Chimpanzees should be freed from zoos for the same reason that African Americans were freed from slavery, a group of progressive legal entrepreneurs working to level the courtroom rights of humans and animals claimed in a recent lawsuit.
The offensive comparison is a dangerous and self-serving effort by progressives to win legal rights for animals via courtroom decisions, said a fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Wash., Wesley J. Smith, an author and a critic of the claim that legal rights should be shared with animals.
The claim also makes a mockery of slavery’s real impact on people, Smith said.
“Can you image what Nat Turner would said if the treatment he got was treated as equivalent to the treatment of a chimpanzee?” he asked.
The comparison “is completely outrageous,” he added.
“We’re not saying blacks and chimpanzees are alike, except in their legal status,” said Steven Wise, the president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, which filed three cases in New York seeking the forced release of animals, including “Tommy,” a chimpanzee.
The legal team is just using whatever legal precedents they can find to win rights for animals, Wise told The Daily Caller.
“We are arguing that an entity that is autonomous, that chooses how to live its life, that is self aware, that is self-directing, has the qualities that the American courts… hold sacred” enough to deserve legal rights, he said.
If courts are willing to grant right to animals for reasons other than autonomy, the group would cite those other reasons, Wise said.
In this lawsuit, the progressives rely on a judge’s decision in 1772 to grant freedom to a black man because of the man’s autonomy. The progressives then argue that today’s judges should also grant freedom to chimpanzees because the chimps also have autonomy.
However, there’s a revolutionary anti-human claims concealed in this apparently simple comparison in a bizarre lawsuit, said Smith.
Americans’ evolved culture and democratic law are based on Western civilization’s consensus claim that humanity is exceptional, and that people get rights because they’re human, said Smith, author of “A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement.”
That claim is written into the Declaration of Independence, which says that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” Smith said.
In contrast, the culture says animals deserve respectful treatment from people, protection from abuse and decent welfare when kept as pets.
If multiple judges declare that rights are derived from a creature’s autonomy and intelligence, not from the basic fact that they are human, then people who lack autonomy also lack those rights, such as the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Smith said.
All humans start their lives as developing babies without those capacities, and many humans are temporarily incapacitated during their lives.
If “people can lose those rights by losing their capacities, then no one is safe,” Smith said.
In Europe, sick and morose people are already being killed under “assisted suicide” laws, and there’s growing pressure in the United States to cut healthcare costs by truncating treatment for old or sick people, he said.