Human Exceptionalism

Now It’s Real: “Nature Rights” Finally Makes New York Times Print Coverage (in the Magazine)

The Gray Lady has now officially noticed in print the radical attacks on human exceptionalism represented by Ecuador’s granting rights to nature and Spain on the verge of passing the Great Ape Project. No, of course it doesn’t frame it that way! Indeed, the story is rather matter-of-fact:

The precise scope of nature’s rights is unclear. Referring to Pachamama, an indigenous deity whose name roughly translates as “Mother Universe,” the text puts less emphasis on defending specific species than on the rights of ecosystems writ large. And it is uncertain how, exactly, a country as poor as Ecuador can protect those rights–though observers expect to see a raft of new lawsuits against oil and gas companies.

Even so, it is a milestone for environmental organizations that seek to rewrite our treatment of nature. In fact, one such group, the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, helped draft the new protections in the Ecuadorean Constitution. The C.E.L.D.F. posits that most laws define nature as someone’s property, forcing environmentalists to prove extensive damage before regulations can be put in place. A rights-based approach, it argues, reverses that burden, putting the health of ecosystems first.

And that will lead to tremendous trouble for the poor and the dramatic undermining of economies–not to mention reducing the intrinsic moral importance of “rights” the way wild inflation does the value of currency.

The writer also notices other attacks on human exceptionalism we have discussed here at SHS:

Ecuador isn’t alone in elevating the sanctity of nature: this year, the Spanish Parliament granted the right to be spared “abuse, torture and death” to great apes, and an ethics panel appointed by the Swiss Parliament called for protecting plants’ “reproductive ability.” As a consequence, Swiss researchers must now apply for approval before conducting scientific research on even the smallest of flora. Ecuador’s new Constitution may go much further, arguably granting broad protections to simple life forms like algae and even bacteria. After all, who knows what they might evolve into?

Well, nobody wants to “torture” apes. The real problem with the GAP is that it makes humans, bonobos, gorillas, and chimpanzees together into a “community of equals.” Talk about missing the forest for the apes in the trees!

When stories about these matters appear in the MSM, which are rare, they are always mildly reported and usually approached from a bemused perspective–thereby assuring that most people will remain in the dark about their import. And that really bothers me. These radical proposals are subversive to the flourishing of human rights and the prospering of the human community. They are completely undermining the moral values of Western Civilization–and thus constitute an important, but little known, front in the ongoing coup d’ culture. As such, it seems to me that the media owes it to the people to raise the visibility of these stories and explore far more deeply what the proponents want, why opponents are alarmed, and the potential import and consequences to humankind that will result from granting rights to nature, diminishing humans to the moral status of apes, and granting individual dignity to plants.

Still, I suppose we should be grateful whenever the MSM is able to rouse itself to mention these matters at all, although it is months behind SHS. Perhaps that is why it is known as the dinosaur media.


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