Sunday, 6 November 2011

Halal vs animal rights

An interesting little video from BBC News. Here's the blurb:

Next month the Dutch parliament is expected to approve a ban on halal and kosher methods of slaughtering animals for food.

Those who proposed the ban say it is simply an issue of animal welfare, but it received strong support from the right-wing Freedom Party.

Many see it as a violation of their religious freedom, and among the Jewish community it is a worrying echo of a similar ban brought in by Hitler.

It's always amusing when different BBC causes come into conflict. Animal rights versus Muslim rights, who wins?

Left-wing defence of Islam has always been a bit strange, since most things you'll read in the Koran are antithetical to most things you'll read in The Guardian. But lefties are masters of doublethink.

It's also interesting to see the Nazis dragged into this. If you consider Islam as an ideology, it has quite a lot in common with Nazism. Both are totalitarian, anti-Jewish, and anti-free speech. Both require the individual to submit to the collective. Islam shares the Nazi desire for global domination, and condones, even encourages, the use of violence in pursuit of that goal.

We must rejoice that so many Muslims are bad Muslims, who don't take the Koran at its word.

My own view is that we should afford no special respect to religious beliefs. If society decides that a certain method of slaughter is inhumane, "God told me to" is not a valid defence.

Although I have nothing but scorn for animal rights extremists, I don't think that animals should be made to suffer unnecessarily. Animal welfare isn't high up my own list of concerns, but it seems like a perfectly reasonable thing for libertarians to support. I'm not going to stop eating meat any time soon, but I have a lot of sympathy with the position set out by David Graham:
I find it strange that so many of my fellow libertarians and anarchists oppose and ridicule animal rights with such passion. For one thing, an animal right is perfectly libertarian in that it is a negative right. Unlike incoherent positive rights, such as the 'right' to education or health care, the animal right is, at bottom, a right to be left alone. It does not call for government to tax us in order to provide animals with food, shelter, and veterinary care. It only requires us to stop killing them and making them suffer. I can think of no other issue where the libertarian is arguing for a positive right — his right to make animals submit to any use he sees — and the other side is arguing for a negative right!
It will be interesting to see how the argument develops over the coming decades.

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