A debate in Switzerland occurred last week when the Swiss government ordered that the practice of live lobsters being dropped in boiling water in order to cook them be ceased since doing so could cause the lobsters pain. An alternative is to stun them before doing so as to ensure that they (in theory) may have a humane death.
However, according to The New York Times, despite the Swiss government’s policy and a scientist named Dr. Robert Elwood (professor emeritus of animal behavior at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland), says there is uncertainty supporting the government’s precaution. Dr. Joseph Ayres, a professor of marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern University in Boston, is quoted saying Switzerland’s new declaration is not grounded in reality. Ayres told The Times:
“I think the idea of producing such a law is just a bunch of people anthropomorphizing lobsters,” Dr. Ayers said, adding that there were other possible explanations for Dr. Elwood’s findings. “I find it really quite remarkable that people attribute to these animals [human-like] responses when they simply don’t have the hardware for it.”
Ayres builds robots based on lobster and sea lamphrey neurobiology, respectfully, and states that lobsters lack the brain anatomy needed to feel pain. This is mainly due to lobsters being wholey swallowed by predators which has resulted in the species not developing enough to do so.
Both Doctors Ellwood and another scientist named Michael Tlusty who is a lobster biologist at the University of Massachusetts Boston remain convinced that we cannot be sure if lobsters feel pain or not.
Lobsters feeling pain is not out of the realm of possibility. An opinion piece published in Smithsonian magazine January 8th, whose author (science reporter Ferris Jabr) posited animal rights protections for fish citing a few biologists and un-sourced scientific studies who concluded that fish feel pain too.
However, in the context of animal rights whether or not a being feels pain is irrelevant or, as Jeremy Bentham said: Nonsense upon stilts!. The concept of animal rights was written about by Dr. Peter Singer who based his case not only on Jeremy Bentham’s writings on utilitarianism, but also hooked on to French Enlightenment philosopher Rene Descartes’ idea: I feel pain, therefore I have rights.
But rights are not based on a being’s ability to feel pain, but on a being’s ability to think. Only humans have the ability to deal with other members of our own species by rational, voluntary means. Animals are devoid of any such capability and survive mainly by instinct and sensory perception. They cannot learn any other way. That is why human’s are nature’s favored species and why animals cannot and should not be afforded the same rights as humans.
The animal rights movement is not only hostile to this idea but completely oblivious to the suffering and misery of humans. In fact, they prefer humans live a life of suffering and misery while championing, if not outright revering, the lives of animals.
There is much to like about The New York Times since The Grey Lady produces good quality news reporting. This news story, however, is more virtue signalling than it is journalism. That is consistent with The Times‘ Leftist reverence for Europe and environmentalism. It is not, however, consistent with a newspaper whose staff are supposed to be dedicated to rationality and impartiality.
On this note, humorist Dave Barry said it best:
It seems that a Rockville, Maryland, restaurant called The House of Chinese Gourmet installed a lobster tank, which greatly upset some customers who belong to a group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, whose members apparently have (1) a deep respect for all living things and (2) a tremendous amount of spare time. They bought seven lobsters from the restaurant for $40, removed them from the tank (a PETA member “talked softly and rubbed the lobsters to reassure them”), and then paid $200 to fly the lobsters to Portland, Maine, where they (the lobsters) were released in the ocean, where we are sure they will live happy, productive lives until they are recaptured by lobstermen.