Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Chimpanzees granted legal status as persons.

What does it mean to be a person? According to the Oxford Dictionary of English: "Person;1 a human being regarded as an individual; (in legal or formal context) an unspecified individual."(Soanes & Stevenson, 2005)
Animal rights has long been a contentious issue on both sides of the moral and ethical fence. Animals have for along time in mans history have had very little in the way of legal protection from abuse and misuse. This is not to say that there have not been established rules concerning animals. For example there are religious laws found in both the Bible and the Koran that dictate how animals are to treated that concern beasts of burden, and the proper way in which to slaughter an animal for food.

In modern times it has become a more conscious issue. Most everyone is aware that for century's animals have been used in science to find answers for all types of questions. These experiments did not consider the animals rights. Which is to say, the animal used in the experiment was not asked if he/she would consent to the experiment. They simply had no choice.

As science learned more about the biology of the earths discovered inhabitants, we have learned that we are all not so different from one another. we all have a language in which we communicate and we have greater similarities that now  makes it harder to ignore the  line that we had once been seen as defined. The line is now becoming a little fuzzy.

Very recently an organization known as Nonhuman Rights Project has won the first part in a legal battle concerning two Chimpanzees( Leo and Hercules) being used for Bio-medical research at Stony Brook University. The University will be represented by the New York attorney general.

Now, I sat and thought about this, and it didn't take long to imagine the tidal wave of issues that could arise from this. If, for example, the Nonhuman Rights Project were to win this fight, then the Chimpanzees would most likely be remanded to Save the Chimps, an organization that takes care of these animals in a preserve. Now before you celebrate this, think about this...I'm willing to wager a bet that as soon as that were to happen, someone will say "Not so Fast! Leo and Hercules are now persons; you cant cage them up in a preserve! They need to be set free!" Laughable you might say, but most likely a reality, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to open the door on who has rights and what they might be, don't be surprised when your cat , Mr. Fluffy is convicted of murder of Mr Mortimer Mouse, a person who was dis-enfranchised and just happened to be living in the wall of your home. a home where Mr. Fluffy is also a resident.

It's possible you may think me being foolish, but if you had been alive a hundred years ago and someone had told you that this day concerning Leo and Hercules would soon arrive, what would have been your reaction then? For now, please feel free to do as I have done and let your mind take this idea and run with it. Let me know where you end up.


Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (Eds.). (2005). Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd,REV. ed.). London: Oxford University Press. Retrieved April 22, 2015

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