Animal Rights: Radical? Leisha Senko Human rights campaigns have always been a big part of the Laurier Brantford campus, from raising funds for those who are hungry, impoverished or suffering from HIV, we have always been quick to help those less fortunate. One group that is seldom heard about though is animals. From the dinner table to the laboratory, and even for our own entertainment, the plight of creatures in general is not a popular issue. Many believe this is both unfortunate and dangerous.

“If people saw the things we’re doing to animals… mice in our labs for example, they wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the cruelty,” says Lesli Bisgould, a professor at the University of Toronto.

Bisgould, along with others, has been fighting for animal rights for many years. One of her major accomplishments has been to change laws regarding circuses in the GTA area through lobbying, citing the horrible conditions animals face at the hands of these companies. She also teaches a sub-sect of law known as Animal Rights Law at U of T.

“Animal rights seems like a radical idea, but it really isn’t,” says Bisgould. “It’s about basic decency… not exploiting for money or entertainment any living thing. It’s about the right to be left alone.”

Others echo this sentiment. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals, a book that was inspired by the arrival of his new son. His entire purpose was to find how agricultural animals are being treated but what he found wasn’t pretty. He discusses that it is a system riddled with physical cruelty, painful growth hormones, dirty and tight quarters but worst of all, a façade that covers up as much of reality as possible. He realized that the convenient Styrofoam packages of neatly cut meat we buy tell us nothing about that journey.

“I’ve often said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian,” Paul McCartney said in an interview with PETA.

However, this is certainly not the only way animals are being exploited. Creatures used for entertainment purposes are not living particularly grand lives either. Whales, for example, are scientifically known to live up to 80 years in the wild, while their average age of survival in captivity is eight. This statistic alone is staggering and should give rise to great questions about the ethics of captivity. Recently, a video featuring circus hands beating an elephant with a pointed stick was leaked and officials quickly said that these measures were standard for training. Once again, this brings up serious questions.

Certainly there are many ways to ignore this issue, but the truth is, without properly respected lobbyists and of course, solid student groups, nothing will change for those animals that are being exploited.

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