Washington State Sen. Wants Bestiality Ban — Don’t Tell Ingrid!

After a man died on July 2 after having sex with a horse at a farm near Enumclaw, Washington, state Sen. Pam Roach introduced a bill that would make bestiality a Class C felony in that state, punishable by up to five years in jail and a $100,000 fine.

Did Roach run this by everyone’s favorite animal rights crusader Ingrid Newkirk? After all, Newkirk’s on record as saying there’s nothing inherently abusive about bestiality,

If a girl gets sexual pleasure from riding a horse, does the horse suffer? If not, who cares? If you French kiss your dog and he or she thinks it’s great, is it wrong? We believe all exploitation and abuse is wrong. If it isn’t exploitation and abuse, it may not be wrong.

So far there’s no evidence that the horse suffered in the Enumclaw incident. It might just meet Newkirk’s criteria for being non-abusive (at least for the horse).

The odd thing is that, according to the Associated Press, bestiality is explicitly illegal in only 30 states. In the Enumclaw case, local police knew of the farm’s reputation for offering animals for sex, but had no authority to do anything about it (besides, they didn’t want to piss off Newkirk).

Given the almost universal revulsion at bestiality, its odd explicit bans aren’t routinely in place as part of other sex crimes packages.


Roach seeks law against bestiality. Associated Press, July 19, 2005.

PETA and Bestiality, Round 2

In March, one Harold Hart, 63, of Neillsville, Wisconsin was arrested for allegedly had committed sexual acts with cows at a Greenwood, Wisconsin farm more than fifty times since 2004. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, of course, was all over this, but their reaction was a bit odd given Ingrid Newkirk’s previous claims about bestiality.

PETA’s Daniel Paden sent a letter to Clark County District Attorney Darwin Zwieg urging Zwieg to order psychological testing for Hart and waxed on about how people who have sex with animals are also supposedly more likely to engage in other criminal behaviors,

A recent study by Jory, Flemming, and Burton shows that 96 percent of offenders who had engaged in bestiality also admitted to sexual assaults on humans. When asked how many serial killers had a history of abusing animals, FBI supervisory special agent Alan Brantley, a psychologist who was formerly on staff at a maximum security prison, said, “The real question is, ‘How many do not?Â’” Experts agree that it is the severity of the behavior, not the species of the victim, that matters.

PETA’s Martin Mesereau also maintained there was a link between bestiality and other sex crimes, saying in a press release,

Studies show that offenders who commit bestiality often go on to commit sex crimes against humans. The community should follow this case closely because anyone capable of this kind of cruelty poses a definitive risk, not just to animals, but to fellow human beings.

If people who have sex with animals are so much more likely to engage in other criminal sexual acts, why was Ingrid Newkirk so nonchalant about it when defending Peter Singer’s claims about bestiality?

Singer, you might remember, was roundly criticized by most animal rights activists and groups for saying the following in a book review,

The potential violence of the orangutan’s come-on may have been disturbing, but the fact that it was an orangutan making the advances was not. That may be because [Birute] Galdikas understands very well that we are animals, indeed more specifically, we are great apes. This does not make sex across the species barrier normal, or natural, whatever those much-misused words may mean, but it does imply that it ceases to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings.

The only prominent activist who came to Singer’s defense was Ingrid Newkirk, who said of bestiality,

If a girl gets sexual pleasure from riding a horse, does the horse suffer? If not, who cares? If you French kiss your dog and he or she thinks it’s great, is it wrong? We believe all exploitation and abuse is wrong. If it isn’t exploitation and abuse, it may not be wrong.

Following Newkirk’s claims, shouldn’t investigators first establish whether or not the sex between Hart and the bovines was consensual and or not? Certainly the fact that he apparently tied the cows up first might initially lead one to conclude that it was not, but perhaps the cows on this particular farm have some sort of bondage fetish. Either way, at a minimum — using Newkirk’s benchmark — bestiality may not even be wrong, much less lead people to commit sex crimes against humans.

Perhaps Hart’s defense should claim that he was merely taking noted animal advocate Ingrid Newkirk’s advice. No, wait a minute . . . if a judge learns Hart takes Newkirk seriously, that would be proof positive that he’s nuts.


PETA pressures DA in cow-sex case. Marshfield News-Herald, March 9, 2005.

Peta Demands Jail Time, Psychiatric Intervention If Alleged Neillsville Animal Rapist Is Convicted. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, March 8, 2005.

Newkirk on Animal Lovers (Or, Is It Okay to French Kiss Your Dog?)

Last week the New York Times ran an article in its arts section about the controversy that erupted after Peter Singer’s review of Midas Dekkers’ book, Dearest Pet: On Bestiality. It looked like this controversy was dead, but buried in the article is a bizarre quote from none other than People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Ingrid Newkirk|. I have no idea of what to make of this,

If a girl gets sexual pleasure from riding a horse, does the horse suffer? If not, who cares? If you French kiss your dog and he or she thinks it’s great, is it wrong? We believe all exploitation and abuse is wrong. If it isn’t exploitation and abuse, it may not be wrong.

Apparently, PETA’s position on pets is that we should let domesticated animals die out, but if you have to keep a pet, French kissing it might not be all that bad.

In an e-mail to the Times reporter, Singer said that the only reason his book review caused such an uproar in the United States is that, “This country is in the grip of a Puritan worldview.” Maybe, but I think I’ll take a Puritan worldview over French kissing dogs any day of the week.


Yes, but Did Anyone Ask the Animals’ Opinion?. Sarah Boxer, New York Times, June 9, 2001.

Peter Singer's Last Word on the Bestiality Controversy

After the torrent of criticism that Peter Singer received over his review of Midas Dekkers’ Dearest Pet, which many people viewed as defending bestiality, Singer finally released a clarification of his comments. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have ended the firestorm, since again Singer seems to imply that non-violent sexual contact between human beings and animals may be morally permissible. Here is the entire text of Singer’s statement which was posted to several animal rights e-mail lists:

I agreed to review Midas Dekkers’ scholarly study of sexual interaction between humans and animals not because I support such practices, but because I wanted to reflect on what such sexual behavior tells us about the way in which we are like animals, and at the same time to seek to draw such sharp lines between ourselves and other species. I also wanted to suggest that, if our concern is for the welfare of animals, it is only too easy to find practices on every modern factory farm that are a great deal worse, for the animal, than some forms of sexual contact between humans and animals. (Sex, I might remind readers, does not only mean “intercourse.”) An objection to all forms of sexual contact between humans and animals, in other words, does not seem to be based on concern for animal welfare, in any obvious sense. Those who wish to sustain such a sweeping objection need to look for other grounds.

I thought my review might provoke some people to think about the issue of why some behavior towards animals is viewed as obviously wrong, while other behavior seems entirely acceptable — killing and eating them, for example, or experimenting on them to test the safety of new cleaning agents. Obviously, sexual acts involving violence or cruelty to animals ought to be prohibited. And there may well be good accounts of why the proscription against all sexual acts with animals — including acts that are neither intrinsically violent or cruel — has outlasted many other prohibitions against non-reproductive sexual acts. But very few people seem to have read the article as raising questions. Many seemed to see no more than the fact that it mentioned sex with animals, and that fact was enough to send them into hysterical abuse, including accusations that I myself was a “zoophile.”

Once again, Singer seems to have raised more questions than he’s answered about his position on this matter.

When Is It Okay to Kill Infants?

The Sydney Morning Herald has a generally positive profile of Peter Singer that touches on the controversy over his comments on bestiality. Singer defends his book review in Nerve by saying,

There are cases [of sex with animals] that you can imagine that don’t seem to do harm to animals. The question then is what is really wrong with that? Why do we have that taboo? I just wanted to raise those questions.

Anyway, what continues to strike me as bizarre is that Singer insists on claiming that his critics misrepresent his views, but then he almost always follows this up by making them even more extreme than his opponents do. For example, Singer says that his view on infanticide is misunderstood. He says that his defense of infanticide is meant to apply to severely disabled infants who are going to die anyway. But then he apparently cannot resist adding that infanticide is also okay if a child is less severely disabled but nobody wants to care for the infant. According to Singer, “If there’s no-one else who’s sufficiently interested in the life of this child to want to care for it, then I think it’s not [unethical to kill the child].”

His students — well at least the one interviewed by the Herald — find him intriguing, which is downright scary. Presumably if Singer wrote articles arguing that homosexuals could be killed because they are not living a quality life, the reactions would be less sympathetic, but as long as he sticks to infanticide and forced euthanasia of people with Alzheimer’s, he’s safe in his position at Princeton.


The philosopher from Monash excites fury in Princeton. Gay Alcorn, Sydney Morning Herald, March 31, 2001.

Animal Rights Activist Attack Peter Singer Over Bestiality Stance

Peter Singer still has not made any comments about his book review for Nerve which, on the most friendly interpretation, offered a weak argument against bestiality. While People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Ingrid Newkirk offered a defense of Singer, many animal rights activists were quick to pile on denunciations of Singer, many of which were posted to the Nerve web site as well as being distributed through Internet e-mail lists.

Friends of Animals president Priscillia Feral wrote,

Friends of Animals, an interntional non-profit organization with 200,000 members throughout the world dedicated to promoting the rights of animals and concern for wildlife and the environment, denounces Princeton philosophy professor Peter Singer, for an essay in which Singer maintains that under some circumstances, it is acceptable for humans and animals to have sex with each other. FoA finds Singer’s position shocking and disgusting. Bestiality is wrong in part because the animal cannot meaningfully consent to sex with a human. In this sense, bestiality is wrong for the same reason pedophilia is wrong. Children cannot consent to sexual contact and neither can animals. Contrary to a statement from a spokesperson for PETA, Singer’s essay isn’t an intellectual issue, and his thinking isn’t logical. It’s a moral issue. Singer and his apologists just need to stop repeating every annoying idea they’ve developed for shock value.

Megan Metzellar, program coordinator for Friends of Animals weighed in as well,

Singer is basically condoning rape and molestation as long as one (presumably he?) can find a way to interpret the situation as being “mutually satisfying.” I suppose Mr. Singer can find a way to justify any base behavior in his mind via his meaningless hypotheticals. Singer has been put on a pedestal by the animal rights movement for a very long time but this essay is a wake-up call to those who have blindly idolized him. Moreover, since women are often sexually abused and exploited in conjunction with acts of bestiality, feminists should be outraged by his position on this issue. Child advocates should also be alarmed since Singer is condoning sex acts in which one party is basically incapable of giving consent. Singer is in dangerous territory here and if he has any sense left he will realize the potential fallout from this essay and retract his position.

Theodora Capaldo, president of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, was worried about the damage that Singer’s views will have on the animal rights movement.

As someone who has played and continues to play a high profile and influential role in the animal rights movement, I believe your responsibility changes. The success of animal liberation depends not only on the ideology, the legal arguments, and the philosophical reasoning but perhaps more importantly on the sophisticated strategies that will allow mainstream populations to hear the message, accept the message and act on the message. Heavy Petting will come back to haunt us and is a step backwards. Unchallenged, this essay will serve to further marginalize and, therefore, damage the animal rights movement. The consequences of it will push us back into the bubble-gum bottomed recess of prejudice that hell hole of ridicule that remains our greatest obstacle and enemy. Some people may care about your thoughts on bestiality from some perverse unconscious desires. More significantly, however, many others will study your every word not to better ground their arguments in support of animal rights but rather to find new ways to discredit our efforts. They have been given new ammunition and new accusations with which to boost their arguments about the absurdity of our beliefs. Heavy Petting will be used against us. Have no doubt.

Live by the sound bite, die by the sound bite.

Gary Francione, who seems to have laid low after shutting down his animal law center, reminded animal rights activists that Singer’s argument is beside the point since the existence of pets is an abomination itself, regardless of whether or not anyone is having sex with the animals.

Even if animals can desire to have sexual contact with humans, that does not mean that they are “consenting” to that contact any more than does a child who can have sexual desires (or who even initiates sexual contact) can be said to consent to sex. Moreover, Peter ignores completely that bestiality is a phenomenon that occurs largely within the unnatural relationship of domestication; a domestic animal can no more consent to sex than could a human slave. Therefore, since the threshold requirement–informed consent–cannot be met, sexual contact with animals cannot be morally justified….It is bad enough that Peter defends the killing or other exploitation of those humans whose lives he regards as not worth living, and, through his pop media image, he has succeeded in connecting the issue of animal rights with the very ideas that were promoted by some academics as part of the theoretical basis for Nazism. It is bad enough that the “father of the animal rights movement” regards PETA’s sell-out liaison with McDonalds as “the biggest step forward for farm animals in America in the past quarter of a century” (a direct quote from Peter) and that PETAphiles are pointing to Peter’s approval as justification for the sell-out. It is bad enough that Peter continues to support and promote those whose unethical actions have actually harmed animals. Bestiality merits nothing more or less than our outright and unequivocal condemnation. Peter’s disturbing view that humans and nonhumans may enjoy sexual contact as part of “mutually satisfying activities” will only further harm the cause of animal rights, and I can only hope that those who care will register their strong dissent.

Aside from the animal rights movement, it will be interesting to see how the Princeton community reacts to Singer’s newly found views on sex with animals.