IF A LEADING CANDIDATE for prime minister in a European country were gunned down in cold blood by a pro-lifer, an anti-communist, or a FrontPage columnist, there’s one result you could count on: Major media "exposés" of the "fringe ideology" that supposedly motivated the killing. Le Monde and The Guardian would issue bloodcurdling warnings about the dangers of "right-wing extremism." Anti-fascist rallies would throng with the ever-courageous French. Harper’s and Salon.com would fill with fatuous commentary by self-appointed "experts," as The New York Times sent Steve Erlanger to draft a muddled summary of this new "fundamentalism," with Frank Rich squealing like a stuck prig.
But the bizarre, appalling murder of Pym Fortuyn in Holland by an animal-rightist has provoked an eerie silence, at least concerning the killer’s ideology.
This could be because left-wing extremism does not exist. Yes, that’s the answer! It’s intrinsically impossible to be too left-wing, or for a leftist party’s embrace of mass-murder and tyranny to provoke moral outrage. That’s the implicit position of most mediawhy else do they give a pass to supporters of Leon Trotsky, who personally oversaw the slaughter of tens of thousands as he led the Red Army, and throughout his life advocated totalitarianism and bloody world revolution? Trotskyites in Europe (such as Lionel Jospin, for many years) are part of the "respectable" left, along with the unrepentant Stalinists of the French Communist Party. (If the "Hollywood 10" had been members of the German-American Bund, do you think we’d still be reading tributes to those overcompensated hacks?)
Think hard: When’s the last time you read the phrases "far-left" or "left-wing extremist" or "radical left" in a major media outlet? Even discussions of the Soviet Gulag and the genocides committed by Mao and Pol Pot treat these mass murders as if they had no intellectual roots, and were perpetrated by the aliens from Mars Attacks! (Ack-ack-ack!), rather than Marxists.
The Seeds of Murder
If history and reason are any guide, every known philosophy of the far-Left contains the seeds of murderincluding the animal rights movement. Flannery O’Connor famously observed that "tenderness leads to the gas chamber." She meant by this that intellectuals who cannot accept the insoluble residue of suffering in the world are willing to embrace any extreme to abolish it, and to sacrifice millions of their fellow men in pursuit of Utopia. In Holland, this has already led to widespread euthanasia of the sick; for animal rights extremists, I’ll argue, its logical implication is cannibalismnot "fur-free Fridays" and vegetarianism. Those are local stops on the trainbut the extremists in this movement are riding the express. Long ago, Pete Singer, the best-selling theorist of this movement, said that an adult chimpanzee has more "intrinsic worth" than a pre-born baby or retarded adult. That’s old news, now. More recently, Singer has embraced bestiality. (The P.C. term is "interspecies eros.")
With admirable consistency, this full Professor of Philosopher at Princeton University has advocated sex between human beings and animalsso long as the latter "consent," presumably by wagging their tails. Professor Singer is only being logical: If we reject as invidious the distinctions separating men from beastshe calls this "Speciesism," and equates it with racismthen there’s no reason not to… well, to become a whole lot closer to our pets. (My beagle just sneezed and left the room. Come back, Susie, it’s safe in here!)
As an escapee from a rival Ivy, let me hoist a G&T: To Princetonin one generation, from Albert Einstein to SexFarm.com. (This should figure in football fight songs forevermore; wherever Princeton plays, we’ll sing "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.")
I’m Hunting Wabbit!
My favorite tale from this crowd involves People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as reported by the BBC. Two years ago, some radicals invaded a medical lab in England, and "liberated" the research animals. I don’t know remember whether the rabbits were being harmed to make safe cosmetics or to find a cure for AIDSit’s not essential to the story. These animal-rightists whisked off the rabbits to their headquarters, where they commenced, like rabbits, to breed. (Is neutering unethical? They must have thought so. And single-sex dorms are sexist.) It seems there was soon a great surplus of rabbits, more than PETA could feed. So…get ready…they slaughtered the rabbits.
A local homeless shelter heard about this and asked if they could have the euthanised rabbits for their soup kitchen. Absolutely not, the answer came back. As Ingrid Newkirk, leader of Britain’s PETA, told the BBC: "They were given a dignified burial. Animals were not put here for human beings to use."
Now it’s interesting to note that PETA did not even offer the rabbits to the local dog pound, to nourish other animals in need. I can understand how misanthropes might object to feeding British tramps; but what’s wrong with foxhounds and spaniels? Do the maggots of the earth have a higher claim than unwanted pets? I’d like to corner Ingrid in a pub sometime and question her. Something else I’d like to know: Is it unethical for carnivorous animals to eat other animals? Are foxes a pack of murderers? (If so, then I know of some English aristocrats who’d be happy to chase them down…)
Presumably not. I’ve never read of efforts by animal-rightists to convince polar bears and lions to switch from animal protein to soyalthough I’d like to encourage PETA to get out there in the field and commence the dialogue. We could film this historic summit for broadcast on C-SPAN and Animal Planet. The Carter Center could sponsor the peace talks.
But why is it wrong for human beingswho’ve eaten meat since they evolved from hominidsto act like animals? Doctor Singer and Ms. Newkirk agree that it’s wrong to make stark distinctions between human beings and other beasts. So let’s take them at their word: We are beasts, with canine teeth, that hunger for meatwhy hold human animals to a "higher" standard than wolves and eagles? If we’re just part of the circle of life, why can’t we grab a steak along our way to feeding the worms? I really don’t get it.
I’m All About Choice
But there is an argument that would justify their positionthough I doubt they’ve troubled to think things out this far. It goes like this:
a) Predator animals, such as sharks and whales and dolphins, have no choice but to eat other creatures, since they lack the rational faculty. However many monographs you press on them, at best they’ll piss on them.
b) Likewise, prey animals such as cows and chickens have no choice but to serve as prey. They never volunteered for the duty; it imposes itself upon them in the form of tooth and claw.
c) Men and women have the capacity to choose, and some choose to reject the role of predator. They identify with the prey.
This is fine so far. In this question, I’m pro-choice. But how can animal rightists justify imposing this choice upon me? No one has demonstrated that squirrels are morally superior to cats; you can’t make a case that animals preying on other animals is wrong.
Ah, the animal rights crowd responds, but those animals didn’t choose to be prey. You’re choosing to be a predator. Logic grinds on another, inexorable step:
d) It’s wrong for creatures with a capacity for choice to impose the role of prey on creatures that lack the capacity for choice.
That works. And it leads me to my own conclusion:
z) So it’s wrong for men to eat dumb animals. We should eat vegetarians instead.
If men are free to chooseand I’m all about Choicethen they must also be permitted to choose the role of predator. If it’s wrong for a freely-chosen predator to consume an animal that didn’t choose to be prey, then that limits our diet to creatures that did chose to be prey. That is, to vegetariansat least to the animal rightists.
I’m excited about this conclusion. I’m sure that the animal-rightists will help me test it. I’m already winning disciples for this view, which will spare millions of innocent animals the horrible, senseless suffering of the slaughterhouse and the hunt. It’s unthinkable to impose on unthinking creatures the status of prey, when tens of thousands of freely-choosing human beings have already volunteered in their stead. It’s a perfect synergy. Here is the common ground on which the slavering meat-eaters of the world can meet the doctrinaire vegetariansand dialogue. (But not with our mouths full.)
And don’t call us "cannibals," either. We consider that hate speech. Instead, we prefer to be known as "succulent humanists," or "philanthropist-Americans," since really do love manespecially in a nice cream sauce.
Since human interaction is not to be distinguished from animal behavior, I look forward to a positively ethical feeding frenzy. And with the help of a close chef friend, I’m working on recipes. You can guess my very first:
Paté Singer on toast.