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What is Speciesism?

March 1, 2024



Have you ever heard the word speciesism? If not, you might already have a guess as to what it means. Like other words ending in -ism (think racism, sexism, ageism, and the like), "a prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a (specified) attribute" is indicated. In this case, it is a discrimination based on species.


Speciesism is so ingrained in our society that it is rarely recognized as a concept. To recognize the existence of speciesism requires one to understand that species other than humans have a right to exist, and a right to exist free from subjugation and suffering inflicted by humans.


Sometimes, we do recognize speciesism to an extent, but we do not use that word to describe what we are acknowledging. For instance, most people feel that kicking a dog would be a horrible thing to do and should even involve legal action with stiff penalties attached. Having negative feelings about dog kicking is a form of acknowledgement that the life of a dog has intrinsic value, that the dog has feelings, that the dog would be unjustly injured by being kicked, and that the kicker behaved in a socially contemptible manner. In this instance, most people believe that "just because you are a dog and not a human doesn't mean that you should be allowed to be kicked." That belief indicates an understanding of speciesism and an acknowledgement that it is unjust and even morally reprehensible.


Unfortunately for many animals, they do not enjoy the same level of respect or appreciation as the



animals humans have chosen to invite into their homes. Yet the lives of dogs, cats, and other domestic animals have no greater intrinsic value than that of any other animal. Take a moment to review the image that we have shared here. It is from a CNN article produced in the last week regarding the Texas wildfires. Do you notice anything interesting about it?



It is an example of how we accept the subjugation of other species by humans as a fact of being human, rather than as an inappropriate use of power.


'Cattle ranchers unsure of "what is alive and isn't."' The ranch hand quoted here said "of WHAT" is alive, not who. Some animals, particularly those used for food, are frequently denigrated and not acknowledged as equally as feeling as the dogs in our homes or the elephants we fight to save. Yet, how are they different in terms of what they deserve? It's simple. They are not. They are not things, objects, or "whats." Realizing that fact is an important step in understanding and coming to grips with speciesism and how humanity inappropriately--and even immorally--treats the other beings who share this planet. And why it is important to live vegan.


To learn more about the human impact on animals, visit our dedicated site: akindworld.org.

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