Imagine a world in which only Republicans have the vote. Or only bacon sandwich eaters. Maybe, this is a planet where only white Christian men can vote. Or only people called Anon. Imagine…….
Welcome to life as an animal. For countless millennia, billions of animals have been murdered, tortured in medical experiments, abused in all manner of ways, photographed or videoed for entertainment purposes (seen a cat GIF recently?) and basically shat upon by human society. There are even so-called wise philosophical sayings centered around teaching ‘a man to fish’ (why always a man ffs?) as though our fin-endowed friends have zero rights.
Well, in a sense, this is precisely right. Animals have almost no rights. They are not even treated as human beings like you and I, despite sharing 99% of our DNA. Chances are that no animals are even reading this article because no-one thought to get them educated in public school. A trillion Venezuelan Bolivar says I am right.
The truth is that we need to pay all species reparations for the grave injustices we have inflicted on them. How do we begin to make it up to the spiders whose legs countless children have pulled off in the playground ‘for a laugh’? What reparations for the ant community whose members have been frazzled by magnifying glasses under the baking midday sun? These are the other holocausts no-one speaks of.
‘First they came for the Jews but I was not a Jew so I did not speak up.
Then they came for the spiders, and pulled off every one of their legs, but I did not speak up as I was not a spider.
Then they stole the honey, but I did not speak up, because I was not a bee.
Then they caught a fish, to teach a man how to eat for the rest of his life, but I did not speak up because I was not a fish
Then they came for me…”
I have the exact same discussion every now and again with a work colleague, Steve. I don’t know why I bother frankly, but I guess it’s because I care and can’t bear to see animals suffer as they have for so long under human stewardship.
“Hey, how’s it going Pbier?” Steve says, slapping my back in a harsh gesture that causes a sharp pain around my narrow shoulders. “Still think animals should get the vote?”
At this point he smirks, and the joke is firmly on me. I want to cry but I sense that billions of animals, fish, and insects are counting on me. I CAN make a difference in this world. I just need to be brave, not to let him think he can get away with this speciesism. I wish John Sakars was here RIGHT NOW to back me up, because I know we would soon dispatch Steve with a mixture of wit, poetry and sheer numbers. But he is not here, and I am all alone.
“Well, why not” I reply, trying to disguise the extreme emotions I feel in this confrontation between alpha and beta male. “You think animals are incapable of voting, right? That only humans should have the right to vote because we are SO much more intelligent than them?” I hope he hears the sarcasm in my voice.
“Er, yes” Steve snorts, “how the fuck would an octopus vote exactly? Eight votes, right?!! You progressives are so fucked up it beggars belief”.
I hate Steve with every pore of my being, and yet I can only wish that animals would engage in the democratic process more than they do. Why are they so blasé, like literal lambs to the slaughter? If animals were only less docile, we could change things for the better. And it is precisely then that I remember the lessons of history.
“You are the problem, Steve” I say, prodding him in the chest with my asparagus tempura. “You treat animals as less than human, why this is exactly what Hitler did to the Jews. You are worse than Hitler! One days the animals will rise up against you, and destroy everything you believe in. I speak to animals every day and I’m telling you that you need to WATCH OUT!”
Steve looks less sure of himself now, almost ‘freaked out’. He is about to respond but thinks better of it and makes a hasty retreat.
I am happy for this small victory but know there is a wider war to be won. Maybe, just maybe, animals will be joint custodians of this planet in just a few years. Could a wise Labrador, Eagle or fox be the next president of the United States?
Well, why not?