This time, the headline reads “Memorial Planned for Dartmouth Geese Killed This Week” (http://www.metronews.ca/news/halifax/2017/08/11/memorial-planned-for-dartmouth-geese-killed-this-week.html)
Unlike the Canada geese I posted about recently, these geese are not considered pests. In fact, the people in the area seem to cherish them as pets. So since three of these geese were hit by a car and two of them died, the community has been in an uproar that the person who hit them wasn’t charged.
These two events serve to clearly underscore what Gary Francione calls our “moral schizophrenia”, or confused thinking, about animals. On the one hand, we value some animals, like the Dartmouth geese, seeing them as worthy of our consideration and protection. Indeed, people might view them almost as friends. On the other hand, the Canada geese in Washington Park are just a nuisance, noisy and messy, and they are inconveniencing people by being too abundant. So we kill those geese and feed their corpses to homeless people and school children.
This boggles my mind, but it shows how we are able to shower love and affection on dogs and cats or any other animals we keep or regard as pets, while simultaneously paying other people to torture and kill other animals so we can needlessly consume their bodies.
Melanie Joy says that this phenomenon is “invisible”, that we are all just poor, brainwashed victims who have been tricked into thinking like this. But I don’t buy that at all. WE are not the victims.
The reality is that it’s a very conscious and deliberate choice on our part to love some animals while brutally and needlessly killing others. The root of it is speciesism, the belief that the lives of other sentient beings are of less value than human life and that somehow this justifies using them in whatever ways we please.
Geese are neither inherently good nor inherently bad—they simply are what they are. It is nothing more than people’s perceptions of them that decide whether their lives are commemorated with candlelight vigils and outrage at their deaths, or whether they are considered pests and served as dinner.
The life of each sentient being has an inherent worth; that is, it has value in and of itself, not for what it can do for us or how we can exploit it. Each subject of a life values their own life and wants to keep living. For example, your life means nothing to me at all, but it sure does have value to you, and you probably want to keep living!
Geese, and other animals, are no different. As sentient beings, they experience life, they have thoughts and feelings. They are subjects of a life, and they wish for their lives to continue. We have no right, therefore, to arbitrarily decide which animals live and which die.
And while it is very touching that people were upset about the geese being killed by a motorist, I am fairly certain every one of them went home and had a dinner consisting of some kind of animal parts.
Moral schizophrenia indeed!