Friday, April 10, 2009

Letter to NY Times, in response to Nicholas Kristof's "Humanity Even for Nonhumans"

Any time an animal rights or welfare article comes out in a prominant publication like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal...or Forbes (eh, rarely), I will usually find it on one of my friends' Facebook profiles, either as their status or as a Note with a few others' comments below it.

So yesterday I came across this one from the New York Times journalist, Nicholas Kristof: "Humanity Even for Nonhumans". He is well-respected and prolific, and I was very please to see him take up the topic of legislative protection of animals and the general animal rights issues this inevitably brings to the conversation. I took some issue with his interviewing Peter Singer, however, as Singer is not a lawyer, a legislator, or even a law professor. Singer is a philosopher and an ethics and philosophy professor at Princeton. Philosphy is grand, I do believe, but it is limiting as far as using various principals in every day life. When it comes to animal rights, philosphical beliefs that Singer subscribes to, most of which I do as well, come unraveled, however, at a certain point. What is left to do then? I assert then one analyzes law and focuses on the very things that Kristof began his piece with.
And hence...

From: Courtney Kistler <>
Date: Thu, Apr 9, 2009 at 5:36 PM
Subject: Letter, response to Humanity Even for Non-humans

In response to Nicholas Kristof's article today, "Humanity Even for Non-humans":

Thank you, Mr. Kristof, for paying some time and attention to this topic and noting that the rights of animals are indeed of greater importance to more people now than ever.

I thought it odd, however, that, though he referenced Bentham's assertion ‘...can they suffer?’ as principal for himself, Peter Singer said he was “unsure about shellfish”. I would assume he's aware of the practices of commercial fishing and the suffering that other animals, including mammals, endure as consequence.

But then again, this is why Philosophy is impractical and needs Law to bring it to life.

Your piece did not pay attention to the enforcement gap hindering the effectiveness of humane law in America. Because this exists, free-range farm workers may continue inhumane practices, unmonitored. This is very important in our deciding whether or not to eat produce from these places.

While I'm glad you wrote on the topic and cited the increase in protection of animals through legislation, I hope you will write a second piece and get the opinion of a law professor or legislator who knows about Prop 2 and has practiced in humane law. In a way, there is a point where Philosophy stops and Law takes over.

Next op-ed, Cass Sunstein?

Courtney Kistler
Rational Animal
New York, NY
(212) 933-1688 or (419) 261-0223


Numbers and stats supporting argument above re. commercial fishing practices:

Description of the actual fishing practice that continues to kill off marine life including sea mammals and endangered species like all six species of America's sea turtles:
Some factory farm / animal issues to read up on:
Battey-caged chickens:
One of the best resources for like...everything:

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