Our Agony Over Animals

The graphic face of the animal rights movement is – by now – familiar to most Americans. It shows a monkey held in lab restraints, a fox caught in a leghold trap, a cow headed for the slaughter house, a deer frozen in a hunter’s sights. These pictures mostly show animals that are doomed – or in agony, suffering from human-inflicted pain. The imagery or individual pain is, interestingly, largely absent in the much larger environment movement, where animals are seen as part of a larger ecosystem, of interest mostly when their collective numbers dip low enough to call into that question the viability of their species or their habitat.