A caption in the Guardian Newspaper of Wednesday June 24, 2015, page 12 read-‘NSCDC arrests five for allegedly stealing and slaughtering goats’. It was reported that the suspects were arrested with 13 goats, 10 out of the goats were pregnant and one of them was in labor (emphasis supplied). Now, try to picture a legislation stipulating in its long title as follows: “AN ACT TO PREVENT THE USE OF ANIMALS FOR LABOUR, FOOD, CLOTH, EXPERIMENT, CAGING, MEDICINE OR OTHER PURPOSES DEGRADING OR ENDANGERING SAME”. George Orwell espoused in the classic “Animal Farm” the ‘inequality of animals’. This has become a cliché in the realm of advocacy for the inalienable, justiceable, immutable, non-derogable ‘Fundamental Human Rights’.
Now, let us consider substituting ‘Human’ for ‘Animal’. Repugnant? Absurd? Illegal? Well, we can have a cursory look at this by considering certain germane points, viz-
- Animal versus human(for instance the fish in your pond)
- Animal versus animal(your puppy suing your dog)
- Enforcing rights of men and animal (Who acts as umpire; constituting a panel comprising animals and men?)
- Enforcing rights of animal by animal (Will the Legal Aid Council be of help or will learned silks offer pro bono services?)
No gainsaying that law is amoral! However, stricto sensu, can we delineate justice from morality, especially when one considers trite principles. Succinctly, overtime, men have thoughtfully advocated the need for justice of man to man, as captured by Bernard Lenin, who pontificated- “Your fist’s freedom ends where my nose begins“.
In capturing the plight of animals in our world, one must consider the jurisdiction in question, since men have tamed ‘lower animals’ in developed nations, some locals in third world countries are still paying obeisance to deities as demi-gods or gods either in the form of sculpture, paintings, mummies or real being. Hence, the debate of who should bell the cat also comes to the fore when exploring a legal diagnosis of ‘lower animals’ (assuming but not conceding that humans have been properly categorized as higher animals) suppressing one another. Of course, some persons will rather spare the rat and lynch the cat (especially in communities wherein indigenous beliefs have unanimously pronounced the sentence-‘Spare Barabas’) to some endowed creatures, while in other places they are delicacies.
So, as an animal rights activist, can I boldly assert that ‘what is good for the goose is likewise endearing to the gander’, when I am putting on Armani jacket made of sheep wool on Italian shoes made of pure leopard skin? Consequently, if animals embark on a sojourn into the realm of poetry, their lines would go thus-
Who sees our tears/When in our yawn/They make their lawn/Well measured for years/Who sees our wound/When on our bruise/They make their cruise/Dampening our little world/Who cares for our morrow/When like the biblical herd/Have we no shepherd/In whose tracks to follow…Who will punctuate these questions/When our sore hands lazily grease/This arm-chair, our earth at ease/And our living sole licensed portion.
The legend, Chinua Achebe, sagaciously captured his musings when he aptly expressed – ‘Nothing puzzles God!’ If terrorists can incessantly shear humans like sheep, then why advocate for animal rights save for moral instruction classes, or for fear of being tagged a “speciecist” by anthropocentrists and conservationists?
Such a gesture would in effect be an exercise of sheer academic masturbation a and desperation to be hailed a ‘Senior Advocate of Animals?’ Of note, recently the U.S Supreme Court granted legal cloak to same-sex union. Similarly, Mozambique recently de-criminalized homosexuality and abortion. Flowing from this, it would only be astute to say that a discourse on animal rights would be ‘much ado about nothing’
Mrs. Joy Bob Manuel of Legal Aid Council, Abuja on 29th October, 2013 during a lecture in response to a query as to the pricey cost of legal education said, ‘it does not pay in the long run to be a negative activist’. Similarly, the quest for justiceability of animal rights (like other legal queries, for instance: law against prostitution, legalization of abortion, abolition of death penalty, L.G.B.T rights, legalizing euthanasia), would defile any legal medication and remain a front burner issue.
Well, as C.S Lewis, Vivisection opines- ‘we may find it difficult to formulate a human right of tormenting beasts in terms which would not equally imply an angelic right of tormenting men’.
Michael O. Ogunjobi