On Page 32 of the April 14 Washington City Paper is a half-page advertisement from a group called the “Consistency in Compassion Campaign.” Through a juxtaposition of images and a quote from the late novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer, the ad attempts to equate the slaughter and vivisection of animals with the Holocaust, and asks, “With the passage of time and clarity of hindsight, will our torture of animals be judged any less shameful?”
This letter is written to dispel any conclusions some readers may form, by seeing this ad, about the motives and ethical mind-set of vegetarians.
I have followed an exclusively vegetarian diet for 15 years—a decision I originally made and have since affirmed solely for ethical reasons. I find the killing of and cruelty to animals repugnant and corrosive of our more refined sensibilities.
Yet I know I speak for the majority of vegetarians who also find it morally perverse and grotesquely offensive to equate the killing of an animal with the killing of a human being. This advertisement makes a cruel mockery of the agony and murder that so many persons suffered at the hands of pure evil. In fact, this organization’s intentional failure to make a moral distinction between human and animal life contributes to an intellectually corrupted milieu in which the regard for humanity is cheapened.
When human life is no longer affirmed as the highest value, then it becomes easier to justify acts of cruelty and destruction against other humans in the name of other values. Indeed, the Consistency in Compassion Campaign ad ultimately undermines the group’s own agenda. Not until humans have adopted a value system that places human life—and only human life—at the apex do they begin to treat each other gently and peacefully; without that type of society in place, humans never develop the subsequent sensitivities to treat animals with care and a sense of obligation.
With “the passage of time and the clarity of hindsight,” future generations will, for many reasons, look back upon our era as one in which the ability to make proper moral judgments atrophied. The Consistency in Compassion Campaign is a part of that pathology.