Human Exceptionalism

Swiss Reject Lawyers for Animals

As I have noted on more than one occasion, animal rights activists want animals to be granted “standing” to bring lawsuits.  This radical change would serve two convergent purposes: It would allow liberationists to bring case after case against animal industries–since they would be the real litigants–as it powerfully promoted animal “personhood,” obliterating human exceptionalism by creating a moral human/animal legal equivalence.

Today, in good news on the animal lawyers front, Switzerland rejected granting  animals the constitutional right to legal representation when animal abuse is charged.  From the story:

The result was emphatic: Swiss voters don’t think abused animals need to have their own lawyers. It’s a proposal that would never even come near a referendum in other countries, but the measure’s defeat Sunday disappointed animal rights advocates, who say Switzerland’s elaborate animal welfare laws aren’t being enforced. Opponents of the proposal, including key farmers’ groups and the government, had argued that existing laws are sufficient and appointing special lawyers to act on behalf of animals would be unnecessarily expensive for taxpayers. “The Swiss people have clearly said our animal protection laws are so good we don’t need animal lawyers,” Jakob Buechler, a lawmaker for the centrist Christian People’s Party, told Swiss television SF1. Official results showed that 70.5 percent of voters cast their ballot against the proposal to extend nationwide a system that has been in place in Zurich since 1992. Some 29.5 percent of voters backed the proposal, with turnout at just over 45 percent.

It’s alarming that nearly 30% voted for the notion. Animals shouldn’t have lawyers or be granted constitutional rights under any circumstances.  Indeed, the Wall Street Journal did a report on Switzerland’s only animal lawyer recently, and it tells a warning tale. From the story:

Last month, Antoine Goetschel went to court here in defense of an unusual client: a 22-pound pike that had fought a fisherman for 10 minutes before surrendering. Mr. Goetschel is the official animal lawyer for the Swiss canton of Zurich, a sort of public defender who represents the interests of pets, farm animals and wildlife. He wound up with the pike as a client when animal-welfare groups filed a complaint alleging animal cruelty in the fish’s epic battle with an amateur angler…

The majority of Mr. Goetschel’s cases relate to abuse of household pets. He secured a 1,050-franc fine for a woman who abandoned two kittens in the street soon after buying them. In one 2008 case, he represented some fish that had been placed in a pool during a game show during which contestants tried to catch them by hand, allegedly violating Swiss law requiring that animals be treated with dignity. “If you treat fish like objects in a computer game, their dignity is hurt,” Mr. Goetschel argued. A court, however, ruled that Zurich was the wrong jurisdiction for the case, and the defendants were subsequently cleared.

But opponents have seized on another fish tale—Mr. Goetschel’s defense of the big pike— to argue that a mandatory public defender could make for absurd results. The case revolved around the idea that the pike suffered excessively because of how long it took for the angler to reel it in. Mr. Goetschel lost the case last month, but is considering an appeal. Any further court action would come too late for the pike, which has been eaten.

It would be much worse here than representing dead fish.  “Animal standing” would give liberationists the right to sue directly.  And with that power, they would wreak havoc on all animal industries, as I pointed out in this article at NRO.