Peter Singer, is an ethicist and the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. His book Animal Liberation, first published in 1975, is considered the foundational text of the animal rights movement. In an interview with The New Republic, he discussed the ethical difference between hunting and dog fighting, and why both of those are minor cruelties in the scale of things.
In response to the public reaction to Michael Vick’s involvement in dog fighting, Singer said that the public outrage seems fair. Vick did horrible things to dogs, and if it is true, people should be angry and disgusted by it. But Singer added that if this had been done with pigs or chickens, the public reaction would not have been so strong.
Singer stated: “That seems to me to be wrong. I think pigs suffer just as much as dogs, and, in terms of what we do to pigs in this country in general, they suffer a lot more cruelty than dogs do because there are so many of them in factory farms in appalling conditions. That’s the incongruity. It’s not that there’s an overreaction to the Vick business, it’s rather that there’s an underreaction to what’s happening elsewhere.”
Some people, including NBA player Stephon Marbury, have compared dog fighting to hunting. In response to the comparison between dog fighting and hunting, Singer said the focus and the ethics of a sport hunter is to kill the animal with as little pain as possible. A good hunter will shot the animal in a place where it will die immediately and will not suffer. In dog fighting, the dogs that didn’t perform well were not killed instantly. The dogs were drowned and this is more of a painful death than being shot through the brain or in the heart, Singer stated.
Singer added: “That comparison that you just asked me to make between dog fighting and sport-hunting is interesting in itself because these are both really very minor cruelties in the terms of the scale of things. The big thing that is going undiscussed here is the industrial raising of animals for food. Just in terms of the numbers, it’s so vastly greater than sport-hunting, which in turn is a lot bigger than dog fighting. We’re talking literally about billions of animals each year being reared in conditions that don’t enable them to have a minimally decent life and then being killed in mass-production factory ways that again often are not painless. So that’s the schizophrenia, that all of this hidden suffering that’s engaged in by supposedly respectable corporations and that people then buy in their supermarkets is the thing that is unspoken. It’s not the recreational activities that we should be focusing on.”
Source: The New Republic