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Nicholas Kristof, the famous New York Times columnist, has weighed in on animal rights. Except he hasn’t. Animal rights is not the same thing as animal welfare— improving the humane treatment of animals, a good and noble cause. Rather, it is an ideology that equates human and animal moral worth and, further, holds that human beings have no right to own animals, use animals, or eat animals. Indeed, the true animal rights advocate doesn’t believe there should be any domesticated animals at all.

Besides using terms too loosely—which adds to the power of animal rights ideologues because they get conflated in the public’s mind with being nicer to animals—who does Kristof turn to for an education about animal rights? Why of course : Peter Singer. But Singer doesn’t really believe in animal rights. He is a utilitarian who believes that the outcome which best serves the interests of the individual or group with the highest “quality of life” is the proper course. Which is why he believes that infants can be murdered by parents—he asserts they are not persons and hence if the baby interferes with the interests or happiness of the parents, or even hypothetical as yet unborn siblings, they can be done in.

Despite this advocacy for the worst kind of immorality, Singer is constantly turned to by the clueless media to tell them what is ethical . That always blows my mind.

Singer can be slippery about what he believes, often masking the hardness of his true beliefs in the popular media. As in this exchange. From Kristof’s column :

I asked Mr. Singer how he would weigh human lives against animal lives, and he said that he wouldn’t favor executing a human to save any number of animals. But he added that he would be troubled by the idea of keeping one human alive by torturing 10,000 hogs to death.

See? He doesn’t answer the question about weighing human and animal lives—and comes up with the stupid hog torture hypothetical as a way of deflecting Kristof from the fact that he doesn’t think that it is relevant whether one is a human being or an animal in determining moral worth. Besides, what does it mean to say he would be “troubled?” Typical bioethicseze .

Here’s the point about believing in human exceptionalism: You don’t need to be slippery. You can just say what you mean and let the hate mail come pouring in. For example, Peter Singer’s life is worth more than that of any animal, and would be regardless of whether he developed serious problems with his frontal lobe, which, from his perspective, would render him a lower life form.

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