Letter: The need to fight for animal rights

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The Independent Online
Sir: The argument goes that animals can't have "rights" because rights demand duties and responsibilities (Roger Scruton: "Herbie taught me, then I ate him", 3 July). Who says non-human animals don't have duties and responsibilities? See a flock of birds taking turns to fly at the apex on migration; see how most species nurture and care for their young: and the duties and responsibilities taken in many colonies of animals such as bees, elephants and primates.

The fact that non-human animals are not tuned into voting, driving cars or writing symphonies is bogus (after all, most humans the world over don't do those things either) and is only used as an excuse to deny other species "rights".

If we really want to discuss this on a philosophical level and use the semantics of "rights" as equating to "duty" and "responsibility" then I suggest non-human animals deserve more rights than we do. After all non-human animals bear the heaviest burdens of all to keep us humans satisfied. We deny other species rights not from any high indeed intellectual stance but because we are bullies and can get away with it by making elaborate excuses to ignore the obvious. When sympathetic humans see non-human animals showing pain, suffering, joy or contentment we call them anthropomorphic. When non-human animals show caring, altruism or reason we call this base "instinct".

We have to fight for the conveniently ignored but innate rights of the non-human animal not to be used and abused by the human species.

SARA STARKEY

Tonbridge, Kent

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