Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Bodacious Bovine, a Hippie's Hippie, & A Question on the Designation of Rights

In February of 2002 on a slaughterhouse farm in Ohio, there was one cow who was determined not to become a happy meal.

The story goes that a crew of slaughterhouse workers were out on their lunch breaks and while they were shooting the breeze a cow now named "Cinci Freedom" leaped over a six foot fence in a remarkable attempt to spare its existence from the chopping block.

As if this was not a curious enough feat in itself, Cinci was able to elude capture for eleven whole days. Imagine - a cow on the lamb? One has to wonder what that liberty-crazed cow was doing to shirk its bounty hunters and what was going through its head during the whole ordeal.

Saved by the Hippie's Hippie

Upon hearing the story of Cinci Freedom, the artistic paragon of 1960s and 1970s psychedelia, Peter Max, proclaimed, "This little girl's will—facing the end of her life, being so frightened, then taking the risk of all risks to live, to be free—touched me so deeply. It was so inspiring. I knew I had to try to preserve that wonderful spirit."

Max then donated over $180,000 worth of his paintings and artwork to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His contribution ensured a spot for the bodacious bovine at one of their New York sanctuaries where it now lives out its days.

Ethical Implications

I believe this extraordinary cow provokes a rather interesting ethical consideration concerning the determination of a living creature's rights and the moral implications such judgments bear.

If a cow is able to make the decision to jump a six foot fence to save itself from execution, and also evade capture for almost two weeks - thus seemingly demonstrating a recognition of liberty and life as preferable to captivity and death - what legitimate moral claim can one make to defend the detention and butchery of such a creature?

How can one credibly justify the slaying of a being that possesses the capacity and the propensity to free itself from the slaughterhouse?

I am not a member of PETA and I do not consider myself an animal rights activist.

However, I do think this story pushes the inquisitive amongst us to a closer examination of why the basic ethical principals of humankind are accepted as self-evident truths, and yet, are not so when it comes to other species even when some of those species demonstrate discernible levels of higher-intelligence.

When it comes to recognizing what entities possess the rights to life and liberty - why doesn't Cinnci make the cut?

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