Western society is in no position to ban the raping of animals. There. I said it.
Now hear me out on this before allowing any pre-conceived judgments to crystallize on this assertion.
Before I get into my argument, I will say that I personally have no interest in having sex with or forcing myself sexually upon an animal. Nor am I saying that people should do this, or that it is a morally defensible act. What I am saying is that our society would be nothing short of hypocritical to ban animal rape. Notice how I’m saying animal rape, rather than simply sex with animals. I’m saying that our society is in no position to ban the brutal rape of animals. Why, because our society has already deemed unnecessary gruesome treatment of animals to be acceptable. It’s entirely possible that I have overlooked some considerations. Feel free to point any such considerations out. This post is an invitation for discussion, not simply me shouting my opinions.
Exploiting animals for human satisfaction is nothing new. Consider our farming systems. Humans will take the maltreatment of animals up to greater and greater heights just to shave off a bit of the production costs. We will pack animals closer together, limit their movement, and do all sorts of efficiency-improving torturous things to these animals just to improve yields. On what basis do we say that this is acceptable but raping animals is not? It’s not like the animals consented to any of this? It’s not like we can, by any stretch of the imagination, assume that the animal is okay with any of this. On what grounds do we say that this is more acceptable than animal rape? Is the farmer’s desire to make more money for less work more important than the one’s desire to satisfy their sexual desires with an animal that may or may not be interested in such behaviour? A rebuttal may be that by lowering production costs we can make meat products available to people with less money. Well, perhaps if all of us spent a bit less money on I-Pods, cell phones, and other luxuries, we would have more money to buy more expensive but more humanely produced meat products, and to help out others who still have trouble paying for meat. On what basis is the human desire for luxury possessions more important than a person’s desire to have sex with an unconsenting animal? Is it any more moral to prioritize one’s desire for luxury products over the humane treatment of animals than it is to so prioritize one’s sexual gratification over the wellbeing of animals? Moreover, how many of us eat way more meat than is needed for a heathy diet? Presumably a lot of us. On what grounds is fulfilling one’s desire for unnecessarily high proportions of meat more important than the fulfilling one’s desire for sexual gratification with an unwilling animal who presumably would have been no more willing to be born and bred in an oppressive farm to be killed (often brutally) to satisfy some human’s desire for cheap, good tasting and plentiful meat?
Next, what about pure luxury uses of animals, such as in the production of cosmetics and fur coats. How is a person’s desire to look a few years younger or make a huge statement of “LOOK HOW RICH I AM!” more morally defensible than a person’s desire to have sex with an unwilling animal?
I ran these points by University of Toronto biochemist Larry Moran of Sandwalk, University of Calgary theoretical biologist and physicist Stuart Kauffman, a few University of Toronto undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a few of my open-minded and intelligent friends a few weeks ago. Really the best counterargument I heard was that of Larry Moran, who said “well, what kind of sick individual would do this or want to do this?”. I have a few responses to this reasonable query. Firstly, what kind of sick individual would prioritize wealth, production efficiency, cosmetics, and the overt expression of wealth over every moral consideration for animals? Secondly, I don’t think that just because an act is suggestive of psychological ill is grounds to make it illegal. If I saw a person walking down the street talking to himself, or walking down bloor picking his nose, farting, and wearing a shirt covered in mustard stains, I would probably think there is a good chance that they might have certain psychological anomalies, but I wouldn’t think that any of these acts are worthy of arrest.
As I said at the beginning, I am not saying that people should rape animals. Nor am I saying that it is a particularly moral act. I’m simply saying that any society that allows what our society allows in terms of animal treatment would be nothing short of hypocritical for banning the rape of animals.
This issue was brought to my mind in considering an argument made some time ago by Skatje Myers. Myers was basically saying that she doesn’t really see a reason why we should be banning consensual bestiality. If the animal appears to be interested and the human does, too, on what basis to the rest of us say “No”? Because we think it’s icky? I agree with Myers in the assertion that finding something icky is not a basis for banning it. If you think it’s icky, don’t do it yourself.
Now, this could bring up a whole other set of issues pertaining to the right of society to not have to see things that they do not want to see. The rights of society versus the rights of the individual is a very contentious issue. Where do we draw the line? On what basis do we allow one act that many people find to be gross to occur in public but not another? Do we eventually start allowing anal sex to occur in the stands of major sporting arenas during Disney on Ice? The question of where to draw the line, if anywhere, is a tough one. But even given this tough issue, I see no basis for banning the private raping of animals in a society that allows for so many other sorts of animal brutality.
Larry Moran has corrected me on a misrecollection of his comments. Larry corrects me as follows:
“Really the best counterargument I heard was that of Larry Moran, who said “well, what kind of sick individual would do this or want to do this?”.
That’s not exactly what I meant. What I was doing was warning you that this is what most people would be thinking rather than debating the issue you want to debate