If you look at the course of western history you'll see that we're slowly granting basic rights to everyone. A long time ago only kings had rights. Then rights were extended to property-owning white men. Then all men. Then women. Then children. Then the mentally retarded. Now we're agonizing over the extension of basic rights to homosexuals and animals. We need to finally accept that all sentient creatures are deserving of basic rights. I define basic rights as this –the ability to pursue life without having someone else's will involuntarily forced upon you. Or, as the framers of the constitution put it, the ability to have “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” By what criteria can you justify denying basic rights to any living thing? Realize that by whatever criteria you employ someone could deny basic rights to you if they objected to your species, sexual preferences, color, religion, ideology etc. Would you eat your housecat, or force a mentally retarded child to ingest oven cleaner? If not, then why is it ok to eat cows and test products on sentient animals? I believe that to knowingly commit actions that cause or condone suffering is reprehensible in the extreme. I call upon you to be compassionate and treat others as you want to be treated. If you don't want to be beaten, imprisoned, mutilated, killed or tortured then you shouldn't condone such behavior towards anyone, be they human or not.