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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Lockhart and the Performing Animals Act 1925

George Claude Lockhart
Image via Wikipedia
I was recently shown a link to an interesting academic paper about racism and animal abuse in an historic context. The paper, "Racial Prejudice and the Performing AnimalsControversy in Early Twentieth-Century Britain" by David A. H. Wilson of the University of Cumbria,  makes an interesting argument for the way racist ideas were common among both critics and defenders of animal trainers. Amid the all-too-familiar arguments on both sides we note that there are also the usual racist arguments heard today. Fear of losing work to immigrants is just below the surface of certain protestations. This, however, is combined with the bigotry common at the time. For example, species of animals are compared to different races of people and being post-World War I Germaphobia is a hot tactic. Interestingly animal rightists, who these days tend to cite the odd notion of speciesism as an extension of racism, also make a distinction between foreign trainers, who they consider to be cruel, from British trainers.