Human Exceptionalism

No Orangutan Writ of Habeas Corpus

How does one type the words–”Organugan writ of hapeas corpus”–without the laptop exploding.

It should be ludicrous. But animal rights activists are suing, or planning to sue, all over the place looking for just one judge willing to go radical and grant one animal “personhood,” Here in New York, for example, the NonHuman Rights Project has brought a similar suit, to a laudatory cover story in the New York Times Magazine

A Brazilian judge came close a few years ago to granting a chimp the Great Writ. But the animal died,, forcing the disappointed judge to dismiss the case as moot.

Now, a Brazilian judge has thankfully said no to making an orangutan a “person.” From the Merco Press story:

“Sandra is in captivity, living in absolute solitude in the Buenos Aires city zoo” argued AFADA, which requested the orangutan be transferred to a sanctuary to preserve the species. “She is being treated as a prisoner and has to suffer the presence of the public staring at her”.

AFADA said in the presentation that it was appropriate “to question the deprivation of liberty of the primate, based on illegitimacy and the acknowledgement she is a non human person”. The animals-rights activists’ organization anticipated they would be appealing the ruling and demanded Sandra’s protection on “at least three basic rights, the right to life, the right not to be tortured or ill treated physically or psychologically”.

Those putative rights come from Peter Singer’s, The Great Ape Project.

Previosly, PETA sued Sea World seeking to have orcas declared “slaves.” The case was tossed out, but only because the judge ruled only humans can slaves, based on pre Civil War definitions describing African-American slaves as persons.  

So, for now, human exceptionalism has not been hit with a sledge hammer. But animal rights anti-humanists will keep trying. And very rich and powerful people keep donating tens of millions for the cause.

Of course, human exceptionalism supports proper animal welfare practices as a duty. But proper care of animals isn’t the ultimate goal of animal rightists and utilitarians like Peter Singer, rather, their goal is to reduce us to just another animal in the forest.

So sleep well, tonight. Sandra the orangutan should be cared for properly. But she remains legally what she is: by definition, not a person.

But don’t sleep too well: Remember: It takes only one judge wanting to go down in history.


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