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The Courts Science

Chimpanzee "Personhood" Lawsuits Fail In New York Courts 370

Posted by timothy
from the politicians-still-considered-people dept.
sciencehabit writes "Three lawsuits filed last week that attempted to achieve 'legal personhood' for four chimpanzees living in New York have been struck down. The suits, brought by the animal rights group the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), targeted two chimps on private property and two in a research lab at Stony Brook University in New York. NhRP says it will now appeal each lawsuit to a higher court, and that it will continue its campaign to grant chimpanzees, dolphins, and other cognitively advanced animals legal personhood nationwide."
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Chimpanzee "Personhood" Lawsuits Fail In New York Courts

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  • by hirundo (221676) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @11:04AM (#45670411)

    This isn't about giving power to animals. It's about giving power to guardians of animals. Just like organized religion is about giving power not to God, but to priests.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @11:40AM (#45670825)

    To bad you got modded down as a troll because actually you are more or less correct - they are comparing chimp captivity to slavery. From a summary about the case:

    n each case, NhRP is petitioning judges with a writ of habeas corpus, which allows a person being held captive to have a say in court. In a famous 1772 case, an English judge allowed such a writ for a black slave named James Somerset, tacitly acknowledging that he was a person—not a piece of property—and subsequently freed him. The case helped spark the eventual abolition of slavery in England and the United States. Wise is hoping for something similar for the captive chimps.

    The irony is that their proposed solution, if they win is to house the chimps in a preserve in Florida. The claim it would be like the Native American reservations. However, there people are free to come and go, but the chimps would not have that right, so effectively, they would still be captives. They would just have different masters/caretakers.

    I guess for the NhRP different classes of persons are entitled to different rights. Then again, that is pretty much what slave owners thought, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @12:21PM (#45671251)

    It's about people trying to force their extreme beliefs on others. If they were seriously interested in the humane treatment of animals, they would be pushing for tighter restrictions on mistreatment and better living conditions of corporate farm animals. At least put the court tax dollars to some better use than trying to push your "religion" on people.

    That's what the plantation owners said about abolitionists' views on slavery. That they were wasting time and resources, trying to free the slaves. That if they really cared about the slaves they would fight for better living conditions and restrictions on mistreatment by their owners. That a slave wouldn't know what to do with freedom if it ever was obtained because it was just a dumb farm animal who needed the protection and care of its owner. I'm not saying this is the same thing, but your argument is creepily close to theirs.

  • Re:intelligence (Score:2, Interesting)

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @12:39PM (#45671445)

    All human beings are persons. All persons are human beings. There is no gray area or sliding scale. It is as simple as that.

    The law doesn't agree. See "corporate personhood". If a corporation can be recognized as a legal person in the eyes of the law, why not an intelligent animal? Chimps are good candidates, so are dolphins or elephants. Guess which animal is next on the list of intelligence: pigs. Imagine what would happen if pigs had civil rights all of a sudden, where killing a pig would bring a murder charge. A lot of money would be thrown at politicians to make sure that would never happen. Regardless of how intelligent they are, pigs also happen to taste pretty good so they're damned. Chimps are lucky we don't eat them.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:28PM (#45671987) Homepage Journal

    Exactly, which is why I posted a link to Heinlein's Jerry Was A Man [] in the first slashdot story about this. Heinlein, like these lawyers, was a racist (although in his defense, everyone was in 1947).

  • by dryeo (100693) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:48PM (#45672879)

    Orangutans are smarter. A zoo keeper once described the differences between the great apes. If you give a screwdriver to a gorilla, it jumps back in fear and will then tentatively take the screwdriver and try to eat it. A chimp will take it and try to use it for everything except unscrewing things. An Orangutan will take it, act stupid and hide it and when no-one is looking, use it to disassemble the cage.
    Actually they aren't that smart. One who had figured out how to open his cage using a piece of wire, some cardboard and brute strength was smart enough to hide his actions from the zoo keeper but didn't stop to think that the intern working by the door would tell on him.
    Google orangutan zoo escapes for examples.

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