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Humans are superior to animals

By Scott Tibbs, March 20, 2004

From Reuters:

BERLIN (Reuters) - An animal rights group said on Wednesday it would go ahead with a controversial advertising campaign that likens the slaughter of animals to the murder of Jews under the Nazis despite threats of a legal challenge.

Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council of Jews, said he would ask prosecutors to raise charges of "inciting racial hatred" against vegetarian group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for the advertisements called "Holocaust on a plate."

This is an ongoing campaign by PETA. They set up MassKilling.com to advance the idea that eating meat is akin to the Holocaust.

The reason PETA thinks the Holocaust comparison is appropriate is that they believe that animals are the moral equivalent of human beings. PETA thus believes that any human "exploitation" of animals is therefore "immoral".

This simply cannot be, from either an atheist or a theist perspective. If there is no God, there is no Primary Source of morality. Human beings can live by their own moral code and a group of humans can set up a moral code to follow, and even enforce that code, but without God (or some other supernatural being) there is no overarching universal morality. In this case, survival of the fittest rules. It is no more morally significant if a lion, tiger or bear (oh, my) kills an animal for food than if a human does so.

If there is a God, and that God has decreed that humans are not to use other animals for food, clothing or other needs and wants, then humans are by definition above the animal kingdom because no other animal displays such a moral code.

To the advertisement itself: it is more than a little ironic that PETA is using Nazi tactics to attack what it considers a Nazi practice, eating meat. One of the ways Hitler demonized Jews is by comparing them to rats. Now, PETA is also comparing Jews to animals.

The problem is, everyone knows instinctively that a rat is not worth the same as human life. Hitler knew this, which is why he tried to cast Jews as rats. While many people (including Christians) do place an emphasis on caring for animal life, animals are not on the same level as humans. Indeed, what PETA is doing is paving the way for another Holocaust. You cannot raise an animal's moral status to that of a human being, but you can lower the value of human life to that of an animal.

PETA's campaign is immoral and extremely offensive. They have been rightly condemned for it. I do, however, have a problem with them being prosecuted under a German law that makes it illegal to diminish or deny the Holocaust. The right to free speech is a fundamental right, and is a foundation of democracy. The core test of free speech is whether or not we tolerate speech that is "offensive" in some ways. Once you censor "offensive" speech, you set a precedent that other speech can be limited as well. While Germany bears a special burden because of its history, limiting freedom now is not the way to atone for past sins.