Let's get our definitions straight. What is an animal? What are rights? (And therefore)what are animal rights?
I will, because I presume my reader to be a discerning individual, skip defining an animal. Pointing out that animals have no capacity for thought and volition, and that their life consists of actions and evasions carried out at the behest of impulse and circadian rhythm.
What are rights? I quote Ayn Rand, from the book Capitalism, The unknown Ideal...
"Rights are a moral concept-the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual 's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others-the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in an social context-the link between the moral code of man and the legal code of society, between ethics and morality. Individual rights are a means of subordinating society to moral law"
What does this mean? Rights are for an individual, more precisely they are for
"...defining and sanctioning man's freedom of action in a social context"
This, is the only proper context and usage of the term-'rights'. A more commonly used catch-phrase in this area would be, "my freedom ends where my neighbor's nose begins". 'Rights' are the assertions of man's independence from other men, inasmuch he doesn't interfere with similar assertions of other men. And the function of the government is protection of individual rights, by law and its enforcement ageny-the police, and by its protective agency(from foreign invaders)-the military. Rights, since they are a moral concept, are only applicable to moral beings, beings who evaluate by a certain standard. And evaluation automatically implies the presence of a thinking mind.
The basic fallacy of the people who bellerigently proclaim "animals have rights " is that they have failed to grasp the meaning of the word-'rights'. For them rights are some kind of special privileges handed down by a superior authority. For them, rights are not that which man basically has, but those which are sanctioned by some government. This is the reason why special segments like women's rights, children's rights, Dalit rights, rights of the unemployed have sprung up overnight. The motive for talking of such terms like women's rights, Dalit rights is to obtain special privileges for such segments. And the "sucker" for all that is-the very concept of rights.
The preeminent of the all forms of corruption of the word -'rights' is 'animal-rights'. Note that animals do not fulfill any of the preconditions required for a being to have rights. Animals can neither think nor act by voluntary choice. And thus animals cannot claim to have 'rights'.
Yet the animal rights activists want to grant animals rights. At whose behest? At what cost? And more importantly, at whose expense?
Note that animal-rights not only talk about rights of dogs, cats and other 'cute' animals, the argument extends to animals like rats, snakes and pigs, aardwarks and armadillos. Every animal other than the human animal has a 'right' to live, according to them. If animals are not to killed for consumption as food, what about the plants? What about 'Plant rights'?
Examine the vicious nature of their attacks on scientific establishments using animals for experimental studies and their cool detachment towards the plight of thousands of beasts of burden which are subjected continuously to long hours of brutal work. If humanitarian considerations are really their concern, animal rights activists should be protesting in front of the farmer who is still using bullocks to plough his field, not in front of laboratories where animals are kept in clean surroundings and put to death mercifully.
'Animal rights' is cool-declares Nafisa Joseph. One wonders what next. Probably Nikhil Chinappa will declare that 'insect rights' is cool and tell us about his attempts to fight for 'cockroach rights' in his neighborhood with the local authorities. He will probably find out how uncooperative they are.