Court to Decide if Whales are People

The film Planet of the Apes (1968) has some classic lines. The most famous is “Get your paws off me, you damned dirty apes.” AFI’s “100 Movies . . .  100 Movie Quotes” lists it at #66. A line not on the list, but one I use on a regular basis, is “It’s a madhouse! A madhouse.” (I’m watching Behind the Planet of the Apes [1998] on the anniversary of the debut of The Planet of the Apes in in theaters in 1968 as I write this article.)

A bit of news from a California federal court will cause you to shout along with Charlton Heston that “It’s a madhouse! A madhouse!”

The court is going “to decide for the first time in US history whether amusement park animals are protected by the same constitutional rights as humans.”

The issue is the result of a lawsuit that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) filed in a “San Diego court on behalf of five orcas named Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises. . . . PETA argues that continuing the whales’ ‘employment’ at SeaWorld violates the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits slavery.” Another California court just ruled that homosexual marriage is found in the 14th Amendment. (These same people want to prohibit gun ownership even though the 2nd Amendment clearly gives all citizens the right to “keep and bear arms.”)

“It’s a new frontier in civil rights,” said Jeff Kerr, PETA general counsel, who described the hearing as a “historic day.”

It’s OK to kill preborn humans, but don’t capture whales. If PETA or any animal rights group wants to stand up for whales, I don’t have a problem with them — I saw Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) — but please don’t try to make your case by appealing to the Constitution.

PETA’s general counsel said, “Slavery does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on race, gender or ethnicity. Coercion, degradation and subjugation characterize slavery and these orcas have endured all three.”

Where does PETA’s logic end? What if whales are afforded the same rights as humans? Does this mean that whales can be prosecuted for killing other mammals such as sea lions, seals, walruses, and even large whales?

Will whale rights extend to chimpanzees? Sir David Attenborough narrates a Planet Earth episode that shows a violent and bloody Chimpanzee attack. One chimp is thrown to the ground, literally pulled limb from limb, and then eaten. Following PETA’s arguments, should the “murdering” and cannibalistic chimps be prosecuted? If animals are given human rights, should they abide by human legal sanctions?

It truly is a madhouse, an upside-down world where whales are afforded more protections than humans and homosexual marriage becomes a legal reality.

UPDATE: “A judge Wednesday [Feb. 8, 2012] threw out a federal lawsuit alleging five performing killer whales at SeaWorld parks in San Diego and Florida are being held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment.”