Sunday, October 16, 2005

Column on Backlash against Pets?

Backlash against Pets?

Tibor R. Machan

I cannot recall when I have not had pets. Now, perhaps, is the first
time. My gorgeous black cat Vegas was felled by some kind of heart ailment
and I haven?t invited a new kitty into my home since then.

One reason is simply that pets get to be almost one?s friend and friends
cannot simply be replaced. But it?s been a long time now.

The other reason I hesitate is PETA and all the animal rights/liberation
fanatics. I am scared they will get enough political clout to sic the
government on pet owners everywhere. With all those phony rights these
zealots insist animals possess, animals may gain extensive intrusive
?protection? from the gendarmes soon, so they might be coming around
uninvited so as to inspect just how you are treating yours. They do this
already with commercial animal farms.

One thing human freedom desperately requires is firm respect for property
rights. What?s mine is mine and others would need to gain my permission to
mess with it?that is how it ought to be. Not unless there is evidence of
my violating another?s rights may anyone interfere with what is mine.

But not so in our current legal atmosphere. Meddlesome, intrusive, and
regulating governments at all levels?federal, state, county, or
municipal?have the power granted to them by legislatures and courts to
snoop and intrude on us for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you grow plants
they don?t like; or have de-clawed your kitty; or have some medicine in
your cabinet they don?t want you to have, etc., and so forth.

The famous saying by William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, made in 1763, that
served so well to define how property is to be treated in a free
society?namely, that ?The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to
all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail?its roof may shake?the wind
may blow through it?the storm may enter?the rain may enter?but the King of
England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of that
ruined tenement??isn?t even widely respected, let alone enshrined in law.
Yes, the Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution states, unambiguously,
that ?The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not
be violated.? However, government, including the courts, have managed to
violate the idea all over the place.

So, in order to reduce the likelihood of them coming to mine to flex
their muscles, I will not get a pet. Or not likely?I may break down
because I?d like to have one. As I said, I?ve had cats, dogs, rabbits,
horses, parakeets, gerbils, fish and the lot. But I do not want some
eager-beaver officer, installed by the likes of PETA so as to ?protect?
pets, to come and lord it over me and my home.

Why, you might ask? Because the distrust PETA & Co. show toward ordinary
human beings?by insisting that the way to make sure animals are treated
decently, humanely, is to ascribe to them the kind of basic rights human
beings have?is insulting, intrusive, and very irksome. The fact is that
animals, though different from rocks and trees, are subject to ownership
by humans. But once the right to private property is abolished in law,
people no longer enjoy the protection of their property rights and eager
beaver zealots then have no legal barriers standing in their way to invade
your home or estate. Sure, tradition would still discourage abusive
trespass but gradually it will be overcome by the new attitude and soon a
guardian class of paternalists and their enforcers will be intruding
anywhere they want to make sure we all behave the way they think we ought

So, for the time, I am resisting bringing into my house any pet whose
?rights? could induce the local animal police to hassle me. I suspect some
other folks are beginning to think this way as well, slowly unleashing a
backlash against the animal ?rights? crowd.

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