Published by the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas (founded in 1990 by Mortimer J. Adler and Max Weismann)
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

If "yes means yes," the nonhuman animal never says yes.

Blogger, and University of Wisconsin law professor, Ann Althouse,
"Nonhuman animals cannot talk. We look into their faces and see enough human likeness to stir up our thoughts of what they might be saying, and we tend to flatter ourselves and serve our own interests by imagining them projecting the thoughts we want them to have. There's a lot of talk these days about establishing a 'yes means yes' standard for intelligent, verbal human adults on college campuses. ...

"You might agree or disagree about the importance of hearing the affirmative spoken message of permission to become intimate with another human being's body, but I want to talk about what we do to the bodies of our pets who have no capacity to say 'yes' or 'no' and who are trapped in our space and cannot walk away but must submit to our self-serving petting.

"Yes, the animal you're confining at home or controlling outdoors may seem to accept or enjoy your physical intrusions, but think how you would adapt if you were completely controlled and dependent like that. Then complicate that thought with the reality that as a human being, you have no way to know how the nonhuman mind works, what fears and confusion and gnawing needs roil inside that head with the eyes that give you the look that makes you feel you should be kind and give food."

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