Amol Rajan: It’s time the luvvies of LA stuck up for animal rights



Look, I know it’s not the done thing to revisit a campaign long after it has been lost.

You wouldn’t forgive me, for instance, if I devoted this column to the case for the alternative vote, several months after the British people, in all their fearful ignorance,turned it down at a referendum. But after a canine encounter this weekend, and long reflection, I feel itwould be a moral failing to ignore a recent scandal which strikes at the very heart of who we as a people have become.

Indeed we cannot, I believe, prepare for the great challenges of this century - the rising powers of the East, the spread of information technology, and the depletion of scarce resources - without correcting an appalling error in the world of entertainment. My friends, we have failed to give a dog his due. His name is Uggie and he lives in north Hollywood with his trainer, Omar von Muller. Recently he appeared beside Jean Dujardin in The Artist,which the bookies say will sweep to victory at the Oscars.

Except, not for Uggie as Best Supporting Actor. Despite a campaign by supporters on both sides of the Atlantic, the greybeards at the Oscars last week declined to nominate him.

And on what specious grounds! Best Supporting Actor is awarded to the actor whose performance is central to a film without being the lead role. He must evoke the audience’s sympathy, inhabit a character completely, and show a brilliant range of skills and emotions. And who stipulated it must be a human that does all this? Uggie, with his fake death roles, on-demand floppy ears and boundless energy, meets those criteria magnificently. And an Oscar for him would strike a blow for generations of unsung film stars who happen to belong to a different species.

Peter Singer, the most important moral philosopher alive today, has spent decades fighting the tyranny of speciesism. On Saturday, when I saw a Jack Russell just like Uggie alert a mother to the fact that she had dropped her baby’s bib, I joined Singer’s cause. The sight of that terrier, quick and noble and driven by duty, awoke me to the centuriesold oppression of these heroically wordless beasts.

Millions of people around the world have joined Singer’s cause like I have. The luvvies of LA, if only they had some imagination and sense, could have joined it too. Instead they chose the path of discrimination and conservatism.

It’s ruff justice, I tell you, and I don’t like it.

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