Cyndi's Two Cents
Animals should not have the same rights as humans
Animal rights or animal welfare? That is often the question being asked.
One group makes no bones about it. It’s about animal rights for The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP). Founded in 1996 by attorney Steven M. Wise, NhRP works to “secure legally recognized fundamental rights for nonhuman animals through litigation, advocacy, and education.”
According to the group’s website, it works to change the legal status “of at least some nonhuman animals from mere ‘things’, which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to ‘persons’, who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty and those other legal rights to which evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience entitle them.”
In a nutshell, this group considers that their clients (referred to by NhRP as plaintiffs) have many of the same rights as humans. NhRP says their current plaintiffs, which include great apes, elephants, dolphins and whales have been scientifically proven to be autonomous.
I guess that all depends upon your definition of autonomous. In my worldview, an autonomous being is either a human being or an entity (like a country) comprised of human beings. I do not believe that any animal should have the same rights as human beings. Most humans have the capability to contemplate their actions and character. Animals do not.
I am a proponent of animal welfare. We practice it on our farm. My husband and I have a deep-rooted passion for raising livestock that began when we were children. We share a commitment to raising cattle and poultry while maintaining the solid ethical standards with which we were raised. Practicing animal welfare was from the very beginning an integral part of our philosophy. It was and is an inherent part of who we are.
We have a cat that is a very important part of our lives. I will cry alligator tears when my cat dies. He’s been a daily presence in our lives for more than 15 years. But I have known since we adopted him from a pet shelter exactly how much we would spend on vet bills if he got sick or hurt. That number has gone higher over the years as our fondness for him has grown, but we still have a number. He’s not a person.
The Nonhuman Rights Project recently filed a petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus in Connecticut Superior Court on behalf of three elephants at a zoo in Conneticut. The aforementioned “writ” is a court order to a person or agency holding someone in custody to deliver the imprisoned individual to the court issuing the order and to show a valid reason for that person’s detention
The suit demands that the court, in accordance with state common law and scientific evidence of elephants’ autonomy, recognize the elephants as legal persons with the fundamental right to bodily liberty. NhRP wants the court to move the elephants to a natural habitat sanctuary.
If these elephants have the same rights as human beings, should it be up to someone other than the elephants to determine where to place them?
It’s a slippery slope, friends. I certainly don’t wish to see any animal mistreated, but I don’t believe that any animal has the same rights as any human being.