Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

Matthew Scully

Language: English

Pages: 434

ISBN: 0312319738

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."--Genesis 1:24-26

In this crucial passage from the Old Testament, God grants mankind power over animals. But with this privilege comes the grave responsibility to respect life, to treat animals with simple dignity and compassion.

Somewhere along the way, something has gone wrong.

In Dominion, we witness the annual convention of Safari Club International, an organization whose wealthier members will pay up to $20,000 to hunt an elephant, a lion or another animal, either abroad or in American "safari ranches," where the animals are fenced in pens. We attend the annual International Whaling Commission conference, where the skewed politics of the whaling industry come to light, and the focus is on developing more lethal, but not more merciful, methods of harvesting "living marine resources." And we visit a gargantuan American "factory farm," where animals are treated as mere product and raised in conditions of mass confinement, bred for passivity and bulk, inseminated and fed with machines, kept in tightly confined stalls for the entirety of their lives, and slaughtered in a way that maximizes profits and minimizes decency.

Throughout Dominion, Scully counters the hypocritical arguments that attempt to excuse animal abuse: from those who argue that the Bible's message permits mankind to use animals as it pleases, to the hunter's argument that through hunting animal populations are controlled, to the popular and "scientifically proven" notions that animals cannot feel pain, experience no emotions, and are not conscious of their own lives.

The result is eye opening, painful and infuriating, insightful and rewarding. Dominion is a plea for human benevolence and mercy, a scathing attack on those who would dismiss animal activists as mere sentimentalists, and a demand for reform from the government down to the individual. Matthew Scully has created a groundbreaking work, a book of lasting power and importance for all of us.

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imaginary straw. And “social defeat,” lots of it, in every third or fourth stall some completely broken being you know is alive only because she blinks and stares up at you like poor NPD 50-421, creatures beyond the power of pity to help or indifference to make more miserable, dead to the world except as heaps of flesh into which the AI rod may be stuck once more and more flesh reproduced. When they have conquered the “stress gene,” maybe the Ph.D.’s and guys in white coats can find us a cure for

direction occurred in late 2000 when the first genetically engineered primate came into the world, a rhesus monkey fashioned at the Oregon Health Sciences University by inserting the fluorescent gene of a jellyfish into the egg of a surrogate mother, and playfully named “ANDi” for DNA spelled backward. Elsewhere, frogs and other creatures are engineered without heads, mice with human ears growing from their backs, fish and plants with both human and animal genes, and who knows what other such

Surprise: Chimps are Multicultural,” Washington Post, June 21, 1999. 60. Budiansky, If a Lion Could Talk, pp. 169-170. 61. David Derbyshire, “Dolphins, on Reflection, Are Smarter Than We Thought,” Daily Telegraph, May 2, 2001. 62. Quoted in Griffin, Animal Minds, p. 89. 63. Budiansky, If a Lion Could Talk, pp. 137-138. 64. “All Things Considered,” National Public Radio, September 17, 1996 (Transcript 2339-5). 65. Ibid. 66. Rene Descartes, Letter to Henry Moore, cited in Ethical

the “industry” (as it is now routinely called, never mind “conservation”) in whose able and caring hands Schwarzkopf is placing his hopes. Back in July of 1998 Donau and two Safari Club colleagues landed themselves some rare prizes in the Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado. Accompanied by former SCI president Lance Norris and Crowning Achiever Kenneth Behring, a California realtor and onetime owner of the Seattle Seahawks football team, it seems the threesome had made a contribution of $20,000

to be living in a very nice neighborhood, making a handsome living and probably enjoying every comfort we could name. Then this little disturbance comes along. It is unbearable. Never mind that by building the lake in the first place he and the developers might as well have sent off engraved invitations to each and every goose within a fifty-mile radius to come and live there. This man wants things his way. He wants the beauty and tranquility of nature without, well, nature. He wants a pretty

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