Friday, February 24, 2012

Animal Activism--When The World Doesn't Buy Into One Spin, Spin It Another Direction--Animal Rights to "Rights for Non-Human Persons!!!!"


Scientists, ethicists, and animal welfare groups want to pass a bill of rights for dolphins, which would raise them to level of "non-human persons" status and grant them rights and freedoms.

It may sound a bit fishy, but a group of experts in dolphin behaviour, ethics, philosophy, and conservation are advocating for a "Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans," a bill of rights that would cover all cetacean animals including dolphins, whales, porpoises.

Professor Thomas White from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, author of "In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier," says there is enough evidence to show that dolphins have personalities and emotions and should be considered people in the philosophical and ethical sense. Evidence shows that dolphins and whales are exceptionally intelligent and have human like self-awareness. They recognize themselves in mirrors, feed ailing companions, and grieve for lost ones. They communicate with one another through a series of intricate vocal interactions and interact with humans through a variety of learned behaviour. Studies of the cetacean brain show that not only is it large in size and capacity, it is also on par with the human brain in regards to complexity.

By raising the mammals to a "non-human person" status, it would be illegal to take any action that would undermine their rights or freedoms. Such a bill would bring an end to the captivity of the animal order, making it illegal to keep them in zoos, waterparks, and aquariums. Legal force would be used against those trying to kill the mammals, and fishing would be barred.

Speaking at the annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, the group knows that the bill needs to be first recognized on a regional level, before it can be implemented nationally and eventually internationally.

Although it's difficult to conceive of a bill like this ever becoming an international law, its existence is good evidence of our own evolutionary development. The fact of the matter is that we are not alone on this planet, and there is significant scientific evidence that our behaviour has a direct impact on the lives of many other complex creatures around us. So, we need to modify that behaviour in a way that doesn't diminish our own rights but does raise the rights of those we impact, and I think that the discussion of such a bill is a step in the right direction.

I don't particularly understand why people are so vehemently opposed to the idea of a cetacean bill of rights because I don't see the harm in offering higher levels of protection for this order of mammals. I can see how many think it's a slippery slope and that if we grant exceptional rights to one order, then we will have to do it to all of them, but I don't necessarily think that's true. I don't see the harm in offering higher protection for one group of animals over another, since we already do that with human beings.

I do think that it's important to understand that there are varying levels of intellect amongst animals and varying levels of self-awareness as well, and when there is enough evidence to show that a certain animals have similar levels of self-awareness, intelligence, and emotional capacity as we do, we have a responsibility to protect those facets just as we would for our own species.

So although the actual passage of such a bill may be oceans away, the awareness and discussion it provokes has real purpose.

'There you go, Atlanta. If you can't ban the bull hook, go back to court and grant them "non-human persons" rights. The sorry thing about a left wing crybaby is they have no compromise in their vocabulary. It's either their way, or the highway. No middle ground in Private Idaho. They will keep making it up or rewriting it, what ever is necessary to get "what's owed to them." Like abortion, which many feel is solely a "women's right ". Yet, correct me if I am wrong, with the exception of Jesus Christ, were there not both a man and a women involved in the initial decision, yet half way through the process, one loses their right and the other gains it? How's that work????'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of dolphins. I was in Miami Beach this week and drove over to the Miami Seaquarium. Boy, what a relic that place is. Other than 100 coats of sky blue paint on everything, it doesn't look like it's seen any improvements for 30 years. I'd stop short of calling it a marine animal slum, but given the value of the real estate it's sitting on I can't imagine why that place stays open. Before parks like Sea World, maybe I could see the novelty, but it has to be an embarassment to others in the marine mammal industry.