In New York, the animal rights organization PETA picketed actor Liam Neeson's residence because he had advocated in favor of allowing horse-drawn carriages to continue operating in Central Park. The traditional, popular tourist attraction is currently the focus of a discussion. Mayor Bill de Blasio is determined to replace the carriages with vehicles using electric power.
Neeson wrote in the New York Times that it was his experience that horses, much like people, are happiest and healthiest when they are allowed to work. The animal rights activists dispute that claim saying that the city's heavy automobile traffic is highly dangerous and unhealthy for animals. A spokesperson for PETA commented that life for a New York City carriage horse was unsafe and inhumane.
But the term “inhumane” is generally assumed to refer to anything that contradicts the nature and dignity of a human being. When the treatment of animals is criticized as “inhumane,” that's only valid insofar as people and animals can be placed on the same plane legally and morally.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that the animal rights advocates aren't talking about all animals, but only those that have a higher level of consciousness, such as sensitivity to pain. Otherwise, anteaters would have more rights than the ants they devour.
If one agrees with this train of thought, one stumbles into one contradiction after another. The problem for the animal rights advocates is that they cannot deal in contradictions. And that's the problem with all mono-causal explanation models. Those who think that money, patriarchal society or eating meat are the root of all evil have an advantage in that they feel they alone understand what's wrong with the world. They have a single moral equivalent with which they can defeat all ambivalences.
The same holds true for those religiously inspired people others call fundamentalists because—in their zeal for moral resoluteness—they rigorously reject anything that doesn't conform to their beliefs. Meanwhile, it's evident that even the major monotheistic religions are replete with ambiguities. Christianity has never made a secret of that, and has advanced a number of heterogeneous texts holding that the truth may be attained via many different paths.
Avoiding such ambiguities is difficult these days. Morality demands clarity. The absence of any road signs unfortunately leads to the simplistically clever conclusion that everything is equivalent, so the issue must therefore be an unimportant one. In this light, it's easy to understand the animal rights people who are not indifferent to the issue.
While there can be no absence of morality in this issue, any morality that considers itself absolute runs the risk of falling into the trap. A good example is the history of communism—which purported to be the savior of mankind, and ended up betraying mankind. So it appears that as the major religions lose their grasp on the truth, they are replaced by substitute religions and faiths. The more simplistic these are, the more one should mistrust them.