The mythic voice rising from literature and art allows us to be humane. We are not humane because of political power, or education, or even religion. We are humane because we recognize the humanity of others. The writer and the artist appeal to that humanity. For that reason, literature and art are the bones of civilization.
The Humane Society of the United States works with local Humane Societies across the country. We don't control every local Humane Society in this nation. These organizations strive to the greatest degree to provide homes for animals and to encourage adoption, to spay and neuter animals. And if a decision is made to euthanize, it is a failure of society, not the local organizations who are striving to do their best.
When they first emerged in their present shape around the turn of the 18th century, the so-called humane disciplines had a crucial social role. It was to foster and protect the kind of values for which a philistine social order had precious little time. The modern humanities and industrial capitalism were more or less twinned at birth. To preserve a set of values and ideas under siege, you needed among other things institutions known as universities set somewhat apart from everyday social life. This remoteness meant that humane study could be lamentably ineffectual. But it also allowed the humanities to launch a critique of conventional wisdom.
The notion that we should promote 'happy' or 'humane' exploitation as 'baby steps' ignores that welfare reforms do not result in providing significantly greater protection for animal interests; in fact, most of the time, animal welfare reforms do nothing more than make animal exploitation more economically productive by focusing on practices, such as gestation crates, the electrical stunning of chickens, or veal crates, that are economically inefficient in any event. Welfare reforms make animal exploitation more profitable by eliminating practices that are economically vulnerable. For the most part, those changes would happen anyway and in the absence of animal welfare campaigns precisely because they do rectify inefficiencies in the production process. And welfare reforms make the public more comfortable about animal exploitation. The 'happy' meat/animal products movement is clear proof of that. We would never advocate for 'humane' or "happy' human slavery, rape, genocide, etc. So, if we believe that animals matter morally and that they have an interest not only in not suffering but in continuing to exist, we should not be putting our time and energy into advocating for 'humane' or 'happy' animal exploitation.
Gary L. Francione
You call me the unhuman, " it might say to him, "and so I really am-for you; but I am so only because you bring me into opposition to the human, and I could despise myself only so long as I let myself be hypnotized into this opposition. I was contemptible because I sought my 'better self' outside me; I was the unhuman because I dreamed of the 'human'; I resembled the pious who hunger for their 'true self' and always remain 'poor sinners'; I thought of myself only in comparison to another; enough, I was not all in all, was not-unique. But now I cease to appear to myself as the unhuman, cease to measure myself and let myself be measured by man, cease to recognize anything above me: consequently-adieu, humane critic! I only have been the unhuman, am it now no longer, but am the unique, yes, to your loathing, the egoistic; yet not the egoistic as it lets itself be measured by the human, humane, and unselfish, but the egoistic as the-unique.
[W]hile the use of non-lethal weapons such as tasers and LEDIs may not necessarily reduce the number of civilian casualties, they have been largely accepted as the humane alternative to deadly force because they make the use of force appear far less dramatic and violent than it has in the past. Contrast, for instance, the image of police officers beating Rodney King with billy clubs as opposed to police officers continually shocking a person with a taser. Both are severe forms of abuse. However, because the act of pushing a button is far less dramatic and visually arresting than swinging a billy club, it can come across as much more humane to the general public. This, of course, draws much less media coverage and, thus, less bad public relations for the police.
John W. Whitehead
It would be well to realize that the talk of 'humane methods of warfare', of the 'rules of civilized warfare', and all such homage to the finer sentiments of the race are hypocritical and unreal, and only intended for the consumption of stay-at-homes. There are no humane methods of warfare, there is no such thing as civilized warfare; all warfare is inhuman, all warfare is barbaric; the first blast of the bugles of war ever sounds for the time being the funeral knell of human progress... What lover of humanity can view with anything but horror the prospect of this ruthless destruction of human life. Yet this is war: war for which all the jingoes are howling, war to which all the hopes of the world are being sacrificed, war to which a mad ruling class would plunge a mad world.
An abolitionist is, as I have developed that notion, one who (1) maintains that we cannot justify animal use, however 'humane' it may be; (2) rejects welfare campaigns that seek more 'humane' exploitation, or single-issue campaigns that seek to portray one form of animal exploitation as morally worse than other forms of animal exploitation (e.g., a campaign that seeks to distinguish fur from wool or leather); and (3) regards veganism, or the complete rejection of the consumption or use of any animal products, as a moral baseline. An abolitionist regards creative, nonviolent vegan education as the primary form of activism, because she understands that the paradigm will not shift until we address demand and educate people to stop thinking of animals as things we eat, wear, or use as our resources.
Gary L. Francione
Many years ago I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace. But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts us absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many lifeless bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.
I am opposed to animal welfare campaigns for two reasons. First, if animal use cannot be morally justified, then we ought to be clear about that, and advocate for no use. Although rape and child molestation are ubiquitous, we do not have campaigns for 'humane' rape or 'humane' child molestation. We condemn it all. We should do the same with respect to animal exploitation. Second, animal welfare reform does not provide significant protection for animal interests. Animals are chattel property; they are economic commodities. Given this status and the reality of markets, the level of protection provided by animal welfare will generally be limited to what promotes efficient exploitation. That is, we will protect animal interests to the extent that it provides an economic benefit.
Gary L. Francione