Treat animals nicely.” “All animals must be treated better.” “Ensure all animals are treated with respect.” “Create tougher penalties for animal cruelty.” “Nature must be protected, by everyone and everything, no matter the cost.”
These were not comments from an animal rights brochure. Quite frankly, we would have found that to be more comforting. The above quotes came directly from tourists, mostly students, who responded to the question: “What should be the 28th amendment to the United States Constitution?” (The 28th amendment has yet to be named by the government.)
That question was posed at the conclusion of a dynamic tour at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pa. The experience included interactive displays and a live theater that celebrated the creation of the United States Constitution . . . the first human experiment of a government by the people and for the people, as in “We the People.” The entire experience recounted the groundbreaking 1787 document and the ongoing changes to the Constitution that guides the world’s longest-tenured republic.
To further set the stage, that tourist destination sits one city block away from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Yes, the Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was initially debated by British colonists and first read in public on July 1776. To say the least, it should be a location where students and adults alike are refreshed on civics and the workings of a democratic republic.
What should we glean from those suggestions for a 28th amendment via yellow sticky notes following an intense narrative on the creation of the United States Constitution?
While all of us in farming circles concur that animals should be rightly cared for, most of us would also agree that animals don’t have rights. However, some tourists — all consumers, mind you — believe animals have the same rights as those denied by the British Monarchy in the late 1700s. It is unsettling that these people believe a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution on animal rights should be given consideration.
This observation should remind us all that we need to bolster communications with those outside farming circles. Not only must we constantly be vigilant to ensure top-notch animal care, we also need to engage those among us who want to blur the rights of humans with those of animals.
While the U.S. Constitution and similar documents around the world protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we must remind everyone that right is reserved for humans. That clearly was the intention of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.
This editorial appears on page 322 of the May 10, 2016 issue of Hoard's Dairyman