NEW YORK – President Obama’s newly confirmed administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has several times quoted approvingly from an author who likened animals to slaves and argued an adult dog or a horse is more rational than a human infant and should therefore be granted similar rights.
A brief video on YouTube captures Cass Sunstein at a 2002 event using the writings of Jeremy Bentham, a 19th Century social reformer and animal rights pioneer.
“You’ve heard a reference to Bentham, so let’s listen to him, shall we,” he begins in the video.
He then quotes from Bentham’s 1789 primer, “Introduction to Principals of Morals and Legislation,” written just after slaves had been freed by the French but were still held captive in the British dominions:
“The day may come, when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. 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,” Sunstein states, quoting Bentham.
Sunstein continues quoting the author: “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 the case were otherwise.”
The rest of Bentham’s sentence, not captured in the video, continued, “what would it avail? The question is not, can they (animals) reason or can they talk? But, can they suffer?”
While the YouTube video offers only a brief sound bite with no context, a WND review of Sunstein’s academic writings find he used the same verses from Bentham to push for animal rights.
In the footnotes to a 2002 academic paper for Harvard University, “The Rights of Animals: A Very Short Primer,” Sunstein expresses his approval of Bentham’s arguments:
“I suggest that Bentham and Mill were not wrong to offer an analogy between current uses of animals and human slavery,” he wrote.
Several other works by Sunstein, including his books, quote approvingly of Bentham’s statements comparing adult dogs and horses to human infants.
In the Harvard paper, Sunstein even suggests animals could be granted the right to sue humans in court.
“We could even grant animals a right to bring suit without insisting that animals are in some general sense ‘persons,’ or that they are not property,” he wrote.
The Senate today confirmed Sunstein as Obama’s nominee for “regulatory czar,” overcoming months of delay due to Republican concerns that he would push a radical animal-rights agenda.