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Looking at Treatment of Animals

September 10, 2002

Re "I'll Have the Burger Deluxe, With a Side of Guilt," Commentary, Sept. 5: I can truly empathize with Norah Vincent's account of how hard it is to reconcile our love for animals with our shopping and dietary habits. I too have become very aware of this situation after reading Peter Singer's eye-opening book, "Animal Liberation." But try as I may, I'm not a foolproof vegetarian. Which doesn't mean I'm not still trying, though, and I urge Vincent and others like her to not think of themselves as hypocrites if they're not all-or-nothing animal rights activists.

Wasn't it Singer himself who advocated doing something rather than nothing at all?

Pamela Adelman

Sherman Oaks

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So the blandishments of animal "leftists" have Vincent considering hocking her jewels for her cats. Well, as they say at Burger King, have it your way. And there's the rub. As a hunter, I've killed my supper on occasion--and thought about why, talked it over with fellow hunters and read the literature. Guess what? I enjoy hunting, like fur and meat--and I sleep well, too.

You see, there is a distinction between humans and animals that is so huge and obvious, I can't understand why professional ethicists haven't explored it. While humans aren't the only species that feels pain, or guilt, the fact remains that humans are the only species that not only thinks about the ethics of dinner but has the ability to discuss it.

After they've tortured and shredded the elk du jour, wolves don't sit around the gut pile discussing whether they imposed suffering. They simply can't. We can--and that's why a rat is not a pig is not a dog is not a boy.

Dave Skinner

Whitefish, Mont.

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As long as we regard animals as objects to make us feel good (hugging a cute puppy, eating a juicy steak), we simply don't understand the true meaning of animal rights. Animal rights means the rights of animals to share this planet with us on their own terms. This requires our respect and protection. Any interference in their lives must be done to benefit them, not us.

The animal rights doctrine has indeed a long way to go before being accepted, but if people start feeling guilty about using and abusing any animal, that is a step in the right direction.

Ninie Murray

Simi Valley

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Animal rights activists advocating that we should call ourselves pet "guardians" instead of "owners" have got it backward. To me, pets are the guardians, not us.

Movie stars like Rin Tin Tin and Lassie had very lucrative careers saving their guardians. St. Bernards and bloodhounds search after us guardians dumb enough to get lost. And what about dogs of all breeds searching burning buildings for victims or protecting little children? And as for cats? Well, anyone with a cat knows that it never has an owner--it has staff.

Paul Fuller

Palm Desert

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