Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Expanding Constituencies

According to Libertad Digital:
The Spanish Socialist Party will introduce a bill in the Congress of Deputies calling for "the immediate inclusion of (simians) in the category of persons, and that they be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings." The PSOE's justification is that humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans.

The party will announce its Great Ape Project at a press conference tomorrow. An organization with the same name is seeking a UN declaration on simian rights which would defend ape interests "the same as those of minors and the mentally handicapped of our species."

According to the Project, "Today only members of the species Homo sapiens are considered part of the community of equals. The chimpanzee, the gorilla, and the orangutan are our species's closest relatives. They possess sufficient mental faculties and emotional life to justify their inclusion in the community of equals."
Ah, but if we're going to recognize rights of other creatures, why do so only on the basis of mere genetic similarity? Isn't that inherently, well, not racist exactly, but speciesist? Why not use intelligence as the basis? That would certainly include chimps, but indications are that cetaceans should also make the cut. Of course that might put a stop to those Navy programs teaching dolphins to carry mines....

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