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At least a chimp will never be elected president. Oh, hang on...
May 8, 2007 12:40 PM   Subscribe

"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 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.” Some primatologists support the legal action, while others aren't so sure. Brazilian courts have already granted a chimp the right to a petition of Habeas Corpus.
posted by unSane (80 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I certainly feel strongly about primates and captivity, but this may be going a tad too far.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:05 PM on May 8, 2007


Cool! I'm sure looking forward to a civil discourse re: the civil rights of 'non-human hominids.'
posted by taosbat at 1:08 PM on May 8, 2007


Obligatory case law link.
posted by Abiezer at 1:13 PM on May 8, 2007


One of their central arguments will be that a chimpanzee's DNA is 96-98.4 per cent similar to that of humans - closer than the relationship between donkeys and horses.

And that's why horses don't get donkey rights.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:20 PM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


The other classic is of course Peter Singer
posted by Abiezer at 1:23 PM on May 8, 2007


"Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person"

Your main argument is flawed. Here's a four-year-old child to point out where.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:23 PM on May 8, 2007


Ape shall never kill ape. What more do we really need to know?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:29 PM on May 8, 2007


Ape shall never kill ape.

They will cite recent findings that wild apes hunt with home-made spears and can fight battles and make peace...Sommer, an evolutionary anthropologist, said: 'It's untenable to talk of dividing humans and humanoid apes because there are no clear-cut criteria - neither biological, nor mental, nor social.'
posted by taosbat at 1:34 PM on May 8, 2007


One of their central arguments will be that a chimpanzee's DNA is 96-98.4 per cent similar to that of humans - closer than the relationship between donkeys and horses.

Again, this is just a silly argument. Over half the DNA in a human being is identical to the DNA in bananas. We're all based from carbon. And if the argument is based on mental capacity, dolphins, which are less similar to us than apes, are far more intelligent and have greater reasoning and emotional skills.

None of this is to say there shouldn't be extensive laws protecting animals of all kinds, primates included. I don't think animals should be tortured any more than vast swaths of rainforest should be razed because in that grand, "99% of the same DNA" sort of way we're all part of one big-ass system.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:37 PM on May 8, 2007


Sommer, an evolutionary anthropologist, said: 'It's untenable to talk of dividing humans and humanoid apes because there are no clear-cut criteria - neither biological, nor mental, nor social.'

This smacks of someone who has bitten off a bit too much of his own bullshit. There are clear-cut criteria for dividing humans from humanoid apes; to suggest otherwise denies the obvious. Indeed, suggesting as much hurts the cause of protecting apes by marginalizing the cause in the eyes of reasonable people.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:37 PM on May 8, 2007


Sure, it's a grey area between chimps and humans. It's also a grey area between humans and rocks and tv sets and trees and words and quasars.
posted by iamck at 1:39 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Let's establish the right to not be tortured for humans, then work from there.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 1:45 PM on May 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


When chimps want equal rights, they can pick up some guns (or spears, although that would be much less effective) and fight for them just like us humans. We didn't kill off all the cro-magnons and neanderthals just to hand the reins to a bunch of arboreal apes (making an exception for politicians, of course).
posted by tempestuoso at 1:46 PM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


If we allow so many jackasses the right to vote, why not chimps and apes and that singer Bonomo
posted by Postroad at 1:47 PM on May 8, 2007


It's weird that they have to show that Hiasl is a person in order to pay the donated funds for his support. Isn't there a trust-like device to solve that problem?
posted by grobstein at 1:49 PM on May 8, 2007


Let's establish the right to not be tortured for humans, then work from there.

Agreed. If you want primates to be treated less harshly, demand that they be treated less harshly because, well, hurting monkeys is a fucking horrible thing to do.

This has an eerie similarity to right-wing fanatics who don't want to simply ban abortion based on their opposition to the practice, but instead want fetuses wholly classified as "people" in order to establish them as having equal (or superior) authority over the very women carrying them in their wombs. I would likewise suggest that the people supporting this case don't even believe it; like the abortion people they just want to hammer in a loophole for an ulterior motive.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:50 PM on May 8, 2007


Would it be possible to set up a corporation and give all its shares to the monkey? Corporations have lots of rights that animals don't.
posted by cell divide at 1:52 PM on May 8, 2007


It's also a grey area between humans and rocks and tv sets and trees and words and quasars.

And corporations?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:54 PM on May 8, 2007


Damn...missed it by that much.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:55 PM on May 8, 2007


Why do we consider a severely mentally deficient human being a person, but not the most intelligent ape on the planet?

By the way, 'person' has a specific meaning which is not necessarily co-terminous with 'human'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person

For example, consider a being which had passed The Turing Test, but whose exact nature -- human being, computer or beast -- was not clear. It seems likely that such a being should be treated as a person and granted certain rights.
posted by unSane at 1:55 PM on May 8, 2007


'It's untenable to talk of dividing humans and humanoid apes because there are no clear-cut criteria - neither biological, nor mental, nor social.'

Flings poo to settle disputes: Check

Rips the nose off of someone who didn't bring birthday cake: Check

First action upon recieving hand held mirror is to inspect genitles: Check

I dunno guys, he might be right. Now I must run around my block of cubicles beating my chest and hooting to defend my territory, along with biting the girls who stray to close to the accounting side to enforce my status as alpha.

Ook.
posted by The Power Nap at 1:55 PM on May 8, 2007


I’m not so sure a chimp has to be a person in order to establish that you shouldn’t torture them. As far as I know there was an animal rights thing going on.
+ what hoverboards don't work on water & XQUZYPHYR sed
posted by Smedleyman at 1:56 PM on May 8, 2007


Thanks for the links, Abiezer. I was looking for them but couldn't remember them with enough specificity to find them. (I remembered the donkey as a pig, for example).
posted by unSane at 1:58 PM on May 8, 2007


The only problem with granting a chimp the same property rights as a human is that it cannot take care of or retain its property. However, that is the same problem regarding sufferers of trisomy 21. The comparison with abortion doesn't wash.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 2:04 PM on May 8, 2007


It's interesting that the same topic on Slashdot raised a chorus of "rights come with responsibilities!", which is the only time I can recall that crowd co-joining the two concepts.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:05 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only problem with granting a chimp the same property rights as a human is that it cannot take care of or retain its property. However, that is the same problem regarding sufferers of trisomy 21. The comparison with abortion doesn't wash.

I didn't see mention of property rights. I would imagine that “We’re not talking about the right to vote here.” would also imply they aren't talking about property rights either.

And XQUZYPHYR's comparison was more about the insidious methods and the political result (an established loophole), not necessarily that chimps rights and abortion are in any way related.
posted by effwerd at 2:36 PM on May 8, 2007


Why do we consider a severely mentally deficient human being a person, but not the most intelligent ape on the planet?

'Cause one is a human being and the other an ape.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:37 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


'Cause one is a human being and the other an ape.

So, if apes were MORE intelligent than human beings, you'd still be against considering them a person? Since species is all that matters?
posted by unSane at 2:41 PM on May 8, 2007


'Cause one is a human being and the other an ape.

'Cause one has a soul and the other doesn't?
posted by triolus at 2:44 PM on May 8, 2007


I'm not sure if the argument based on genetic similarity is a good one, since it doesn't correspond very well to our innate feelings with regards to giving rights.

I'll reiterate a description from Hofstadter that I think would mimic most people's intuitions about animal rights. There seems to be a continuum of ethical weight in people's minds, from rocks to bacteria to ants to mice to dogs to humans. People don't care at all about doing anything they want to hurt rocks, and hardly anyone would think that killing millions of bacteria was anything to feel guilty about. But as we get closer to the top end of the scale, it becomes more difficult to define what kind of rights creatures should have. Arguments about whether apes should have more rights than dogs are probably due to this ethical continuum.
posted by demiurge at 2:44 PM on May 8, 2007


effwerd, rtfa, and you cannot make the comparison with abortion rights unless you are going to be cognizant of the implications.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 2:45 PM on May 8, 2007


'Cause one has a soul and the other doesn't?

How do you know?
posted by unSane at 2:47 PM on May 8, 2007


There are clear-cut criteria for dividing humans from humanoid apes; to suggest otherwise denies the obvious.
I'd be interested to see you set these out, because past attempts to do so sometimes end up excluding children or the mentally incapacitated from human rights.
posted by Abiezer at 3:08 PM on May 8, 2007


I'd be interested to see you set these out

I'll have a crack at it: apes are apes, and humans are humans. Clear enough? Is there some gray area between ape and man that I'm not aware of? Bigfoot?
posted by The World Famous at 3:21 PM on May 8, 2007


That strikes me as a religious view and begging the question in the classic sense. Two different species all right, but both just meat on legs. Why should one matter more than the other?
My point really is that is an interesting question if you want to explore the ethical framework behind the law, as Singer does (link to his work above).
posted by Abiezer at 3:30 PM on May 8, 2007


That strikes me as a religious view and begging the question in the classic sense.

What's religious about it? It's not like atheists can't tell the difference between an ape and a human. Arguing that the differences between humans and apes are insignificant is the more religious view, I think.

Two different species all right, but both just meat on legs. Why should one matter more than the other?

Rational self interest of humans. Again, to argue that rights that apply to humans "should" apply equally to anything else made of meat involves a normative judgment (and what is that normative judgment based on?)

The ethical framework behind the law carries the implicit assumption that humans trump everything else. Why is that? Because the folks making the law are humans.

The law favors humans over animals because the law is made by humans for humans.
posted by The World Famous at 3:45 PM on May 8, 2007


Last week I came down from my tree to serve on a jury in an international property case over a byzantine scheme to defraud an elderly roebuck of his legacy, a corner of the Schwarzwald and an ice cream truck route in suburban Long Island: the roebuck's signature had been copied many times over to papers authorizing the sale of the land to a consortium of storks and to a false will cooked up by two frogs of nationality unknown.

I won't bore you with the details of the case, but the jury, consisting of several bonobos, a chimp, a baboon, two kinkajous, a musk ox, and myself, performed its duty pretty well. Sure, there were a few comportment issues in open court involving the chimp and the bonobos (familiarity, sadly, breeds contempt) and the musk ox slept through the first several hours of each day, but we were generally a model jury: the careful attention and natural inquisitiveness of some of the species represented weren't hindered by the usual parasite gobbling and genital fondling that you see in human courts every day.

On the tenth day, we retired to the jury room for deliberations, and everything changed. I guess the tension of the courtroom and the natural inclinations of some of the jurors were overwhelming; as soon as we closed the door, turned the lights down, put on some soft music, and broke out the cheese plates and appletinis, all hell broke loose. We all know baboons and kinkajous just love to get it on, and the kinkajou-to-baboon ratio favored the big fellow; a couple of drinks and he was howling, those long tongues were all over him. I won't pretend I didn't get into it: a couple of the bonobos and I had been sharing suggestive glances and wandering hands in the jury box, and we just started fucking right there by the door. I think the chimp got passed around by a few of the less subtle bonobos, and the musk ox was like Caligula, fucking us all and calling for more drinks in between rounds. The kinkajous eventually wandered away from the baboon, who settled into a couple hours of slow grind with the musk ox, and they darted their tongues in amongst the other couplings to delicious effect.

Thank goodness jury deliberation is a closed-door process, and open-ended, time-wise. I think we took three days to decide for the roebuck's heirs, and in the end, justice was served.

There's a tale for you, and a crock of butter for me.
posted by breezeway at 3:49 PM on May 8, 2007


Now that the problem of granting all humans their inalienable human rights has been solved once and for all ... perhaps it is time to consider granting similar rights to other species.

Oh ... wait.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:51 PM on May 8, 2007


It's only a matter of time now before some human somewhere (perhaps Austria?) expresses desire to be legally classified as an ape. (Or a quasar...)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:51 PM on May 8, 2007


The World Famous - then I think you get back to the original reason I asked monju-bosatsu to set out the differences that are so obvious; many of the criteria for personhood under the law, if not to be applied to animals, may also exclude certain humans. Which makes it an intersting question.
Or not, it seems, for you.
posted by Abiezer at 3:52 PM on May 8, 2007


> There seems to be a continuum of ethical weight in people's minds, from rocks to bacteria
> to ants to mice to dogs to humans.

Welcome to the Middle Ages, brother hominoids.
posted by jfuller at 3:57 PM on May 8, 2007


many of the criteria for personhood under the law, if not to be applied to animals, may also exclude certain humans.

Which criteria for personhood under the law are you referring to here? I was under the impression that, as a matter of law, all non-unborn human beings are natural persons (in the U.S.), and that there are also some additional categories of persons in addition to humans -- namely certain entities created by, made up of, or representing the interests of humans.

When U.S. courts are asked to determine whether a creature made of meat is a "person" or not, my understanding was that there's only one criterion: That they are a human (and not unborn). But maybe there are other criteria for determining personhood of a meat-creature that I'm not aware of.
posted by The World Famous at 4:02 PM on May 8, 2007


Perhaps I phrased that wrong; as is obvious, I'm not a legal scholar. The back-and forth between Singer and the judge I linked above will give you a better idea if you're interested.
posted by Abiezer at 4:13 PM on May 8, 2007


This was the other recent(ish) argument I'd read on the subject.
posted by Abiezer at 4:23 PM on May 8, 2007


That strikes me as a religious view and begging the question in the classic sense.

What's religious about it? It's not like atheists can't tell the difference between an ape and a human. Arguing that the differences between humans and apes are insignificant is the more religious view, I think.


Woo-hooo! Atheist thread now underway!

Carry on!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:34 PM on May 8, 2007


The exchange in the Posner link is interesting, and I do love Posner's willingness to engage in that sort of thing.
posted by The World Famous at 4:40 PM on May 8, 2007


Thought experiment for all you 'it's obvious' posters:

Thanks to technological advances in inter-species fertility, a human and an ape mate, and produce a baby which is half human, half ape. What rights does it have?
posted by unSane at 4:43 PM on May 8, 2007


flapjax - heh.
I guess I'm trying to formulate an answer to why I'm not opposed to the idea of granting rights to animals off the bat.
By religious I meant that "that they are a human" as the criteria for personhood seems to me to derive from what is some ultimately religious idea about the superiority of man to the animals.
If instead you get to the rationalist point, that since we make the laws, we get to decide who is a person (and can include things like corporations), then perhaps we may want to extend that definition, since it's a choice.
Not sure if I made that clear. Nor am I a strong advocate of granting animals rights in this way, just that I'd seen the arguments I linked a while back and thought they bear thinking about.
posted by Abiezer at 4:44 PM on May 8, 2007


I should also probably stop saying "personhood" as I don't know enough about the legal definition as it stands, and as a word it obviously implies not an animal, but you get the drift. Entity afforded legal rights.
posted by Abiezer at 4:52 PM on May 8, 2007


and thought they bear thinking about.

Oh, so now you're gonna bring bears into this? Would these be atheist bears?

OK, I'll stop now.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:53 PM on May 8, 2007


granting rights to animals off the bat.

Wait a minute. Bats too? You're going too far, man, too far.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:55 PM on May 8, 2007


Paws for thought, man, paws for thought; it's all I'm asking.
posted by Abiezer at 4:56 PM on May 8, 2007


Nuh-uh. I don't wanna hear any opposing viewpoints from any creatures without opposable thumbs.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:06 PM on May 8, 2007


'Cause one has a soul and the other doesn't?

How do you know?
posted by unSane at 2:47 PM on May 8 [+]
[!]


I don't.. That's the point.
posted by triolus at 5:07 PM on May 8, 2007


effwerd, rtfa, and you cannot make the comparison with abortion rights unless you are going to be cognizant of the implications.

I did read the articles, but that's neither here nor there; I still don't think you understand the distinction. If you read the comment in question again, the gist of it is to point out the underlying motives, not the argument on its face. In other words, the rights being debated are irrelevant, it is the ulterior motives that are of concern.

But who am I to say what XQUZYPHYR really meant? You may be right. My chimp is telling me to end this so we can go out and have a beer. He wants to drive, of course.
posted by effwerd at 5:16 PM on May 8, 2007


So, if apes were MORE intelligent than human beings, you'd still be against considering them a person?

They're not.

Since species is all that matters?

This is some lawyers trying to game a stupid law so the ape can be taken care of. If it was really so intelligent, it would get off its ass and get a job.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:17 PM on May 8, 2007


If any specie can destroy the planet like we can, they can have the same rights.

Might == Right
posted by The Power Nap at 5:25 PM on May 8, 2007


Rational self interest of humans. Again, to argue that rights that apply to humans "should" apply equally to anything else made of meat involves a normative judgment (and what is that normative judgment based on?)

The ethical framework behind the law carries the implicit assumption that humans trump everything else. Why is that? Because the folks making the law are humans.

The law favors humans over animals because the law is made by humans for humans.


This is certainly true but the scope of "rational self-interest of humans" can be rather flexible and has been expanding for some time now. It could be argued that how we treat other critters is directly related to the tenor of all human relations. And that a more respectful approach to the former might lead to more progress in the latter. Such an argument would certainly fit in with the arguments on behalf of the critter in this case, though I'm not so naive to think it would get them anywhere. I'd give it another forty to a hundred years.
posted by effwerd at 5:33 PM on May 8, 2007


It could be argued that how we treat other critters is directly related to the tenor of all human relations.

But that still puts humans' interests above those of animals -- it is an argument that we should treat animals better because it's better for us if we do.

Legal personhood for animals is a ridiculous argument to make in the Hiasl case (or any other). Do they want Hiasl to be personally legally liable for his actions? To be held to a "reasonable person" standard like everyone else? I admit it's entertaining to think of the funny lawsuits that would arise out of legal personhood for animals -- actions for battery and wrongful death brought by squirrels against cats, and that sort of thing. Movements to ban the sale of pets and beasts of burden, since it's a form of slavery . . .
posted by The World Famous at 5:42 PM on May 8, 2007


This has an eerie similarity to right-wing fanatics who don't want to simply ban abortion based on their opposition to the practice, but instead want fetuses wholly classified as "people" in order to establish them as having equal (or superior) authority over the very women carrying them in their wombs. I would likewise suggest that the people supporting this case don't even believe it; like the abortion people they just want to hammer in a loophole for an ulterior motive.

I don't know that this is an especially good analogy since many people on the other side of the fence see the refusal to class "the unborn" as people as a mere tactic in order to eliminate any possibility of rights and, as you say, perhaps not even believed by a majority of its proponents, but useful as a loophole. Many of us reasonable folks in the middle consider the claim that a fetus one day from birth isn't a human/person and the claim that a zygote is to be equally absurd.

Also, can no one see that this isn't about mere difference but relevant difference? Yes, we can tell the difference between humans and other primates. We can also tell the difference between men and women, and if you want to do some line-drawing, between the young and old, the disabled and able, white-skinned and dark. That doesn't mean that rights should flow along those lines. Furthermore, ability to argue one's case hasn't stopped us before, with children, with comatose patients (for better or worse) and so on.

But I wouldn't expect a serious discussion of this on MeFi and as usual, I am not disappointed.
posted by dreamsign at 6:01 PM on May 8, 2007


Oh, but this shoe-horning thing isn't on. If people wanted rights for chimps they would legislate them, and that isn't gonna happen.
posted by dreamsign at 6:02 PM on May 8, 2007


But I wouldn't expect a serious discussion of this on MeFi and as usual, I am not disappointed.

Won't anyone think of the apes?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 PM on May 8, 2007


OK, so here's what we do. We grant special rights to apes. Absolute rights to healthcare, to not be tortured, and to be protected against discrimination. Hell, even let them have gay marriage. We then enforce the shit out of that law. After that, people can petition to be considered apes and enjoy all those rights too!
posted by Eekacat at 6:13 PM on May 8, 2007


"But I wouldn't expect a serious discussion of this on MeFi..."

Perhaps if membership were opened up to apes the discussion might inch closer to the seriousness you find so lacking here.

Is there a PayPal Primates? Perhaps a bunch of bananas in lieu of the 5 bucks?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:16 PM on May 8, 2007


Just imagine all the false imprisonment lawsuits once the animals have legal rights as persons. Of course, if the people who are the legal guardians of the apes are the same people who control the enclosures in which captive apes are kept, then you've got a pretty serious conflict of interest, since the human bringing the false imprisonment lawsuit would also be the defendant in the action.

Old Yeller would have ended with the boy being tried and convicted of first-degree murder. Of course, Old Yeller killed some other animals before then, and he would have certainly been arrested before contracting rabies.

And I'll tell you one person who wouldn't be happy about animals being legally regarded as persons: Bob Barker. Neutering and spaying pets would be a serious offense under laws banning forced sterilization. Not to mention the emotional civil suits that would follow.

And imagine a jury made up of 50% humans and 50% primates. I wonder who those juries would tend to favor.

But before you go and say I'm just being absurd, consider that these examples are not absurd -- the proposal that animals be legally considered natural persons is absurd, and leads very easily and inevitably to these examples. When someone asks for animals to have the same rights as humans, they're asking for those same things -- that animals file a tax return every year; that animals have jury duty; that animals may sue other animals for the same torts, common law claims, and statutory claims that humans can sue humans for -- and that humans could sue animals for such things as breach of contract or fraud.
posted by The World Famous at 6:31 PM on May 8, 2007


The Power Nap writes "If any specie[s] can destroy the planet like we can, they can have the same rights. Might == Right"

If any race can capture, transport, and enslave Africans like we can, they can have the same rights.
posted by orthogonality at 6:33 PM on May 8, 2007


The next time I need a lawyer, I want an apex predator.
posted by taosbat at 6:35 PM on May 8, 2007


Can't they just find some eccentric rich whackjob to buy the monkey and take it home to his mansion?
posted by Charles Wilson at 6:36 PM on May 8, 2007


Oh, what a zoo of fallacies!

We've got begging the question, slippery slope and false dichotomy, when all along the only real reason to oppose rights for apes is what happens when they vote.
posted by klangklangston at 6:40 PM on May 8, 2007


But before you go and say I'm just being absurd, consider that these examples are not absurd -- the proposal that animals be legally considered natural persons is absurd, and leads very easily and inevitably to these examples. When someone asks for animals to have the same rights as humans, they're asking for those same things -- that animals file a tax return every year; that animals have jury duty; that animals may sue other animals for the same torts, common law claims, and statutory claims that humans can sue humans for -- and that humans could sue animals for such things as breach of contract or fraud.
posted by The World Famous at 6:31 PM on May 8


I wouldn't say you're being absurd. I'd say you're being fucking stupid. Can a non-human primate have legal rights without having the right to vote? Can we make distinctions along a continuum of rights? According to the fucking Asperger's cases in this thread, apparently not, because each word in our language means one and only one thing, and once you utter the magic word "rights," it means that we're all of a sudden trying to get chimps into the voting booth. I never cease to be disappointed by some of you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:39 PM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


I never cease to be disappointed by some of you.

Dad go home, you're drunk again and acting like a gorilla.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:49 PM on May 8, 2007


Well deep down everybody knows the whole 'specie' distinction is a joke. Silly scientists trying to impose their neat little categories on nature. It's like when everybody gets together to vote Pluto off the island. (Still bitter about that.) And for those scientists that dodge by speaking of "evolutionary groups," that just proves the rule. But this should be a simple case of citizenship and jurisdiction, end of story. This is why the whole neoliberal UN-inspired "universal human rights" thinking is so stupid. Next thing you know we'll be invading the Congo to stop the chimp genocide at the hands of jaguars.
posted by nixerman at 7:49 PM on May 8, 2007


Um Optimus Chyme, i think "The World Famous" was trying to be funny or something. It almost worked, and I'm inclined to give him a little credit for it.

Humor. . . You know, humor?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:09 PM on May 8, 2007


it means that we're all of a sudden trying to get chimps into the voting booth.

Repeat after me:

OUT OF THE JUNGLES AND INTO THE VOTING BOOTHS!!
OUT OF THE JUNGLES AND INTO THE VOTING BOOTHS!!
OUT OF THE JUNGLES AND...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:42 PM on May 8, 2007


I don't wanna hear any opposing viewpoints from any creatures without opposable thumbs.

Especially the dolphins.
posted by Charles Wilson at 8:43 PM on May 8, 2007


Can we make distinctions along a continuum of rights? According to the fucking Asperger's cases in this thread, apparently not, because each word in our language means one and only one thing, and once you utter the magic word "rights," it means that we're all of a sudden trying to get chimps into the voting booth.

Actually, the magic word uttered by Theuer was "person," which is a term of art and is what leads to all the ridiculousness. Making a distinction along a continuum of rights is exactly what should be done here. But Theuer simply chose his words very poorly, which leads to some comic results.
posted by The World Famous at 10:06 PM on May 8, 2007


I saw an interesting possible definition of personhood on slashdot just now: type II neuropsin production. The immediate question is - how smart will lab rats bred to express this chemical be? Philosophically, if we could grant intelligence to other animals ... should we?

For the case at hand, I think a potential solution is to declare apes within the jurisdiction to all be owned by the government of the jurisdiction under some appropriate department, and that physical possession and control of them by citizens is subject to renewable licensing, which would include a test of capacity and willingness to provide an acceptable standard of care for the animal. This licence could be sold, subject to the purchaser meeting the conditions to hold the licence; in effect, selling the ape, but with the benefit of a sturdy legislative safety net over the sale. That license could be revoked if the conditions were no longer able to be met, and issued temporarily or permanently to a suitably qualified ape zoo.

One effect of making apes property of the State would be to give all citizens and residents of the State standing to bring lawsuits regarding the ape (their collective property), and to some extent would simplify indemnifying ape-keepers for the actions of apes, if that's considered desirable. By stringent regulation of the market in apes, it also would drastically limit the adverse effects of free market conditions on apes; an ape-owner's bankruptcy, for example, would no longer leave a doubt as to the source of the ape's immediate support.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:56 PM on May 8, 2007


If any specie[s] can destroy the planet like we can, they can have the same rights.

Sepúlveda?
posted by dreamsign at 1:54 AM on May 9, 2007


"The book concludes by returning to the couple who had found the bottle, who are revealed to be apes themselves. They scoff at the unlikelihood of humans having been advanced enough to build spaceships, and conclude that the story must be someone's idea of a joke."
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:24 AM on May 9, 2007


Ramen or varelse?

Just starting book 3 for the first time...
posted by LordSludge at 9:07 AM on May 9, 2007


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