The paperback version of A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy, my critique of the animal rights movement, has just been published. From my Preface to the Paperback Edition:
I had two primary purposes in writing A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy, a project that took several years. First, I wanted to distinguish the noble pursuit of ever-improving “animal welfare” standards from the ideology known as “animal rights.” As I wrote in the hardcover edition, “Both movements are concerned with the way people treat animals, but that is where the similarity ends. In fact, animal welfare and animal rights represent incompatible moral principles and mutually exclusive goals” . . .
My second and overarching purpose in writing this book was to use the deconstruction of animal rights as a platform on which to defend human exceptionalism, that is, the unique moral value of human life. Some might think of this as a “self-evident truth,” to quote the Declaration of Independence. But we live in an era when many people reject age-old verities. Certainly animal rights ideology is antithetical to human exceptionalism, as its core belief system holds that there are no legitimate moral distinctions to be made between humans and animals — or, to put it another way, that a human being is merely another animal in the forest. As I write in the book, if we perceive ourselves as mere animals, that is precisely how we will act.
I update some of the animal rights news that occurred after the hardcover came out and put some more details into the threat of radical environmentalism to human exceptionalism, and conclude:
I remain convinced that finally establishing a world where human rights are truly universal depends on defending the unique objective value of all people. This means, among other strategies, refusing to grant “rights” to any animal, much less to trees, mosquitoes, pond scum, or other parts of nature. Rights are an exclusively human concept that should apply only to us. If a squirrel is deemed to have a right to life, it wouldn’t change the lot of squirrels; rather it would undermine the vitality of the right to life. And therein we see the serious danger posed by the animal rights movement to human well-being.
As I reflect back, I think I accomplished my purpose — and without resorting to undue polemics — for which I have been criticized in private but which I continue to think was the best course. I am proud of the book and hope that it has added a valuable perspective to our ongoing important discourse on the human/animal relationship.