What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals!
(Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2)
Now for the flip side...I do not regard myself as a great animal lover or animal rights sympathizer, but a friend and colleague who is, sent me something which I found utterly appalling, and almost symptomatic of the present diseased state of human "civilization".
In 2006, the Costa Rican 'artist' Guillermo Vargas Habacuc took a dog from the street, tied him to a rope in an art gallery, and left him there to starve to death. For several days, the 'artist' and the visitors of the exhibition watched without revulsion the slow and agonizing death of the dog.
The Visual Arts Biennial of the Central Americas decided that the 'installation' was actually art, so that Guillermo Vargas Habacuc has been invited to repeat his barbarity for the biennial of 2008.
Habacuc is to art what Josef Mengele is to medicine, Milton Friedman is
to economic policy-making, and George W Bush or Tony Blair is to
diplomacy. All acted with contempt for what they regarded as lower
forms of life. All were able to accomplish their deeds while the world
watched passively, or even cheered them on. Till the just declared ceasfire with Hamas, was not Israel doing the same thing with the Palestinians in Gaza as Habucuc was with the dog? No, actually, the Palestinians were being treated much worse. And with no revulsion from the rest of the world, if the media were to be believed.