Animal Rights, Animal Welfare and the love of animals

The author and his first cat

The author and his first cat

Although I have long known that I was going to have to come into direct contact with issues of animal rights and animal welfare, I thought I would hold off for a little while. Then came March 4th. First, I landed in Portugal to read that the town of Viana do Castelo there has banned the bullfight as, “the defence of animal rights is not compatible with spectacles that torture and impose unjustifiable suffering.” Then I opened my mail to find an attack which accused me of “cynical opportunism” combined with a “deep-rooted hatred of living creatures.” A little while later, on the plane back to Spain, I read a passage by a writer whom I regard as something of a moral compass, in which he speaks of his hero Alyosha Karamozov and “all the love for ‘all creatures and all things’ which had concealed itself within his pure, young heart.” Finally, amongst the change I got from my taxi-driver home was a twenty Euro-cent piece with a red sticker on it saying “BULL-FIGHT IS BULLSHIT,” followed by a website address. When I looked it up I came across the website of the Comité Anti Stierenvechten (CAS), a powerful Dutch anti-bullfight lobbying organisation whose campaigns’ manager, Jordi Casamitjana, was interviewed with me on Al-Jazeera UK television and with whom I have exchanged thousands of words on the blog of Prospect magazine. So, all in all, I think I had best make an initial sortie on this subject at least to give people some idea where I am coming from. Continue reading