April 26, 2006

"They possess sufficient mental faculties and emotional life to justify their inclusion in the community of equals."

"They" being apes. (Via Memeorandum.)

61 comments:

Icepick said...

Does this mean when they catch the perps in this case we'll have to put them on trial? And will they be treated as adults, or "the same as those of minors and the mentally handicapped of our species."

The good news is that since it happened in Sierra Leone, we don't have to worry about this becoming a case for the Supreme Court to review.

Internet Ronin said...

I guess that means they get the right to vote, too. That should be interesting.

Bruce Hayden said...

The 98.4% same DNA claim, while technically true, is somewhat misleading. A lot of the shared DNA is "junk" DNA, that doesn't seem to have any real use, or falls into the category of DNA shared by all mammels. If we were to eliminate all that, my memory is that we would probably only be sharing some 75%-80% with the chimps.

But, interestingly, their claim does have some validity. Chimps and Pygmy Chimps are closer to us genetically than many other species within a common genus. Thus, the claim, in a book titled "The Third Chimpanzee" by Jared Diamond, that we should be considered the third chimp species (or, more accurately, they should be considered two more species under the genus "Homo", given the precedent that the first named genus prevails).

Bruce Hayden said...

And, sorry Ann, but this is more evidence that we really do have a significant animal nature, given the amount of shared chimp DNA.

Bruce Hayden said...

Final thought for awhile - this isn't really a reason for concern, except from a slippery slope perspective, because even if all apes were given the vote, it wouldn't really matter much, because most, if not all, of the othe ape species are dying off thanks to the actions of the dominent ape species, us.

brylin said...

And fish have feelings too.

Ann Althouse said...

What's the problem with giving apes the vote? They won't exercise their right.

Freeman Hunt said...

Bah. We were just figuring out where to put pre-op transsexuals who go to jail, and now along come the apes.

Zeldazot said...

Bruce,

Your memory is incorrect. The sequencing of the chimp genome, completed last fall, clearly shows the high sequence identity between humans and chimps.

The "junk" DNA to which you refer is not thought of as junk by geneticists. Most of your DNA functions to control gene expression; that is, what genes are turned on/off at any given moment. The literature (which I'm afraid is generally not freely accessible on the web) shows that the differences between humans and chimps lie not in gene sequence or protein function, but in timing of synthesis, and amounts, of the protein product of any given gene.

The other major difference, which explains why we are indeed in a different genus than chimps, is chromosome number.

MadisonMan said...

Did anyone else do a double-take when reading the headline, and accidentally read 'Sociologists' for 'Socialists'?

I take it the Spanish Socialist party is trying to become (more of?) a laughing stock by introducing this bill. But I guess if they wrap up the Ape vote, maybe they can get an extra seat in Parliament. Apes may not vote on their own, Ann, but I'm sure the socialists can bus them to the polling places.

A.J. Romens said...

I think we should treat chimps as equals, giving them the right to vote, the right to free speech, etc. We should also prosecute them when they commit crimes.

It is all part of my plan to ensure that all the chimps in the world are eventually locked away in prisons or mental institutions.

Pastor_Jeff said...

"The PSOE's justification is that humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans."

Yes, and we share 100% of our DNA with fetal humans. How about including them in the community of equals and affording them "the same protection as minors and the mentally handicapped"?

Pastor_Jeff said...

Dear Abby,

You're not going to believe this, but I've found a woman who is 98.5% exactly like my wife! They look alike, they laugh at the same jokes - everything! Weird, huh?

Well, here's my question: Since they're so close in so many ways, do you think it would be okay if I treat this other woman exactly as if she were my wife? I'd like to take her on dates, sleep with her, use her checkbook, celebrate "our" anniversary together. I know some people will probable be close-minded about it, but since this other woman is so remarkably like my wife, don't you think this would be okay? I really like her.

Sincerely,
Confused in Portland

Ann Althouse said...

AJ: Excellent point. Animals -- nonhuman animals -- are the worst criminals on the face of the earth. Stealing, raping, murdering -- nothing is beyond their evil, evil minds. Call 911!

SippicanCottage said...
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Smilin' Jack said...

Merely recognizing them as equals is hardly enough. The effects of countless millenia of speciesist oppression must be overcome. We must institute ape affirmative action programs, integrate them into our housing, and bus them into our schools. And then there's the matter of reparations....

Al Maviva said...

Pumpkins, h3ll. Fruitflies are roughly 93% human by DNA composition. That's more than my brother-in-law.

L. Ron Halfelven said...

All this loose talk of "equality" is naught but a hollow mockery until the apes are given the right to marry downtownlad.

Abraham said...

The real question is, can chimps be married now? And do they file their tax returns separately or jointly?

PatCA said...

Another step closer to the abyss by Western civilization....

MaxedOutMama said...

Isn't it awfully humano-centric to grant rights to animal species based on the percentage of DNA that they share with us?

I think this is terribly politically incorrect. Some advanced thinkers like Peter Singer should go over there and bring them up to date.

Do apes really want equal rights in Europe? Given the trend toward euthanasia for those humans with a poor "quality of life", I would think they might be put down on the basis that they'll have short, animal-like lives!

Thanks for the laugh, Ann!

Aspasia M. said...

Why stop at 96%, exactly? We share over 75% of our dna sequence with pumpkins. Look it up if you don't believe me.

I second the idea of citizenship for pumpkins!

PatCA said...

I can't let the cat see this article...

bearbee said...

What the heck, it's another tax base....

Now we need a political party symbol....hmmm....donkey, elephant. Nope already been done. Need something that walks upright....hmmm.....

Tibore said...

" 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."

It seems like they're taking this a bit too seriously. The term "community of equals" is so nebulously defined -- if, indeed, it's defined anywhere -- and feel-good talk like this is really nothing more than patting ones self on the back for their high moral stance.

On the other hand, it seems as though we're taking this a bit too seriously too. "moral and legal protection" can be interpreted quite narrowly, if they choose to do so, and only end up buttressing the current anti-abuse laws that may already exist on the books there.

This seems to be much ado about nothing to me. Mere posturing by some folks. Yes, extending "moral and legal protection(s)" to animals is a laudable goal, but this specific act doesn't seem to be much more than busybodied posturing. I mean, what is the Congress of Deputies? And what force does such a declaration as they're proposing have? Would that actually have the force of a law? Or would that be no more than other "Declarations" of support that legislative bodies like our Congress pass all the time: Statements that illustrate a stance, but do nothing active towards realizing that stance?

On the other hand, and as a humorous note, if we take a hypothetical situation to an extreme and postulate the possibility of electing an Ape to their government... wouldn't that be funny? I can see the headlines now: "Chimp vs. Chump". It might actually be entertaining.

Tony said...

I guess that means they get the right to vote, too. That should be interesting.

Not really... You can see something like it by looking at the 2000 presidental election in Florida.

bearbee said...

MaxedOutMama said...
"Isn't it awfully humano-centric to grant rights to animal species ...."


It is presumptuous to think animals want our granting of rights to them. Each species has its own societal norms, laws and methods for electing its leaders. What they need to have is protection against us.

SippicanCottage said...
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F15C said...

Leading indicator of mass insanity is what this is. Reminds me of the effort by someone years ago (I think they took out full-page ads in the NYT and/or WSJ) to proclaim the high moral need to convert all carnivores to vegatarians. Including lions, tigers, bears, snakes, hyenas, vultures, dogs, and maggots... It was this person or group's moral vision that we would be an immoral planet until such time as all the world's creatures ceased eating each other.

Personally, I thought they were nothing but speciest bigots. After all plants are people too - or chimps as may be the case.

Bruce Hayden said...

F15c

Of course, the problem with turning cats of any type into vegitarians is that they are obligate carnivores. They have to regularly eat meat to stay healthy and survive. We, as omnivores, have a choice. Lions, tigers, et al., do not.

Marghlar said...

Rights for pumpkins made me snicker...

But seriously, I read this as a pretty reasonable proposal -- treating apes as essentially in a similar class as profoundly retarded human adults. Many such people would commit crimes if left to themselves (trust me, I know -- some have been former clients of mine), but we still treat them as people. All that means is we try and act in their best interests, rather than seeing them as fit fodder for science experiments.

I honestly don't see this as so extreme -- my main beef would be using DNA as the basis. I'd rather look to more general characteristics, such as communicative ability and general intelligence. On such a basis, I'd say that it is reasonable to take a similar postion regarding some marine mammals, elephants, and maybe some other large omnivores.

(If anyone is going to go crazy attacking my position analytically, please go read this thread first -- it may save time, and avoid confusion.)

bearbee said...

" to proclaim the high moral need to convert all carnivores to vegatarians.."

Taliban

Ross said...

At the San Diego Zoo last week, I was struck by the gorillas, many of whom were quite plainly aware of the humans gawking at them and resentful of the gawking, and the orangs, who were aware of the gawking and hammed it up shamelessly.

I guess a dog does the same thing, but I can't look a great ape in the eye and not see a distant cousin.

PatCA said...

"We need legislation NOW!"

In the name of something decent for Thanksgiving dessert, can we outlaw pumpkin pie right now?

(Marghlar, in these PC times, I'd watch those little humanonormative slips like "my main beef is...")

Marghlar said...

PatCA: Thanks -- I wouldn't want to be un-PC!

For the record, I have no problem with eating beef -- in fact, I highly enjoy it. Cattle are dumb, and I think our ethical obligations to them consist entirely of treating them humanely, both in life and in the butchering. I would posit that cattle have done far better as a species b/c of our herding than if they had been left to the wild. Furthermore, I'd posit that a well-fed free range cow is probably pretty happy.

Catherine said...

Instead of granting rights on the basis of being near-human, we should start rescinding them. Cage the Spanish Socialists or release them into the uninhabited wilds. Just don't let them loose on civilization, anymore.

Aspasia M. said...

Sippican and I are in the forefront of rights for inanimate objects-- including & most importantly, Pumpkins!

I can't let the cat see this article...

Oh, yeah. My kitten already rules the house. I don't want him to get any more ideas. He will think he's the Master of the Universe.
------

Mostly I'm a happy meat-eater. But I can't eat certain animals -- such as rabbit -- that are cute. One of my friends was confused by my unwillness to eat rabbit. (Cows, she pointed out, are also cute.)

I never said that it made logical sense.

I've also heard that Mahi Mahi is related to dolphin. (Dolphins are cute.) Well, if that fish looks like a dolphin I really don't want to know about it, because it is delicious.

Aspasia M. said...

In the name of something decent for Thanksgiving dessert, can we outlaw pumpkin pie right now?

Let's substitute cheesecake!

Gahrie said...

geoduck2:

Mahi Mahi is not related to dolphins. They are fish, and dolphins are mammals.

However the fish Mahi Mahi is called in many areas (Florida for instance) dolphin.

SippicanCottage said...
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Marghlar said...

geo: That's a shame about the rabbits -- rabbit, cooked right, is freaking fantastic. Plus, rabbits are evil (at least, my sister-in-law's rabbit is evil).

And vis a vis your mahi mahi comment, I'll note that my philosophy gets brought up short by my love of pork. Pigs are actually quite bright. However, I have southern roots. I NEED to eat a certain amount of pork. My wife and I, for the sake of philosophical consistency, tried earnestly to give it up. We swore off bacon. I stopped making my delicious pork barbeque. No more pork chops.

But then it came time to cook italian food, and I realized that our convictions were going to prevent me from eating prosciutto. And we just couldn't do it.

A close friend of mine, who hews tightly to his own line, gives us shit about this, from time to time. But try as we might, we can't do it. Because, in the words of John Travolta, "Pork chops are GOOD. Bacon is GOOD."

So we settle for doing the free-range thing, and leave it at that.

(NB: non-factory farmed pork has a much lower rate of trichinosis, and so it can safely be cooked medium or even medium rare. This allows for lots of delcious recipies that many of us have never had. I learned this from a take-out joint in chicago that makes the best barbeque in town. Their secret? They get free-range pork, and hence, they don't have to cook it gray.)

Marghlar said...

Instead of granting rights on the basis of being near-human, we should start rescinding them. Cage the Spanish Socialists or release them into the uninhabited wilds. Just don't let them loose on civilization, anymore.

Catherine, you do realize what this would lead to? Back in the wild, Spanish Socialists would be subject once again to the viscitudes of natural selction. They would become stronger and tougher than us. Meanwhile, we would languish in our soft urban society.

In a few centuries, the Spanish Socialists would become supermen. They would come rampaging out of their forests and destroy us all, having been purged of their ideals by the Hobbesian brutality of their existence.

I only hope that our race of robot super-warriors will be able to defeat them (and their Gourdista allies). If not, I cry for the future of our race.

Maxine Weiss said...

Ross: You should go to the Los Angeles Zoo sometime. Both the Orangutans (sp?) and the Gorillas are very camera-aware. Constantly posing and begging for their picture to be taken....except for this one that I've had my eye on for years, who eats his bananna with backed turned to us----then flings the bananna peel over the shoulder at the audience.

Don't know what it would take to make that guy happy. And they've spent a fortune on the Orangutan exhibit, these guys livin in luxury, climate control jungle forest ect....

The giraffes are even worse. If they see a camera, they charge.

Certain animals really are bred for the stage!

Peace, Maxine

F15C said...

"In a few centuries, the Spanish Socialists would become supermen."

A few dozen centuries maybe... Have you been to Spain recently? The men are pigs. Uh, of course, I mean pigs that "possess sufficient mental faculties and emotional life to justify their inclusion in the community of equals".

Not the good eating ones.

Marghlar said...

How do you know that Spaniards aren't good eating? Have you ever TRIED one?

Catherine said...

Back in the wild, Spanish Socialists would be subject once again to the vicissitudes of natural selection. They would become stronger and tougher than us...They would come rampaging out of their forests and destroy us all...

Marghlar,

You make a pretty convincing case, although it's probable they'd all perish in the first two weeks on their permanent "eco-safari" jaunt, due to internecine squabbles over leather vs. synthetic foot coverings, or over the division of labor in a gender-neutral way, whilst their tummies rumble, the sun burns and the rain stings.

Still, no use taking a chance. Cage them all. Humanely, of course.

P.S. I've been to Spain recently and the (non-Socialist) men are lovely. Real men and gentlemen.

Johnny Nucleo said...

If you were gambler, who would you bet on? European flakes or radical Islamists?

I'm reminded of Elias in Platoon.

"We're going to lose this war."

dave said...

pumpkins and fruitflies prove the point - that a tiny percentage of difference genetically is an incredibly large gap - and is responsible for the great majority of self-consciousness, thought, language, society and culture in human beings.

the article in the (conservative) Madrid daily El Mundo says that the PSOE is asking that 3 rights be protected for great apes: "vida, libertad y no ser torturado" - life, liberty, and to not be tortured. the proposal is based on the Great Ape Project, which hopes to "obtain[] for non-human great apes the fundamental moral and legal protections of the right to life, the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and protection from torture."

which sounds much less silly than giving them the full legal status of persons. Note also that this proposal is not eligible to become law, but is simply a vote in support for the goals of the Great Ape Project.

The Spain Herald is extremely conservative and has, I think, misrepresented the suggestion to make the PSOE look foolish (more foolish?). If you're reading the SH then you don't speak Spanish, so they can get away with more twisting than Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly or Michael Moore would ever dare attempt. this editorial all but claims that the 2004 election there was stolen through a PSOE consipracy to conceal the truth about the March 11 bombing, which is kind of like claiming that '9/11 was an inside job'.

Marghlar said...

the article in the (conservative) Madrid daily El Mundo says that the PSOE is asking that 3 rights be protected for great apes: "vida, libertad y no ser torturado" - life, liberty, and to not be tortured. the proposal is based on the Great Ape Project, which hopes to "obtain[] for non-human great apes the fundamental moral and legal protections of the right to life, the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and protection from torture."

Yeah, that was about my sense of it...to me, that seems fairly reasonable as a goal.

Aspasia M. said...

yeah - my approach to eating meat makes no freaking sense at all.

Plus, rabbits are evil (at least, my sister-in-law's rabbit is evil).

I need to meet a rabbit like this so I can eat rabbit. (Yes, I know in advance that I am insane.)

But then it came time to cook italian food, and I realized that our convictions were going to prevent me from eating prosciutto. And we just couldn't do it.

I was told that pigs could be mean. Of course, I love bacon and proscuitto, so the "mean" aspect was just an add on. (Pigs might actually be quite nice.)

(NB: non-factory farmed pork has a much lower rate of trichinosis, and so it can safely be cooked medium or even medium rare.

That's good to know. I also love pulled pork BBQ.
-----

A friend fell of the vegan wagon because of ice cream and KFC chicken. A bunch of his friends all fell of the wagon together and gorged themselves on ice cream and KFC. They were all sick that night, not surprisingly.

Personally, I could never stop eating meat because I love, love, love, beef wellington. (So I don't wanna hear about any cute cows.)

vbspurs said...

Hyenas, apes.

My God, the memes! The memes!

Cheers,
Victoria

Marghlar said...

In my experience, cows are mainly insolent and stupid. Really, really stupid. But then, my experience involved mostly herding them, not the other stuff that might show a nicer side of their personalities.

I had a good friend who was vegetarian for years, and fell of the wagon because of a deep-seated need for buffalo wings. Since then, he's stuck with a no mammals rule, which is his compromise between principle, and a deep need for wings.

As far as the rabbits go: my sister-in-laws rabbit is just rude. It bites the hand that feeds it. It likes to head-butt other creatures, for no apparent reason. And if it is let out of its pen to play with the dogs, it alternates between trying to bite them, and humping their legs. For real.

If you've never seen a ten-pound rabbit hump the leg of a fifty-pound dog, trust me, it ain't a pretty sight. This is a nasty freakin' creature.

If you're ever in chicago, I can recommend a restaurant that does an excellent rabbit pot au feu.

bearbee said...

VIVA!

Dick O'Brien said...

The Spain Herald is spinning this one a bit. Contrary to what it claims, the bill is not being introduced by the government. It’s being proposed by Francisco Garrido Peña, a member of the Green Party, which supports PSOE in Congress. Secondly, the bill is not draft legislation. There are several types of bills in Spain. This bill is a "proposicion no de ley", which is like a motion, calling on parliament to legislate or take action. Thirdly, the quotes used by the Spain Herald are not part of the bill. The full text of the bill reads:

"El Congreso de los Diputados insta al Gobierno a declarar su adhesión al Proyecto Gran Simio y a emprender las acciones necesarias en los foros y organismos internacionales, para la protección de los grandes simios del maltrato, la esclavitud, la tortura, la muerte y extinción."

"The Congress of Deputies calls on the government to support the Great Ape Project and to undertake the necessary action in international forums and organisations, to protect the great apes from mistreatment, captivity, torture, death and extinction."

While you might disagree with this proposal, it's a far cry from a government project to give human rights to monkeys. Instead, it's one party calling on the government to do something about mistreatment of these animals.

SippicanCottage said...
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F15C said...

"How do you know that Spaniards aren't good eating? Have you ever TRIED one?"

Most assuredly not. At least that I know of...

But I heard from a friend of a friend who knew somebody who said that they taste like chicken.

bearbee said...

Recipe

SippicanCottage said...
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Marghlar said...

F15C: more likely, they in fact would taste rather like veal.

PatCA said...

"In a few centuries, the Spanish Socialists would become supermen.."

Manbearpig!!

http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/south_park/index.jhtml

F15C said...

marghlar: "more likely, they in fact would taste rather like veal."

Whoa. More information on that page than I really wanted.

But you are right, veal not chicken. Sweet and just a little stringy. :()