Thursday, June 26, 2008

Spaniards Equate Themselves to Monkeys

Excerpted from Reuters:

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called for such rights for non-humans.

Parliament's environmental committee approved resolutions urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to humans.

"This is a historic day in the struggle for animal rights and in defense of our evolutionary comrades, which will doubtless go down in the history of humanity," said Pedro Pozas, Spanish director of the Great Apes Project.

Spain may be better known abroad for bull-fighting than animal rights but the new measures are the latest move turning once-conservative Spain into a liberal trailblazer.

Spain did not legalize divorce until the 1980s, but Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government has legalized gay marriage, reduced the influence of the Catholic Church in education and set up an Equality Ministry...

So the Spanish government puts its own citizens on the same footing as gibbons. How progressive of them. I wonder if it's legal to give two married lesbian chimps an abortion?

I have three questions:
  1. Since all life is biologically related by common ancestry, what possible justification is there for putting a dividing line between apes and other knds of critters? It is one thing logically to divide the (single) human species from other species; that is the way most species divide the world - you are either (a ) a member of my species (one set of responses), (b) a predator (another set of responses), or (c) food (yummy set of responses). Any other division is ultimately arbitrary. Why should apes have rights that are not extended to, say, marmosets? If it is murder for me to kill a chimp, why is it not murder for a chimp to kill and eat a baboon (which they do)?

  2. If apes have human rights, are they therefore subject to uman laws? If a chimp gets hacked off and eats my face (which has happened recently - not to me, fortunately), can I file charges or bring a lawsuit? I obviously can't recover damages from the owner, since it is no more permissable for a chimp to be owned than for a human to be owned.

  3. If a leopard or a lion can kill and eat a chimp, or if a tiger can kill and eat a gibbon or orang that it finds on the ground,then why the heck can't I? Not that I'd necessarily want to - eating closely related organisms can be a bad idea, especially if they're not cooked very well - but why not logically?
On the other hand, I suspect Spain would do better if the people replaced their current government with Bonzo the Chimp.