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THE RIGHTS OF ANIMALS - Brigid Brophy (1929-1995)

In the essay The Rights of Animals, the essayist Brigid Brophy urges human beings to treat animals with due respect. She suggests people not exploit animals for any reason. She wittily argues that the responsibility of human beings is to behave decently toward animals. She asserts that our relationship with animals is one of unremitting (continual) exploitation and argues that we are under a moral obligation to respect their rights and spare them pain and terror. 

The essayist observed that "the exploitation of the other animal species by the human-animal species is the most unscrupulous, the cruellest, the most nearly universal and the longest-lasting exploitation of one class by another class in the history of the world. And the pattern of mental blind spots that allows us to do it is a pattern very easily adaptable to any other of the (fashionable) tyrannies ... “ 

Brophy notes that while many political activists include animal rights in their political agenda, others feel that bringing animal rights into politics diverts attention and energies from more important issues, from the real struggle. Brophy is concerned that those who practice "selective intellectual blindness" toward animals may find it easier to ignore the agonies of unpopular fellow humans. 

In the essay, the essayist talks about the rights of animals and says that animals, like human beings, have souls and so they mustn't be teased and killed. She adds that animals too have the right to survive on the earth. Forest is their home but human beings trap them and put them in zoos and circuses. She suggests that instead of trapping animals for business, jobless people should be given physical art training so that they would be involved in productive work. 

The writer advocates that animals should be given the freedom to live the life of their own. She says that animals should not be killed for consumption rather they should be protected. She writes, "If we are going to rear and kill animals for our food, I think we have a moral obligation to spare them pain and terror." There is no reason to torture animals or put them through unnecessary pain. There are many ways to kill an animal without causing it any pain. According to the writer, there are many other hygienic foods that can replace animals' meat. So, animals must not be tamed (domesticated) to eat. She is against animals' sacrifice in the name of God. She further says that there is no reason at all to kill the fish from the ocean and the animals from the forest. Animals can be used for the clinical trial however; they should not be killed for any reason. 

To sum up, the writer is against animal exploitation and asks people to protect and preserve animals. 

Points to remember in the essay: 

  • In this text, the author urges human beings not to kill animals. 
  • The writer says that human beings should treat animals with more respect. 
  • Animals have the same right to live on earth as humans. 
  • People are selfish and are hurting animals for their satisfaction. 
  • The author argues that animals should be allowed to live, just as humans do. 
  • The use of animals for experimental testing of drug treatment is somewhat correct. But it is not good to kill animals for any reason. 
  • The author argues that human beings must behave decently toward animals. 
  • She asserts that human beings’ relation to animals is one of unremitting (िनरन्तर) exploitation and argues that we are under a moral obligation to respect their rights and spare them pain and terror. 

Cranks and Kill Animals

The essayist says that every new voice for rights seems cranky (odd/bizarre/strange). Talking about the rights of slaves would have been crank in the ancient world similarly in the future it will seem unbelievable that we do not notice the immorality of our oppression of animals.

Animal exploiters justify themselves by saying that they are saving animals from winter and calve does not mind being tied up because they have never known anything else.

The writer is a vegetarian. She says we eat meat to get joy but by killing an animal we put an end to all the animals' joys along with its life.


Here she rejects being a sentimentalist and is ignorant of economic realities. She says that she won't kill an animal in order to eat it, but she will willingly eat an animal which had died of old age and the body is kept hygienic. In this sense, she is not a sentimentalist because she is no respecter of dead bodies whereas others never will eat a dead animal. In this sense, she can save food that could go waste. It means she is well aware of economic realities than others.

According to her, it is our moral obligation not to give pain to domestic animals. They also feel hurt. Even if we save them from pain, we don't have the right to kill them just only because we like their taste. 

The only Genuine Moral Problem

If there is a direct clash between an animal's life and a human one then only we have the only genuine moral problem to choose human life over an animal's life. Meat is not essential to human life, our diet doesn't propose such a clash.

Vivisection (doing a scientific experiment), hunting, and sacrificing activities are an atrocity (cruelty). One of the saddest and most foolish of our superstitious beliefs about sacrificing animals is our belief that by killing them we can somehow survive. If we ban animal acts from circuses many unemployed acrobats and jugglers will get jobs. She does not keep animals superior or equal to human beings. She just wants that be superior species, rational beings who are capable of moral choice- it is our moral obligation and duty to recognise and respect the rights of animals. 

  • Bibliography
    Brophy, B. (2021). The Rights of Animals. In S. Lohani, Visions - A Thematic Anthology (pp. 151- 160). Kathmandu: Vidyarthi Pustak Bhandar.
    Spira, H. (1993). Animal rights: the frontiers of compassion. Peace & Democracy News, 7, 11-14. 


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