Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

PETA Outraged: Researchers Want To Conduct Experiments on Gorillas in the Wild!


Animal liberationists are mobilizing against plans to conduct Ebola virus research on gorillas in the wild. "This shocking plan to use gorillas so crassly reflects the supremicist mindset of human beings and demonstrates why it would be better if humankind had never evolved," an outraged Ingrid Newkirk, executive director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), asserted in a press release. "When are human beings going to realize that a rat, is a pig, is a dog, is a gorilla, is a boy?" she asked. "If anyone has ever looked into the warm, brown eyes of a gorilla, they will know immediately that the gorilla only wants to maintain his or her family, engage in gentle play, and tread gently on the planet. If only humans were so benevolent."

Actually, I made some of that up. Gorillas may indeed be researched upon to combat the Ebola virus. But there was no angry PETA press release issued. Why? Well, the research is not intended to help sick people, but to prevent gorillas from dying in a raging Ebola epidemic that threatens the apes' continued existence. In other words, human beings are willing to risk their lives facing the dangers of the wild and potential Ebola infection in order to test a vaccine to thwart natural selection and keep gorillas from being wiped out. This is in keeping with human exceptionalism and our perceived moral duty to protect endangered species, an attitude no other known species in the universe has ever, once, demonstrated.

Post Script: My fictional press release contains nothing that Ingrid Newkirk has not actually stated in other venues. She has called the human use of animals the same evil "supremicism" carried out by the Nazis. She did say, "a rat, is a pig, is a dog, is a boy." And she told a writer that the world would be a better place without humans in it. (Source: New Yorker, "The Extremist," April 14, 2003, pp. 57-58.)


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