Scully, Matthew 1959(?)-
Scully, Matthew 1959(?)-
Born c. 1959, in Casper, WY; married; wife's name Emmanuelle (a violinist).
Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Special assistant and aenior apeechwriter to President George W. Bush, 2001-02; writer, 2002—. Has also worked as speechwriter for former Vice President Dan Quayle, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey. Member of President Bush's election campaign, 2000.
Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Former literary editor, National Review. Contributor to periodicals, including Washington Post, National Review, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times.
Matthew Scully's deep convictions about the welfare of animals led him to resign his position as one of President George W. Bush's senior speechwriters in order to write and promote a book, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. Scully has been deeply concerned about animal welfare for years, but he is not an animal-rights activist. In fact, as he argues in his book, it is humankind's dominion over animals that ought to lead to merciful and compassionate treatment for them. Using a Biblical quotation from Genesis 1:24-26 as one of his caveats, Scully reminds readers that God has given humans supremacy over beasts, but that is not to say that humans can exploit animals in inhumane ways. Himself a vegetarian, Scully takes to task industrial farms that subject pigs, chickens, and cows to torture and short, painful lives. The author also offers scathing criticism of some types of sport hunting, of scientific experimentation on animals, and of whaling. As Richard John Neuhaus put it in the National Review, "Scully does not try to make the argument that animals are, at least in some instances, equal or superior to human beings. On the contrary, he contends that, precisely because they are so manifestly unequal, they have a claim upon our regard. We are to care for their sake, but also for our own. How we treat animals bespeaks our humanity, our moral decency, our understanding of ourselves as being implicated with them in the purposes of our common Creator."
Dominion was very widely reviewed and occasioned a great deal of commentary, not the least because it was written by someone with "unassailable conservative credentials," to quote Paul Rebein on the People for Animal Rights Web site. To those who find it odd that a conservative Republican would speak out for the humane treatment of animals—a cause most often associated with more left-wing, and sometimes dangerously radical, groups—Scully points out that his philosophy on animals differs from other "animal rights" entities but that his aims are the same. In an interview with National Review Online, he said: "People can agree on the same objectives for different reasons. A secular philosopher like Peter Singer can oppose factory farming because it's unethical by his theories of justice. An environmentalist can oppose factory farming because it's reckless stewardship. A conservative can oppose factory farming because it is destructive to small farmers and to the decent ethic of husbandry those farmers live by. A religious person can oppose factory farming because it is degrading to both man and animal—an offense to God. The point is to end the cruelty. And we shouldn't let secondary differences interfere with primary obligations." Scully is adamant that his viewpoint does not permit acts of violence against industrial farmers, furriers, or scientists, as these acts also violate the essential tenets of religious teaching.
Many critics from varied political persuasions found much to praise in Dominion. Neuhaus, in the National Review, felt that Scully offers "a polemic against human cruelty, which means the egregious infliction of pain." The reviewer further observed: "The reminder that human dominion entails responsibility for our fellow creatures is engaging, salutary, and always in order." Nicols Fox in the Washington Post Book World found Scully's position brave and maintained, "It is likely that only someone so well-positioned could confront the real puzzle, however, which is how the Bible-inspired belief in dominion over the creatures of the Earth has been perverted to support the widespread and often needless torture of animals in the name of science, agriculture and sport." Fox concluded that Scully "has written what is surely destined to be a classic defense of mercy."
As Scully might have predicted, animal rights groups, although differing with his approach, nonetheless hailed Dominion as an important contribution to the literature in protest of animal cruelty. "Scully persuasively argues that you don't need to believe that animals have rights to recognize that these practices are cruel, immoral and should be abandoned," Rebein stated. On the Animal Protection Institute Web site, Barry Kent MacKay called Dominion a "well-written book" and concluded that Scully "discusses, in peerfriendly language, the very issues that influential people most need to hear."
Some critics found Scully's book particularly meaningful because the author is working from within the conservative establishment. Atlantic Monthly correspondent Christopher Hitchens noted of Scully's commentary on commercial hunting and industrial farming: "The arguments he hears, about gutsy individualism in the first case and rationalized profit maximization in the second, are the disconcerting sounds of his own politics being played back to him. Making the finest use of this tension, he produces … marvelous passages of reporting." In her New York Times Book Review piece on Dominion, Natalie Angier declared: "Just as a presumed hawk like Richard Nixon could open relations with China, and a presumed liberal-softie like Bill Clinton could dismantle the welfare system, so Scully may do much more from the right for the pro-animal movement and the Endangered Species Act than any number of press releases and reports from the World Wildlife Fund and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals." Angier characterized Scully's book as "beautiful … rich with thought, and a balm to the scared, lonely animal in us all."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic Monthly, November, 2002, Christopher Hitchens, "Political Animals," p. 111.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, p. 1206.
National Review, December 31, 2002, Richard John Neuhaus, "The Quality of Mercy," p. 40.
New Republic, June 17, 2002, Ryan Lizza, "White House Watch: Food Fight," p. 12.
New York Times Book Review, October 27, 2002, Natalie Angier, "The Most Compassionate Conservative," p. 9.
Seattle Times, November 19, 2002, Alex Tizon, "Former Bush Speechwriter Dons Animal-Activist Cloak."
Washington Post Book World, October 13, 2002, Nicols Fox, "Feeling Their Pain," p. 3.
Animal Protection Institute, http://www.api4animals.org/1523.htm/. (April 21, 2004), Barry Kent MacKay, review of Dominion.
Matthew Scully, http://wwwmatthewscully.com (April 21, 2004), author's home page.
National Review Online: Interrogatory, http://www.nationalreview.com/interrogatory/ (December 3, 2002), Kathryn Jean Lopez, "Exploring Dominion."
People for Animal Rights,http://www.parkc.org/ (April 21, 2004), Paul Rebein, "Matthew Scully's Dominion: Putting True ‘Compassion’ into ‘Compassionate Conservatism.’"