Monday, October 27, 2008

Petition to Change Human Beings’ Zoological Name

While exploring the website of David Cantor’s Responsible Policies for Animals (RPA), I came across this petition. I liked it so much that I downloaded and printed the available PDF version, then framed it and hung it on a wall in my living room.

Petition To Change Human Beings' Zoological Name

WHEREAS "complex" describes human beings far more comprehensively than does "sapient" and so the Latin complexus describes human beings and differentiates our species from others more accurately than does sapiens;

Whereas human beings act based on names and descriptors, accurate or not, at least as much as on demonstrated reality;

Whereas calling themselves by the inaccurate name Homo sapiens promotes and perpetuates an attitude in human beings of their own exceptionalism & superiority;

Whereas Carolus Linnaeus acted non-scientifically when he invented the name Homo sapiens - deferring to a belief in human exceptionalism & superiority based on established religion, to avoid persecution due to the lack of legal protection for free speech & thought in his time;

Whereas calling themselves by the inaccurate name Homo sapiens and deeming themselves inherently superior to and more worthy of consideration than other beings is a factor in human behavior that unjustly and to humans' and all other beings' disadvantage destroys other beings and disrupts Earth's ecosystems & biosphere;

Whereas, as long as the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature and the scientific community generally sanctions use of Homo sapiens for human beings, those who strive to teach ecology and ethics and to reverse ecologically destructive behavior and its consequences will be in the untenable position of referring to the beings perpetuating such behavior as sapient;

Whereas recognizing hyper-complexity rather than sapience as their distinguishing trait, human beings will be more likely to establish a less-unjust and less-destructive relationship to other beings and the rest of nature than they have wrought to date;

Whereas the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature is accepted worldwide as the authority on species names and therefore is in a position to change human thought and behavior for the better by giving our species a more accurate name;

THEREFORE, Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc., located in Glenside, Pennsylvania, USA, with members and supporters throughout the human world, urges the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, c/o The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK, to change human beings' species name to Homo complexus and to announce this change to the scientific community and to the human world generally.

Respectfully submitted this 5th Day of August, 2008.


Signed:
David Cantor
Executive Director
Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.


Friday, October 10, 2008

California’s Proposition 2

In a few weeks, California voters will decide the fate of an animal “protection” measure known as Proposition 2, the Standards for Confining Farm Animals initiative statute.

The measure would take effect in 2015, and would set minimum space requirements for chickens, veal calves, and breeding pigs; allowing them to stand, turn around, and stretch their limbs. It would mostly affect the state’s egg-laying chickens—now housed in battery cages—since producers have already eliminated the use of crates and cages for newborn calves and pregnant sows.

Many people, including those who think of themselves as animal rights supporters, believe Proposition 2 is a reasonable measure worthy of their support. I probably would have felt the same way three years ago when I was collecting signatures needed to get a similar proposition on the ballot in Arizona.

One winter evening while gathering signatures at a large outdoor public event, someone remarked to the volunteer I was working with: “What’s the point? They’re going to be killed anyway.” We both thought that was an insensitive and illogical attitude. Yes, they are “going to be killed anyway,” but why not still try to make their lives a little better?

A year-and-a-half went by before I again gave what he said much thought. But when I did, it dawned on me that while he may have been coming from a different perspective, he had an excellent point. Why are ethically motivated vegans and major animal protection organizations wasting time and money on efforts to regulate exploitation, rather than putting those resources toward abolition? The problem is not the size of the cages. It’s not about cubic inches or efficiencies of production verses degrees of cruelty. This is about basic morality. We should not be breeding, enslaving, and killing these animals in the first place. It is unnecessary and unjustified. Any and all efforts by individuals and organizations that purport to be advocates for animal rights should be directly focused on reducing and ultimately ending this horrific behavior.

Not only does proposition 2 represent the wrong approach, it’s morally bankrupt. Proposition 2 reinforces the property status of nonhumans, adds legitimacy to their continued exploitation and oppression, while conferring little or no benefits to them. It sends the message to consumers that it’s okay to exploit animals, up to and including killing them, as long as it’s done “humanely.” But calling unnecessary killing “humane” does not make it so. We should not seek to regulate something that is fundamentally wrong to begin with. As a civilized society, we don't regulate rape or human slavery. We prohibit such behavior. The fact that there is currently insufficient political will to outlaw the raising and killing of animals for food doesn’t mean that Proposition 2 represents an acceptable interim alternative. Nor does it mean that it’s the only alternative.

Vegan/abolition education programs reduce demand for animal products by informing people of the negative ethical, environmental, and health consequences of flesh, dairy, and egg consumption. Veganism is the day-to-day implementation of non-violence. It’s peace and justice in action. Veganism is both the goal, and the path to that goal.

If the big animal advocacy organizations that are behind Proposition 2 would abandon these types of efforts and instead steer their dollars and talents to vegan education, perhaps we can begin to see some real results.