Complacency is cultural subversion’s best friend. You know what I mean: When a radical proposal is voiced, people chuckle and roll their eyes, believing that it can’t happen here, saying, “What will they think of next?”
Thus, when the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued Sea World claiming that its orcas were “slaves” because they are kept in captivity, the typical public response was a bemused, “There they go again.”
Yes, PETA lost that lawsuit. But Sea World’s legal victory was predicated on a finding that whales cannot be “slaves” because they are not “persons.” As the judge noted, an 1864 definition described slavery as “the state of entire subjugation of one person to the will of another.”
That may sound like a rock solid defense. Animals cannot be declared illegally held slaves. But what would happen if some highly intelligent animals—such as, say, dolphins, pigs, dogs, elephants and/or chimpanzees—were ruled by a court to be persons? Not only would such animals be deemed to suffer from proscribed involuntary servitude; it would accord these “non-human persons” legally enforceable rights.
That is why we should be alarmed at the vigor with which animal personhood is being promoted in professional journals in the august fields of law, politics, science, and bioethics. So what, you say? Let radicals bloviate. Animal personhood will never be adopted through democratic means.
That’s almost surely true, and animal rights activists know it. That is why they are seeking to attain their goal by court fiat.
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