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Are disability rights and animal rights connected?

Joshua Rothman: ‘Painter Sunaura Taylor, a vegetarian and animal-rights advocate since the age of six, recently published a book called “Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation.” It makes explicit the ideas in her art. When she was small, Taylor writes, other children told her that she walked like a monkey and ate like a dog; by this, they meant that her disability made her like an animal and, therefore, less than human. In “Beasts of Burden,” she argues that they had everything backward. Human beings are already animals; age, disease, and accident mean that all able-bodiedness is a temporary state. Even able-bodied people can “die in the woods” alone—they, too, are dependent upon society. Disabled people should be proud to associate themselves with animals, Taylor argues, because the same ideology, ableism, oppresses both groups. If you’re cognitively or physically disabled, it’s ableism that tells you that you’re worth less than a more capable person; similarly, if you’re an animal, it’s ableism that makes eating you permissible, since you can’t do what humans do’. SOURCE…

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