Human Exceptionalism

NATURE Has Enforceable Rights?

I recently spoke at Gonzaga Law School about the animal rights movement. I trust a good time was had by all. Now, I find out that it isn’t just animals that are supposed to have rights, but nature itself (herself?).

This was sent to me by a friend about an upcoming event at Gonzaga:

Rights of Nature

The Center for Justice is hosting the “Rights of Nature” speaking tour on April 16th at the

Barbieri Court Room at Gonzaga Law School at 7:00 pm.

“Rights of Nature” recognizes the legally enforceable right

of natural communities and ecosystems.

Guest Thomas Linzey will be speaking at the event as part of a nation-wide tour with Cormac Cullinan, a South African lawyer and author of Wild Law.

Cullinan will speak about the need to build a new legal structure of law anchored on the recognition that natural systems possess inherent rights, and will speak about Thomas Berry’s influence on his work. Linzey will speak about “on the ground” work being done in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in which municipal governments have begun adopting local laws that recognize the legally enforceable rights of natural communities and ecosystems.

I don’t know anything about this theory. But here’s the thing: We are in danger of watering down the concept of rights to the point that the term is becoming meaningless. Rights usually imply responsibilities, of which nature, animals, and ecosystems have none. Only human beings have moral responsibilities.

Besides, if “nature” were recognized as having “inherent rights,” it would be balderdash. What would really be going on would be the law granting activists of a certain political stripe the power to enforce their ideological views about the environment and ecosystems on the rest of society. Whatever these views and policies would be, mother nature would be quite oblivious and indifferent to all the goings on.

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