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Chimps Not Persons, Even in Europe

A breath of legal fresh air from Austria: the high court there has rejected the notion that a chimpanzee can be considered a person for the purposes of receiving personal gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I think the impulse that drove the animal rights group to get these chimpanzees to be treated as persons in law is laudable but human fetuses can’t even be considered as persons for any legal purposes here in America. It would seem to me that human rights ought to be extended to, well, you know, HUMANS before we extend them to other species.

Just my opinion…but then again, apparently not JUST my opinion, now that I think of it…

I am surprised, though. I didn’t expect this much common sense from a European court.

But of course, the idea that human rights should be extended to all humans before extending them to the non-human species of the world is not self-evident to all. It seems that the next move by the animal rights group is to contact the…wait for it…European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the chimps. I’m taking no bets over what THAT court might do.

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18 Responses to “Chimps Not Persons, Even in Europe”

  1. Refuse to take the case if it’s got any sense.

    I also take a little offence at the suggestion that Europeans make insane decisions (ok, more than the US does). We’re not the ones who elected George Bush, remember? ;-)

    Actually, given the oft made comparison between him and other members of the primate family, you could use that fact that chimps should have human rights. I mean, if they can get to be President… ;-)

  2. I apologize for the offense. Certainly American courts have handed down their share of insanity.

    I still wouldn’t bet spit that the European Court of Human Rights won’t take the case or rule in the chimps’ favor. It’s in Brussels, right? Home of the 500 (or some odd) page European Constitution that it’s main author admitted it was deliberately written in such a way that no one could possibly understand it? ;^)

  3. Sorry. I guess it’s in Strasbourg, France. The fact that, according to Wikipedia, the court is vastly swamped with cases, some taking up to five years to be heard, and that the court has declared inadmissible some 6255 of the 7315 cases that were put before it between 1 November 2003 and 29 February 2004 makes me fairly confident that the case will be dismissed out of hand.

    It does make me wonder what’s going on in Europe. More than 7,000 cases of alleged human rights violations in four months time? The fact that so many were invalidated might mean that Europeans have come to think of the slightest, um, slight as an affront to their human rights. Are Europeans that touchy?

    I hope I don’t wind up before the court for suggesting that European courts lack common sense. ;^)

  4. Yes. Sadly, many of my fellow Europeans are that touchy. Pretty much every inconvenienc e seems to be regarded as an assault on human rights.

    And I’m not really offended. With all the scorn and approbrium I heap on the US, I’d have to be a hypocrite of political proportions not to be able to take some gentle ribbing in return.

  5. Sadly?!?!?! You ought to be damned well glad that Europeans are “touchy!” I’d certainly rather that than what we have here - a bunch of stupid, ambivalent, apathetic lemmings. If ALL rights are not recognized and supported then ALL rights are in danger of violation.


  6. Jersey called me “stupid”, “ambivalent”  , “apathetic” and a lemming. I’m taking him to the Internationa l Human Rights Court and suing him for hundreds of millions of dollars. He’s offended my right not to be called derogatory names, he’s caused all manner of hatred against me as an American and he’s hurt my feelings. Waaaaaaaaaaa h!

    I hope he’s got a good lawyer because the I’m taking him for all he’s got!

  7. Gee, Craig, you always seemed more concerned with the right to have a profane bumper sticker or to say something rude in public than the right to be free of government spying and intrusion so make up your mind, will ya’?


  8. Hey, I’m just tryin’ ta be what you say you prefer…a nation of touchyy, litigious, wankers who think anything they don’t want to hear constitutes a shredding of the Constitution .

    You’re right, of course. In the past, I favored the right of a person to say what he or she thinks but you’ve convinced me otherwise by the unanswerable logic of your argument for the opposite. It’s much better when everyone needs to be so self-conscio us about what they say that they never say anything at all for fear of offending someone and being hauled before a court. That’s definitely the way to go.

    Forget the marketplace of ideas.

    I once thought that such a society made a mockery of the Constitution . You’ve convinced me that I was wrong. :^)

  9. Craig, what would you do? Have no right of redress? have no questioning of authority? While I agree, for example, with the decision to ban profane bumper stickers on PUBLIC roads, I would never agree that the person who wants to do that shouldn’t have his say in court.


  10. Canada provides a wonderful example of such a free-speech free nation — or a nation well on its way to being free-speech free:

    http://www.t Columnists/P aulJacob/200 7/12/09/call ing_a_censor _a_censor_%e 2%80%94_cens ored!?page=f ull&comments =true

  11. Redress against what? Being called “stupid”  , “ambivalen t” , “apathetic ” and a lemming? Being called a “sleazy con”? Having heaping truckloads of scorn heaped upon my Christianity  ? No. I would prefer to live in a society where you are free to call me those things and worse and have no other recourse than to decide to ignore you, pray for you,or ridicule and say bad things about you…without fear of being hauled before some “human rights” court.

    Er…well, that’s what I used to think. Now, I’m right with those whiny, litigious wankers.

    Now don’t bother me…I’m working on my petition to the Internationa l Human Rights Court. You should be looking for a good lawyer.

  12. That link didn’t work out so far. Let’s see if it’ll work as a link.

  13. The problem with giving every touchy guy their day in court over ever perceived slight is well illustrated in Canada. McClean’s magazine and others are being hauled before Canada’s human rights commission, being questioned about an article that reprinted portions of Mark Styn’s latest book, America Alone, or something like that. A complaint was filed by an individual of a “religion of peace” sect which will go unnamed here free of charge. Now this publication, author and others are being examined about and forced to defend themselves against possible monetary damages and being forced by the government of Canada to apologize for what they’ve written, alas, at their own expense. Even if they win against the complainant, they loose. They are out the legal expenses of defending themselves against a complaint that will cost the complainant absolutely nothing. Even if they win, free speech looses because of the chilling effect caused by the spectacle of a once-free country calling its citizens and publications to account for opinions they’ve written. This is not a court of law with the usual protections via rules of evidence and protections for defendants. This is an agency that has basically unlimited power to demand any answer to any question and their decision is at the whim of a pannel of bureaucrats. Now maybe you find nothing frightening about that scenario but I’m…er…I USED to be scared to death of it.

    Now, Bring. It. On!

  14. You asked about having no recourse. Of course. It is entirely possible for individuals to be denied their rights and they should have recourse. The Constitution contains a clause enumerating the right to petition the government and seek redress of grievance. I’m as in favor of that as I am of the clause that protects free speech and press and assembly. My argument is not: there should be no recourse. My argument is: people are too damned touchy and consider every offense a cause for suit at law or some undemocratic  , national or internationa l governmental agency. It was with those 6,000+ dismissals for frivolity that I have trouble, not the 1,000 or so cases that made it to the court.

    And what the heck was on the bumper-stick er that you would not deny somebody their day in court over? Maybe I should look more closely at bumper-stick ers. Maybe there’s a career to be made in suing people over bumper-stick ers that offend me.

  15. I learned just a bit ago that Bobby Fisher has died. Now I have nothing good to say about attempts to prosecute him for a chess match contrary to internationa l sanctions. That is ridiculous enough. Rather, it was his comments about how wonderful it was to hear about 9/11 and his alleged anti-semitic comments that I wish to address. Now, predictably, I think such comments to be despicable and hate speech but I also consider them to be well within the protections of the first amendment. In Canada and other nations, such comments (the anti-semitic ones) might be cause for human rights prosecution or purely statutory sanction. His welcoming of 9/11 is merely sickening. But all of it is and should remain protected speech.

    I’ll drop the pretense of the whiny, litigious wanker persona. It was making me ill to carry it on even in jest.

  16. If Townhall’s column about Canada’s human rights commission (I refuse to honor it by capitalizing the initials of its name) isn’t your cup of tea, here’s one from the London Free Press — about which I know virtually nothing other than it argues for freedom of the press against governmental bureaucracie s inquiring into alleged human rights offenses for something someone has written. This is the sort of thing expected in China, North Korea, Putin’s New! Russia or Cuba — they wouldn’t call them human rights commissions but, rather, re-education camps but the concept is exactly the same.

  17. I don’t know who this Rex Murphy is but this, from Canada’s CBC, is a heartening defense of free speech and exchange of ideas and a statement of how the complaint against McClean’s and Steyn cheapens the concept of the protections of human rights which still are necessary but not as a bludgeon against words and ideas — or Mohammad cartoons, for that matter — by equating disagreement and offense with the trampling of human rights.

    I realize I’m arguing alone here but the degradation of genuine human rights offenses to the point of the pettiness of peevishness by the way-too-easi ly-offended is truely dangerous to actual human rights — like freedom of thought, expression, and press. Without these, there ARE no human rights that can be preserved.

    Sometimes I feel like John the Baptist — “a voice crying in the wilderness” without all the crowds coming to be baptized in the Jordan river.

  18. This is what is to be found at the bottom of the slippery slope iced by the kinds of hearings being held in Canada and discussed by me in comments above: newspaper editors imprisoned for reproducing a cartoon and, in places like Germany and Austria, book authors for questioning the extent or systematic nature of the Holocaust.

    Okay, Belarus has hardly been known as a bastion of liberty, I grant that, but then, Canada is no longer the bastion of liberty that it once was. You can’t endanger the freedom of expression without endangering all liberties because the freedom to express one’s ideas is the only way, short of violence, to fight for liberties. Take away words and violence is the only recourse left.

    I once lived and worked in Canada. That’s why I care what happens up there even though I no longer live there. While Americans are not known for adopting trends from Canadians, I’ve had entirely too many arguments with too many liberals here at BIO! who seem to think that offensive words are a greater danger than censorship and, with the rise of Democrats to power in America, I cannot ignore the possibility that human rights commissions might spring up in America and then go down exactly the same road that Canada and some European nations have, protecting sensitive feelings to the erosion of actual human rights.

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