Friday, May 04, 2007

Anthropomorphizing a chimp

The challenge has been thrown down: some animal rights advocates want a chimpanzee to become an actual person on the level of humans.

"Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person and has basic legal rights," said Eberhart Theuer, a lawyer leading the challenge on behalf of the Association Against Animal Factories, a Vienna animal rights group.

"We mean the right to life, the right to not be tortured, the right to freedom under certain conditions," Theuer said.

"We're not talking about the right to vote here."


But not all animal rights people are eager to blur the distinction between animal and human so much.

Not all Austrian animal rights activists back the legal challenge. Michael Antolini, president of the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said he thinks it's absurd.

"I'm not about to make myself look like a fool" by getting involved, said Antolini, who worries that chimpanzees could gain broader rights, such as copyright protections on their photographs.

Hey, with more rights come more responsibilities. Animal rights people should be careful what they wish for, or we just might start seeing chimps in our jury pools.


mijnheer said...

There's a distinction between animal rights and animal welfare. The SPCA head is clearly not an animal rights advocate.

Having certain rights (to life, liberty, and the right not to be tortured) do not imply having the right to vote, sit on juries, get a high-school education, etc. A child has the right not to be tortured, but does not have the right to vote.

Why are so many people so afraid of NOT abusing animals?

Albatross said...

I don't condone the abuse of animals, but I think it needs to be a clear-cut case of abuse before people start raising a ruckus. Witness this exchange:

So, you can see, even people who care about animals disagree on where to draw the line at mistreatment. If this is the case, then imagine the fights over where to draw the line for "personhood".

Yes, I think if some people argue for certain rights for animals, other will argue for more. Call it a slippery slope, if you like, but I think it's a dangerous path to tread.

And, jury duty is a responsibility, not a right.