Law, Prejudice Against Non Humans and Human Identity

Law is a powerful social institution. Law claims to reflect the morality of a society. However, the institution of law is instrumental in creating and maintaining moral disengagement concerning the way in which society treats other animals.

Law encourages people to believe that there is no choice but to murder non human animals, no choice but to categorise them into animals for food, for laboratories, for sport or for pets.

Law encourages you to believe that our attitude to, and use of, other species is “normal, natural and necessary” emphasising “human dignity” and espousing a concept of human superiority on the basis of our different cognitive abilities.

In the 1970s Richard Ryder identified speciesism as an unethical but dominant form of prejudice against nonhumans and Melanie Joy (2010) in her ground-breaking work “Why we Eat Pigs, Wear cows and Love Dogs” explains her idea about how the dominant, violent, exploitative belief system of carnism underpins our human social organisation. Law is a major player in maintaining, promoting and protecting this social system of human superiority and normalised prejudice against nonhumans. It claims to represent your moral choice when in fact it denies you the right to choose between the violence of prejudice against nonhumans and the compassion of veganism. We are born into speciesism and we commonly hear anecdotally “it’s difficult to be vegan”.

Law is a powerful oppressor. Through its links with the education system, the science sector, religious systems and the health industry it ensures that we are all born into a dominant violent belief system of prejudice. Law disallows your free choice because it is a fundamental part of the indoctrination process of prejudicial society. Law has a confused approach when it comes to legislating for other animals; this confused approach serves to support the protection of an unethical categorisation of other animals. Law allows the animal exploitation industry to market their produce, using for example, apparently happy, singing, dancing animals willing to be abused and killed for us. Law allows, actually requires, “scientists” to perform the cruellest and most barbaric experiments on other animals and law allows the media to degrade a vegan and the vegan perspective; although the media these days do seem to be more respectful towards veganism.

Law conditions us into the speciesist belief system and is also a feature of neo speciesism because it tries to convince us that we are justified in using other sentient life because it provides “welfare legislation”.

However, law has an ever expanding inclusivity which we can use to our advantage. And we must. We must, because if we are to turn the tide of the barbaric abuse of other sentient life, the degradation of our planet and the interlinked oppression around the globe, we must claim our rights as vegans and raise the profile of veganism as an important, workable, reasonable, rational and intelligent belief system to oppose the human supremacy entrenched by law. In doing so we present to law a different form of human identity than it currently espouses. Instead of a superior Being that reigns supreme on the basis of self-ascribed exceptional reason and cognitive skills, we can present to law a compassionate and considerate human identity that cares for the nonhuman other before upholding ourselves as supreme. Veganism in law present the moral standing of nonhumans and a compassionate human identity. This identity opposes the egoism of exclusive human rights. We do have a choice not to participate in the cruel and degrading practices that our law allows and we do have a right to develop a vegan culture that is recognised and included in the ethical evolution of the system of law.

The European Court of Human Rights has recently heard legal reasoning regarding the status of non humans. In a case that rejected consideration of Article 9 Freedom of Conscience (Herrmann v Germany, App. 9300/07, 26th June 2012), Judge Albuquerque said a lot of favourable things about the moral standing of other animals. However, he retained the view that humans are exceptional and he advocated "qualified speciesism" and "responsible anthropocentricism". It has taken many years for a court of protective rights to say these things for other animals, but we can do better. Together we can make history; we can transform society. This site celebrates ethical veganism and illustrates how, as ethical vegans with a paramount concern for the exclusion of nonhuman others, we can use law to our advantage.

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