With the recent charges that a major National Football League player had allowed cruel dog fights on his home property, the issue of cruelty to animals has been brought to national attention.
Nearly everyone acknowledges the obvious -- that a person who is cruel to animals, who enjoys sees seeing an animal suffer, is likely to inflict suffering on human beings. Cruelty to animals is one of the very few predictors among children of later criminal behavior.
So, aside from altruistic concern for animals, we human beings also have a selfish concern about people who enjoy making animals suffer. People who enjoy hurting animals will very likely hurt us, too.
The problem arises when we assume that the converse is equally true -- that just as cruelty to animals leads to cruelty to human beings, kindness to animals leads to kindness to people.
It doesn't. Kindness to animals is entirely unrelated to kindness to human beings -- except perhaps in the reverse order: People who treat people kindly are less likely to treat animals with cruelty.
But there is no connection whatsoever between treating animals kindly and treating people kindly. You know nothing about a person's treatment of people by knowing that he or she is kind to animals or is an "animal lover." Indeed, if there is any connection, it is more likely to be in the opposite direction. It seems that at a certain point of preoccupation with animals, there is a real chance that such a person may well treat people worse.
In his book "The Nazi War on Cancer (Princeton University Press, 1999)," Stanford Professor Robert N. Proctor writes a great deal about the Nazis' antipathy to animal experimentation. For example, the book features a Nazi cartoon depicting "the lab animals of Germany saluting Hermann Goring" for his protection of them.
This Nazi protection of animals is described by the leftist writer Alexander Cockburn: