NY Judge Grants Chimps Human Rights … Then Takes Them Back

It was a watershed moment for animal rights groups … for a moment.

I’ve written before on animal advocates seeking to have courts declare that critters have human rights. It happened in Argentina, and it was only a matter of time before American liberalism bore the same fruit.

Those who were skeptical that it could happen here should be more circumspect, as New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe this week issued a writ of habeas corpus for two chimpanzees named Hercules and Leo, effectively giving the little monkeys human rights.

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One suspects that she must have gotten a lot of ribbing around the judicial water cooler since then, as on Thursday she amended the ruling by literally scratching out the phrase “writ of habeas corpus” and leaving just the phrase “order to show cause.”

Regardless of the phrasing, Jaffe has ordered Stony Brook University, where Hercules and Leo live, to appear in court in May and show a legally sufficient reason for keeping the laboratory animals in captivity.

If the writ of habeas corpus had stood, the chimps, via their attorneys, would have had the legal right to challenge their detention. Now it’s unclear whether that’s still true.

The Nonhuman Rights Project, which filed the suit over Leo and Hercules, said that it believed Jaffe’s ruling “implicitly determined that Hercules and Leo are ‘persons.'”

That was questioned by some legal experts, such as Pepperdine University law Professor Richard Cupp, who told Science magazine, “It would be quite surprising if the judge intended to make a momentous substantive finding that chimpanzees are legal persons if the judge has not yet heard the other side’s arguments.”

Attorney Steven Wise, who is one of the legal grandstanders behind the lawsuit, has other suits on file that use a similar tactic of seeking habeas corpus for animals, on the theory that, hey, animals are people too.

If you’re a believer in evolution, that makes perfect sense because you believe that humans evolved from chimps and are just smart animals, nothing special.

On the other hand, if you don’t believe in evolution, or if you believe in it but are still sane, then giving animals human rights is one of the stupidest things ever.

But we’re living in an age so disconnected from reality that we think men can choose to be women, two women or two men diddling is a marriage, communism isn’t so bad, that a nation can tax itself into prosperity, and any other number of logical absurdities.

So why not a non sequitur like “animals have human rights”?

Now, if we could only teach them to talk, ride horses and run for office (if they have not already done so).

Sometimes you just have to give in to the absurd. So c’mon, everybody sing along (tune of “Surf City”), and feel free to add your own lyrics in the comments section: “Yeah, we’re going to Ape City, gonna have some fun/We’re going to Ape City cuz it’s two for one./Two gorillas for every boy. …”


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