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The Courts Science

Lawsuits Seek To Turn Chimpanzees Into Legal Persons 641

sciencehabit writes "This morning, an animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a lawsuit in a New York court in an attempt to get a judge to declare that chimpanzees are legal persons and should be freed from captivity. The suit is the first of three to be filed in three New York counties this week. They target two research chimps at Stony Brook University and two chimps on private property, and are the opening salvo in a coordinated effort to grant 'legal personhood' to a variety of animals across the United States. If NhRP is successful in New York, it would upend millennia of law defining animals as property and could set off a 'chain reaction' that could bleed over to other jurisdictions, says Richard Cupp, a law professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and a prominent critic of animal rights. 'But if they lose it could be a giant step backward for the movement. They're playing with fire.'"
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Lawsuits Seek To Turn Chimpanzees Into Legal Persons

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  • Re:The Vote (Score:4, Informative)

    by crioca ( 1394491 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @06:28PM (#45578867)

    Millions of people vote who don't pay income taxes. I guess these apes will probably be voting for Democrats (aka GimmeDats) just like those millions.

    Hate to break it to you bub, but Red states on the whole take more government money and pay less in taxes.

  • Re:food (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rary ( 566291 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @06:53PM (#45579123)

    Lots of people claim that there are studies showing that plants "cry out in pain", though not surprisingly no one ever seems to have a link to a reputable study to go with that claim.

    Here's a more thorough response [] than I'm willing to take the time to type.

  • Re:food (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @07:12PM (#45579307)

    " kill them in a humane way"

    No. We kill them in a *cheap* way. Humane too, providing it doesn't conflict with the 'cheap' part. There is huge commercial pressure to make meat (and related products) as cheap as possible - that's why battery hens and the feedlot were invented.

    The standard method of disposal for live male chicks (A byproduct of egg manufacture - half the chicks are useless as egg-layers) is to drop them live into a meat grinder. Why do this? Is it because factory owners are sadists? No, it's simply because that's the cheapest way to dispose of them. It would just cost too much to have a human painlessly execute each one, or even to waste factory space and maintenance costs on an elaborate nitrogen chamber setup. Dropping them live into the grinder is the most cost-effective means. Those feeling guilty can at least be satisfied that their pain, though doubtless severe, will also be brief.

    Religious slaughter excepted. That's a bit of an odd case, as the rituals were set in stone millenia ago and resist alteration.

  • by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @07:18PM (#45579375)

    It's well documented that some animals have the mental capacity of a typical 3 year old human child. (See Alex the african grey parrot, Koko the gorilla, etc.)

    Not to mention dogs, i.e. Chaser the border collie who's been taught over 1000 words.

    (mute volume) []

  • Re:Jerry Was A Man (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @07:32PM (#45579515)

    "Heinlein saw this coming in 1947."

    No, he didn't.

    Heinlein invisaged chimpanzees genetically enhanced to be more intelligent and more like humans.

    Chimpanzees are not human. They don't think like humans, they don't behave like humans, they aren't physically built like humans.

    Of all these things, probably the most important is that they don't think like humans. At all. Chimpanzees do not understand non-verbal communications even as much as dogs do. They're just not people.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @07:36PM (#45579541)

    > They are treated as legal persons for very good reasons that go back hundreds of years for certain purpose.

    Total nonsense. Corporations became legal persons OVER time based on greed TO LIMIT LIABILITY. Corporations want all the benefits and do everything in their power to avoid having to pay for them.

    Date Decision, Legal Right Affirmed
    1889 "Minneapolis and St. L. R. Co. v. Beckwith", Right for judicial review on state legislation
    1893 "Noble v. Union River Logging R. Col", Right for judicial review for rights infringement by federal legislation
    1906 "Hale v. Henkel", Protection "against unreasonable searches and seizures (4th)
    1908 "Armour Packing C. v. United States", Right to trial by jury (6th)
    1922 "Pennsylvania Coal Co. V. Mahon", Right to compensation for government takings
    1962 "Fong Foo v. United States", Right to freedom from double jeopardy (5th)
    1970 "Ross v. Bernhard", Right to trial by jury in civil case (7th)
    1976 "Virginia Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Consumer Council)", Right to free speech for purely commercial speech (1st)
    1978 "First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti", Right to corporate political speech (1st)
    1986 "Pacific Gas and Electric Company v. Public Utility Commn of California", Right against coerced speech (1st)

    * A Short History of the Corporation []

    Also see: []

    Specifically, "The Corporation complete film transcript (PDF)" [] []

  • by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @07:37PM (#45579559) Homepage Journal
    Marriage is a contract in modern law, not just a ritual; this is why informed consent matters. It has been shown that chimps and gorillas have intelligence comparable in many regards to that of a child []; most importantly it is still debates as to whether or not they have theory of mind. Thus, no sex and no contracts, and no marriage. Alimony, for example, is problematic.
  • Re:The Vote (Score:5, Informative)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @07:38PM (#45579565)
    When the U.S. Constitution was ratified it contained a clause which counted slaves as 3/5ths of a person for purposes of allocating representatives in the House of Representatives. This was a hard fought compromise because the slave owners wanted the slaves to count as a full person and the proto-abolitionists did not want slaves counted at all (since the political power which flowed from them being counted would be exercised by the slave-owners).
  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @07:44PM (#45579627)

    To add to my previous point ...

    First, a corporation is effectively a psychopath []

    Secondly, Corporations pay no death tax (estate tax) because corporations NEVER die. That fact right there is a HUGE problem. It slowly strips the wealth (power) out of individuals and consolidates it -- that is total anathema to the original intent of State and Federal separation and balance of power.

    Thirdly, Corporations at one time were PROHIBITED from owning another corporations; again to PREVENT consolidation of power.

    Fourth, Corporations can effectively print their own currency via stocks.

    Fifth, the value of a Company's stock is IMAGINARY worth. The fact that a company's value can fluctuate wildly over night means the value is a total sham.

    Sixth, quoting []

    âoeCorporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.â

    Sound like a protester railing against the World Trade Organization? Think again. These are the words of a successful corporate lawyer who represented railroads before becoming president of the United States. They resonate for many people in this Era of Enron, when huge hot-stock corporations have cooked deals with the aid of their auditors and Wall Street bankers to enrich executives at the expense of their employees and shareholders, when corporate lobbyists and campaign donors so often have their way despite the interests of the voters, and when Federal Reserve figures show that the top 1 percent of U.S. households controls 38 percent of the nationâ(TM)s wealth. But these words were [purportedly] written in an 1864 letter, by Abraham Lincoln.*

    Today, Lincolnâ(TM)s prophetic letter turns up more than 1,100 times in an Internet search, largely in writing that provides evidence that concern about corporate power is spreading rapidlyâ"even though the issue is far from popular in our corporate-owned news media. The number of books on the topic is growing in number and quality. And a new breed of activists is winning converts to the idea that while vast corporations have helped fuel unprecedented prosperity they have also overpowered âoegovernment of the people, by the people, and for the people,â to quote another memorable Lincoln phrase. Corporationsâ(TM) power over the government is at the root of a wide array of issues of deep concern to Unitarian Universalists, including campaign finance reform, the growing gap between rich and poor, environmental degradation, globalization, and whether democracy itself has been reduced to a mere charade or a sideshow in a global bazaar.

    The best thing about America? Capitalism! The worst thing about America? Capitalism!

  • Re:Jerry Was A Man (Score:4, Informative)

    by drawfour ( 791912 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @03:32AM (#45581665)
    Yeah, imagine if those chimps could learn something completely human, like maybe sign language. No way could they learn a human construct like language. Oh wait, they did []. I didn't take your word for it, because your word, simply put, is wrong.
  • by nuckfuts ( 690967 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @03:47AM (#45581703)

    Chimpanzees are not human. They don't think like humans, they don't behave like humans, they aren't physically built like humans. Of all these things, probably the most important is that they don't think like humans.

    The point is not whether chimps are human; it's whether they are persons.

  • Re:food (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @06:22AM (#45582089) Homepage Journal

    Well, perhaps in the US, but in Europe we do have standards and they do add considerable cost. When the standards are not met the meat cannot legally be sold here. Dropping live chickens into a meat grinder is definitely illegal here. Animal welfare in the US seems to be quite poor in comparison.

    Religious slaughter is illegal in some EU countries, but unfortunately legal in the UK.

Real wealth can only increase. -- R. Buckminster Fuller