Monday, February 18, 2013

"Let Me Out" -- What One Animal Actually Said

Geese and goslings rounded up by USDA and later killed.
The inspiration for yesterday's blog entry (....If We Understood their Language, What Would Animals Say About US?") was this Op Ed piece from Avon, Ohio, Patch:

Since involved with the Canada goose issue, I have learned to become skeptical of many things passing for "journalism" these days.  However, even I was surprised that the Patch would publish something so replete with ignorance and inaccuracy as to be thought sarcasm by most of the readers.

But, it doesn't seem the writer, (Katherine O'Brian-Wilhelm) was deliberately joking when asserting that animals "can't talk" nor "think."  She after all, continues to express serious consternation over the fact abortions are legal in this country. (Something seemingly inconsistent with utilitarian views on animals, since unborn babies cannot speak either.)

Animals in fact, communicate all the time, whether through bark, meow, honk, squeal, quack or moo.

They just don't speak English -- as millions of humans around the globe don't speak either. 

That should not be surmised to mean that an entity "can't think."

Cognizant recognition and thought processes have been demonstrated and documented in animals time and time again in research laboratories and field research the world over.  (Empathy has also been scientifically demonstrated in animal species from dolphins to pigs to dogs.)

I recall reading many years ago about a female chimpanzee named Washoe who had been taught sign language in a research laboratory.

One day, when placed back into her cage, the chimp signed, "Let me out."

One cannot be sure, but that might have marked the beginning of the end of teaching animals how to communicate with us -- at least in scientific research labs.
Still, there is this more recent story from the Welsh Mountain Zoo:

It is not in human interest or advantage to know what most other animals think or feel about us.

Imagine what the chickens, pigs, cows, dogs, sheep and billions of other animals confined and suffering on factory farms, puppy mills or in vivisections labs would say about their circumstances and their human tormenters?

Imagine what the elephants, tigers, rhinos, monkeys, whales and dolphins would say about human poachers or what geese, ducks, deer and millions of other animals would say about human hunters?

No, it is not to our benefit at all to know what other animals think, feel and fear about humans.

Certainly, there is no greater predator or savagery known on earth than that produced by our own species and foisted on others.

Animals of all kinds have proven themselves over the eons to be capable of adapting and evolving to the infinate challenges presented by nature.

But, few animal species with "target," use" or "nuisance" placed above their heads by humans are capable of ultimately surviving human wrath and exploitation with their dignity and essence in tact.

Perhaps one of the main reasons I so admire and respect Canada geese is because (so far) they are one of the few species (along with coyotes and feral cats) that has managed to endure most of human's wrath, destruction of habitat and barbarity with both, dignity and essence still remaining.

But, pity all the others.

Or, perhaps we should really pity those humans like Katherine O'Brian-Wilhelm who despite all the scientific and anecdotal evidence to the contrary still insist that animals neither communicate nor think.  Animals and trees supposedly only exist for the "enhancement" of human lives.

There have after all, been times in history when people of different color, religion, nationality or even sex have been claimed to have "no souls" in order to justify tyranny against them.

There are no greater lies in life than those we tell ourselves in order to deny and rationalize unjust and irresponsible behavior.

The question is, when will we as a species be forced to be accountable for these lies and denials? 

Apparently, not as long as we can tell ourselves that animals and unborn babies cannot talk or think.

But, we might consider whether both can feel, how much they feel and at what stage they feel.

Were the powers of language and thought expression the only criteria for empathetic behavior, then we would deem to have no rights at all, those humans suffering speech impairment due to injury, disability or illness.  Were IQ the criteria for consideration of rights, then those humans not intellectually gifted would be expendable and/or exploitable.

The bottom line is that existing scientific and other evidence demonstrates that most animals are capable of thought, communication and feeling (though presumably to varying degrees).

The day of pity and reckoning for humans will be the day when animals (like the chimp taught sign language) learn to communicate those thoughts and feelings in language we will not be able to deny.  

"Let me out" and "Let me be free."

For sure, humans will never seek to hear or see those words, for then, what would we do? -- PCA


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have ALWAYS said that the day we break through animal communication to understand them will be a very difficult day for mankind, because we will have to justify the horrible things we have done to them, and we cannot.

Personally, I HOPE that a blending of Planet of the Apes and Terminator come true, because I trust that animals and computers will make better ethical decisions than humans.