I can’t, and won’t, vouch for the credibility or accuracy of Nathan Winograd’s assertions. He’s pretty deep down the rabbit hole of animal rights, not a particular concern of mine per se. But his points raise some curious and bizarre issues at the intersection of critical race theory (in its broadest sense) and the care and feeding of critters.
In books and journal articles, CRT advocates have:
- Defended dogfighters like Michael Vick, arguing that they should not be prosecuted because they are “victims” of “white cis heteropatiarchy” that enables “toxic masculinities”;
- Criticized placing dogs who survived dogfighting in caring, family homes because “they were effectively segregated from Blackness”;
- Called for permitting dogs to be left on chains 24/7, if they live with people of color;
- Called for more animals to be killed in pounds or left on the streets instead of rescued and placed in family homes so as not to promote “settler-colonial and racist dynamics of land allocation”;
- Defended backyard breeding as “queer affiliations,” even in cases where selling puppies is intended to supplement drug dealing income;
- Argued that the animal protection movement needs to develop “ethnoracial cultural sensitivity” by not judging people of color who do not feed or get necessary medical care for their animals;
- Argued that shelter workers should lower their standards for black people, even when doing so is “at odds with the humane society’s own core beliefs about how animals should be cared for”;
- Criticized the use of technology, like wheelchairs, to allow disabled animals to run again, claiming it “erases” disabled people and does “violence to nonnormative bodies”; and,
- Defended the harpooning of whales and clubbing of seals because of “native cosmologies.”
Whether Winograd’s assessment is correct is a matter for someone else to figure out, mostly because it’s not worth my time and attention. Although the “reasoning” he proffers doesn’t strike me as beyond the pale.
Underlying these claims are the racist beliefs that viewing animals as family members, letting them sleep in the house, providing them medical care, and showing them affection are “middle class,” “white” values, while people of color treat animals “as resources, whether protective (as in guarding) or financial (as in breeding or possibly fighting).”
But he notes that a Duke University Women’s Studies professor has plumbed a new depth for our furry little friends.
In LGBTQ…Z? — the “Z” standing for zoophile (a person who is sexually attracted to animals) — Kathy Rudy, a professor of women’s studies at Duke University, argues that,
[T]he widespread social ban on bestiality rests on a solid notion of what sex is, and queer theory persuasively argues we simply don’t have such a thing. The interdict against bestiality can only be maintained if we think we always/already know what sex is. And, according to queer theory, we don’t.
Antisex positions rest on the idea that all humans are different from all other animals, and the wall between them can never be breached. Like the ways we used to think of race or gender ‘identity,’ these positions contend that one’s species rests on physical markers that are immutable, that belonging to the categories of ‘animal’ or ‘human’ is grounded in a biological essence untouched by culture.
Ridiculous? Insane? Well, sure, for now. But as lawyers are painfully well aware, things eventually reach their logical extreme given our human capacity to screw up whatever we touch. While we’re surely not there yet, are we sure that this Duke queer theorist won’t be the puppy version of Robin Diangelo some day? As our norms are reduced to “social constructs” so that facts no longer stand in the way of fantastical reason, what’s to prevent the unduly passionate from loving their kitten a little too much if some academic from a big time university says its the totally woke thing to do?