This story is not exactly breaking news, but I’d like to say something about it. PeTA filed a lawsuit alleging that SeaWorld enslaves killer whales.
Now I realize I’m not breaking new ground here by being a vegan that criticizes PeTA. Hell, there’s already a website for that (although it seems to be defunct). Nothing new here. But I wish that it just stopped with PeTA. I wish I could say that the error originates and ends with PeTA.
There are probably a lot of anti-speciesist vegans out there that think PeTA’s lawsuit is misguided on tactical grounds. How could there not be? But a lot of those same vegans probably don’t disagree with the assertion that SeaWorld having killer whales IS slavery. This is because they find any distinction between humans and non-humans to be essentially unjustified. Therefore, the concepts of murder, genocide and slavery can all be applied to animals in their minds. Well, most people find that offensive. Most (probably all) legal systems find the assertion ludicrous. But if you buy into a rigid anti-speciesism worldview, it makes perfect sense.
I find this to be problematic. It’s a problem when the movement that cares about animals uses language that alienates people to the cause. There are certainly non-vegans and people that don’t “believe in” animal rights that are sympathetic to the idea that we shouldn’t keep killer whales in a huge fish tank so that they can entertain us. But you lose their support when you try to use the 13th amendment, the legislation that freed slaves in the United States, as a publicity stunt.
“The lawsuit is the first of its kind in contending that constitutional protections against slavery are not limited to humans.” Of course it is. No one else has ever had enough disposable money to bring a lawsuit so sure to fail. There is essentially ZERO chance that the protections of the 13th amendment will be extended to animals. Can you imagine the precedent that it would set? Can you even imagine how much money is at stake?
Again, I wish that the logic used by PeTA was unique to PeTA. But it isn’t. A lot of vegans and AR people think this way. It’s a problem.
And for the record, I have no love for SeaWorld, zoos, circuses, rodeos etc. etc. I would never give my money to any of them.