I am a Canadian immigrant to America through my ex husband. In studying the Declaration of independence to become an American citizen, I came again upon this thought of “inalienable rights”.
This is not a term I have often heard, and if you’re like me, you likely have thought very little of it. What does inalienable rights even mean?!
Well, the word “inalienable” means “impossible to take away or give up.” Often “God given” rights is swapped out for the old fashioned “inalienable”.
So the declaration of independence was based on the belief that as humans, (presumably), we have the right to “life, liberty [freedom] and the pursuit of happiness.”
While that’s all good and fine, humans have had a long history of not respecting that in other species. Zoos, livestock and pets are prime examples of this. And I’m not sure how I feel about this myself honestly. . .
We have tamed and selectively bred many species of animals just on a whim, often consequently weakening the animal’s gene pool. As well we have caged and trained other more exotic animals in circuses, zoos and aquariums. . .being thus in captivity and dependent on us for their basic needs, that makes them in every respect our “slaves”.
Do we think this is OK just because we perceive ourselves to be superior, their parent or because we are dominant or a different species (defined by not being able to breed with them)?
It is one thing to consider what you would do with the animal recently taken from the wild, but what about the second or more generation, that’s been domesticated and pampered and is unlikely to survive back in their natural habitat? Anything we have domesticated from the wild has sadly become unfit to be safely returned back to their habitat.
This inability to fend for themselves and the dependent mindset that goes with it can be seen not just in the animals we have domesticated, but also in the black slaves we originally took from Africa.
If we placed the ancestors of those slaves today back in the jungle, where their relatives still roam and their fathers were comfortable living not too long back, they would not likely survive. In fact when given the ability to go back, Black people have historically rarely taken it. Furthermore in the past and even still today, to even offer a free trip back to Africa, the original native habitat of black people, is claimed as racist.
So, the dilemma is with animals now, as it was with dependant black slaves of the past: do you give them their freedom, and doom them to their death in the free wild, whether in America or their original habitat. . .or keep them coddled in captivity and just make sure they don’t have babies, to further the cruel cycle??
We “lovingly” neuter pets believing controlling pets reproduction is right, and merciful, lest their offspring (like cats or dogs) have to live on the cruel streets or suffer from lacking resources.
Often slaves were forbidden to marry, or sterilized up until not long ago, just like our pets now, for similar reasons. Is sterilization of dependents merciful for all then or somehow only unethical for humans? Let’s be pragmatic here.
What about euthanizing dependant and unwanted pets? Do we think euthanizing the violent, sickly or defective pets are ok, as they will inevitably have a poor quality of life as an unwanted pet? Is it in the best interest for them, and us both? Or is it morally wrong to euthanize them?
This question is similar to asking a white person in the past if a black slave should be hung for punching or raping a white master. It was perhaps controversial, but commonly believed to be right and biting the hand that fed him.
These are the ethical questions our ancestors faced down through the ages concerning their slaves. . .We often presume they were easy questions, and look down on good men like Thomas Jefferson for his choice to keep slaves, but I’m sure that it was not a light matter of whether he would free them or not!
To bring it closer to home, here is a pretty comparable situation today: if we took away welfare, medicaid, WIC, foodstamps, shelters, food pantries, planned parenthood, etc. and sent the poor Blacks of the inner city back to Africa, with only the clothes on their backs, how would that be perceived by the blacks? Racist right? They deserved to stay, and have reparations, as their slave work built this country. . .or so they claim now.
Apparently good men like Thomas Jefferson felt it was better to retain and care for the slaves (giving them hire) then set them loose. We judge him for slavery of black dependents, yet we think it’s fine to have slaves /pets in captivity?! “Oh, but humans are different then mere animals” you say. . .”humans have rights!” God gave them these “Inalianable” rights, or so we are told in the declaration of independence.
Historically speaking, this is hilarious!! God condoned not condemned slavery in the Bible, as well encouraging racism, sexism and ocassionallybageism. Even the Jews, God’s chosen people had few rights or freedoms and I see little for freedom or rights for today’s Christian either, as they are said to be a “servant of God”!! (This is in the Old and New Testament, so don’t try the classic “we aren’t under the old laws” crap.) It only gets worse for other “nations” of people though. . .
The reason that the founding fathers of America could write in the declaration of independence about all “men” being created equal by God, and with the right of “liberty”/freedom, then promptly buy more black slaves from Africa, is because. . . they simply did not call Blacks “human”. . . until recently. Is that shocking? The reason is complex, and actually deeper then just racism and prejudice.
“Even if the science of human origins is still a work in progress, the accumulating information about how we got here and indeed what constitutes a member of the human race offers some useful perspectives on matters of scientific and ethical importance.”
What DNA and science now tells us of human origins is very complex, but suffice it to say, not all people are fully what was known as the Adamic race or human.