This just appeared at the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute: New York High Court to Rule Whether Elephants Are “Persons”. It was written by Wesley J. Smith, whom they describe as a “Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.”
We’ve written a few times before about animal rights cases — for example: Oook, Oook — Chimps Lose in Appellate Court. Wesley seems to have made the subject a specialty of his, and in his article he cites a great many cases — more than we can study for this article, so we’ll do the best we can. Here are some excerpts from his post, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
The greatest threat posed by the animal-rights movement is an advocacy thrust known as “animal standing” The idea is to have animals declared “persons” and treated akin to human beings with developmental disabilities so that “they” can bring lawsuits in court directly, which of course would actually be brought by animal-rights zealots. That would grant “rights” to animals — first, those sometimes called “higher” mammals, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, etc. — but eventually all fauna.
Then he says:
When I bring this up in speeches, the usual reaction is eye-rolling, “Ha ha. It will never happen here.” Never mind that it already happened in Argentina, where a judge declared an orangutan a “nonhuman person.” Never mind that a federal court ruled that animals could be granted standing under the U.S. Constitution. [Really?] Never mind that Judge Eugene M. Fahey — of the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court — wrote that chimps should be given rights in a non-binding opinion (dicta). And never mind the money and intensity of the animal-rights movement to shatter what they call “the species barrier.” Complacency rules the day.
There were several links in that paragraph. If the topic interests you, click over there and dig in. After that ark-load, Wesley tells us:
The New York Court of Appeals has taken a case to determine whether an elephant, and perhaps other animals, should be deemed “persons.”
He quotes extensively from something that mentions a lot of cases, but without linking to them. The one he’s talking about seems to be In the matter of Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Breheny, Case No. APL-2021-00087. Anyway, Wesley continues:
Does this mean the court will necessarily grant personhood to an elephant? No. But it does indicate that a number of high court judges believe the case is of sufficient substance to rule upon rather than — as the court should — laugh the case out of court.
Then he says something that’s difficult to disagree with:
Of course elephants should be treated properly according to their capacities and needs. But animal-welfare regulations and laws are very capable of accomplishing that. Animals should not be granted rights.
Animal welfare and animal rights are not the same. Rights ideology claims that “a rat, is a pig, is a dog, is a boy,” meaning there is no moral distinction between humans and animals. In contrast, animal welfare properly holds that humans have a higher moral value, and, that as we benefit from their use, we have a concomitant duty to treat animals humanely.
Wesley elaborates on that:
That distinction is crucial. Animal welfare is an expression of human exceptionalism. Animal rights, in contrast, subverts human exceptionalism — the backbone of universal human rights — and threatens our thriving. Because if animals are persons, by definition, they cannot be owned, nor used for human benefit. That means no medical research, no food animals, no leather, and eventually, pet ownership made a formal legal guardianship complete with enforceable fiduciary duties — that is, if we can have pets at all.
He’s got a point there. It’s uncomfortable to be in agreement with so much that a Discoveroid is saying. Wesley ends with this:
Let’s hope the Court of Appeals rejects the animal personhood notion out of hand. Until they do, I will be holding my breath. Because we live in culture-destroying times and this is as subversive of Western civilization as it gets.
We should point out an earlier post of ours from-2014 regarding abuse of an elephant: A Gruesome Tale of Elephant Abuse. In that post we mentioned our own concept for dealing with such cases, which we’ll repeat here because we still like it:
[Y]our infinitely compassionate Curmudgeon opposes cruelty to animals, so we’ve struggled to find some way to logically defend our desire to punish animal abusers, even if their victims have no rights. If an idea has value, there must be a way to justify it that doesn’t rely on merely our feelings. After rejecting the notion that animals have rights, we decided that it was nevertheless justifiable to punish abusers because their behavior constitutes conduct unbecoming a human (a concept that has potential, but which requires a bit of work). Inhuman conduct offends us, and we’re the ones with rights, so we can punish the wrong-doer.
We’ll end with that. Make of it what you will.
Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.