Should animals have rights?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am


Wong Ling-oi, 13, St Stephen's Girls' College

Many people insist that the public should respect animal rights. I don't think so.

For a start, humans are without a doubt far more complicated than any other living thing. We have a unique ability to think and express ourselves, and to formulate social systems with rights and responsibilities.

Admittedly, we should strive to prevent animals being subjected to unnecessary pain or torture. Yet beyond this, animals do not deserve 'rights'.

Rights are privileges that are accompanied by certain social duties and moral responsibilities.

Animals are not qualified to enter this kind of 'social contract' as they are amoral, meaning they do not know right from wrong.

They do not respect our 'rights' and are driven not by reason but purely by instinct.

Such creatures can have neither rights nor responsibilities.

Besides, many people today still do not enjoy even basic human rights. So how could animals be given their own rights?

Many children in Africa continue to die of starvation, are caught up in wars and receive no education. They are denied basic human rights, so it is absurd to argue that animals, too, should have rights.

Simply, it is not practical to give too much respect to animals.

Would it be feasible to demand that people do not eat meat anymore?

Would it be reasonable to expect people not to have pets?

The answer is 'No'.

I believe the notion that animals should have rights similar to ours should be ignored.

Yuen Hui-ling, 16, Diocesan Girls' School Helen

Life; liberty; the pursuit of happiness. These are essential rights that all living beings should be entitled to.

The animal liberation movement seeks to extend such rights to animals. Its members believe that animals, too, are entitled to certain natural rights.

One of these is the right to an undisturbed living environment. Animals and humans are all residents of this planet. Animals are just as much a part of nature as we are. Each animal plays an important role in the ecosystem.

Yet even though animals are equal owners of this planet, we keep destroying their habitats and driving them out of their homes.

All living beings should be able to have a natural environment to live in. All creatures are entitled to this right as well as to their freedom.

We humans should not have a special 'privilege' to rob other beings of their freedom. We often fight for our own liberty. So how can we justify taking away animals' right to their own freedom?

Animals shouldn't be treated any differently than humans.

It just so happens that because of our mental capabilities we can easily overpower even the strongest animals. However, if we were left to our own devices in the wild, we would be at the mercy of animals. That should make us think.

We have the power to think, we have feelings, and we have morality. These set us apart from animals. But that also places a special responsibility on us.

Of all living creatures, we alone have the means to ensure that other beings can have the right to their freedoms and natural life.