A while ago I noticed several of my myface friends joining some myface
group to sign a petition to protect some dog from an "artistic" death. According to the group artist Guillermo Vargas had tied a dog on a short
leash in some art gallery and let it sit there and starve to death. The
way to group worded their message it sounded as if the dog had already died, so obviously that petition will have no effect. Petitions can not bring dogs back from the dead, or convince others to bring dogs back from the dead. Anyone I decided to do some of my own research because this myface group's account of the events was too emotional to be trustworthy. Therefore, I went to the compilation of all knowledge: wikipedia. Personally, I think wikipedia is quite accurate. Many people just cast it aside as less accurate than fiction and cartoons, but these people forget that wikipedia does not allow anything to be posted. Those who work for wikipedia
actually do fact checking, and people who post things are actually sometimes concerned with facts. I know people concerned with reality is hard to believed, but the moral relativists and multi-culturalists have not seized wikipedia
just yet. Sure every once in a while Kaiser Wilhelm will be described as the father of Chuck Norris, but a day later that is usually addressed.
Anyway, wikipedia stated that Guillermo Vargas did find a stray dog and tie it to a short leash for an art exhibit. However, it also stated that Vargas did not let the dog starve. The owner of the art gallery stated that the dog was only tied for three hours a day during the exhibit's open hours. Afterwards, the dog was released and Vargas personally fed it. However, the dog did escape that very same day. Some other animal rights groups like the Humane Society and The World Society for the Protection of Animals also stated that the facts were construed and the dog was not really allowed to die.
However, the point I want to address is this concept of animal rights. Now, it appears that Vargas did not actually harm this dog; therefore, even if animal rights did exist he did not violate them. However, I will assume for the rest of this post that Vargas did harm the dog, even though he really did not. Let me make the record absolutely clear. I am not stating Vargas harmed the animal. I do think his art exhibit is utterly stupid and not art at all, but I do not think he harmed the dog.
Now, I will pretend the dog was harmed, and to make it clear that I do not think Vargas harmed this dog I will write the rest of this post about Varbas. He is a hypothetical artist who had a very similar "art" exhibit to Vargas except Varbas let the dog starve and never released it. Now, is this "art" exhibit an outrage and vicious? Absolutely. Is it because animals' rights are being violated? Absolutely not. If one reads my post My Philosophy Part 1: Human Nature one will see that the two necessary factors required for natural rights are individuality and reason. Clearly, the dog is individual. The dog is not controlled by other dogs or beings. Sure the dog is put on a leash and walked around, but only the dog can think to move. In order for a human to move a dog a human must use force. Neither a human nor any other animal can think that the dog should walk, and thus make the dog walk. Therefore, the dog is an individual. However, the dog, and all animals, are completely devoid of all reason. I addressed this point in an earlier post concerning the crow video. Reason is the ability to determine the difference between virtue and vice, have preferences, and choose to act virtuously or viciously. The dog cannot think in this way. It is completely shackled by instinct. The dog only responds as his instinct has programmed him to respond. Consequently, neither the dog nor any other animal has any natural rights. In short, animal rights are a falsehood.
In turn, an animal's lack of rights means that humans can own animals. In Varbas' case he owned that dog. In fact, he plucked that dog from the wild. It was a stray dog, meaning wild, unowned. It is like John Locke's example in the Second Treatise on Government concerning the apples and the acorns. My laboring, grabbing the apples and acorns from the wild, the man extends his self over the apples and acorns. In turn, the apples and acorns become part of his self, they are his property. Thus, the man can do whatever he wants with the apples and acorns. He may eat them, sell them, destroy them, etc. The same is true for the dog. Varbas labored in capturing the dog. He extended his self over it. The dog became part of his self. Therefore, he owned the dog, meaning that he may do whatever he pleases with it, even kill it. He may even choose to starve the dog to death. The dog has no rights, the dog is his property, he has the right to destroy it.
However, just because Varbas has the right to starve his dog to death does not make it virtuous. The dog is obviously living, and it can obviously feel pain. Therefore, the dog can suffer. Now, in owning a dog humans need to apply a certain amount of force to the dog. Humans cannot initiate force against a dog as they can initiate force against humans. If a man initiates force against another man, he violates the man's natural rights. A man can start force against the dog, use force against a dog before the dog uses force, but the man is not violating any natural rights. However, when a man starts to cause a dog or animal pain then the man is acting viciously. Therefore, a dog collar, a leash, a muzzle, the electric fences are not vicious. The man is not causing the dog pain for the sake of causing the dog pain. The man is using these tools to protect his property, and ensure his property does not harm others. Thus, the man is acting virtuously.
Causing a dog or animal to suffer becomes vicious when the man does it for the sake of causing the dog pain. In this case the man is causing the dog pain for his own pleasure. This is vicious because the man depends on the suffering of other beings to be happy. The man cannot be happy with his self. He cannot make his self happy. The man viciously makes other beings responsible for his own happiness. He neglects his own independence and moves towards collectivism by depending on the suffering of others to make his self happy.
Another problem with Varbas' exhibit is that it is not art. In a post entitled "Novelty and Art" I address this same issue. Art is supposed to depict how life should be. Life should not involve suffering. Therefore, exhibits should not glorify the suffering of any being. Well, except extremely vicious, purely evil men. Like a painting of a Jewish concentration camp prisoner with a smoking gun proudly standing atop a body of Nazis would be art, even though the Nazi's are suffering. Even Vargas' non-violent exhibit is a problem. Tying a dog to a short leash in a room for three hours is not art. That is called a zoo. A dog on a leash is no where near what life should be. This is not to say the dog is suffering. It is a neutral exhibit in that case. However, it is comparable to placing a brick on the floor and calling that art. It is just a brick. It does not depict how life should be. Therefore, it is not art.
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