Humanity Has Made A Habit Of Killing

If we could hold conversations with animals, would we all be vegetarians?

The simple answer would be 'No' – we kill people so why wouldn't we kill animals.

Since recorded history we have invented progressively more lethal ways to kill our neighbours, rather shamefully we have consistently used such equipment upon those members of humanity that are 'of the other'. This killing has gone on for generations despite our ability to communicate with one another. Did the fact that the Nazis and German Jews prevent the Holocaust? Does the shared language in Sri Lanka prevent the killing between the different people? Did the ability to understand one another prevent members of North and South Ireland from killing one another? One final example – the genocide in Darfur.

It is obvious that an ability to communicate does not stop violence.

As humans we have found more and more ridiculous reasons to kill one other, from fighting over resources (oil, gold, water), tribal conflict (Ireland, Sudan) to the craziest argument of who has the biggest God.

This previous criminal history of humanity of a whole lets me believe that, even were animals able to talk to us, we wouldn't stop for one instance in our pursuit of meat to eat. Once you understand that we will kill each other over the shape of the nose, because you own more of a type of mineral or because your God is 'wrong' – is it so wrong to imagine that we would continue to kill in order to live in the fashion to which we are accustomed?

Finally, if we can kill and torture great apes, which have been shown to be able to communicate, for novelty ashtrays and medical experimentation – then what makes you think that we would pay any attention to the cow saying “No!” as it reaches the bolt-gun operator.

This blogpost is an attempt to win a laptop over at Lovetolead – I just need people to go to the site and vote for it. Yes, it would make me very happy to win a laptop. You have all week – Do you need me to beg?

Vote for me on Love To Lead

30 thoughts on “Humanity Has Made A Habit Of Killing”

  1. Really, we surely kill people BECAUSE they talk and not in spite of that? By which I mean, when someone talks they make another human feel threatened, and so the knives and then guns, bombs etc start to fall.Would it be easier to kill a pig pleading for her life if we also disagreed with her about something, if she'd verbally challanged our most fondly held beliefs?

    Oddly, my comment verification for this is “vpray” – weird!

  2. I voted and I agree about your comments about “the other.” I have been railing on about the oneness of us all and how the creation and maintenance of “the other” is killing us all.*cough* Hard to put into personal practice though *cough*miss_kitty

  3. Is it me, or are there some words missing in the third paragraph: “Did the fact that the Nazis and German Jews prevent the Holocaust?” — I'm guessing there should be something like “spoke the same language”.Good luck with the voting.

  4. Gotta say I don't agree. Even during the most barbaric conflicts, the combatants tend not to eat each other. We can't go and buy a nice bit of braising human arm in Tesco. We don't kill to eat one-another – we kill each other because we DON'T communicate.We don't understand every little thing about each other, we can't comprehend everyone's view. But when one tribe disagrees with another we tend to hit each other rather than working it out through conversation.The whole point of mediation and international task forces in places like Sri Lanka is to get the two sides together to work things through. (Where, by the way, the two sides don't necessarily speak the same language – Tamil and Sinhalease). It has worked (eventually) in Northern Ireland, since the killing as stopped, and a power sharing government is building up.So I would say that if animals could talk we'd be more likely to kill them all, not because we want to eat them, but because we'd disagree with what they say.

  5. I wouldn't normally have bothered to de-lurk and comment (the intended meaning is clear enough) but I thought it might make a teeny improvement to your chances…

  6. I talk to my patients, and I like to think they talk back. They do at least communicate using non-vocal signals. And unfortuntely sometimes I do have to kill them, although we usually fluff it up by referring to it as “putting them to sleep”.I'm not a vegetarian though.

  7. True. But we do tend to be selective with what species we eat, not just based on taste, but cuteness too. “I'll eat a big ol' cow, but not that fluffy little kitten.”..that said, I've eaten guinea pig before and it was delicious.

  8. Would you die defending what you believe in ? Would you kill another to defend that belief ? The continuing thread in humanity throughout the ages has not been our propensity to kill one another per se, but our enduring ability to disagree strongly enough that we're willing to go to any length to defend our own ideals. We will never end conflict, because we will never all believe in the same thing – and would you really want to ANYWAY ?

  9. Looking at current voting, you should walk it.Though my husband ws most annoyed to find he couldn't vote from work as his colleague had, and came home and couldn't vote because I had!

  10. Seconded. There were plenty of cannibalistic human societies in the past, but there must be very few, if any, left.I think if something had sufficient consciousness that we could have conversations with it, an automatic taboo about not eating something that can *talk* to you would kick in.

    Also seconded about it not stopping us from *killing* anything. :-/

  11. Oh, and by the way, great apes can communicate in limited respects, they don't have “language” in the sense that you're implying. They have been taught to signal in response to certain stimuli, like saying “Me hungry!” in sign language when someone shows them a banana, but that's not much more advanced than your dog sitting and begging when you show him a treat.Here's a good article on the differences between “communication” (which many animals have) and “language” (human only).

  12. I'm not convinced about that, as some apes have been shown that they have self-awareness. I think that there is a certain pig-headedness about the camp that states that animals *can't* use language.Anyway – don't *we* signal due to stimuli…

  13. I think it's because they all die off from Kuru Kuru and the like…Maybe in 10,000 years there will no beef eaters because of NvCJD?

  14. Tom, seeing as you have 10 times more votes than most of the others I'd guess it's safe to say that thanks to your regulars you have a new laptop winging its way to sunny Newham. As you solicited those votes from us do we get a share of it? if so then I'd like it July 27th this year. Ta.

  15. “Anyway – don't *we* signal due to stimuli…” – of course, that's why an English child will signal their hunger in English, and a Russian one in Russian etc.

  16. Ah yes but..It's not about being able to “talk”, it's about intelligence. What they're really asking here is “would we eat animals if they were as smart as us”? What's talking without intelligence, but “grunt” and “moo” and “meow”?

    And what if we couldn't talk, what if we couldn't disseminate hatred/love or religion/atheism, how does it pan out then? Would we still go to war if we were dumb? I think we would. Because there are other modes of communication than speech.

    And then we're back to the start, it's about intelligence not about talking. Whoops, I've gone and trapped myself in a circular argument…

  17. Of course, but gorillas sure as hell can't have a discussion on the concept of hunger at a dinner table.We signal as well, of course. But we can also discuss *abstract concepts* and that's where humans are way different.

  18. If animals have no understanding of the concept of hunger then why do squirrels gather nuts for the winter? If that can be dismissed as DNA-led instinctive behaviour, then so can the human desire to intellectualise, and to go into the abstract (often while ignoring the reality staring us in the face) – it's just a rote, instinctive behaviour specific to our species.That it's as inflexible (and sometimes counterproductive) as any other instinctive behaviour is witnessed by the wars we fight, the environments we poison, and the children we kill, due to abstract concepts like “God” “wealth” “success” “honour” and so on.

    I don't think causing out-of-control climate change in the name of abstracts like “the economy” is intrinsically brighter than anything any animal species does, be they bower birds or termites – it's just a different kind of blind instinct.

  19. Carnivores still destroy FAR MORE vegetables, because to create meat protein uses far more resources, including grains and vegetable matter, than eating that vegetable matter direct.This is the 97th time I have had to mention this to someone in a debate since acquiring a computer, and when I reach 100 I am going to make a bottle of champagne go “pop”!

  20. But, no speech = automatically no intelligence by many people's standards – so bring on the vivisection labs, the hunting and trapping, and the endless mass slaughter by any inhumane means we fancy.I wonder what would happen if someone decides that running the four-minute mile is the only viable test of intelligence, and anyone who fails obviously cannot think as they should, so it's no holds barred? It makes as little sense as pinning any right to compassion upon such a specialist skill as speech.

    My point is, that to choose the one thing humans have specialised in, and then say that because animals can't do it we are free to literally do anything we choose to them, no matter how horrific, is a bit bizarre and muddle-headed.

    I note that we didn't choose criteria like “find your way halfway round the world using the earth's magnetic field” as migrating birds do, or “shoal in your thousands, fleeing from a predator, without stumbling or crushing each other to death” as fish do, or any one of a number of specialist behaviours we cannot hope to mimic as the criteria for intelligence – just, speech. It seems a tad narrow minded and (dare I say it) unintelligent to me.

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