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© Photowitch / Dreamstime.com

© Photowitch / Dreamstime.com

Conflicts of interest are insidious, conveniently lurking just outside the conscious realm. They function to undermine impartiality and corrupt the reasoning and motivations of those torn by competing interests.  

These veiled internal conflicts give rise and heft to rationalizations for behaviors that otherwise would be deemed dishonest or morally repugnant.

Speciesism — also known as "human supremacism" — is the belief that as the “highest” form of life, homosapiens have a right to do as they please to farmed animals. While it is appealing to believe that humans are the "highest" form of life, it could certainly be considered a conflict of interest.   

Many people enjoy eating animals and fear that adopting a plant-based diet would deprive them of their ephemeral pleasures. Thus the search for a rationale to justify behavior that results in a brutal life and death for billions of sentient beings.

Few would argue that it is right to confine dogs and cats for their entire lives to cages so small they could not turn around, to spay or neuter them without anesthesia, to force them to stand or lie on sharp wire fencing suspended over their feces, and to slit their throats when their “productive” lives were used up.

Then what is the difference between the dogs and cats that we love and cherish, and the chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, and cows that we exploit and execute? 

Pigs are smarter than dogs, cows have distinct personalities that range from friendly to spunky, and all animals feel pain and emotion.

If centuries from now our planet is overtaken by a more advanced civilization, would it be morally justified for those “higher” life forms to confine your offspring to cages so small they could not turn around, to castrate them without anesthesia, to force them to stand or lie on sharp wire fencing suspended over their feces, to slaughter them when their “productive” lives were used up, and to display their remains as “homosapiens” under grocery store meat counters? Think about it. 

Filmmaker Mark Devries interviewed a Holocaust survivor for his “Speciesism: The Movie.” The man had grown up in the Warsaw ghetto before being taken by cattle car to a death camp along with his family.  

After the war, he returned to visit the place where his family was exterminated.  

“I was struck by the piles of hair and glasses and boots,” the man recalled. “Years later I happened to be visiting a slaughterhouse in the United States, and there again I saw piles of hearts and hoofs and other body parts neatly stacked. And then I got to thinking about the highly efficient and dispassionate process that was used in both cases, that the perpetrators felt no guilt about what they were doing.”

Devries also talked with a farmer as he removed chicken carcasses from his crowded barn. “You put three or four of them in a wheelbarrow and you about got yourself a load,” the farmer said.  

After viewing Devries’ film, Michael Shermer, a columnist for Scientific American and adjunct professor at Chapman University, wrote: “When I entered the theater to see Mark Devries’ film Speciesism: The Movie I was a speciesist. When I came out I could no longer justify the treatment of animals with any rational arguments because they were all demolished in this brilliant and compelling film. The intellectual debate over Speciesism is now over.”

Click on the following link to see why:

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