The Corner


Elephants Sue for Habeas Corpus

Here we go again. Having failed to get courts to declare chimpanzees “persons,” animal-rights fanatic lawyer Stephen Wise is suing as an attorney for elephants seeking a writ of habeas corpus. From the Washington Post story:

Minnie, Beulah and Karen are elephants who for decades have belonged to a family-owned, traveling zoo in Connecticut. Over the years, they’ve also been hired out for appearances in advertisements, movies and weddings.

And on Monday, they got a lawyer, though they did not ask for one. The prominent animal rights attorney Steven Wise filed a writ of habeas corpus petition on behalf of the elephants, arguing that they are “legal persons” with a right to bodily liberty and asking the Connecticut Superior Court to order their release to a sanctuary.

The point here isn’t to prevent abuse, if it exists. We have animal-welfare laws for that, and if pertinent, they should be invoked. In fact, Wise doesn’t contend that the elephants are being abused:

Wise emphasized that his arguments are about animal rights, not about animal welfare, and the petition does not dwell on the elephants’ living conditions.

Rather, Wise wants to prevent some animals now — chimps, elephants, dolphins — and eventually all animals from being the property of humans:

If the court granted a writ, it would be allowing the elephants to challenge the legality of their detention and acknowledging their “personhood.” That could usher in profound changes in legal status for animals, which are considered property in the eyes of the law.

You see, the “animal rights” movement isn’t the same thing as animal welfare. True animal-rightists disdain the welfare approach precisely because the latter view accepts human exceptionalism, which rightists bitterly deny.

Indeed, true animal-rights ideologues believe in human/animal moral equality and consider anything done to an animal to be the same as if done to a human. Hence in this view, cattle ranching is as odious as slavery, for example, PETA’s odious “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign.

Wise is trying to use the law to steal other people’s property and cost the elephant owners a lot off money in legal fees and costs.

Worse, he intends to “break the species barrier,” in animal-rights-movement parlance, with profoundly destructive consequences — including smashing our thriving off of animals and animal products and diluting the meaning of “rights” in the way a wild inflation destroys the value of currency.

Before you laugh this off, remember the radical court-imposed culture and legal changes of the last 50 years. It only takes one judge.

These suits will continue until judges start slapping Wise, PETA, and their ilk with substantial financial penalties for the litigious filing of frivolous cases. It’s more than past time for this subversion to end.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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