IN THEIR relations with animals, humans eat, hunt, trap, ride, brand, wear, cage, own, sell, breed, dissect, exploit, tame, capture, torture, sacrifice and kill them. This is for starters and doesn't count the estimated 27 species made extinct every hour of every day. Much of this gore and suffering is legal, with such laws as the 1966 Animal Welfare Act providing a comforting balm. Much of it is also out of sight, with the meat-aisle shopper or the hamburger-chomper unaware of the pain inflicted on animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses. The human-caused violence done to animals has been normalized, either through habit or culture, so that it's only the oddball who tries to see life also from the animal's viewpoint who is considered abnormal. As T.S. Eliot wrote, in a world of fugitives those running in the opposite direction are called mad.
Two of these madmen are Gary Francione and Andrew Linzey, both scholars who write with lucid and reasoned prose and who counter the stereotypical image of animal rightsers as contrarian fanatics spray-painting fur coats or invading research labs. Francione and Linzey, complementary thinkers, cannot be so casually dismissed. In a debate too often marked by accusations and misunderstandings, both authors argue their case with much-needed intellectual calmness. They more than make up for the absence of thoughts, or thoughtfulness, that's at the core of how humans mistreat animals.
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