Animals are not people.
If a PETA person had been sitting next to me when I wrote that, he’d smugly say: “You know, some people said the same thing about black people 200 years ago.” At that point, I would grab the PETA person by the neck with my left hand, pimp slap him across his face with my right hand, throw him down on the ground, and then bellow: “How dare you, sir!”
That’s because I’m a person. And while I acknowledge the historical reality that many people didn’t think black people were “people” at various times in history, that thinking never changed the underlying truth that the color of one’s skin had nothing to do with personhood. You dig? It’s like how the New World was here long before anybody “discovered” it.
Non-human animals are not non-human animals because thinking makes it so. They’re animals because they’re animals. Now I think animals should be way, way more respected then most humans treat them. But applying a human right — such as freedom from involuntary servitude — to animals both denigrates people and disrespects the animals that they anthropomorphise.
What I’m saying is that once again, PETA has gotten it all wrong….
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched a lawsuit claiming that animals, namely Orcas (a.k.a. Killer Whales), should be protected under the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution which outlaws slavery. (Ed Note: Many commenters aren’t going to be able resist the urge to make fat jokes now. Go have your laughing, remember we’ve all seen the Usual Suspects. I’ll be here when you get back).
You know you are in trouble when you are filing lawsuits inspired by songs from Michael Jackson. The Los Angeles Times reports:
The lawsuit seeks the release of three orcas (also called killer whales) from San Diego and two at Orlando. “All five of these orcas were violently seized from the ocean and taken from their families as babies,” said PETA President Ingred Newkirk.
PETA officials note that the 13th Amendment prohibits slavery but does appear to limit the ban only to human beings. “Slavery is slavery,” said PETA general counsel Jeffrey Kerr.
As many have already pointed out, PETA has no standing to represent orcas in this lawsuit. Perhaps an orca would, but given the killer whale’s inability to be a person, it’s unlikely that Shamu X will be filing a lawsuit anytime soon.
But PETA’s constitutional question represents a larger problem with some animal law and animal rights activists. The goal shouldn’t be to get animals “human” rights. They’re not human. My dog (or furry slave, if you prefer) has been sitting with me while I write this post. Maybe she would rather be free to roam in the wild instead of being locked in my small basement. Or maybe she would rather be locked in my small basement eating bacon bits instead of scavenging a rotting carcass while furtively keeping a look out for a bigger dog that might eat her.
Of course, I can’t ask for her opinion on this or a host of other survival issues, because she’s a dog!
The goal should be to give animals “animal” rights. Something more robust than “mere” property of their owners, but something less crazy then the right not to be put into “involuntary” servitude without due process of laws.
‘Cause, let’s be honest here, you know what an orca would like to be “free” to do to his PETA lawyer Jeffrey Kerr? Eat him. His clients would like to make a Jeffrey Kerr freaking sandwich.
You want to make it easier for a killer whale to access its natural rights? Then stop struggling and just float out into the middle of its tank.
Animal rights group’s suit to allege Sea World is keeping orcas in slavery [Los Angeles Times/ L.A. Now]
PETA to Cite 13th Amendment in Suit Challenging Killer Whale Captivity; Prof Sees Standing Problems [ABA Journal]