Some of my friends considered me a bit weird when I saw the movie "2001 a Space Odyssey" 18 times over a ten year period ......., but I can't hold a candle to THIS guy!
Now folks, ya might wonder why your humble servant would devote a lot of space to this next article, but take my word for it kids .........., this is gonna get ugly in the next few years:
Non-human persons? Animal rights get legal leg up. Like humans, many animals possess reason, language and emotions
The Nonhuman Right Project made headlines last month when a New York judge, seemingly in error, granted a writ of habeas corpus to two chimps the group has been trying to spring from a lab at Stony Brook University. (Brandon Wade/Associated Press)
Like humans, chimpanzees possess reason, language and emotions. They feel despair, joy and fear. Our DNA differs from theirs by just over one per cent.
- Is a chimpanzee a 'person'? A lawsuit could hold the answer
- Animal charter of rights drafted with policymakers in mind
- World's first 'talking' chimps find sanctuary near Montreal
'They're somewhere between furniture and a person.'- Lawyer Rebeka BrederThe NRP made headlines last month when a judge, seemingly in error, granted a writ of habeas corpus to two chimps the group has been trying to spring from a lab at Stony Brook University.
The writ — a legal bombshell that appeared to confer personhood on both animals — was quickly amended.
The judge crossed out the powerful legal phrase, but, however inadvertently, she seems to have set some wheels in motion. The case will be back in court on May 27.
The case is "probably the most progressive or advanced approach to dealing with this issue," says George Dvorsky, a Toronto-based science writer and ethicist. "The rubber has only hit the road in the last couple of years."
Fertile groundThe U.S. is fertile ground for these sorts of legal arguments, legal experts say; New York in particular as the state is among those that, for example, allows pets to be the beneficiaries of trusts.
That gives them a legal leg up that animals don't enjoy everywhere.
Other jurisdictions, though, are moving in this direction as well.
Germany amended its constitution to grant animals certain rights in 2002, and the Balearic Islands, an autonomous region of Spain, granted personhood to great apes in 2007.
India's ministry of forests and environment opined in 2013 that dolphins and whales should be treated as non-human persons and, last year, a judge in Argentina appeared to grant personhood to an orangutan, though observers say the full interpretation of that case has yet to be worked out.
'Their status is evolving'Nothing so dramatic has happened in Canada, but recent rulings could lay the groundwork for pro-personhood cases, according to B.C.-based animal rights lawyer Rebeka Breder.
"Animals might not yet have rights in the conventional sense ... but the very least that can be said is that their status is evolving," wrote judge W.S. Schlosser.
"Their status remains … a grey area, and a large one at that."
A lower court turned the case away. But in a lengthy dissenting opinion, Chief Justice of Alberta Catherine Fraser appeared to acknowledge the changing legal attitudes towards animals.
She concluded that the activists and, by extension, Lucy were "entitled to their day in court."
Adapting and expandingFraser's dissent was "a glimmer of hope" says Camille Labchuk, director of legal advocacy for the group Animal Justice. She says she's optimistic Canada's courts will one day accommodate more daring arguments like those of the NRP.
But even ardent proponents agree the process will be slow and fraught with resistance from both courts and the public.
Breder notes that it took a long time, for example, before women won recognition as legal persons in Canada. But the law eventually "caught up with … the societal uproar," she says.
"I'm optimistic that the law here in Canada will get to the point that it recognizes animals, and especially certain kinds of animals, should be deserving of legal status."
"If we can do it for corporations" — which are persons under the law — "there's no reason why a sentient living being can't be considered a person."
(Well, one thing for sure, Pam Anderson and her buddies a PETA will be happy with this news!)