Language is important. The very definition of slavery is the treatment of one group as property to be bought, sold, and forced into work by another group. If non-human animals are not slaves, are they then free? There are not many animals I know of that exist within human society who voluntarily engaged in this system. Cows do not clock in and clock out. They don’t go home to their families. They don’t have conversations in the lunchroom. And the only retirement package available to them at the end of their painful lives is a violent death when their usefulness to us has run out.
Of course, coming to terms with the sobering reality of slavery is probably the most difficult mental hurdle to overcome when having these discussions. Because if we are forced to acknowledge that slavery is wrong and that non-humans are slaves, then we have a moral obligation to talk about abolition. The repercussions for our economic structure and, indeed, our way of life could be devastating. But I imagine it wasn’t easy for pre-Civil War Americans either.
~ Christopher-Sebastian McJetters (June 13, 2014)