Associated Press writer William J. Kole wrote an article on May 4, under the heading: Activists want Chimp declared a ‘Person’ and we encourage you to read the article in its entirety. After checking the story for the eventuality of being a late April Fools joke (A Google search will provide additional sources for the accuracy of the story), our first reaction was one of extremely loud laughter for the comic relief it gave us, and it became a topic of subsequent lunch and dinner table conversations. It was just too funny not to share with friends and family.
But then reality set in: These people are serious and they are not just living in Austria where they have taken up the banner to make their favorite chimp “Hiasl”, a 26-year old male chimpanzee a person, there are Animal Rights groups all over the world who pursue similar goals. And while their causes are generally considered noble and admirable, it was in the past limited to saving endangered species, speaking out against cruelty towards animals and related endeavors. But this campaign to now ‘personify animals’ opens up an entirely new chapter because it requires making and passing laws country by country to change the status of animals. Of course, we start with animals that have things in common with us human beings. According to the article, “Hiasl”, the chimp is in many ways like any other Viennese: He indulges a weakness for pastry, likes to paint and enjoys chilling out watching TV.”
Well, if that is enough to bestow ‘personhood’ on the chimp, we have to report that our dogs liked the same things during their lives. In fact, they had even more attributes: They could understand us, they would do tricks on command, they would at times snore while sleeping and even possessed other human habits unpleasant to one’s nostrils among a host of other human traits. Then there are birds, i.e., parakeets, who have learned and can speak like humans (sometimes, driving us crazy as a result of it). For years, we have been told that dolphins are very smart, maybe even smarter than people and they are sometimes trained to check out underwater projects for mines etc. We know that cats, horses and other animals are very intelligent, we know that elephants have incredible memories and we apologize to the many other animal species not mentioned here.
We here at ‘Back to Common Sense’ will monitor these attempts at personification of animals from now on and comment on new developments, especially, if somewhere on this planet, elected officials actually pass laws to give person status to animals. Because one thing is for certain, should the friends of Hiasl in Vienna succeed, this will open the floodgates for other animal rights activists everywhere and there is no end to what could happen if and when attorneys get asked to pursue these cases. After all, there are billions of animals who need representation and could become clients for attorneys worldwide.
Can anyone imagine where this can lead? Who wants to argue, once personhood is bestowed on animals, that such a “person’ can be denied the right to marry, to be given an education, a salaried government job, membership to a union and the entitlement to free healthcare and eventual retirement benefits. The number of attorneys would double in the frame of 20 to 30 years and there would be a need to establish ‘animal courts’ everywhere where such animal rights would be adjudicated. We invite comments to pursue the potential possibilities of such a development, let your imaginations go wild!
This article and others on Back to Common Sense are designed to provoke further thought and investigation. It is not the intent for the articles to be politically biased. Sources are referenced in each article to encourage readers to delve into the supporting material. We welcome all readers to participate with their point of view either in support or contrary with additional information sources.