The topic of animal rights can be clouded by specific perspectives which, while relevant and necessary, can steer observers toward a tunneled view. The movie Speciesism, which will premier in Denver next month, offers a uniquely-diverse and eclectic mix of perspectives that helped create the term that the movie is named for. Speciesism will show on March 20 at the Mayan Theatre in Denver. Its director, Mark Devries, will be present and will host a question-and-answer forum after the showing.
The term “speciesism” was coined in 1970 by British psychologist Richard D Ryder, who was an early animal activist and was scrutinizing experimentation on animals. At that time, Ryder published a pamphlet entitled “Speciesism” that called upon humans to assert the same moral rules for animals that exist for people.
"Since Darwin, scientists have agreed that there is no 'magical' essential difference between humans and other animals, biologically-speaking. Why then do we make an almost total distinction morally?...” Ryder said in his 1970 publication.
The modern movie is said to be made for the quick-video age. It’s more of a soft sell than a hardcore declaration of a specific mission. It consists of many different sub-subjects. The New York Times describes it as “a zigzagging journey that lurches” between traditional animal advocacy media blitzes to documentary scenarios including a visit to a hog farm in the south. The hog farm portion focuses more on human issues-the idea that the hog feces-kept in large holding ponds as is the normal practice on factory farms, end up contaminating ground water.
Speciesism even includes interviews of members of the American Nazi Party. Devries is not the first to compare factory farming to the Nazi Holocaust, but the analogy remains a reference point for numerous animal activists and does help make the connection to the idea that animal emotions are at least complex enough that they completely understand their own intense suffering in the factory farm environment.
A major local contributor to the movie’s content, as well as to public awareness of speciesism as a psychological concept is Dr. Marc Bekhoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Bekhoff has published numerous articles that scientifically validate the fact that animals indeed have complex emotions since 2009. He will appear to discuss his recent book: “Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation” at the Schlessman Family Branch of the Denver Public Library this coming Sunday.
The Speciesism movie premier is scheduled for March 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mayan Theater in Denver. At least 21 members of Denver's vegan group a Vegan Life, and ten members of the Denver Vegans will among many attendees, as well as member from the Denver area's animal activist communities.