The Humane Society of the United States’ (intended?) actions in Nevada engendered a rather evasive response from local ‘animal enthusiasts’. This response, in the form of an article for The Wendover Times, has nothing of any real substance to it; it’s a string of assertions guised as an ‘argument’.
The article, Animal enthusiasts challenge Humane Society agenda, seems to be a textbook example of a fallacy of assertion: [many] bold assertion(s) are made without any substantiating proof predicated on the communicator’s assumed ‘authority’ rather than mere opinion. Deconstructing the article and thus exposing its errors illuminates this.
“The group, speaking in support of animal welfare, pointed out that the Humane Society is a national lobbying group, is not affiliated with any of the humane societies or shelters in Nevada and does not represent the interests of Nevada voters.”
Perusing H.S.U.S.’ website in which it details legislative proposals being supported by the organization, the only law – it’s currently pending in Nevada’s state legislative body - being supported by H.S.U.S., would
“Prohibit the import, export, transport, sale, receipt, acquisition, purchase or possession of any wildlife that is taken, possessed or sold in violation of a law or regulation of the United States, an Indian tribe, another state or territory or a foreign country; increases civil penalties for poaching; allows for the revocation of permits for people convicted of poaching” (emphasis mine).
Presumably, these ‘animal enthusiasts’ don’t intend to argue that existing federal law, for example, is somehow an affront to the interests of Nevada voters. However, this seems to be their contention given that the legislation in question is primarily an enforcement mechanism for current law. It would seem that the anger here is quite misdirected; it may be a means to circumvent a reasoned, democratic process by inserting an argumentum ad hominem into the legislative framework: if you support putting ‘teeth’ into existing law, you also support H.S.U.S. and therefore you don’t want people to eat the bodies of nonhuman animals. This conclusion certainly doesn’t follow from the legislation in question. It’s a veiled slippery-slope argument at best.
“The group [of ‘animal enthusiasts’] requested lawmakers look to Nevada animal owners and caretakers, those who are hands-on with animals, to help shape any proposed legislative measures put forth by national animal rights groups like PETA or the Humane Society.”
The initial sentence is reasonable; however, its substance is belied by the deception in the latter half of the sentence: H.S.U.S. and P.E.T.A. are not ‘shaping the legislation’; it’s existing law and it certainly isn’t ‘animal rights’ legislation as these ‘animal enthusiasts’ conceive of the concept.
Two assertions follow, one fact, one ad hominem. It is correct to argue that if the property status of nonhuman animals was eliminated, various forms of exploitation would end: buying and selling ‘pets’ and ‘food animals’, for example. However, the legislation would not begin to accomplish this end.
Juvenility then enters the discussion and the assertion is made: ‘Many animal rights groups have an agenda of removing the status of animals as property, and they will not be satisfied until everybody is a grass-eating, carrot-eating vegan. We need to be vigilant and stop the insane, lunatic animal rights legislation’.
Considering two of the sources, Zuzana Kukol (‘president of Rexano, a nonprofit organization based in Henderson, which supports responsible exotic animal ownership’) and Chris Vaught (‘Vaught owns and works with Australian Kelpies, a herding breed of dog’), the motivation is obviously financial. (That’s an ad hominem argument!)
Perhaps not though; I don’t believe the passage of this legislation would harm the businesses of these individuals. So why the outrage? Any argument I make would be based on inference and assumptions, so I’ll refrain. However, given the lack of depth here it seems reasonable to assume that, in keeping with most discussions on the topic of taking the suffering of all animals (human and nonhuman) seriously, reliance on baseless assumptions (Just because everyone makes the same assumption that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous?) and rhetoric in place of reason (You know, that capacity that makes us ‘special’ and ‘unique’!) is the preferred method.