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Why Animal Rights is the New Frontier for the Left (and Right and Center)

Last December, PETA's Tweet enumerating the linguistic sins of “speciesism” set off a full-fledged media furor. The ensuing backlash was so uniform and so heavy that any onlooker might have thought that the derogation of animal rights is one of the last issues on which Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree.

EMILY ATKIN: ‘Last December, the Twitter account for the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) set off a full-fledged media furor. The tweet in question set out to enumerate the linguistic sins of “speciesism”—the practice of discriminating against living things based on their species affiliation… Cue the furor. The ensuing backlash was so uniform and so heavy that any onlooker might have thought that the derogation of animal rights is one of the last issues on which Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree. The Washington Post dedicated a mocking 700-word article to the uproar, suggesting that PETA was on a “wild juice chase.”

Conservative culture warriors relished the chance to lay into another example of the language-correcting excesses of the left. Liberals meanwhile argued that PETA was minimizing racism, sexism, and homophobia by equating those social justice causes with the fight against speciesism. Many people—myself included—just thought the whole thing was silly. Bringing home the bagels? Okay, PETA — we’ll think about it over a bacon cheeseburger. But as so often happens when the discussion turns to animal rights, it was impossible to dispel a vague sense of unease. Even PETA’s botched attempt to raise awareness about animal abuse—something so ingrained in our workaday world that it lurks largely unremarked in many of our most common phrases—had touched a sore spot…

But if the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that the assumptions that once undergirded American politics — about what voters want, about the supremacy of the free market, about the very foundations of liberal democracy—are now open to fresh interrogation. The left has seized that opportunity to push the boundaries of debate on a host of subjects, from the economy to the environment to movement-based crusades for social justice. In so doing they have made certain implicit promises. Taken to their logical ends, their proposals suggest the outlines of a broad, holistic case for humans eating much less meat—a case that includes aspects of animal welfare and animal rights’. SOURCE…

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