In order to give you proper understanding of the way in
which this right should be determined in terms of freedom,
we supply two schemes.
The scheme below shows how in practice and based on current
Dutch legislation concerning animals, the keeping and
killing of animals is looked upon. This is based on two
viewpoints: the law on the one hand and "common sense"
in society on the other. Only (active) abuse of animals
is considered to be immoral and rejected by society as
well as legally forbidden. Passive animal mistreatment
is turned down by a majority of society, but not yet opposed
to by this majority when it comes down to standing up
against such practices. On this particular point the law
has not yet been adapted also. The law's upholder is behind
the times, considering the "brutal" border crossing
by factory farming.
Per situation or action the first
scheme indicates whether this is or is not legally justified,
and if the situation can be avoided.
In the second scheme we show how the same situations
ought to be judged if animals are entitled to a constitutional
right to freedom.
For example: "nothing" is unavoidable and legally prohibited (no example could be brought forward). Poaching is avoidable and at the same time legally prohibited.
Scheme Ia. Unavoidable in the present situation
Insects as traffic victims.
Unintentional tread on insects during a walk.
Most situations in our companionship with animals belong
to the category "avoidable", and it is up
to the individual to choose to what extent he or she
will go along. So far the present situation.
Cells in red indicate what is considered to be "not done".
The next scheme shows how things ought to be if we indeed base ourselves on a reasonable interest of man.
Attention: the category "avoidable" is now qualified and
called "to be avoided". With this subtle difference
we intend to indicate that it has to be preferred to avoid
these subjects or situations, but that given the situation
the principle that animals are entitled to freedom, remains.
For example: if you are of the opinion that it is allowed to eat animals (an avoidable situation and unnecessary), you are nevertheless morally obliged to choose for those animals that -during their lives before being slaughtered- have had as much as possible the opportunity to live up to their natural behaviour.
The animals concerned are invertebrates, fish, reptiles,
amphibians, birds and mammals. In principle animal rights
apply to all animals, but given the enormous variety of
species we do acknowledge that differences may occur between
showing full respect to every fly or every elephant.
Scheme IIa. Unavoidable when animal rights are based on freedom
Situation aimed for
Legally inadmissible / no reasonable human interest.
Thinking in terms of freedom when dealing with animal
rights, has a number of consequences for farming, sport
and the ways in which we let pets be our companions:
these attitudes need to be curtailed.
*We would like best to see controlled hunting become
superfluous, by encouraging natural balance; possibly
by (re)introducing natural predators. By doing so it
is not necessary to discuss whether or not controlled
hunting should become forbidden.
**Keeping pets that were
not over-bred and able to behave naturally. In general
one could say that when it is a pet's choice -in sheer
freedom- to stay with someone, there can be nothing
wrong about keeping the animal as a pet.
***Wearing fur (in coats f.e.) is a different matter
than breeding fur-coated animals. To forbid people to
wear fur clothes goes too far, because in order to protest
against this derogation of their freedoms it may very
well enlarge the number of people who buy and wear fur.
Something similar applies to compelling people to eat
ecologically produced meat. In the interest of these
matters it is more useful to put pressure upon the
Intentionally no definition of freedom is given.
Freedom is a paradoxical concept: "freedom
defined is freedom denied".