Animal Rights

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Bananas

June 08, 2011

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Bananas

Strident Darwinist propaganda has convinced most people that man is created in the image and likeness of ape. And as we’re almost equal to apes genetically, doesn’t it naturally follow that apes ought to be almost equal to us legally? Of course it does—every faddish idea is these days enshrined in law.

So one could’ve been certain that sooner or later apes would be elevated to the level of man not only de facto but also de jure. As if to atone for her tardiness in abandoning Christianity, Spain blazed the trail.

The parliament of the same country that was the first to forcibly stop communism has now passed a resolution granting human rights to apes. Specifically it has committed Spain to the dictates of the Great Ape Project (GAP), founded in 1994 by Princeton “philosopher” Peter Singer. The apes currently residing in Spain will henceforth enjoy the legal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of bananas. Oops, got that wrong. Freedom from torture is what it actually says.

A “United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes” is in the works. The draft states that all primates, including man, are “members of the community of equals” who aren’t to be deprived of their liberty without due process. The detention of great apes who haven’t been convicted of any crime should be permitted only in their interest or when it’s necessary to protect the public. In such cases apes must have a right of appeal to a judicial tribunal, either directly or through an advocate.

“One has to reluctantly acknowledge that, apart from working in circuses, apes have limited employment opportunities.”

One wonders how this document’s framers see the ensuing practicalities. For instance, where trial by jury is part of due process, who would be the ape’s peers to sit in judgment? Surely they would have to be other apes. (British football supporters may be narrowly disqualified.) How would the jury follow the proceedings and communicate their verdict? How would the defendants confer with counsel? Be sworn in? Give testimony? Launch a direct appeal? And if convicted of, say, murder, how would they be punished?

As the death penalty isn’t an option in Europe, it would have to be incarceration in the same zoos in which all Spanish apes are kept already, with no due process anywhere in sight. Illogically, the Spanish resolution states that there they can remain, although the conditions must improve, presumably in line with human prisons equipped with color TVs and sports facilities.

However, it’ll become illegal to keep apes in circuses, or for the purposes of using them in TV commercials or films. Apes will thus enjoy greater protection than, say, Kate Moss or every living creature under Barnum & Bailey’s tent. And in general, apes will acquire weightier rights than humans, for ours are counterbalanced by responsibilities and theirs demonstrably aren’t. Our right to the state’s protection, for example, is contingent upon our allegiance to it. Since an ape cannot pledge such allegiance, the balance is clearly in its favor.

Let’s not forget the right to work—or rather the right not to work and draw welfare payments, which has become the cornerstone of our government’s economic policies. One has to reluctantly acknowledge that, apart from working in circuses, apes have limited employment opportunities. However, that makes them different only from some humans. Just like welfare recipients, apes could live in free housing provided by the state; they could be taken by their “carers” to the “social” once a month to collect their paycheck. Simian citizens dependent on government largesse may be just the ideal that the state craves.

If you think this is bad, consider the track record of Peter Singer, the “mind” behind the Great Ape Project. In 2001 he allowed that humans and animals can have “mutually satisfying” sexual relations because “we are animals, indeed more specifically, we are great apes.” Therefore such sex “ceases to be an offense to our status and dignity as human beings.” Good news for some shepherds, bad news for poor Mrs. Singer.

Singer also maintains that the right to life is grounded in the ability to plan one’s future. Since the unborn, infants, and mentally disabled lack this ability, he justifies abortion, selective infanticide, and euthanasia. However, even though apes aren’t known for prudent foresight, Singer doesn’t advocate their cull. So his is a kind of affirmative action: Apes are to have rights that are superior to ours.

Now his ideas have been acted upon by the parliament of a nation whose chosen recreation is watching livestock first tortured, then slaughtered with a sword. So why such touching concern for animal rights? On the surface of it this sounds illogical—but only until we’ve reminded ourselves that the logic of modernity always operates on two levels: the first ostensible, the second real.


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