Championing the rights of animals (or as I Iike to think of them, non-human people) can be a frustrating and thankless task. I mean, it can be disappointing, to say the least, when after performing three hours of political street theatre raising awareness about our threatened indigenous bird-life, a pigeon decides to defecate on your head!

Then there is the pervasive speciesism that so many Homo sapiens are guilty of. It's bad enough that it's a societal norm. But sometimes this appalling attitude can be expressed by the most unlikely people; people such as the leader of the Greens, no less!

Consider the appallingly simean-phobic subtext in this recent observation from Bob Brown regarding the pointlessness of paying politicians even more money.

"There is an old saying that if you pay them peanuts you get monkeys, but if you give more peanuts you sometimes get gorillas," he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

Considering Brown's courageous efforts on behalf of indigenous flora and fauna and his deep respect for all living things, this could be interpreted as an argument for higher pay packets. (And I'd be against that on the grounds that politicians get paid far too much already. Well, those on the right of the political spectrum do, anyway.) But sadly, I don't think it is. He was using the ape analogy as an insult.

Shame on you, Bob!

That said, I'm sure it's not a deeply held belief. It's more an automatic prejudice that he's osmotically absorbed over time. Brown spends much of his time in Canberra, after all. There, amongst the power elite, surrounded by technology and white people, he is kept far from the warm, uplifting embrace of Gaia. So it is not surprising that he has fallen prey (or pray?) to the meme of speciesism.

Still, Brown has a much more open mind than most, even if it has been temporarily closed in this regard. That's why I'm hopeful that his good friend and animal rights advocate Peter Singer has made the same observation I have, and that he may one day take Brown aside and promptly set him straight (although I don't mean that in a homophobic way, of course).