Monday, February 14, 2011

Do Your Religion and Politics Extend to Your Pets?

Coming into work today, I was following a bus with an ad from the Humane Society (or maybe the SPCA) featuring a cat nursing a scad of kittens, labelled “Spay Me”, with a subtitle saying that family planning isn’t just for humans.

(It was totally LOLCat-able.  Photoshop the mama cat’s eyes a little bigger and add a word balloon saying “Please.  And soon.”)

It reminded me of a thought that came up a few weeks ago:
Do pro-lifers spay and neuter?
Spaying and neutering pets has long been a standard concept put forward by animal and pet groups.  I don’t think I have ever heard anyone take a stance against it, making it one of the (in theory) most non-controversial pieces of social messaging out there.

(I despise using the term “fixed”, though.  The pets are not broken.  You can argue that it is “fixed” as in “stabilized”, but few people think of that definition first.  It’s like using “catholic” when you mean “broad” or “universal”: everyone will have to work past the religious meaning to get at what you really mean, so why make them work that hard?  Unless you’re writing poetry, of course; you’re supposed to make people work hard to figure out what the fuck you really mean with poetry.  [Kidding.]  [No, I’m not.])

But with pro-life/anti-abortion people, though: for the extreme among them, any mention of “family planning” seems to inflame them.  And what is spaying/neutering, really, but abortion in advance?

I don’t know.  There is undoubtedly a theological difference between a fetus (post-conception) and an egg and sperm which don’t get together, but what about when it is the work of man keeping them from getting together?  The political philosophy is generally opposed to condoms and other birth control methods as well, under the belief that man blocking God’s will is wrong.  So following that logic, forced sterilization of a human — preventing the possibility of conception — should also be wrong.  (Presumably there are levels of wrong: abortion is worse than birth control, which I guess should be about parallel to sterilization, so long as you ignore the invasive/permanentness of it.)

(Hmm: is getting a vasectomy a sin?)

So back to the pets: if you’re opposed to birth control and to forced sterilization in humans, does that religio-political philosophy extend to your pets?  Should you be opposed to spay and neuter services because they are a form of birth control?  Or are they somehow okay because pets are dumb animals/lower lifeforms/unable to control themselves/creatures with no souls/whatever?

Talking about this with a co-worker, he did say he knew a pro-life couple who doesn’t spay/neuter their pets, so apparently some people follow this through at all levels, but they apparently keep pretty quiet about it.  (It’s hard to imagine people out picketing the Humane Society in opposition to spay/neuter services, isn’t it?)

Of course, we can flip this whole thing around from the right end of the spectrum to the left end: cats and dogs are carnivores, or carni-omnivores at best.  If you’ve decided to be vegetarian or vegan, do you require that of/force that on your pet as well?  (Myself, I can’t imagine a cat being happy with tofu and brown rice with a side of stewed lentils, instead of tuna.)

No comments:

Post a Comment