About Animal Rights and Sheep Welfare: Sezgin’s Last Hilal Column “Under the Animals”.
There is a lot at stake in the negotiations on forming a new government: Will the future government slow climate change a little, will one or two and a half tracks be defined in the direction of social justice? There is one topic, however, that will not come to the table, and probably not for many years to come: the individual rights of (non-human) animals.
It is true that some politicians criticize current animal production or factory farming, and it also makes a difference who fills the Ministry of Agriculture. But frankly, it’s always about using animals a little less, and killing them a little better – animal rights activists like myself, on the other hand, are in favor of not exploiting and not killing animals.
So what do we “wish” from our constitution? What would we ask if we were in the government? I am often asked this question, but there is no reasonable answer. For if I had been in government, for example, either large sections of our society would have radically changed their views on animals, or else I would not have been elected; Otherwise, we would live in a dictatorship. I don’t want the last option, I’m working toward the first: changing the majority’s view of animals.
And at the core of the idea of animal rights, and of political vegetarianism, is a small and widely shared consensus: We know that not only humans, but at least other vertebrates as well, personally experience their lives in many aspects. They experience positive things – such as love, joy, and the desire to move – and negative things – such as pain, fear of death, and coercion. I don’t know anyone to argue with this.
Animals are there to eat?
However, I know people who try to ignore the importance of this. Who wants to make a definitive distinction between humans and other animals and who suddenly turns to quasi-religious structures when it comes to justifying their eating of meat: that’s what animals exist for, after all. But who said that? Are you really saying that God asked us to subdue the rest of the world? Do you think it really reasonable to suppress the empathy that is of course towards dogs and cats when it comes to pigs or chickens?
I have had the great honor and pleasure to be able to ask such questions in my columns for fourteen years and to speak of their contexts. I have written about animals in laboratories, animals in stables, and often about sheep in the little Sheep Shelter. It introduced the methods and discourses of the agricultural industry, and philosophers and activists experimented with other forms of coexistence with animals. I have attempted to trace the often more subtle consequences that our subjugation of other animals has in our language, in our political thinking–not least in our souls.
foot on neck
I would like to give one last example, which is the frequent comparison between humans and animals. They lived “like animals,” and people were treated “like animals” or “worse than animals.” He or she “became an animal.” All of these idiomatic expressions indicate that we humans are not bodily animal beings and that being an animal is a bad thing. Historically, specific groups of people – enslaved blacks – were placed near animals; The “people” were only white, mostly male, and “civilized”. But hierarchies like this, and trying to elevate yourself by calling others “the low” and putting your foot on their necks, eventually breaks our backs.
Thank you for the space Frankfurter Rundschau has given me to pursue such topics, and thank you so much for reading and thinking together!
We do not live in a world where one can “wish” how things will go and where a fairy appears and grants such wishes. Time and time again, it is necessary to accept the fact that the truth of others also appears to be true from their point of view. At the same time, we must continue to believe and hope that we can win these humans over to our view and idea of justice, and fight for it. And that’s exactly what we do.
Hilal Sezkin Born in 1970, he lives as a freelance author in the Lüneburg Heath. For the last time she writes at this stage “among animals”.