Confronting Animal Abuse presents a powerful examination of the human-animal relationship and the laws designed to protect it. Piers Beirne, a leading scholar in the growing field of green criminology, explores the heated topic of animal abuse in agriculture, science, and sport, as well as what is known, if anything, about the potential for animal assault to lead to inter-human violence. He convincingly shows how from its roots in the Irish plough fields of 1635 through today, animal-rights legislation has been primarily shaped by human interest and why we must reconsider the terms of human-animal relationships. Beirne argues that if violations of animals' rights are to be taken seriously, then scholars and activists should examine why some harms to animals are defined as criminal, others as abusive but not criminal and still others as neither criminal nor abusive. Confronting Animal Abuse points to the need for a more inclusive concept of harms to animals, without which the meaning of animal abuse will be overwhelmingly confined to those harms that are regarded as socially unacceptable, one-on-one cases of animal cruelty. Certainly, those cases demand attention. But so, too, do those other and far more numerous institutionalized harms to animals, where abuse is routine, invisible, ubiquitous and often defined as socially acceptable. In this pioneering, pro-animal book Beirne identifies flaws in our traditional understanding of human-animal relationships and proposes a compelling new approach.
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Against Cruelty? The Act Against Plowing by the Tayle
Chapter 3. The Prosecution of Animal Cruelty in Puritan Massachusetts, 1636-1683
Chapter 4. Towards a Sociology of Animal Sexual Assault
Chapter 5. Horse Maiming and the Sport of Kings
Chapter 6. Is There a Progression from Animal Abuse to Interhuman Violence?
Chapter 7. Epilogue
Piers Beirne is a professor of sociology and legal studies at the University of Southern Maine. He is recognized as a leading scholar in the emerging field of green criminology.
"Beirne, who originated the non-speciesist approach to criminology and is a leading exponent of green criminology, brings together for the first time his main themes and research interests within one text. As the originator of this approach, this book willfurther establish Beirne's reputation as the leading scholar of non-speciesist criminology. The originality in identifying a serious problem in traditional analyses of human-nonhuman relations is a major contribution to the field [...]"
– Roger Yates, University College Dublin
"Piers Beirne has the knack of asking questions that are sometimes uncomfortable, occasionally confronting, yet always thought provoking and considerate. This book takes us on a fascinating and highly informative journey into the contentious world of animal cruelty and human specieism. It not only challenges how we look at the issues, but also raises concerns about how we ought to respond to them at a practical level as well. It is a must read [...]"
– Rob White
"Piers Beirne's Confronting Animal Abuse will inform and direct all aspects of sociological research for decades to come?a book not for specialists only, but for anyone interested in understanding the past history and future prospects of animal protection [...]"
– Tom Regan, North Carolina State University
"In this welcome and thought-provoking book, Piers Beirne brings together evidence and debate to consider various contradictions in humanity's relationship with other species, the politics and principles of animal rights and animal welfare, and links between inter-human violence and abuse of animals. This scholarly review will quickly establish itself as the key reference point for anyone wishing to engage with these highly complex matters [...]"
– Nigel South
"Beirne brilliantly demonstrates how concern about animal abuse is primarily motivated by human self-interest. He attends to the tension between suggesting that the criminal justice system take animal abuse more seriously on the one hand and adding to thealready immense criminalized and marginalized populations on the other. Beirne shows that criminology needs to confront these issues and that criminologists cannot simply accept anthropocentric definitions of what constitutes harm and crime [...]"
– Amy J. Fitzgerald, University of Windsor