In a forward-looking passage written at a time when black slaves had been freed by the French but in the British dominions were still being treated in the way we now treat animals,  Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) wrote:
 “The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withheld from them but by the hand of  tyranny.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the “os sacrum” (tail bone) are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail?

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The question is not , Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”


A poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)

I am the voice of the voiceless,

Through me the dumb shall speak,

Till the deaf world’s ear be made to hear

The wrongs of the wordless weak

From street, from cage, from kennel,

From stable and zoo, the wail

Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin

Of the mighty against the the frail.

Oh, shame on the mothers of mortals

Who have not stooped to teach

Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,

The sorrow that has no speech.

And I am my brother’s keeper,

And I shall fight his fight;

And speak the word for beast and bird

Till the world shall set things right.



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