This discussion is solely about the use, or rather misuse, of the term “Animal Rights”. It’s a term thrown around quite frequently from my fellow vegetarian, and anti-vivisectionist, anti-hunting, animal welfare fanatics. This discussion is about a point of accuracy, but it also allows one to point out the inaccuracy of the term “Animal Rights”, for animals don’t have “Rights” according to Libertarian doctrine. To have Rights, they would have to have Human Consciousness, and the Inalienable Rights Thomas Jefferson spoke of in the Declaration of Independence can only pertain to the Human Being (or possibly, he being the closest in the animal kingdom to human consciousness, the Gorilla). You must have the intellect of a Human to apprehend the Inalienable Rights that are an implicit part of Human Consciousness. Only we humans know, instinctively, in the Justice and necessity of the Inalienable Rights, which are the Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, the Right to Contract freely with any other human on any terms mutually agreeable, the Right to the Fruits of your Labor, the Right to Associate, or Disassociate, with or from others, and because the Right to the Pursuit of Happiness necessitates and implies the Right to Private Property, since you need to own all kinds of implements to survive as a human being, from the car to the roof to the fridge to your clothes and toothbrush —- all these must one be able to own individually, not as part of a collective, or not at all, as in the communist societies where the State owns everything in your house, and the house itself. And Private Property includes the Right to exclude all others from your property, since if someone invades or takes your property, and retains possession, then obviously you don’t actually own that property. Private Property implies an individual’s complete dominion over that property.
So in speaking of Rights, we can only speak in terms of Human Inalienable Natural Rights, which can only appertain to Human Consciousness.
Therefore, the term “Animal Rights” is a Libertarian inaccuracy and falsehood. I believe my fellow anti-animal torture advocates should instead always use the term “Animal Welfare”.
If anyone has a Right, it is we, who have a Right to live in a society that does not tolerate highly sensitive animals, with a consciousness and innocence comparable to a small child, being slaughtered and terrorized daily, in the numbers of the hundreds of thousands and million, in the United States alone.
For it is One, the vegan or vegetarian Libertarian, who has the Right to live in a society that does not permit animals to be treated in such abominable ways, just as one has a right to live in a society that does not tolerate cannibalism, rapine, and child murder. Common Law courts based on Natural Law know instinctively that these are Crimes and have traditional codes of punishment that purport roughly to fit the severity of the Crime. And we know this because of our inborn Human intelligence. In a Libertarian Society, there might be no government but there would still be Law, and Common Law courts would administer justice accordingly, as they did in England before the Norman invasion, and as they did in the American Indian tribes, and as is done in the various religious courts of the major organized religions.
Therefore, I urge all those campaigning for “animal rights” to desist in the use of that term and to begin using the term “animal welfare” instead, or an equivalent that they prefer. And I urge them to point out to the Public that it is we, the Human Beings, who have the Right to live in a society that does not tolerate animal slaughter, animal torture, and other abuses like zoos and circuses.
Animal welfare is an issue that cuts across all party lines. Whether you are a Libertarian, Democrat, Republican, or non-Affiliated, you can usually see eye to eye on many Animal Welfare issues with your fellow animal welfarers, and any politician who includes the sort of radical planks for animal welfare such as outlawing hunting and trapping, and slaughterhouses, as I did in my 2014 campaign for Governor of Oregon, will gain a certain constituency because he is the only one speaking out on this issue. Ask for it all, don’t compromise and merely ask for more humane methods of mass butchery. Be radical in your demands. But insist they be passed by a democratic vote of the people, not merely by the legislature, or unilaterally ordained by the Governor.
Professor Murray Rothbard, the founder of the Libertarian Party in the U.S., and who loved his ham sandwich on wonder bread, when the topic of Animal Rights was brought up, used to quip a bit contemptuously (and followed by his famous infectious giggle), “Animals will have their Rights when they petition the government for them.” (Rothbard’s economic-historical lectures were full of little jokes and humor, a lot of which he laughed at himself.)
But since the Animals can’t petition the government themselves, it’s up to us Human Beings to do it for them. And the only two petitions the government really cares about are the Vote and the economic Boycott, both Libertarian non-violent tools of change.
—- Paul Grad, Vegan Libertarian, Libertarian Party of Oregon Nominee for Governor 2014