In the world of human rights and animal rights, forget the terms "republican" and "democrat" for a few paragraphs to apply reasonable logic and intellectual validation to a contemporary crisis. How can Tommy the chimpanzee be transformed to a legal person to be liberated from his miserable captivity?
The Nonhuman Rights Project is a not-for-profit organization crusading to identify dismal captivities of nonhuman animals and free these animals from their anguish in human containment. While acknowledging various "animal rights" laws in existence, the Project seeks to go further.
States the Nonhuman Rights Project: "Our goal is to breach the legal wall that separates all humans from all nonhuman animals. "
In early December of 2013, the group has filed suit in Fulton County Court in the state of New York on behalf of Tommy, the Chimpanzee; a caged captive resident of Gloversville, New York. Several other chimpanzees will soon be added to the Project's filings. The lawsuits "ask the judge to grant the chimpanzees the right to bodily liberty and to order that they be moved to a sanctuary" using the common law writ of habeas corpus, through which somebody who is being held captive, for example in prison, seeks relief by having a judge call upon his captors to show cause as to why they have the right to hold him."
The Project's first step is to declare that nonhuman animals are not "things". The Project points out that "In Western law, every nonhuman animal has always been regarded as a legal "thing'". Easily, the general population can concur that since animals live, breathe, show affection, and feel pain and misery they should not be handled like an inanimate "thing" in court.
The Project's next step is to appeal to Americans' need for equal rights in calling to mind the abolition of slavery in the course of US history. They note the case of American slave James Somerset, who in the 1770's had his legal status changed from a legal thing to a legal person, so gaining his freedom in " A clear case as to why these cognitively complex, autonomous beings have the basic legal right to not be imprisoned. " Through intellectual logic and degrees of separation, the Project paves a persuasive path for ape to become human in a court of law.
An animal is not a "thing". A human is not a "thing". When a human was declared not a "thing" in court, he was awarded his freedom because of it. Tommy the chimpanzee is not a "thing", so the next logical step is: Tommy the chimpanzee has a right not to be imprisoned which will be awarded via personhood since Tommy is not a "thing".
One step at a time, Tommy gains his personhood, his freedom and" does it end there? Or, does Tommy, with person hood, get a Social Security Number? How can one with legal personhood in the United States not somehow qualify for a Social Security Number?
At this point, one's head begins to spin: in a few logical steps we have a chimpanzee being a person. What?
It is time for a reality check. Let us break the chain of degrees of separation. Let us declare a dead end in the persuasive path of the liberals.
Let us draw a hard and fast line in the "logic" and drop anchor to prevent drift.
We all know that chimpanzees "possess complex cognitive abilities" but just how does that make them human? The answer is that it does not, regardless of what goes on in their heads.
I believe that humans have the moral obligation to treat animals ethically out of respect, not a moral obligation to blur the lines between human and animal so "justice is blind". I believe we have a moral obligation to KEEP the legal wall that separates all humans from all nonhuman animals.
Humans have the moral obligation to treat animals ethically because humans are the species that is capable of holding animals in captivity, not the other way around. It is illogical to conclude that caging an animal makes him/her human, and it does not make the caged animal legally entitled to "PERSONhood". For the liberals at Nonhuman Rights Project, the anchor point to heed human/animal distinction has drifted far, far from the norm, and they hope for the rest of the world to detach from any moral anchor point as well, to support their charge.