It’s almost enough to make me an animal loather

Read spiked editor Mick Hume in The Times (London), on the tyranny of anthropomorphism.

Mick Hume

Mick Hume

Topics Politics

This is a bit of random text from Kyle to test the new global option to add a message at the top of every article. This bit is linked somewhere.

I have never really felt part of our alleged nation of animal-lovers. And if I hear many more sermons about the abuse and welfare of our furry, feathered and finned friends, they are in danger of turning me into a committed animal-loather.

It wasn’t just the hunting debacle that raised my humanist hackles this week. There was also the goldfish affair. Having refused all requests to have a cat or dog, we finally relented enough to buy our young daughters some goldfish. We were met with signs declaring that the shop ‘does NOT sell fish to under-16s’. But it soon became clear that it doesn’t sell them willy-nilly to any old adults, either.

We were instructed about what sort of tank and water treatments we would need to ensure the welfare of the fish (the price of which ethical ‘biosphere’ left me feeling done up like a kipper). And no, we could not have four fish to start with, since they wouldn’t be ‘comfortable’. They grudgingly allowed us to buy two. This assumption that anybody who wants a pet must be treated like a potential abuser will soon be written into law by the Animal Welfare Bill. It is enough to put off people like me from ever allowing our children to have fish without chips.

Speaking of eating animals, the RSPCA launched a big campaign about chickens this week. ‘Don’t serve up suffering’, the leaflet says. ‘Do you want to see suffering on your plate?’ As if we didn’t have enough problems to be aware of, it wants to ‘raise awareness of chicken welfare issues’. The RSPCA thinks it shocking that ‘100,000 chickens die prematurely each day’.

I had assumed that premature death went with the job of being bred for chicken nuggets, but perhaps that only reveals my low awareness of chicken welfare issues.

The recent flock of stories about the physical and psychological suffering of chickens suggests that some people are suffering an outbreak of psychotic anthropomorphism. The loons at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (PETA) who say: ‘To an animal, all humans are Nazis’, and claim that chickens, too, can love classical music and each other, seem almost mainstream these days. They have just got an American KFC supplier to sack its staff, after secretly filming them kicking chickens in a slaughterhouse.

I worked on a farm one summer 25 years ago, and my sympathies are with the workers. Chickens are repulsive, cannibalistic sacks of faeces and feathers, and have no more soul or feelings on a farm than when they are in the supermarket freezer. My fellow summer-job students and I soon hated those chickens enough to wring their necks without a qualm, wearing waterproof coats and sou’westers for when we twisted too hard and the head came off.

These days that would probably be considered henocide. PETA calls chickens ‘the most abused animals on the planet’. I would rather give that title to the men who have to masturbate farm turkeys for a living.

And now my wife reminds me of the summer’s most surreal shaggy dog story: how Rex the labrador was treated like a supergrass from The Sopranos. Rex was one of two dogs that had containers of cocaine sewn into his stomach by drug smugglers in Colombia – a heinous crime, of course, for which the perpetrators were jailed this month. But that does not explain why the authorities have felt it necessary to give Rex a secret ‘new life’ in a canine witness protection programme. As my wife put it: ‘They seem to want to give all animals a false identity – ours!’

I have always agreed with Friedrich Engels that we can judge a society by the status of women. At a different level, you can also tell a lot by the way it treats its animals. Wanton cruelty to animals is certainly a sign of human degradation. But there is nothing good about a society indulging in animal-obsessed self-flagellation, either. Those who would elevate the welfare of fish above children’s need for fun, or the welfare of fowl above families’ need for cheap meat, betray their appallingly low opinion of people.

Who needs animal rights extremists in training camps, when the tyranny of anthropomorphism is spreading from the House of Commons to the pet shop? No wonder the foxhunters are so hated; fancy still having the nerve to treat animals like animals. It is almost enough to turn a moderate libertarian Marxist such as me into an animal-loathing human liberation extremist. Shall we hang the last chicken with the guts of the last goldfish?

This article is republished from The Times (London)

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today