Opening a Can of Worms (or Chimpanzees)

I can distinctly recall that back in law school our class had occasion to discuss a case in which some purportedly enlightened individuals sought permission to sue the court on behalf of certain animals, the nature of which now escapes me. Suffice it to say that it was an environmental matter and the animals lost and American citizens were spared the legal nightmare that perhaps is now about to descend on us with the help of a judge in New York. If I were asked to predict where such a travesty would originate, certainly, New York would be near the top of the list, with California as my number one choice.

The case in question, involved the supposed unlawful imprisonment of two chimpanzees that were being used for research purposes. The attorneys ‘representing’ the two primates were seeking a writ of habeas corpus, which, under New York law, may only be issued to a ‘legal person’. Attorneys for the Nonhuman Rights Project therefore, declared “The court has therefore implicitly determined that Hercules and Leo are ‘persons’.” Hercules and Leo are the Chimpanzees.

While the court may not have directly declared that the apes are either humans or legal persons, the potential exists for exactly that, particularly in states where the courts are known for dispensing lunatic opinions. A proper response to this particular case might well have been an immediate citation for contempt of the court and for wasting the court’s time on a frivolous matter.

On the other hand, the simple fact does exist that primates should be given some due consideration in the same manner as other animals, and perhaps more, given their social relationships and relative level of intelligence, compared with other animals. However… This case is not about whether or not the apes were being mistreated, or deprived of food, water or other necessities of life. No, the simple matter that they were “being held against their will without just cause” is being brought to the fore. The question then appears to be whether or not these creatures have sufficient intelligence to understand their living situation and would, perhaps, prefer something else, such as living in a forest preserve where they could live, more or less, as wild apes do. But there is always more to it than that.

Whether the attorneys pressing for habeas corpus in this case will admit it or not, the end goal of their machinations is to have the animals legally declared persons. Then, to graduate from Chimpanzees to Gorillas and other great apes to monkeys and then to mammals in general, and finally to the entire rest of the animal kingdom. It is the same process being used in other lines of legal argument for the acceptance of homosexual marriage, then poly-amorous relationships and then all bets are off. With animals being declared people for the purpose of granting them the same rights as humans, we can expect some crazy person to demand that he or she be allowed to marry their dog, cat, horse, you name it.

But it doesn’t end there. With animals being recognized as people, we can see the present generation being sued for the wrongful deaths of past generations of various animals, as well as to prevent their killing today. We can start with the American buffalo killed during the westward migration, then graduate to claims of genocide against the descendents of people responsible for the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the dodo, the elephant bird and the Thylacine probably better known as the Tasmanian wolf or Tasmanian tiger.

Animals owning property? Of course. We can certainly see who the members of the animal kingdom deserve rights to their domains, and we mere humans must take second position. Animals inheriting and having the right to bestow property? Certainly, although how we may know in what manner remains to be seen. Perhaps like the octopus who picks World Cup Champions.

Let’s then graduate to the use of animals as a food source. Definitely to be outlawed as cows, pigs, chickens and fish are now people. Of course, insects would be next on the docket, demanding their rights to be free from pesticides. Roaches will now be allowed freedom to enjoy your kitchen space whether you like it or not, and whether or not they spread disease. Let’s add in the tsetse fly and the mosquito as well.

Diseases; there is another fertile ground. Suddenly microbes are people too, and while they may kill or maim people, they need to do so to survive. People are such evil and destructive creatures that they must give way to the smallpox virus, the malaria parasite and so on.

Now I can just see the progressives lining up to tell me that I’m crazy. But it wasn’t so long ago that when the states were deprived of their right to regulate sexual behavior, it was predicted that this was only the beginning. Well, we are seeing it happen right before our eyes. In fact, the advocates of a “living constitution” are making it come true by ignoring common sense and moving the law into such extreme directions that it no longer makes sense for us to consider past decisions. Soon, anything will go as far as the courts are concerned, and we will encounter, not rule of law, but rule of lunacy. And it will happen, if the movement in this direction is not reversed and soon. Never underestimate the extremes that progressives and liberals will go because they always find new ones to test and to enforce on normal society.

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