Were you horrified by the dog meat festival in China? Why? Why does the thought of eating a dog seem so sick to you? Maybe it’s because you have a dog; over time you’ve come to realize that each dog has its own personality, its own life. You’ve come to realize that dogs, like us, want to live happy lives and avoid pain. I agree. But I also know that cows, pigs, and chickens all want the same. No animal with a nervous system wants to feel pain. No animal wants to be denied its needs. Yet this happens everyday in the factory farms where your meat comes from.
So yea, the thought of those dogs being killed made me feel sick, just like you. But so does the thought of a chick’s beak being removed with a hot knife; so does the thought of pigs squealing in fear as they are about to be killed; so does the though of a cow’s distress as her calf is taken from her. We do what is going to be done to dogs in China on a mass and more brutal level, every single day. So why don’t we sign a petition to end factory farming too?
In our culture, it’s ok to kill and eat cows, but not dogs. But to think it’s wrong simply because dogs are our pets and cows are not overlooks the real reason: namely, we are denying the needs of, inflicting pain on, and ultimately killing another animal. It gets dangerous when our sense of right and wrong operates within the framework of a distinction between the lives we recognize vs. the ones we don’t. The Nazi’s sense of the wrongness of murder didn’t extend to the Jew. The slave master’s didn’t extend to the slave. Today, our sense of the wrongness of murdering a non-human animal doesn’t extend to cows and pigs.
But here’s the other thing, to make such a big deal about the dog festival, as people did, without criticizing our own awful treatment and murder of animals in factory farms every day is racist. It is to other China as the “bad guy”, based on little more than the fact that in our culture dogs are off limits. But we are equally as cruel in our treatment of non-dog animals. Stop using China as the target to distract yourself from what your own countries are guilty of.
It may be easy to understand why it seems so abhorrent when it’s dogs being skinned alive (this happens in fur farms, which our western countries allow) or boiled alive (chickens and pigs are often not fully killed before they are subjected to the next stages of the meat production process such as boiling for the chickens to rid them of the feathers). But we can’t base our ethics on that. As you said, some people have the same relationship with horses. And there are those who have the same with cows and chickens and pigs.
When it comes to the rights of humans to live fulfilled lives, to not be subjected to abuse, and to not be murdered, we are often absolutist in our stance. We say no human, no matter what the colour of their skin, no matter where they come from, etc. should suffer such. And we are horrified when we hear about the racist, for example, who believes such rights belong only to those of a certain skin colour. The problem is not, we say, white suffering, but HUMAN SUFFERING. Now the definition of speciesism is that we do the same thing the racist does, but with regard to those of another species. We say this right, to live a fulfilled life, only belongs to those of a certain species.