Imagine a world where animals are considered nothing more than mechanical machines without feelings or even consciousness, a world where no living creature is treated with the respect and kindness deserving of a sentient being. Imagine that cruel world. A science fiction nightmare you might think?
No, unfortunately not.... welcome to the United Kingdom in 2017.
Anyone who knows me will know that I don't generally discuss politics because everyone has their own opinion and inevitably a political discussion tends to result in conflict – and conflict, as we all should know, bears little fruit.
But occasionally a political development will prompt me to speak out and one such example of this has been the news that, in the midst of the Brexit shambles, a piece of legislation was voted on last week, the result of which will have dire consequences for both our wild and domestic animals.
The news has slipped through the media rather quietly but the fallout could be huge.
While the UK, post Brexit, is likely to adopt many of the laws that are already enshrined in EU legislation, MPs have already, even at this early stage, voted not to adopt the EU's legally binding protocol to “pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals” and to acknowledge animals as “sentient beings”. In other words, the UK has basically voted to categorize animals as nothing more than vegetables, without consciousness or an awareness of pain or contentment.
This is clearly ridiculous and would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that the vote gives a green light to those who would mistreat animals.
The definition of 'sentient' is “to be able to perceive or feel things” so clearly it applies to all animals without question. And the EU years ago made it a basic requirement to acknowledge animals as sentient beings in order to protect them across the whole of Europe, by law, from maltreatment and to ensure high standards in farming, animal care and animal welfare.
I doubt that anybody with an ounce of compassion would argue against this humane legislation. And yet unbelievably, MPs in the UK have and it will no longer be part of British law following our withdrawal from Europe unless the vote is overturned by the House of Lords.
Such abominable practices as fox hunting, badger culling, torture of wild animals and the abuse of domestic and farm animals might all be considered 'acceptable' by some when British law no longer recognises animals as having consciousness, feelings or emotions.
The Brexit referendum carried with it a huge responsibility for those who voted and I wonder whether the people who campaigned to leave the EU really considered the knock-on effects of having to re-legislate on some very important matters. I hope that those who voted to leave the EU can live comfortably with the knowledge that they may have unwittingly contributed to what will amount to a serious threat to the well-being and safety of animals in this country.....
But politics to one side, the news that UK animals will no longer be classified as sentient beings is shocking and depressing, and also another sign of the dwindling respect many have for animal life, nature and the environment in this country. If we only recognise human beings as sentient then really there is little hope for the future of any other species. Even those people with a basic level of compassion and intelligence surely must agree that this change in the law represents a step back to the dark ages, the days of ignorant and careless treatment of animals, and that such regressive thinking has no place in the modern world.
When the day dawns that the human race decides not to acknowledge animals as sentient beings, then it might as well spell the beginning of the end. Without compassion for other creatures, reclassifying them as nothing more than machines, mankind loses all capacity to feel the pain of their suffering and in doing so not only seals the fate of animals and wildlife but also ultimately his own.
Mankind will have judged all life to be worthless.
Well done to the UK for bringing that day a little closer....