Is animal cruelty acceptable? Can it be tolerated under any concept? Absolutely not. Torture, mistreatment, and any harm inflicted from irrationality on animals -and any other form of life- must be energetically condemned. It cannot be tolerated. Having this premise clear from the outset, we can enter into the subject that interests us.
In the last few days, your social networks have likely been flooded with rabbits, one in particular. One story after another, always the same: Ralph, a good-natured and noble-looking rabbit who tells us about his experiences as an experimental animal and the damage that these tests have caused to his body. He is the main character of a stop-motion animated short, written and directed by the American Spencer Susser. The project features Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, and Zac Efron. It was released by the Humane Society International (HSI).
The video went viral in a matter of hours. It is a very well-done production with a high technical level, top actors, and a story that appeals to the audience’s empathy and reflection. You can be mesmerized and enchanted at first glance; it’s easy to share the short film without thinking about it – unless you’re always looking for the fifth leg of the cat (or rabbit), for better or worse.
The culture of the Western hemisphere has always believed that man is superior to animals since man occupies a central place in the universe. This conviction has already been questioned in the past: for David Hume, man’s spiritual soul had no value, unlike emotions and instincts. Jeremy Bentham advocated the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of suffering. Charles Darwin proposed a common origin between man and the rest of the animals. All these utilitarian and negatively anthropocentric positions leave human beings and animals on the same level, between whom there would only be quantitative differences and not differences of degree.
Following the line of these premises, in the last decades, an infinity of animalist corporations has arisen. For all of them, it is essential to put aside the idea of the superiority of man over any other species. If we have had the courage to overcome racism and sexism, we must take a step forward to leave speciesism behind as well, that is their progressive discourse – human beings and animals, both endowed with the same dignity and, therefore, the same rights.
This way of conceiving life is very dangerous. From the very moment that it is worth the same to defend the life of a rabbit as that of any person, we lose our fundamental essence and our societies become distorted. A nation, a State, will only be just to the extent that it chooses to defend every human being. Yes, even above animal life. This includes the issue of animal experimentation, which has played a fundamental role in almost all the major medical discoveries of the modern era. Medicine, pharmacy and other branches of the health sciences owe their great advances in large part to these practices.
Save Ralph opens the door to condemn any kind of experimentation. This is a big mistake. It is problematic to accept from the outset the premise of the short film, without knowing in depth the history and evolution of the medical sciences. And furthermore, it is these same animal rights corporations like HSI that strangle small companies that try to offer products that have not been tested on animals, profiting to the highest levels by offering their “cruelty-free” seals. After all, these corporations do not subsist on philanthropy, but on money and profit from promoting their agendas in the world (including such a harmful practice as veganism, in the specific case of HSI).
I repeat, cruelty is never acceptable, but when animal experimentation is exercised within reasonable parameters and for the benefit of the human race, it is morally licit. The life of a rabbit is not worth more than that of a person suffering from a degenerative disease. No animal’s life is worth more than that of millions of people persecuted for their beliefs, millions of women trafficked as sex slaves, millions of children suffering from malnutrition, or millions of people affected by war. No animal’s life is worth more than that of a human being in a state of gestation, against whom genocide is being committed.
Save Ralph could probably have a positive impact, beyond stopping animal cruelty, if it leads us to ask ourselves how much human beings are worth. We will discover our superiority, not to destroy from pride, but to dominate creation and mold it to our benefit. We will discover that, unlike any other species, we are capable of knowing ourselves, of owning and appropriating our life to give ourselves freely and relate to others. Only in this way, we will cease to be indifferent to the problems that are truly bringing us one step closer to self-destruction every day. Then we will be able to raise our voice, not to support or overshadow the truly important problems of our time with less relevant ones, but to put an end to them once and for all.