Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Making Discrimination Against Gays More “Humane” and its Similarity to Animal Welfare Group’s “Humane” Farming and Slaughter Campaigns

President Obama should be forthrightly pressuring Congress to repeal the US military’s discriminatory "don't ask, don't tell" rule that requires the dismissal of service members who are openly gay. Instead, his Defense Secretary Robert Gates is examining ways to modify the policy so that it may be selectively enforced.

Gates said recently that he wants the flexibility, lacking in the rule as it’s currently written, to allow people who may have been outed against their will by a vengeful individual or a jilted lover, to continue to serve. The Secretary referred to such changes as making the policy “more humane.”

Clearly the policy is discriminatory. It applies only to gays, while straight service members are not subject to dismissal for revealing their sexual orientation. Working to “fix” the rule rather than doing away with it perpetuates and reinforces the second-class status of gay service members. Applying the policy more “fairly,” makes discrimination against gays in the military appear less objectionable at first glance. But the idea that the policy can be modified, reworded, or otherwise tinkered with to make it “more humane” is ridiculous.

By its very nature discrimination is not humane to begin with. In all of its many forms, it represents the devaluing of others simply because they are different. Consequently it’s a mistake to focus on trying to change what amounts to an inherently bad policy, rather than on efforts to get rid of it.

Strikingly similar is the promotion by big animal welfare groups such as PETA and the Humane Society of the United States of the crazy idea of "humane" exploitation of nonhuman animals. At best animal welfare regulation makes enslavement and killing slightly less horrific—analogous to laying plush carpeting in the hallway leading to the death chamber. But spotlighting small improvements to treatment diverts attention away from the real problem of continued enslavement, torture, and killing. As a result, conscientious consumers unexposed to abolitionist thinking, are easily sucked in by marketing campaigns for “humane” animal products, and only occasionally give consideration to the one and only solution: the nonviolent and nondiscriminatory choice of going vegan.

Both of these cases lead to the logical conclusion that modifying and regulating discrimination is no substitute for abolishing it.

1 comment:

Luella said...

Wow. You bring up an excellent point. I don't want to be treated "humanely." At my university's graduation this year, one of the professors gave a wonderful speech... I honestly can only remember one thing he said, though (paraphrased): [Do what is ethical, not just what is legal. Don't just do what you can get away with.] Being "humane" is not about doing what is ethical. It is clearly about doing only what you can get away with. I'm afraid that's not kindness. We should strive for better.

Thanks for this post.