Misplaced Priorities of Animal Rights, Plant Activists Leave Out Human Beings

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Misplaced Priorities of Animal Rights, Plant Activists Leave Out Human Beings

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by Laura Echevarria
May 26, 2008

LifeNews.com Note: Laura Echevarria is a LifeNews.com opinion columnist. She is the former Director of Media Relations and a spokesperson for the National Right to Life Committee and has been a radio announcer, freelance writer active in local politics.

I think it’s official — Switzerland’s neutrality in major world events over the years has loosened a screw or two.

First off, the London Times reported that the Swiss have passed a law outlining the treatment of "social animals." Now, just from that description my first thought would be animal welfare league-type of laws but no, no, no. Oh, no. This is from the Times story:

Under a new Swiss law enshrining rights for animals, dog owners will require a qualification, anglers will take lessons in compassion and horses will go only in twos.

From guinea-pigs to budgerigars, any animal classified as a "social species" will be a victim of abuse if it does not cohabit, or at least have contact, with others of its own kind.

The new regulation stipulates that aquariums for pet fish should not be transparent on all sides and that owners must make sure that the natural cycle of day and night is maintained in terms of light. Goldfish are considered social animals, or Gruppentiere in German.

The law affects fisherman who will have to take a course on how to catch fish humanely, farmers will no longer be able to fetter or restrain horses, sheep or goats and farmers will have to make sure pigs and cows are not housed in locations with a hard floor.

Farmers are rightfully complaining because of the costs involved. Animal rights groups were excited.

Personally, we’ve had goldfish and the designation that they are social creatures is mighty surprising when I’ve seen them eat the weakest in the tank (and I fed them daily!).

When we were given a kitten ten years ago, I was so sure she would want a companion we went a few weeks later picked out another kitten approximately her age from the ASPCA. Yeah, that didn’t go over so well. Today, ten years later, Buffy (named for her color, not the television show) still gets angry at Percy — who picks on her unmercifully.

Dog owners are hit really hard by the new Swiss law — they will have to take a two part course they will have to pay for themselves. The course content is still undecided but will include a section on recognizing the needs and wants of the animal as well as how to walk a dog.

The Swiss even included the care and keeping of rhinoceroses in the legislation — um, okaaaay.

If this weren’t enough, several years ago, the Swiss added an amendment to their constitution that included vague language on the dignity of animals, plants and other organisms.

This was confusing and unclear so a bioethics panel was asked to investigate and make recommendations. The panel’s recently released report is called "The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants."

According to this report, the random and meaningless destruction of plants is a violation of the plant’s "dignity." In other words, if you weed your flower bed — freeing up space for the other plants to grow — that action would be fine. If you willfully destroy plants for no reason at all except for the fun of it, that action violates the plant’s "dignity" — though the panel couldn’t exactly agree on why.

I have no problem conserving our resources. I think it’s a wise investment and an obligation we have as human beings to keep our world as healthy as possible for future generations. But rampant, intrusive, misanthropic environmentalism that values plant and animal life above human beings should shame us.

While we are fighting over the right to life of unborn children and those who are severely brain damaged, while human beings in developing nations are starving for lack of food and resources — environmental elitists are arguing over the dignity of plants.

The priorities of some people — and nations — are seriously out of order.