or kennelled, and incidentally we can prevent them suffering, as street dogs do, from the torments of fleas, ticks and mange. As for the white bootees, I and the many hundreds of dog owners I have met over the years would agree 100% with your student.

        My dogs have brought more happiness to me over the years than I can possibly quantify and I thank God daily for their companionship and loyalty. They ask for nothing in return and certainly don’t get heated kennels, bootees, manicures or coats! The odd used tennis ball, maybe! The death of each one has also brought me very great grief, and I hope, as some other posters do, that their Creator has plans for thrm to which He has not made us privy.  

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        We have no real argument, Christina. It’s just a matter of perspective. I have deep respect for persons who live and work with animals regularly, such as trainers or breeders or farmers or veterinary doctors. They always have the same level-headed and no-nonsense attitude that you show. And I do recognize that a strong bond of affection can exist between a pet and its master, and that this affection and loyalty are good things.

        My main point was the “hide-in-plain-sight” ploy of animal-rights fanatics. They make use of the traditional feelings of humanity and sympathy for animals that many Westerners share, and then surreptitiously twist them into justifications for utterly insane anti-human novelties.

  8. Joe Tessitore

    Beautiful poetry about animals and the insanity of dog owners are two different things.

    Reply
  9. Peter Hartley

    Joe – Thank you once again for iterating your kind remark regarding my poetry, and for reminding us that verses about dogs have little to do with the insane, capricious or fatuous behaviour of some dog owners. And since the subject of dog owners has been introduced I should like to state with some conviction that I have not seen a dog with exquisitely pedicured nails or a pair of booties in the UK, I can well imagine the sight of a dog so dressed might foment a misplaced hatred for dogs in general, especially if you have already had both arms ripped off by next door’s Rottweiler. Some dog owners have a lot to answer for.

    no malice aforethought. Those who do dress up their dogs (do they all live in America?) have a lot to answer for but they must be a rarity as they are effectively de-dogging the dog of its doghood, which defeats the object of owning a dog in the first place

    Reply
  10. Lannie David Brockstein

    In many countries during the winter, the weather is not typically snowy and icy. However, in Canada and the northern U.S., the city streets and sidewalks during the wintertime are always poisoned with tons of snow and ice melting rock salt that dries out and cracks the pads of dog paws.

    The same way that it is very painful for any human to have salt put onto a papercut, it is also very painful for any dog to have salt on a cracked pad of its paw.

    Furthermore, the pharmaceutical industry’s chemicals that are added to rock salt, are toxic to dogs, and it is natural for them to lick anything that is caked between their toes.

    On days when the weather is too hot for humans to walk barefoot on pavement and concrete, that is also when it is too hot for the pads of dog paws. Even when the weather is not that hot, their walking and running on pavement and concrete does harmfully wear upon the soft pads of their paws that are designed or that did evolve for walking and running on the softness of grass, dirt, and mud.

    Those are some of the arguments as to why it is ethical for dog owners to dress their dogs in boots.

    Reply
    • Joe Tessitore

      It really isn’t about dogs, but about the people who own them. You’d have to see what goes on here to believe it, but I will say that it goes well beyond putting boots on them to protect their paws in winter.

      Reply
  11. Peter Hartley

    Lannie – Thank you once again for the useful link. I have tried lion excrement (available from our local pet shop but presumably gleaned from the local zoo) which worked for a couple of days till the cats overcame the intimidation and returned to pooing in every garden but their own.
    Joe – you seem to be very unfortunate with the shallowness and conceit of dog owners in your neighbourhood. Where I live nobody dresses their dog up like a dog’s dinner but most owners do exercise a responsible attitude towards their local environment and carry plastic bags around with them for the collection and disposal of their dogs’ waste.
    It is such a pity that the most faithful, affectionate and companionable animals on earth should ever, through the vanity or irresponsibility of a tiny minority of owners, incur the odium that properly belongs elsewhere.

    Reply
  12. James A. Tweedie

    Peter et al,

    As a former dog owner I can say two things: 1. I love dogs, and 2. they love me so much they sometimes try to take a piece of me home with them! Which leads me to a third thing–one that sort of changes the subject a bit. And that is to say that dogs, at least the domesticated sort that are here being discussed, are the product of hundreds of years of cross-breeding, in-breeding and other forms of genetic manipulation designed to create canis breeds that meet and satisfy a variety of human needs. All dogs are descended from feral beasts that hunted in packs to capture, kill, and consume prey. No wonder they sometimes bite!

    Domesticated dogs are good companions because we have bred them to be such. God did not create them this way. I suppose it would not be too far off the mark to call them “designer dogs.” Today we can even more accurately artificially alter the genetic make-up of both plants and animals. Genetic alterations in humans hold promise for reducing or eliminating many health-, congnitive-, and social behavior-related conditions. Perhaps one day we will breed ourselves into being as docile, lap-friendly, deferential, obedient, and droolingly domesticated as dogs. But if and when that day arrives, will be still be human?

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      James, it is even worse than what you describe. I read an article which outlined how many dogs are now being bred solely to win prizes at dog-show competitions, and the traits that are being genetically concocted are ones that are purely designed to win points in the judging. The dog is expected to stand in a certain way, have a certain overall appearance, walk with a particular kind of stride, and even have a certain favored facial look.

      The result is that we are creating Frankenstein types of canine monsters that are unnatural, and unfitted to live. Their bizarre skeletal anatomy and internal organs are badly skewed, and cannot support any sort of normal lifestyle or life span. Such wretched dogs are only designed for the vanity of their owners, who are desperate to win prizes.

      Imagine a St. Bernard with the heart of a Chihuahua. Imagine a French poodle with the head of a German shepherd. Imagine any kind of genetic monstrosity cooked up to please the stupid vanity of rich jerks on the Upper West Side.

      At least in England dogs were bred for sane and sensible purposes, like hunting, or tracking, or herding sheep, or being guard dogs.

      Reply
      • Christina

        There was an outcry about this appalling form of animal-abuse many years ago in the UK, which did compel some modification of the dog-show world’s dreadful ‘breed standard’ requirements. Nothing can excuse such madness and cruelty in the service of human vanity, but it is important to keep a sense of proportion here and remember that dog owners who ‘show’ their unfortunate dogs are vastly outnumbered by responsible dog owners – over here at least. I have spent much time in the world of dogs, but have never met one that has been taken to ‘Crufts’! But rhese comments worry me because it used to be said “Look at the USA to see what it will be like over here in 30 years”, and I suspect the interval is now much reduced!

  13. Peter Hartley

    James – I penned a short apology to you a few moments ago which crossed your latest post. I must say I disapprove strongly of the kind of inbreeding that gives short-snouted dogs like pugs and bull-dogs a lifetime’s respiratory problems. More successful is the development of the Labrador retriever out of the Newfoundland, although I wonder if the hip dysplasia common in Labs is also rife among Newfoundlands? It’s hard to believe that the swift is more closely related to the humming birds and is not even in the same order as the swallow that it closely resembles, the swallow being taxonomically closer, incredibly, to a carrion crow; and yet all dogs from St Bernard to chihuahua are some race bearing the same generic and specific name “Canis familiaris” [in italics] Dogs really are unique in the way that they have ben engineered by man, partaking perhaps, as C S Lewis seems to imply, something of our humanity. I have said before on this site that I was convinced that my dog had self-awareness because it used to embarrass him to fall into our local canal. He almost visibly went red! Another of our family dogs had a command of forty-five separate commands or instructions in English and could open doors from the inside; and if any further proof of superior intellect were needed, how many of us can hold a tennis ball in our mouths? Quod erat demonstrandum.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Peter, I must amend my comment concerning God’s creation and the human domestication of dogs. It should be obvious that systematic breeding does not create intelligence in dogs where none existed before. Breeding can only refine, distill, and uplift that which God/or Nature had already bestowed upon them in the first place!

      Reply
      • Peter Hartley

        James – Thank you for the clarification which successfully restores you to the fold of Christian orthodoxy!

  14. Peter Hartley

    CBA – I have just found your comment on my line “And all they own their living now as we”. In my recent post to you I deliberately over-expanded my explanation hoping that even a total idiot would be able to understand it. But if you merely re-insert the single two-letter word “is” between “own” and “their” surely the whole phrase becomes instantly comprehensible? Or perhaps it is the gerund “living” that gives you trouble in its context here? Of the other ellipses it is arguable whether the first (missing “that”) could be described as such since it makes no difference whether the word is there or not and the phrase stands absolutely equally well with or without it. Perhaps “redundant” would describe the missing word better. Of the third ellipsis, “do,” the same could be said. And yet you say “There is so much ellipsis going on that it is beyond comprehension syntactically”. In poetry, as you will surely know better than I (and especially within the tight strictures of the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet form} it is often necessary to compress our words and even, now and again, to expand them (let us all confess) with the odd bit of waffle or circumbendibus. Before submission I asked two people to read these three little verses, and this line among one or two others in particular. The first understood exactly what I meant at a first reading: the second needed a little gentle prompting to give me the precise purport within a reasonable timeframe, but on her own ready admission that dear lady is as thick as two short planks. Obscurity I will and do try to avoid as long as it is consistent with aims that are more important to me than a blatant transparency at first reading.

    PS I admire the decision to rear, slaughter and butcher your own food. I imagine that many of us who buy all our meat as red lumps totally unrecognisable as parts of once-living creatures, wrapped in cling-film from the local hypermarket would blench at the sight of a captive bolt smashing through the frontal bone of an ox. This is hypocrisy. Your decision to continue eating meat was honest.

    Reply
  15. Peter Hartley

    Correction: I’ve been reliably informed that the Labrador retriever is descended from the St John water dog and not the Newfoundland as I wrote three posts ago.

    Reply
  16. Lannie David Brockstein

    Is it unethical for dog owners in Manhattan or elsewhere to treat their dogs as little “fur-babies” who they pamper, no matter how ridiculous some of us might find that to be?

    Yes, dogs cannot read or write, but they can understand more than 100 words of any human language, which is around how many words an average two to three year old human baby can understand.

    Furthermore, it can also be reasonably argued that dogs are more than 80% human, because in terms of their DNA, dogs and humans have more than 80% of the exact same DNA.

    Descartes was incredibly mistaken when he concluded that the cries of animals are nothing but an illusion, and that animals do not truly suffer if they are hurt.

    The truth is that animals are not lifeless robots that mimic human responses to stimuli. The pain that animals in today’s factory farms and medical laboratories suffer is no less real than the pain which the Jewish people and other political prisoners suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

    Descartes in his having horrifically tortured animals to death, was a deranged sadist, and his barbaric philosophy which basically claims that “it is ethical to torture animals because they do not have souls”, is a false philosophy, and thus his philosophy ought not to be taught in high schools and universities unless it is simultaneously taught that Descartes’ understanding of what animals are and how he treated them was not only incorrect, but also inhumane, sadistic, and evil.

    In the context of Descartes’ philosophy, the question of whether or not animals have souls is irrelevant: the pain they feel is real. Descartes used his deranged philosophy to rationalize his having sadistically tortured animals to death in the name of science.

    Thus, Descartes was no different than the Nazis who used their evil ideology to rationalize their having murdered millions of Jews and those of other so-called “non-Aryan” races, who the Nazis delusively believed to be of “an inferior race” and therefore that those of “an inferior race” are nothing more than soulless animals that in the Nazi’s gas chambers and concentration camps and medical laboratories did only pretend to feel pain.

    Not only were the Nazis racist, they were also ableist in their having murdered many thousands of disabled non-Jewish Germans, French, Poles, etc., as the Nazis also did not believe that disabled humans have souls, and it did not matter to the Nazis whether any disabled person was “Aryan” or not.

    Descartes was very evil person, and that historical fact should never be concealed or dismissed by any student or teacher of science or philosophy.

    Recently, the National Hockey League has once again been in the news, because two of its coaches have been fired for being abusive to their team’s hockey players. The only hockey players that abusive personalities such as Mike Babcock and Bill Peters are fit to coach, are the robot hockey players of a video game screen, because unlike robot hockey players, the pain that every human hockey player suffers if verbally abused or kicked or punched is real.

    Those of us who value Truth, but were basically taught to believe that “animals do not have souls and that is why it is ethical for factory farms and medical researchers to torture them”, must re-examine all of our opinions, because that learned opinion is based on a grave error of Descartes’ philosophy.

    Reply
  17. Joseph S. Salemi

    Lannie, you are a prime example of everything that is wrong with modern thinking and sentiment.

    It makes no sense for any of us to argue with you, since you are nothing but a recorded tape for politically correct asininity.

    Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      It does indeed make no sense whatsoever to argue with what Lannie has written above since most of what he says is self-evident and beyond dispute. Thank you, Lannie, for the second of your very highly informative contributions regarding our treatment of animals and their moral status.

      Reply
      • Joseph S. Salemi

        “Highly informative contributions”?

        You’ve got to be putting us on, Peter.

    • Lannie David Brockstein

      Joseph, I am flattered that you always make your replies to me about me, and never about the ideas and arguments which I have put forth.

      But that anti-academic behaviour does not change the fact it is the criticaster who limits himself to making personal attacks, because personal attacks are a form of censorship, whereas it is the critic who puts forth ideas and arguments for the sake of dispassionate discussion and debate, because that is to value Freedom of Speech!

      When will you re-think your stubborn opinions that, like mine own when I was younger, have been strongly influenced by history to monkey or mimic the evil errors of Cartesian philosophy?

      The poet John Keats did himself probably witness or perform horrific medical experiments on living animals, before he had a crisis of conscience and quit being a student at the notorious Guy’s Hospital.

      An elephant can be trained to paint a picture, but acting like an artist does not make any elephant to be an artist. However the pain that any elephant feels if hurt is real.

      When viewing some of the documentaries on those of the Uyghur Muslims that had been kidnapped and tortured by the Communist Party of China, I noticed their common complaint whereby they basically said that “in being tortured, they were treated like animals”. Not to downplay their having been horribly abused…what is ethical about animals being treated as inhumanely as they themselves were?

      Reply
      • Christina

        Laurie, that ĺast question you ask is a very important one that I have asked many times over the years whenever I have heard the claims of the ill-treated, oppressed, tortured or abused that they were treated like animals. I suppose that at one time, certainly in the uk, the claim meant something quite different, for example in reference to living conditions/habitat, where clearly those of humans and animals differ. People forced to live in bad hoising conditions miģht claim to be living like animals with no implication of cruelty to them. But the underlying mindset at work in the example you quote is dreadfully disturbing to me, and it can be seen in film secretly shot in certain abbatoirs in this country and in the shocking cruelty revealed through TV documentaries made by animal charities such as the RSPCA.

  18. Joseph S. Salemi

    Lannie, you are either a hypocrite or an idiot, and I’ll leave it to others to decide which. Consider the facts:

    You claim that I am trying to censor you, and that you value “Freedom of Speech.” And yet in your lengthy post of December 3, you propose the insanely illiberal idea that a great European philosopher like Descartes should be forbidden to be taught in our schools, or only taught with mandatory restrictions. I guess your idea of “Freedom of Speech” only holds validity in the case of politically correct lemmings like yourself..

    You then insist that anyone who doesn’t share your bizarre views about the rights of animals should be compelled to “re-examine” their opinions. Is that your idea of liberalism? Do we all have to go to Communist re-education camps to suit you?

    Frankly, Lannie, who the hell are you to tell me or anyone else what we should think, or what we should teach? By what act of divine appointment have you been made the arbiter of propriety? The mere fact that you are stupid enough to equate a profound thinker such as Descartes with genocidal Nazis only proves you are as ignorant as a bag of rocks.

    Am I being unfair in that last sentence? I don’t think so. You have also proven your denseness by insisting that poems here at the SCP ought to be sung aloud if they are to have any meaning, even though poetry has been an overwhelmingly on-paper art for centuries now in the West. I notice that no one here at the SCP discussions threads said a thing about that stupid proposition of yours, no doubt because they figured anyone wacky enough to put it forward was probably mentally deficient.

    By the way, ALL vertebrate mammals share about 80% of their DNA. If you think that this means we are all humans, there’s no hope for you, logically speaking.

    Reply
  19. Peter Hartley

    I should like to put forward my own stance, insofar as I have one, with regard to meat-eating and vegetarianism. I do eat meat occasionally, but not lamb or anything that comes from a pig. Not lamb because it reminds me strongly of Paul and Linda McCartney’s instant decision to become vegetarian on seeing lambs gambolling in a field one day; and no pig meat because I believe they are very highly intelligent creatures (perhaps even surpassing dogs) and there is a correlation between intelligence and sentience. I have pangs of guilt each (rare) time I eat meat and I derive little consolation from the knowledge that the particular animal I’m eating would have been dead anyway, whether I bought and ate its liver or not. Such a statement is mere equivocation. I know that if I saw any animal larger than a chicken slaughtered in front of me the image would remain with me and haunt me for the rest of my life and I would probably become an instant vegan. This is why I can admire the stance that has been adopted by CBA who, though a meat eater, has taken the trouble to come to an informed decision based on experience and fact. I remember reading somebody’s tongue-in-cheek remark, “If we are meant to be vegetarian why are animals made of meat?” I don’t think there is any biblical insistence or recommendation that we be vegetarian: sparrows, fish and Gadarene swine all spring to mind. I believe animals on the whole are treated rather cavalierly in the bible. But giving humanity dominion over the beasts of the field does not give us carte blanche to indulge in the gratuitous cruelty that Cartesian philosophy appears almost to encourage. Perhaps my own stance would carry more weight if I had one; and had I the courage to make a decision between sentiment and compassion at one end of the scale, logic and expedience at the other. I’m aware that I do not come across very admirably in the foregoing lines but I can’t make myself sound any better. Gavin Maxwell loved all animals yet he hunted and stalked and shot, and almost single-handedly wiped out the entire (harmless) basking shark population from British waters in the 1950s. So I am in distinguished company.

    Reply
  20. Peter Hartley

    Two little poems I wrote earlier this year, the first based on direct experience (For Lannie’s attention).

    BY THE TEMPLE OF LUXOR

    The finest archaeology displayed,
    We sat in silent awe above the Nile
    And marvelled at each pylon, peristyle
    And hypostyle and every colonnade
    And obelisk and statue we surveyed.
    But in the city by this noble pile
    A wretched sight, the pathos of its vile
    Neglect a single upright ear conveyed.

    Upon a mule-drawn cart a mule just killed,
    Its final gaze its stablemate’s recoil.
    A life drained with a knife, grey bowels spilled
    Upon great sores born of relentless toil,
    The ear they left still pricked upon its head
    Could hear no more, should one revile the dead.

    CRUELTY BORN OF INDIFFERENCE

    A documentary I long recall
    About some primordial Papuan race,
    A journalist looked very out of place
    Where brutal savagery could befall
    An animal so casually, for all
    Were so inured, and such sights commonplace.
    Impassive looks on each insensate face
    That saw, trussed up and helpless in a sprawl,

    Some chickens roasting whole upon the fire.
    One still alive had sprung out of its pyre,
    Its wings alight; its feathers had begun
    To char. A tribesman took it by one foot,
    And patiently he turned and smiled and put
    It back into the fire till it was done.

    Reply
    • Lannie David Brockstein

      To Peter,

      Thank you for having posted those two additional poems of yours.

      Your “BY THE TEMPLE OF LUXOR” reminded me somewhat, of the sad story about how Friedrich Nietzsche tried to prevent a horse from being flogged by its abusive owner, right before he suffered a mental breakdown.

      It also reminded me of Arthur Rimbaud, who did allegedly commit an act of vandalism in having carved his name amongst the hieroglyphs on one of the ancient walls at Luxor: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gibna_kebira/206994887

      As for your “CRUELTY BORN OF INDIFFERENCE”, that was also what the ancient Romans did to swans and other animals during their feasts. Not everything about the classical tradition is good; then again, not everything about it is bad. As a case in point, it is not kosher for any animal to be cooked or eaten before it has been slaughtered. Furthermore, in the Talmud, there is the “Tza’ar ba’alei chayim” commandment which forbids any practice that causes unnecessary suffering to animals.

      As for the notion that “intelligence and sentience are correlated”, is it actually correct? Many Indigenous tribes in North America believe that the spirits of sacred rocks and waterfalls, as well as their departed ancestors, do speak to shamans. Is sentience exclusive to the living, or is it also something that exists beyond the kind of intelligence (“I think, therefore I am”) that Cartesian philosophers are limited to perceiving?

      From Lannie.

      Reply
      • Peter Hartley

        Lannie – Thank you for your response to my two poems.The only thing I know about Rimbaud (I think) is that he produced his greatest work before the age of sixteen, and I sincerely hope that bit of graffito isn’t supposed to be part of it! By my own definition of “sentience” i.e. capacity to respond to a stimulus, to be conscious and aware, then it is restricted, for me, to the animate; but I am no philosopher and I won’t allow myself to suffer too many pangs of conscience next time I hit the cooker hood with my head or I may soon be overcome by compassion fatigue (I do it quite a lot). But you have certainly given me food for thought, as did your mentioning Romans and their swans. The Romans were said to eat larks’ or nightingales’ tongues weren’t they, and how many beautiful songbirds would have had to be killed to make just a single mouthful? They were certainly a barbarous “civilisation” even if that fact is apocryphal. They would commonly pit animals in the amphitheatres against each other in totally unequal combat (a goat v a lion perhaps) simply, I think, for the pleasure and excitement of seeing creatures in articulo mortis.

  21. Lannie David Brockstein

    To Christina,

    After having read your reply, I did with much difficulty view several videos by RSPCA, as well as some of those by PETA and SHARK, too.

    Factory farmed adult pigs made insane from their having been housed for many years in individual pens no larger than their own body, and unable to move left or right. A monkey in a medical or cosmetics laboratory having had a harmful chemical put into its fearstruck eyes. A dairy farmer going ballistic that anybody might witness what horrors are actually taking place on his farm.

    This hell on Earth for animals is partly the result of Cartesian philosophy which falsely teaches that animals are soulless, and therefore that it doesn’t matter if they are abused.

    The truth, is that it was the delusional Descartes himself who was greatly out of touch with his soul, rather than those innocent animals that he tortured to death having been soulless.

    To perceive the question as to whether or not animals have souls, as requiring an answer that is only black or white, as Descartes in his selfishness and narcissism did conclude, is to hardly have an adult appreciation of the soul.

    To perceive that for all things, including rocks such as the sacred rocks of the Indigenous people in Canada and the U.S.A., there are different degrees of soulfulness, and that each animal as an individual has its own degree of soulfulness, as does every individual human, is to not be a Cartesian speciesist that has wrongly concluded all inanimate objects, and all animals as based on their species, are the same in terms of their having or not having a soul. The term “human being” is itself speciesist, because it is based on that grave error of Cartesian philosophy which in its prejudice does only recognize that humans are “beings”, and thus that everything else in the universe is the illusion of a solispistic mind.

    Thankfully in Canada and the U.S.A., more and more companies that sell food products, cleaning products, medical products, and cosmetic products, are distributing their products that merit being certified as cruelty-free to be available in more and more health food stores, nationwide. Hopefully, these kind of normal products are becoming more and more widely available in other countries, too.

    Every consumer that is compassionate does ask themselves, each time they are in the market to buy any product, if it is certified as cruelty-free, so they can vote right then and there with their wallet instead of only waiting for the lobbyist-influenced politicians on either side of the political spectrum to pass legislation that prohibits all non-cruelty-free products from being sold, the same way that elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are already, and rightfully so, prohibited from being sold.

    Sadly, if something is not certified as being cruelty-free, then it is probably isn’t, the same way that if a food product is not certified as being organic, then it probably isn’t.

    How many products have each of us purchased, over the years and decades, that are not cruelty-free products, but without our having been aware of it before having purchased those items?

    Is a cruelty-free rose really the same as a rose by any other name?

    From Lannie.

    Reply
  22. Joseph S. Salemi

    Lannie, after your long, lugubrious, and smugly moralistic sermon, I’m planning to go home tonight and have my usual glass of pale sherry with pate de fois gras canapes (the real stuff, from Strasbourg), followed by veal cutlets. For dessert my wife and I will have creme brulee made with real cream, and coffee with whole milk. For lunch tomorrow, I’ll have flame-broiled lamb kebabs.

    I don’t give a damn about your “cruelty-free” cant. And neither does anyone else in the great USA, the land of robust meat-eaters. Long live Descartes!

    Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      Dr Salemi – If you really have caught the zeitgeist in America with your presumptuous and arrogant assumption that you have “the great USA” on your side, then America is great no more. This comment is without doubt the most repugnant and obnoxious that I have ever read on the SCP site. The fact that you “don’t give a damn about [Lannie’s] cruelty-free cant” is, with the implication that the writer’s talk of cruelty-free is hypocritical, a stunning volte-face after your earlier remark that you do not believe in cruelty to animals, that it is vicious and inhumane. Take those pate de foie gras canapés that you speak of: have you any idea of the cruelty involved in gavage, where a rigid broad plastic tube is shoved right down the throat of a goose and it is persistently force-fed till the bird is literally sick to death? Even if you are a Cartesian and take as gospel everything that he ever said (Long live Descartes, you write) and think that when an animal screams in agony it is just an unfeeling clockwork response to a stimulus, surely, surely, we owe that creature the benefit of the doubt, that the onus is on the unbeliever to prove that an animal is not suffering unnecessarily, in the same way that the burden of proof should lie with pro-abortionists who claim that foeticide is not murder. CBA has said that animals have no rights. No, but WE have obligations.

      Reply
  23. Joseph S. Salemi

    Oh for God’s sake, Peter — don’t get your knickers in a twist. What I wrote in reply to Lannie was satirical and spoofing, as a response to the insufferable syrup-exuding preachiness of the man’s entire mindset and writing style. The guy is a pathological sentimentalist, and savage satire is the only possible response to him.

    I don’t believe in cruelty to animals. But I am NOT going to be morally browbeaten into treating them like equals, or in changing my lifestyle and eating habits because of your (and Lannie’s) peculiar moral qualms. Is that so hard to understand?

    My real point in this exchange was to point out (which no one here seems to have grasped) is that people like Lannie “hide in plain sight” — that is, they use the ordinary and understandable humane feelings of animal lovers such as yourself and Christine as convenient cover to push a much more radical agenda. I’m talking here about the lunatics and criminals in PETA and the Animal Rights groups who are doing everything in their fanatical power to force the rest of the world to follow their dictates.

    The only way to fight back effectively against these maniacs is to do in-your-face things like eating pate de foie gras and veal cutlets and bacon cheeseburgers and lamb kebabs, and proudly wearing leather and fur. Doing such things openly and brazenly is the only real weapon we have.

    And yes — Long live Descartes, if that’s the only battle-cry that will get the attention of these fanatical nutters.

    Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      Dr Salemi – I imagine it must be exceedingly rare in people (and I think of monsters like Fred West and Myra Hindley in the UK) to enjoy committing acts of deliberate and wholly gratuitous physical cruelty once they have passed (or hopefully by-passed) the childhood phase of casually pulling the wings off flies. Where it continues, rarely, into adulthood I think of it as a vicious sort of neoteny and this is not what my comments were about or where my criticism was directed. Of course you don’t believe in cruelty purely for the sake of it. Nor does virtually anybody else. Perhaps it was YOU who got your nether habiliments into a double helix. I don’t know whether Lannie belongs to any insidious subversive group or conspiracy or may have affiliations with the Monster Raving Speciesist party, although I doubt it. And I certainly don’t. There’s no-one more apolitical than I am and for very good reasons that I won’t go into. My criticism remains. I can’t understand why you will eat pate from a force-fed goose when you must have some idea of the incidental cruelty involved in its production, and why you consider it to be worth the creature’s suffering. A bit Laodicean in my convictions I wouldn’t blow up a pate factory but would rejoice if the whole repulsive practice were prohibited by law. And I don’t find much in cruelty to animals to be satirical or to spoof about. I remember being in a coach party once at a petrol station forecourt when a lorry pulled up alongside us so full of sheep that they were climbing over each other’s backs all, presumably, on their way to the slaughterhouse. A woman sitting behind me said “Bye bye, see you in the supermarket”. I didn’t think that was very funny either.

      Reply
  24. Joseph S. Salemi

    Actually, the answer to your question is very simple, but profound. I eat and enjoy pate de foie gras and veal cutlets because it is part of my cultural inheritance, and I refuse to give up my cultural inheritance because of the moral (or rather, “moralistic”) concerns of others. Just as I will not apologize for being white, or for having money, or for voting for Trump, or supporting Brexit, or for being well educated, or for attending Roman Catholic Latin masses, or for disregarding the degenerate garbage that passes for “art” in most modern museums. It’s as straightforward as that. I will not let officious and presumptuous people tell me that I have to be “re-educated.”

    I sense in your comments the kind of attitude that led in the UK to the ban of fox hunting. This was an unwarranted destruction of a real and cherished part of England’s cultural inheritance. Running to the horses and hounds was a tradition that went back as far as the Middle Ages, and probably farther back. And yet it was abolished in the name of opposition to “cruelty.” What a flaming, hypocritical lie!

    This great tradition was abolished for purely political and ideological reasons: the Left-Labourite hatred of the landed aristocracy; the mawkish sentimentality of Nonconformist ministers; the contrarianism of radicalized females; and the sheer hatred of time-honored practices among the twee faculty at red-brick universities. The fox? None of these people gave a bloody damn about the fox! All they knew was that they hated the sort of persons who went fox hunting, and they were determined to spoil their pleasure. It was exactly why the seventeenth-century Puritans hated bear-baiting — not because it hurt the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.

    Besides all this, I have the sanction of the Bible for my views. In Genesis, human beings are specifically given lordship over all living creatures, to use or eat as we see fit. If that involves some pain for them, so be it. There’s scarcely a single page in the Old Testament that doesn’t include the blood sacrifice of an animal.

    By the way, turkeys are force-fed here in the USA. That’s why we can get twenty-pounders for our Thanksgiving dinners.

    Reply

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