Let’s acknowledge my bias before I start on about the animal sentience bill- I’m a left wing, conservationist , herbivorous , bleeding heart liberal , I like some animals more than some people, and I think meat is murder. There it is, in all it’s glory, my bias, the only thing I’ve ever almost agreed with Morrissey about. However, this isn’t about me or even really about animals, this is about politics and science and just …reality in general. About my government trying to tell me that the sky is basically not blue.
Obviously I’m appalled by the idea of animals not being considered sentient, I think many people, meatties, veggies and fruitarians alike are absolutely boggled by the whole thing, however, what’s equally troubling, is the Orwellian reality, where our government just voted in something that’s proven to be empirically, scientifically and obviously false. As if the truth actually doesn’t matter anymore. Voting for something doesn’t make it so, if it’s been proven to be not so. That’s not how it works, this isn’t 1984 (the novel or the year).
The animal sentience bill, broadly takes the stance that animals don’t really feel emotions. As I’m writing this there is a cat sat in my lap, largely in the way of what I’m trying to do. She doesn’t care about my comfort right now, but that’s not to say she doesn’t care about anything. When I don’t go to bed at the usual time, she’s mad at me, she stalks angrily into the living room, yowling, and stomps backwards and forwards between the living room and the bedroom until I come to bed, where she will demand to sleep under the duvet. This, apart from meaning that I am ruled by a feline overlord, means several other important things: she has a concept of routine, and of the passage of time, and she feels, at the very least, frustration, entitlement, desire and comfort. She wants things, she’s annoyed when she doesn’t get them. She’s adorable, but that’s immaterial-she has likes and dislikes- if that’s not important why is it on every dating profile since the dawn of Tinder?
We had a racist dog once. As a white family in suburbia it was really bloody awkward on occasion. She was a rescue, and her previous owner just happened to be a tall black guy who wore boots and mistreated her horribly , and as a result, she was terrified of black guys. If we were walking up the street and I saw a tall black guy wearing boots coming the other way, we had to cross the street, I can only apologise to the black, male boot-wearing community of South East England but my point is , surely that’s evidence of memory? Of learning , no matter how misinformed.
As a pet sitter, I’ve been hissed at, bitten, kicked, growled at for not respecting an animals boundaries, whether that boundary is “don’t touch me” or “bitch , you did not just close that toilet lid? Come at me!” those are emotions, they are facets of personality – they are sentience. That’s all sentience is, when it comes down to it, the ability to experience life subjectively, and sometimes subjectivity is as simple as preferring to drink from the toilet than the water bowl, or disliking hoovers and hairdryers, refusal to wear a collar or have your claws clipped, hating the vet ,playfulness, naughtiness, guilt, grief, fear-it’s all sentience. My friend had a pug once who would pull all the dirty nappies out of the daiper genie and sprinkle them around the house, because a lot of pugs love things that stink- I don’t get it, but that’s what they want, and if you can want something, even if it’s the smell of sweet, sweet poop, you are sentient.
There are people who would say that this is anecdotal evidence, therefore isn’t an accurate representation, but in this case, if you can prove that one animal is sentient then the entire repeal bill is inaccurate.If you really need some more balanced evidence go and read this, or these but surely one of the most alarming things about the repeal of animal sentience is that it can be disproved by my cat? She has a brain the size of a walnut. It’s literally so obviously nonsensical and yet it’s written into the legislature of the country? The proof is bountiful and diverse and , well, proven, and yet, because a group of cold-blooded suits say it isn’t so, it just…isn’t? Really?
I won’t be told that something isn’t real when I can see it with my own two eyes and regardless of whether you eat meat or no, you should be terrified of this government’s mentality that reality can be bent to suit the regime-it’s chilling, and it’s forebearing of much worse to come, for those on four legs and on two.
Mahatma Gandhi — ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’