Progrès de la conscience morale et bien-être animal

PRINCETON – Mahatma Gandhi faisait remarquer avec une certaine perspicacité que « la grandeur d’une nation et les progrès de sa conscience morale se mesurent à l’aune du traitement qu’elle réserve à ses animaux. » Chercher à réduire la souffrance de ceux qui sont totalement sous l’emprise d’un tiers, et incapables de se battre, est réellement la marque d’une société civilisée.

Évaluer l’avancement de la législation sur le bien-être animal partout dans le monde informe donc plus généralement des progrès en matière de conscience morale. Le mois dernier, des développements parallèles en deux points opposés de la planète nous permettent de penser que le monde serait, lentement et de manière hésitante, un peu plus civilisé.

Tout d’abord, la Chambre de Communes britannique a voté une motion exigeant du gouvernement qu’il impose l’interdiction d’utiliser des animaux sauvages dans les cirques. Cette motion fait suite à la diffusion d’images, obtenues en caméra cachée par Animal Defenders International, montrant un employé de cirque frappant de manière répétée Anne, une femelle éléphant. Le gouvernement conservateur s’est dans un premier temps opposé à une telle interdiction, malgré un large soutien de l’ensemble des partis politiques. Dans un triomphe de la démocratie parlementaire, la motion fut finalement votée sans contestation.

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