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Animal Rights, Elections, and the Slippery Slope to American Barbarism

Photo by Hein Waschefort

The losers of the third and final presidential debate in the 2012 election cycle were those of us who would have appreciated some tough talk about China’s complicity in the escalating holocaust in Africa.

One-third of the evening’s agenda, as was indicated on the Commission on Presidential Debates’ website, had been set aside for discussions about “America’s role in the world” and “the rise of China and tomorrow’s world,” the latter of which, now that I think about it, sounds like the title of a lowbrow action film.

But let’s play along, for a moment, and examine what President Obama and Mitt Romney had to say on the subjects.

Asked by moderator Bob Schieffer to talk about “the rise of China and future challenges for America,” President Obama said, “China is both an adversary, but also a potential partner in the international community if it’s following the rules.”

And Mr. Romney said, “We can be a partner with China. We don’t have to be an adversary in any way, shape or form. We can work with them, we can collaborate with them, if they’re willing to be responsible.”

These well-rehearsed lines were complemented by language that was scripted to remind viewers who’s in charge of the world’s affairs.

President Obama, flexing the muscle of his incumbency, told us that his administration has “brought more cases against China for violating trade rules than … the previous administration had done in two terms.”

And Mr. Romney, like a would-be bully by whom no one is intimidated, suggested that “China can be our partner … but that doesn’t mean they can just roll all over us.”

Neither candidate announced his intention to seek the imposition of “crippling sanctions” (as they’re so often described) on China for fueling the African holocaust – by which I mean the Chinese demand for ivory that is incentivizing poachers to brutally murder the relatively few elephants and rhinoceroses we have left — and neither offered up the possibility of U.S. military intervention to bring an end to the butchery.

Nor did either candidate “pivot” (as the Beltway class likes to say) from the “rise of China” to the savagery of Japan – by which I mean the widely documented slaughter of dolphins and whales carried out by Japanese thugs.

I could continue along this line of thinking — to Canada and its annual seal massacre, for example — but I’ll assume that you get my point, which is (now that we’ve arrived here) that neither presidential candidate has the courage to test his footing on such a “slippery slope” (to once more borrow language from the Beltway class).

For President Obama and Mr. Romney to contemplate American intervention in these atrocities — as U.S. presidential administrations are wont to do when the victims are human — would require them to face, at the bottom of that steep pitch, the barbarism we practice right here at home (which I’ll assume I do not have to itemize here).

In response to Mr. Romney’s criticism that “our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917,” President Obama pointed out during Monday’s debate that while “we have fewer ships than we did in 1916 … we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.”

Those of us who don’t subscribe to the callous and arrogant belief that we are entitled to hold dominion over other species could just as reasonably assert that innovation and advances in technology have made the exploitation, torture, and murder of other species unnecessary and unbecoming of a nation that wants so badly to impose its values on others.

Would that you and I could have an equal say in curating our national conversation.


  1. Phoebe wrote:

    Americans already share the “callous and arrogant belief” that we hold dominion over the rest of the human world. We believe we have no responsibility to protect the Earth’s climate, either, even though we ignore the problem at our own peril. Sure, we care about cute and majestic wildlife in the abstract, and might even give some money to the World Wildlife Fund. But stop buying SUV loads of cheap Chinese crap to make a stand? This is America!!

    Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  2. David Brensilver wrote:


    If only some of that cheap Chinese crap was American jingoism cleanse in disguise.


    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink
  3. Dan Flowers wrote:

    Yes I see your point completely… Let’s commit the US military to spend billions more in defense of some African critters… I have an alternative idea. Let’s spend those billions on a captive breeding program for the elephants and rhinos, so we can slaughter them without the inconvenience of hunting. The Chinese will still get there rhino-horn freak on, and we will undercut the market price which will help protect the wild animals. That way their numbers can increase to where their are enough for sport hunters to shoot some without paying such damn high fees! Sheesh!!!!

    Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Permalink
  4. David Brensilver wrote:


    Your comment affirms my belief that things won’t get better until the human race has gone extinct.


    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  5. John Rainwater wrote:

    That’s funny because the twenty-sixth verse in the entire Bible says And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Oohhhhh. WE ARE entitled to dominion over the animals….Thanks for reminding me. I was worried about them taking over.

    Friday, October 26, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink
  6. David Brensilver wrote:


    The Bible is of no use to me. Fantasy is not a genre that ever interested me.


    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink
  7. Mike Elmore wrote:

    Dan, I like the way you think. Free enterprise shall prevail. Think of all the jobs created, the export possibilities, not to mention the increase in the number of new hunters that may crop up just to take part in killing ‘wild’ large game that was never available to them before because of asinine hunting laws. I know the current president doesn’t have the funds to start this kind of program, but Romney’s wealth might. He could use his personal accounts to start this up and become even more wealthy.

    Friday, October 26, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  8. David Brensilver wrote:


    Hunters should be forced to hunt one another, and the killing should be televised. Advertising spots would generate a fortune, which could be used to invest in more bullets and more cameras with which to film the redneck carnage. When it’s all over, the dead hunters’ carcasses could be used to feed other species. Leftover human body parts could be fed to the dead hunters’ mouth-breathing children.


    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink
  9. Dysnomia wrote:

    Or, just flood the market with fake ivory. No animals would have to die, and does it really matter if we lie to people trying to get sexual prowess out of what are essentially giant fignernails? In fact, we could even make it a win win. Make it legal, for Pfizer to sell Viagra under the name elephant ivory. The people get what they want, we make some money here and no animals have to die.

    Friday, October 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  10. David Brensilver wrote:


    I’m ready to invest in your idea right now!


    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink
  11. Dan Flowers wrote:

    Actually market forces can be used to help animal species. Legal sport hunting in Africa monetizes the game animals in a way that makes them worth much more to the local people (through $$$ brought to the economy by hunters who hire outfitters who in turn hire locals and pay large trophy fees that fund govt conservation programs). When the regulated hunting is generating revenue, the locals poach less, and are less likely to slaughter indiscriminately for bush-meat. The hunters give all of the meat to the local villages anyway. The hunters are only generally allowed to take “trophy” animals which are generally males past prime breeding age anyway, and their having the safri guides in the field creates a de facto anti-poaching force. It is a pretty damn good system. In the places where regulated sport hunting is outlawed, poaching snowballs quickly and populations are decimated.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
  12. Dan Flowers wrote:

    I guess you are ready to invest in Dysnomia’s idea! Fake animal products profligated by fake animal lovers! Let’s face it, Daverino – You are not an animals lover. You are just a human hater. Animals are just a convenient excuse. What happened to make you this way? What deep childhood trauma? Mom didn’t drive you to band practice and would only give you enough bus fare for one-way? Dad ass-rape you every time he got drunk? There is obviously some deep dark secret to drive someone to your level of psychosis.

    Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink
  13. David Brensilver wrote:


    You keep searching for the “secret” driver of that which makes you uncomfortable, and I’ll keep doing exactly what I’m doing.


    Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

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