April 26, 2014

World War C

Here's a long article in the NYT Magazine by Charles Siebert called "Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?" about law professor Steven Wise's 25-year crusade to find one judge who will declare chimpanzees to be legal persons.

It starts with a visit to low-rent roadside attraction "Santa's Reindeer," where an adult male chimp is kept out of view in a small cage:
Tommy’s original owner, we learned, was named Dave Sabo, the one-time proprietor of a troupe of performing circus chimps. The repairman said that Sabo raised Tommy, who appears to be in his 20s, from infancy. Sabo, who had been living for a number of years in a trailer on the grounds of Circle L Trailer, recently died. “He’s back in there now somewhere,” the repairman said, quickly tracing with his hands what seemed to be the outline of an urn of ashes. “In a room next to Tommy’s.”

As I argued below in "Hollywood should stop using real chimps," Americans need to develop a sense of realism and stewardship about chimpanzees. While they make for amusing entertainment when young, the older they get, the cuter they ain't, so there is a constant demand from the media and advertising industries for new baby chimps (e.g., in Martin Scorsese's latest movie).

But chimps live almost as long as humans, and need almost as much space to be happy. Yet, the adult males are so violent they need to be locked up away from people. The only institutions that can afford to meet these competing needs are rich zoos and some of the better-supported shelters far out in the countryside.

Thus, we American humans should act like responsible adult human beings and reduce the number of these subhuman dependents of ours who are in America to levels that we can afford to properly care for.

The English-speaking world has a tradition of developing norms against cruelty to animals that goes back a couple of centuries at least to pioneers such as the eccentric Irish politician Humanity Dick Martin. For example, in the 1930s Hollywood regularly crippled horses in stunt falls in cowboy and Indian movies, but over time systems have been developed to prevent violence to our dumb chums in the making of movies. Now, almost all movies featuring animals come with a "No Animals Were Harmed" endorsement in the credits from American Humane Association watchmen.

(On the other hand, the long-term effects of the use of animals in the entertainment industry is still to be reckoned with. Southern California is dotted with grungy shelters for retired movie animals run by mostly broke ex-movie people. For example, 11:00 in [warning: lots of commercials to sit through], here's the old HBO series Tracey Takes On in which TV star Linda Granger directs a fund-raising video for the Aged Animal Actors Home owned by Australian stuntwoman Rayleen Gibson [who was raised by dingoes, but that's a different episode].)

However, that kind of old noblesse oblige logic is severely out of fashion these days in which the concepts of equality, rights, and majority oppression of minorities dominate thought. World War C is, of course, largely metaphorical, and thus pointing out that bringing chimpanzees to America has proven to be a mistake is not welcome.

As this NYT article on Professor Wise's crusade implies through its absence, there appears to be little appetite for a fight through the democratic process to improve treatment of chimpanzees. Instead, there's a growing desire for chimpanzees to be the next minority victim group whose equality is vindicated by the Supreme Court (although World War C will likely have to get in line behind World War T and the waging of World War G in Eastern Europe).
Seven weeks later, on Dec. 2, Wise, a 63-year-old legal scholar in the field of animal law, strode with his fellow lawyers, Natalie Prosin, the executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project (Nh.R.P.), and Elizabeth Stein, a New York-based animal-law expert, into the clerk’s office of the Fulton County Courthouse in Johnstown, N.Y., 10 miles from Circle L Trailer Sales, wielding multiple copies of a legal document the likes of which had never been seen in any of the world’s courts, no less conservative Fulton County’s. 
‘I thought to myself, Well, if I’m interested in social justice, I can’t imagine beings who are being more brutalized than nonhuman animals.’ 
Under the partial heading “The Nonhuman Rights Project Inc. on behalf of Tommy,” the legal memo and petition included among their 106 pages a detailed account of the “petitioner’s” solitary confinement ... 
“Like humans,” the legal memo reads, “chimpanzees have a concept of their personal past and future

For example, chimpanzees can make plans. From the Los Angeles Times in 2009:
A chimpanzee named Santino has shown researchers that the great apes can plan ahead and execute carefully plotted maneuvers. Santino, the alpha male chimp at Sweden's Furuvik Zoo, planned rock-throwing attacks against zoo visitors, which shocked zoo staff and fascinated scientists. 
Writing in the journal Current Biology, Lund University doctoral student Mathias Osvath explains how Santino prepared an arsenal of rocks before the zoo opened, then waited until midday before throwing them at zoo-goers watching him across a moat around his enclosure.  
"These observations convincingly show that our fellow apes do consider the future in a very complex way," ...

More from the NYT article:
. . . they suffer the pain of not being able to fulfill their needs or move around as they wish; [and] they suffer the pain of anticipating never-ending confinement.” What Tommy could never have anticipated, of course, huddled just up the road that morning in his dark, dank cell, was that he was about to make legal history: The first nonhuman primate to ever sue a human captor in an attempt to gain his own freedom. ...
It has been only in the last 30 years or so that a distinct field of animal law — that is laws and legal theory expressly for and about nonhuman animals — has emerged. When Wise taught his first animal-law class in 1990 at Vermont Law School, he knew of only two others of its kind in the country. Today there are well over a hundred. Yet while animal-welfare laws and endangered-species statutes now abound

Huh? The history of animal-welfare laws is a lot older than Professor Wise's career. From Wikipedia:
Early legislation which formed the impetus for assessing animal welfare and the subsequent development of animal welfare science include the Ireland Parliament (Thomas Wentworth) "An Act against Plowing by the Tayle, and pulling the Wooll off living Sheep", 1635, and the Massachusetts Colony (Nathaniel Ward) "Off the Bruite Creatures" Liberty 92 and 93 in the "Massachusetts Body of Liberties" of 1641.[35] 
Since 1822, when British MP Richard Martin brought the "Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822" through Parliament offering protection from cruelty to cattle, horses, and sheep, the welfare approach has had human morality and humane behaviour as its central concerns. Martin was among the founders of the world's first animal welfare organization, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or SPCA, in 1824. In 1840, Queen Victoria gave the society her blessing, and it became the RSPCA. The society used members' donations to employ a growing network of inspectors, whose job was to identify abusers, gather evidence, and report them to the authorities. 
One of the first national laws to protect animals was the UK "Cruelty to Animals Act 1835" followed by the "Protection of Animals Act 1911". In the US it was many years until there was a national law to protect animals—the "Animal Welfare Act of 1966"—although there were a number of states that passed anti-cruelty laws between 1828 and 1898.[36]

Yet, this long legislative history, led by the Anglo world, seems to be dropping down the memory hole because it doesn't fit the contemporary paradigm of minority rights uber alles and the utter evil of the Bad Old Days of white men.

To carry on from the NYT article:
the primary thrust of such legislation remains the regulation of our various uses and abuses of animals, including food production, medical research, entertainment and private ownership. The fundamental legal status of nonhumans, however, as things, as property, with no rights of their own, has remained unchanged. 

It's not exactly as if property rights are absolute these days. There are already lots of laws -- such as the Endangered Species Act -- constraining your rights to do as you wish with your property. For example, Hairtrigger Dick Martin dragged a fruitseller into court 190 years ago for beating his donkey in violation of the Martin Act.

This legal campaign isn't really about improving the treatment of chimpanzees.
Wise has devoted himself to subverting that hierarchy by moving the animal from the defendant’s table to the plaintiff’s. 
... Wise’s increasing involvement in the anti-Vietnam War movement while at the College of William and Mary began to stoke a growing interest in social activism. ...
A few years later, while continuing to lecture in animal jurisprudence to law students, Wise revisited the famous case of Somerset v. Stewart. In 1772, the chief justice of the English Court of King’s Bench, Lord Mansfield, issued a writ of habeas corpus — a court order requiring that a prisoner be brought before a judge by his or her captor in order to rule on the legality of that prisoner’s detainment — on behalf of a slave named James Somerset, a being as invisible then to the law as any nonhuman. Mansfield ultimately decided to free Somerset from his Scottish-American owner, Charles Stewart — a landmark decision that would drive one of the first wedges into the wall then dividing black and white human beings from one another. ...

World War C is metaphorical.
Of course, a number of people both in the legal world and beyond find the very premise of seeking legal personhood for animals an oxymoron. There are, they assert, already ample protections available under current animal-welfare laws, on both the federal and state levels, without having to go down the practically and philosophically fraught path of extending a human right to a nonhuman. 

Or, if there aren't enough protections available under current animal-welfare laws, why not work to get legislatures to pass more? What about initiatives and referendums? Or are those means too democratic?
Richard Epstein
Richard Epstein, a New York University law professor, is an outspoken critic of Wise and of the notion of extending rights to animals.  ... “Steven is extremely ingenious,” Epstein told me in his N.Y.U. office in January. “I don’t think he’s a great intellect. He’s a man of tremendous persistence. He just doesn’t think there is any serious argument that can be made on the other side. It’s like watching someone with tunnel vision. . . . My attitude is this: There are two ways to think about it. He thinks of it as rights. I think about it as protection. You can guarantee the things he’s seeking through animal-protection legislation without calling them rights. I mean, you may want to enforce the laws better. I just think the argument of making animals into sort of human beings is what’s crazy.” ...

Welcome to the 21st Century mind, Professor Epstein. Democracy is de classe. A court decision is desired.

A triumphant Supreme Court vindication, and then the firings of the doubters haters can begin.
Ultimately, Wise is not interested in trying to distinguish between bad and better forms of captivity. What he is trying to provoke is a paradigm shift in how we think of our relationship to animals.  ...

World War C, like World War G and World War T is largely metaphorical:
“It’s those deeply held beliefs that I’m concerned about,” he told me. “The judge who either doesn’t recognize that he’s ruling against us on those grounds, or who does, and decides that way anyway. Our challenge is to lay bare that bias against our facts. I will say: ‘Judge, you know, we’ve been here before. We’ve had people who’ve essentially said, “I’m sorry, but you’re black.” Or “I’m sorry, you’re not a male or a heterosexual.” And this has led us to some very bad places.’ ” 
   
P.S., In the comments appears an interestingly radical rejection of the zeitgeist:
KarlosTJ Bostonia 13 hours ago 
Can I sue a chimp when it attacks me? When it steals from me?  
The fundamental property of "rights" is: reciprocity. Your right to your life is inherent in the belief that you hold my right to my life sacred - and vice versa. No animal can comprehend or respect the rights of humans - therefore, animals cannot have human rights.  
Giving animals "rights" is an attempt to destroy the term "rights". Animals can be given "protections", but that's all they are - because animals cannot reciprocate, or even recognize the protections. Activists believe they are improving the lives of animals by creating "animal rights" - what they are really doing is casting humans down to the level of animals. That is the definition of true hatred: hatred of human beings.

I haven't thought this through particularly, but certainly "reciprocity" is out of fashion and sheer Who Whom reasoning dominates, as in Justice Sotomayor's much-celebrated opinion this week on why Michigan voters can't be allowed to vote for equal protection of the laws: her team, which is The Good People, the Powerless Victims of The Bad People, lost the election.

 

81 comments:

Titus Didius Tacitus said...

We’ve had people who’ve essentially said, “I’m sorry, but you’re black.” Or “I’m sorry, you’re not a male or a heterosexual.” And this has led us to some very bad places.’ ”

Auschwitz!!

David said...

The concept of "rights" is rooted in the capacity of abstract thought and symbolic communication, which nonhuman animals do not have. (Operant conditioning is not the same as conceptual reasoning.) You can talk things over with people, in principle, and convince them or be convinced by argument; but you can't get a monkey (or an immature human) to stop stealing your cookies by arguing with it/him. The only law applicable to animals is the law of the jungle. If they could think in abstractions and communicate with us, then we would have to argue out an accomodation with them. As it is, they have no basis for legal status. They are ferae naturae, literally.

The capacity for pain isn't the basis of rights. Crushing it causes a bad feeling even in a cochroach.

Of course, if you enjoy causing pain, then you're sick and should be prudentially shunned or upbraided. If you harm an animal that belongs to someone, it's a property crime. A person who is cruel to animals should be noted.

But animal "rights" people aren't acting in good faith. Their goal is to subordinate people to animals, reason to nonreason, civilization to the jungle. We would see apes "testifying" in courtrooms (through well-paid "interpreters," of course), bonobos "mainstreamed" into classrooms, a general breakdown of society. Animal "rights" means not more than a form of active nihilism.

Antonio Jiménez said...

I find it very illustrative of the Anglo-Saxon culture the fact that the humane societies to prevent abuse to animals predate the humane societies to prevent abuse to human children.

Anonymous said...

World War C seems interesting but WW B is picking up steam.

Clippers owners caught on tape saying his girlfriend shouldn't bring Black people to games after seeing a pic of her & Magic on Instagram. The girlfriend is Black & Mexican.

http://m.tmz.com/#Article/2014/04/26/donald-sterling-clippers-owner-black-people-racist-audio-magic-johnson

dearieme said...

"on behalf of a slave named James Somerset, a being as invisible then to the law as any nonhuman": that's an odds way to phrase it. Slaves were "invisible" to the laws of England only in the sense that slavery had dwindled away sometime after the Conquest - there had therefore been no slaves to be visible to the law for centuries. The question was whether people coming from the colonies with a slave in tow were to be allowed thereby to reintroduce slavery. The court ruled "no". Quite right too.

Steve Sailer said...

"I find it very illustrative of the Anglo-Saxon culture the fact that the humane societies to prevent abuse to animals predate the humane societies to prevent abuse to human children."

Indeed.

It took the Earl of Shaftesbury until 1875 to get an effective law through Parliament setting a minimum age for chimneysweeps:

http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-axis-of-amnestys-ideology-of-cheap-labor

reiner Tor said...

The Nazis also introduced an animal protection law. Actually, that was one of the first things they did in power.

Titus Didius Tacitus said...

David: "But animal "rights" people aren't acting in good faith."

Right.

David: "Their goal is to subordinate people to animals, reason to nonreason, civilization to the jungle."

Or, as you note, to subordinate the kind of people who do useful work for a living to the kind of parasites that claim to speak for animals.

If trees have rights over humans, then, as any druid could tell you, the key question is "who speaks for the trees?" (Though we would be a lot better off with druids than we are with cultural Marxists.)

David: "We would see apes "testifying" in courtrooms (through well-paid "interpreters," of course), bonobos "mainstreamed" into classrooms, a general breakdown of society. Animal "rights" means not more than a form of active nihilism."

Legally represented bonobos will have to get palimony from transexuals brainwashed into getting into "relationships" with them, or "marriage equality" will be incomplete!

And if the Russians don't agree, a nuclear strike may be necessary.

This will be for the courts to decide of course. Rights can't be held hostage to the vagaries of majorities. (And still less so to the presumptively unjust will of former majorities, such as whites will soon be.)

Morris Dees, multimillionaire said...


But chimps live almost as long as humans, and need almost as much space to be happy. Yet, the adult males are so violent they need to be locked up away from people. The only institutions that can afford to meet these competing needs are rich zoos and some of the better-supported shelters far out in the countryside.

Thus, we American humans should act like responsible adult human beings and reduce the number of these subhuman dependents of ours who are in America to levels that we can afford to properly care for.


wink wink

Big Bill said...

World War Bestiality.

Once sheep, dogs and donkeys become quasi-human, the "Speakers-for-Animals" will fight for their right to make love to whomever they want.

We will finally admit that "animal cruelty" laws as a basis for preventing dog-on-girl action is false, no different than the laws against white-on-black action, and no less immoral.

Dogs and donkeys have a right to find fulfillment sexually with a human if they choose. The "real" issue is consensuality. Was the donkey doing the humping? Obviously he could have pulled out of Juanita any time yet chose not to.

"By what crude logic, your honor, can this mutual show of affection of two beings living together for years in a warm, nurturing, consensual relationship be considered 'animal cruelty'?"

YIH said...

Thus, we American humans should act like responsible adult human beings and reduce the number of these subhuman dependents of ours who are in America to levels that we can afford to properly care for.
Detroit is all the proof you need.

Anonymous said...

Why the sudden interest in chimps?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Or, as you note, to subordinate the kind of people who do useful work for a living to the kind of parasites that claim to speak for animals

Check out koko.org to see how far one crazy old woman with a gorilla can take this sort of thing.

There is an old transcript of an AOL chat from 1998 of Koko "communicating" somewhere out there that is tragically hilarious.

Anonymous said...

The problem can be resolved with a very simple observation: Chimps do not have rights but human beings do have responsibilities; or, to put it another way, humans are stewards of creation. But to suggest that all we humans are responsible actors and universally subject to moral constraints would seriously impede other objectives of animal rights activists and their ilk.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

You can guarantee the things he’s seeking through animal-protection legislation without calling them rights.

And the irony is, they'd win. They'd win in spades. Who doesn't want to protect cute, furry animals? But since the goal is to re-structure human society to favor these manic advocates and only incidentally to protect animals, that won't do.

Anonymous said...

dearieme:"on behalf of a slave named James Somerset, a being as invisible then to the law as any nonhuman": that's an odds way to phrase it. Slaves were "invisible" to the laws of England only in the sense that slavery had dwindled away sometime after the Conquest - there had therefore been no slaves to be visible to the law for centuries. The question was whether people coming from the colonies with a slave in tow were to be allowed thereby to reintroduce slavery. The court ruled "no". Quite right too."

Meanwhile, merchants in Liverpool were free to grow rich off the slave trade....and English planters in the West Indies were free to enjoy the fruits of slave labor....

Black Death said...

Who can forget the Red Rose Tea commercials?

TontoBubbaGoldstein said...

Bumper sticker idea for Hollywood:

If I had known this would happen, I would have acted in my own damn movies.

TontoBubbaGoldstein said...

@Anonymous @ 2:58am

I wouldn't particularly like my girlfriend attending a game with an athletic, charismatic, handsome, wealthy, HIV positive, black guy either.

There. I said it. I'm a bad person.

leftist conservative said...

Chimpanzee is a speciesist term. Primate-American is the preferred nomenclature, if you please.

leftist conservative said...

I agree that in general we treat animals poorly.

And in fact I think animals are a lot smarter and more self-aware than we give them credit for.

If you just watch the animated gif section of reddit for a couple years or so you will see gifs of short videos of pets and other animals that show that animals are quite self-aware.

I are far from a tree hugger, having grown up on a sheep ranch and having killed and butchered and eaten many types of animals, but I will be glad when we come up with synthetic meat. And I will eat it, if it is good.

Anonymous said...

"Wise's 25-year crusade to find one judge who will declare chimpanzees to be legal persons."

This corresponds to my own 25 year jihad to have Ham, of Cameroon, declared the first person in space instead of that commie Yuri Gagarin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ham_the_Chimp

Yuri Gagarin was red so he does not deserve a Wikipedia page.

Jean Cocteausten said...

The next rights expansion of course won't be for chimps - it'll be for kids.

We argue that kids cannot have the vote because they don't have the necessary wisdom - but this is the exact argument that was used to deny women and blacks the vote historically. It doesn't matter whether the argument is thought true or not by most people; certainly most people in 1865 did not think blacks capable of political reasoning, yet they got the vote anyway. All it took was an interested elite (the Republicans of the 19th century) that knew the blacks would vote for them.

Given the kinds of reasoning that are used to award people "rights" these days, it's going to become increasingly difficult to argue that 17-year-olds should be disenfranchised. Then it'll be 16-year-olds, and so on down the line. Illiteracy, and a complete lack of identification are no grounds for denying the vote; you're telling me the condition of being 17 years old is more of a disqualifier than that?

Kids voting would have some interesting consequences. The set of people who both have kids and who bother to vote skews notably conservative. People like that would suddenly take a great interest in impressing some fairly levelheaded political ideas on their kids. The days of conservative dad chuckling over his teenaged daughter's radical posturing would be quickly over. The Mormons would probably take over Idaho and Arizona the way they run Utah within a couple of election cycles.

Anonymous said...

Isn't hogocaust a more pressing issue?

Harry Baldwin said...

There was an interview on NPR's "On Point" recently with David Grimm, deputy news editor at Science and author of the new book “Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship With Cats and Dogs.” At one point Grimm described how the goal of achieving personhood for our pets could follow the same path by which personhood and full citizenship was established for blacks, at which point the interviewer, Jessica Yellen, had a cow, so to speak. Grimm hastily agreed with her that the comparison was "incredibly offensive" and tried to dig himself out of the hole.

At the On Point website, here is one of the comments:

Dee Dee B
David Grimm- You need a wake up call and owe people of color a real apology for your blatantly offensive comparison of “cat personhood” to the struggle of Black PEOPLE to attain civil rights in this country”.. Hitler did not consider Jews to be his equals either.. would you equate “cat personhood” to the Holocaust?

I was really enjoying listening to this topic on WBUR this morning until I heard this egregious comparison and my jaw dropped!.. as did several of my coworkers.. Jessica Yellen who interviewed you TRIED to toss you a clue to let you know how offensive your comment was politely informing you that " it was a parallel that would make most people uncomfortable"..(ya think?).. At which point you said ”exactly .. exactly.. followed by: A lot of animal advocates would say this is the only roadmap we have…"
REALLY!?

Yet then you ADDED to this blatantly racist comparison saying ” Again.. we have a class of people considered to be "wild animals" (Black) then co-opted them into “human” (white) society and considered them property… ” at which point the interviewer (Jessica Yellen) AGAIN TRIED to let you know how offensive this line of thinking is ..
Yet you continued.: ” but it is a roadmap some people have used…” REALLY?

Well I happen to be a staunch animal advocate who has adopted dogs and cats all my life : I also own my Own Dog food Company and My company a sponsor supporter of the MSPCA fund drives for homeless pet shelters ...and I am completely disgusted with your repeating comments denigrating people of color.. I know countless animal advocates and not a ONE of them would ever lend any credence to that garbage you claim
many " animal advocates" say..

The parallel was truly racist, offensive and disgusting and will deter many from buying your book.. Shame on you


It appears this topic may fracture the coalition of the oppressed.

reiner Tor said...

wink wink

Actually, I like this topic because i tend to agree with our host in both the allegoric and literal sense.

Anonymous said...

"The adult males are so violent they need to be locked up away from people. ... Thus, we American humans should act like responsible adult human beings and reduce the number of these subhuman dependents of ours who are in America to levels that we can afford to properly care for."

An obvious analogy suggests itself. We all know what it is.

To avoid misunderstanding, let's agree that all humans (regardless of race) have inherent rights and dignity that limit what others can morally do to them. Certain solutions are off-limits. That said, humane solutions are possible, as the Israelis have demonstrated with their Norplant program.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/26/opinion/a-beating-in-detroit.html?hp&rref=opinion

Anonymous said...

"As Wise started to formulate it further, he saw habeas corpus as a form of redress for the denial of a “legal person’s” right to bodily liberty, not necessarily a “human being’s.” At lunch, he outlined a broad spectrum of cases in which nonhumans have been held to be legal persons, like ships, corporations, partnerships and states. He invoked cases in India in which the holy book of the Sikhs was deemed a legal person, as well as Hindu idols. He spoke of a dispute between the Crown of New Zealand and the Maori tribe in which a river was held to be a legal person.
“A legal person is not synonymous with a human being,” he told me. “A legal person is an entity that the legal system considers important enough so that it is visible and [has] interests” and also “certain kinds of rights. I often ask my students: ‘You tell me, why should a human have fundamental rights?’ There’s not a single person on earth I've ever put that question to who can answer that without referring to certain qualities that a human has.”"

Anonymous said...

Legal personhood has absolutely nothing to do with an entity's ability to exercise powers or engage in reciprocal behavior. It's a recognition that the entity has interests that warrant legal protection. Newborn babies, even severely brain-damaged ones, are legal persons.

Anonymous said...

And yes, legislation can protect chimpanzees' interests. But legal personhood gives advocates of chimpanzees' interests access to the courts for judicial remedies. Legislation is a proven failure to protect animals' interests, and chimpanzees, like retarded people, have interests that the law should recognize warrant judicial protection.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Next we will see Michael Vick championing the civil rights of dogs.

Anonymous said...

The concept of "rights" is rooted in the capacity of abstract thought and symbolic communication, which nonhuman animals do not have.

It is not clear that all humans have this ability either.

Anonymous said...

The Nazis also introduced an animal protection law. Actually, that was one of the first things they did in power.

Truly, those Nazis were evil. Why, they even believed in welfare and they appealed to women voters.

Fake Herzog said...

You want to really get freaked out at what happened in old (foreign) film to animals, you need to see "Wake in Fright".

Anonymous said...

Dog whistle politics?

Anyone? Ferris? Ferris, you got anything to say?

pat said...

In your first article on chimps you mentioned Andy Serkis. Serkis has the distinction of being the tallest actor in Hollywood (as King Kong) and simultaneously being the shortest (as Gollum). Soon of course almost all actors will only appear on screen as digital representations. That's when Cary Grant and John Wayne return to the Silver Screen.

But I don't approve of the use of digital apes in "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes". When digitized film producers tend to create apes and monkeys that defy gravity. This is a temptation that movie makers don't seem able to resist.

It's not a problem with Spiderman or other super heroes of course. No flesh and blood creature could swing through the skyscrapers like spidy but it doesn't matter because its a fantasy. Similarly the 20 foot tall Navi in "Avatar" move like gibbons or spider monkeys. But there is fantasy gravity there.

But in "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes" the planet is earth and they are suppose to be real apes. Real gorillas move around quite deliberately except for short charges. In the movie they move very unrealistically.

They look real but they move fake.

Albertosaurus

pat said...

Shouldn't you have given Heinlein credit for this column? It reads just like "Jerry was a Man" as far as I can remember.

Albertosaurus

pat said...

Some think that the African grey Parrot is in fact smarter than a chimpanzee. I doubt if that's true but the parrot would probably make a better witness on the stand.

I'm told also that squid are actually smarter than porpoises - again that's probably and exaggeration - but it does raise the issue as to how much we are influenced by emotion and how much actual intelligence. Porpoises are famously sympathetic and cephalopods are said to have nasty personalities.

Finally why if Bonobos are so nice because they are so sex obsessed, why are they not used in preference to the nasty chimps?

Or maybe they already do. I was dating a nurse a while back who had me take her to the Oakland Zoo to see the chimp sex. They did not disappoint. Maybe they were really Bonobos. Who would know?

Sorry for so many comments. My car's in the shop and I'm stuck at home.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Serious thinkers about the problem posed by what modern human societies are doing to other animals notably don't use the "rights" framework. Peter Singer, adapting Jeremy Bentham's utilitarian reasoning, argues that all animals have a demonstrable interest in not suffering. His current work is devoted to raising farm animal welfare standards. If you have seen videos or read about what goes on in factory farms, you will probably have a hard time objecting to improving farm animal welfare.

Steven Wise is a lawyer with a social justice background, so he is working within the tricky "rights" framework. I understand where he's coming from and admire his passion, but, as someone that thinks that all our environmental and animal welfare problems are caused by Big Government and our modern welfare states, I have a hard time signing up for his program.

Think about this: what are the longterm ecological and animal welfare ramifications of a big, centralized national states with open borders and a robust "human rights" mainstream ethics?

... Declining mortality, explosive population growth leads to growing demand for land and animal products. This leads to growing human diversity (vomit), and way less biodiversity. It leads to an increasingly poor human population that can't afford to eat animals that were raised like they were raised since the Neolithic period until the 1950s, thus necessitating mass industrial farming of animals, and the conversion of wilderness into cheap housing and arable land.

....more rights and entitlements for ALL our human co-descendants, at the major expense of animals more distantly related. Not just farm animals. Check our Elizabeth Kolbert'' excellent and engaging "the Sixth Extinction" to learn about how your grandchildren may not ever see amphibians or bats in the wild. And why we don't have mastodons or great auks around anymore.

Animal advocates and environmentalists do not realize that government is the cause of our ecological crisis. Take away agricultural and fuel subsidies, take away SNAP and socialized medicine, take away all subsidies, how would the vast majority of American survive? Where would all the demand for cheap industrial meat and dairy go if Walmart's customers had no assistance?

Immigration reform and a welfare state means more poor educated humans with per capita ecological impacts that are historically unprecedented. It is a mystery to me why some small government conservative, like rand Paul, doesn't capture the hearts of white liberals who give a shit about the environment and animals by explaining to them the ecological effects immigration reform and food stamps.

Anonymous said...

The reciprocity argument that animals do not have rights because they are incapable of respecting other creatures' rights has been around quite a while. Rush Limbaugh, for one, articulated it 15-20 years ago and I doubt it was original to him.

Corn said...

I'm not as eloquent as KarlosTJ, but I've been saying this for years:
Animal rights people don't elevate animals, they demean people.

Baloo said...

Steve, you may be the Gavrilo Princip of World War C, N, and the whole trendy alphabet. Boy, are you ever linked!
The Mother Of All Blog Posts

Anonymous said...


Clippers owners caught on tape saying his girlfriend shouldn't bring Black people to games after seeing a pic of her & Magic on Instagram. The girlfriend is Black & Mexican.

_____________

And isn't the owner Jewish?

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.forward.com/the-shmooze/197147/donald-sterlings-disgraceful-racist-rant/

Anonymous said...

Serious thinkers about the problem posed by what modern human societies are doing to other animals notably don't use the "rights" framework. Peter Singer, adapting Jeremy Bentham's utilitarian reasoning, argues that all animals have a demonstrable *interest* in not suffering. His current work is devoted to raising farm animal welfare standards. If you have seen videos or read about what goes on in factory farms, you will probably have a hard time objecting to improving farm animal welfare.

An interest is not a right. And, as Sailer notes, there is a rich tradition in the West of good stewards objecting to the brutalization of innocent, largely defenseless domesticated animals by the more sadistic members of their own species.

It is more than an Anglo tradition. Montaigne's "An Apology for Raymond Seybond" is basically a protest against feel-good reformers proclaiming the intrinsic dignity and rights of man. The book is a paean to biodiversity and a denunciation of the great "mass of men." Pythagoras was another early advocate of animals, and before people who didn't eat meat were called vegetarians they were called pythagoreans. They Greco-roman tradition is full of "golden age" scenarios in which men and nature are in harmony. See Virgil's fourth eclogue, or ovid's metamorphoses.

It wasn't until the reform movements of the seventeenth century that you get the Levelers and other radicals claiming that, as descendants of Adam, all humans have EQUAL rights to use the earth and animals for their fruitfulness and multiplication. God created the earth as a resource for ALL humans, not just the tiny aristocratic minority. Then the population of humans was less than a billion. Growing human rights and governments constituted to defend them gives us over 7 billion today, and 9 billion by 2040. We are trashing the planet and torturing hundreds of billions of innocent animals, yearly, in order to secure the dignities and rights of third worlders who have no conception of stewardship or civilization.

Welcome to the anthropocene, where human diversity takes a big dump on biodiversity and the environment.

Anonymous said...

Thus, we American humans should act like responsible adult human beings and reduce the number of these subhuman dependents of ours who are in America to levels that we can afford to properly care for.

Wink wink indeed. Is this code or a "dog whistle? " I the writter actually being literal or using this to allude to a certain other group of individuals that modern western society must look after?

Anonymous said...

Thus, we American humans should act like responsible adult human beings and reduce the number of these subhuman dependents of ours who are in America to levels that we can afford to properly care for.

Wink wink indeed. Is this code or a "dog whistle?" Is the writter being literal or using this theme to allude to another African hominid group that western society must act as loco parentis for?

Ygri said...

"Their goal is to subordinate people to animals, reason to nonreason"

Warning! Ayn Randian Content to Follow! A = A, therefore rich people rule!


Anonymous said...

Don't bring chimps to my games

Ygri said...

Animal rights is a sentimental project to expand the scope of the most extensive set of legal protections a government can bestow: "rights."

The problem is that recognizing and protecting rights has cost to it, and at a certain point the whole scheme will collapse if rights keep getting extended to entities that don't pay their share of the cost of protection.

Ygri said...

That one liberal judge after another has rejected these animal rights claims is a sign of the strength and good functioning of our court system.

The animal rights people search around of the most bleeding heart judges they can find, then file their case in their district, but still keep failing.

The absolute funniest beginning to a legal decision was by a Massachusetts federal judge in one such case. It begins:

"This case is brought by Kama, a dolphin"

In a very dry opinion, the judge dismissed the case because *dolphins can't file lawsuits.* He found that in a few cases that suggested the contrary, the issue was not actually addressed by the defendants seeking dismissal, they just went along when sued by animals. In one of those cases, conservative appeals court superstar Diarmuid O'Scannlain, had some fun with the situation, which required he rule in favor of the plaintiff birdies:

"As an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, the bird (Loxioides bailleui), a member of the Hawaiian honeycreeper family, also has legal status and wings its way into federal court as a plaintiff in its own right. The Palila (which has earned the right to be capitalized since it is a party to this proceeding) is represented by attorneys for the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, and other environmental parties"

Ygri said...

Aren't all non-human primates really our mortal enemies, whose only possible use is in entrainment and scientific research?

AIDS and Ebola viruses both recently spread from monkeys to human beings. How many other monkey diseases are there out there just waiting to mutate and then kill off tens of millions of people and sicken hundreds of millions more? How many ancient killers like Bubonic Plague and Malaria came from other primates?

Frankly they aren't even cute when young, at least not compared with puppies, kittens, bunnies, or any of the furry zoo animals.

Anonymous said...

But animal "rights" people aren't acting in good faith. Their goal is to subordinate people to animals, reason to nonreason, civilization to the jungle.

Right. Though it's not that they want to actually subordinate all people to animals. What they want is to subordinate all other people to themselves. They have a supremacist, universal drive to subordinate all other people to themselves, and they hide behind an issue like animal rights while they pursue the goal of global supremacy.

Anonymous said...

Is Steven Wise any relation to Tim Wise?

Svigor said...

The capacity for pain isn't the basis of rights. Crushing it causes a bad feeling even in a cochroach.

Of course, if you enjoy causing pain, then you're sick and should be prudentially shunned or upbraided. If you harm an animal that belongs to someone, it's a property crime. A person who is cruel to animals should be noted.


I enjoy causing pain to cockroaches. I'd like to exterminate every species of cockroach.

Carry on.

Anonymous said...

I find it very illustrative of the Anglo-Saxon culture the fact that the humane societies to prevent abuse to animals predate the humane societies to prevent abuse to human children.

It took longer because legislation to prevent child abuse is profoundly inhumane. It involves the state intruding into the most primal human, animal relationship - that between parent and child.

Auntie Analogue said...


When I can hire ape-torney Simian Mason to defend me against charges filed by District Ape-torney Hamilton Baboon, then, and only then, will I support Wise's nonsense of animals having rights equal to those of people.

Anonymous said...

Always remember that when someone wants to give rights and privileges to some class, with the implication "they are as good as you", the real meaning is "You are no better than them".

So, nice middle class people, you are no better than mexican peasants, illiterate southern cotton-pickers, nor even animals. And that is how you shall be treated (and essentially have been since all this nonsense started shortly after WWII).

Steve Sailer said...

"Jerry Was a Man" by Robert Heinlein:

http://www.willmorgan.org/Robert_A_Heinlein-Jerry_Was_A_Man.htm

Silver said...

Human rights, chimpanzee rights, mosquito rights, bacteria rights - hard to see where it all ends. Ever killed a mosquito before it bit you? You ought to be jailed. And let's not even mention the torment of the hapless housefly.

Silver said...

You want to really get freaked out at what happened in old (foreign) film to animals, you need to see "Wake in Fright".

That's the kind of Australia I remember growing up. I wouldn't necessarily say I miss it, but whoever said the past is a foreign country didn't know the half of it.

Anonymous said...

OT. See Jerry Coyne's blog . He links to some very interesting data from R. J. Andrews who has created pie charts showing the daily routines of great people. Coyne asks, "Was Darwin a sluggard?"

Anonymous said...

look people, sometimes a chimpanzee is just a chimpanzee.

Steve Sailer said...

By the way, in the long article in the NYT, there's no discussion of why Tommy the obsolete chimp is stuck at the trailer-rental facility. It sounds like he lived there with his impoverished owner who died recently, so the landlord seems to be paying to feed Tommy as a favor to the memory of his late tenant. The landlord might want to give Tommy to a nice facility, or he might think Tommy is too old to go some place new. Or he might think he could get a few thousand dollars for him. There aren't a lot of ways to make money off an adult male chimp, so there would seem to be lots of relatively inexpensive ways to get Tommy out of his cage and to a donor-supported shelter besides taking his case to the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

http://danielkayhertz.com/2014/03/31/middle-class/

Demeaning middle America as 'racist' and 'reactionary' eases the conscience of urban lib elites who've reaped huge gains at its expense.

Globalism in effect 'sanctions' the middle, but that's okay since the winners are 'progressives' while losers are conservatives.
Since 'good guys' win, no need to worry about the demise of the 'bad guys'.

Anonymous said...

P.S., In the comments appears an interestingly radical rejection of the zeitgeist:
KarlosTJ Bostonia 13 hours ago


Can I sue a chimp when it attacks me? When it steals from me?
The fundamental property of "rights" is: reciprocity. Your right to your life is inherent in the belief that you hold my right to my life sacred - and vice versa. No animal can comprehend or respect the rights of humans - therefore, animals cannot have human rights.
Giving animals "rights" is an attempt to destroy the term "rights". Animals can be given "protections", but that's all they are - because animals cannot reciprocate, or even recognize the protections. Activists believe they are improving the lives of animals by creating "animal rights" - what they are really doing is casting humans down to the level of animals. That is the definition of true hatred: hatred of human beings.


There is a slippery slope here ...

Since certain groups of vibrant youths have demonstrated that they do not respect the right of out-group humans to life or property ... how would this concept of human rights or civil rights stand up when applied to them?

fnn said...

You want to really get freaked out at what happened in old (foreign) film to animals, you need to see "Wake in Fright".

"Professional licensed hunters" who get blind drunk during the hunt and start wounding their prey instead of making clean kills? I guess being a complete POS was part of the Australian identity in those days.

Whiskey said...

Steve, related Christopher Caldwell in today's FT has a column about the Supreme Court Decision. Basically the majority ruled that the precedent established in earlier decisions that any law or act that harmed non-Whites in any way could be overturned by Judges had limits. That political campaigns for initiatives or legislative acts could proceed, unless grossly discriminatory.

Sotomayor and the others held that Judges could overturn ANYTHING on the basis that non-Whites were harmed. That Democracy or rather representative Republican Federal Democracy was a sham and that only Judges being "better" mattered.

What is coming of course is Sotomayor's views being majority in the Court as Obama appoints more judges or Hillary or whoever.

So Animal Rights is just another thread in the idea that Judges being perfect human beings (as long as they are anti-White leftists) can rule on anything to perfect Plato's Republic or whatever Utopia is on the menu.

Pathetic.

Harry Baldwin said...

It is a mystery to me why some small government conservative, like Rand Paul, doesn't capture the hearts of white liberals who give a shit about the environment and animals by explaining to them the ecological effects immigration reform and food stamps.

There don't seem to be any environmentalists who are willing to put the needs of the environment above the needs of Mexican peasants to move here and collect benefits. The Sierra Club dispensed with its concern about immigration-fueled population growth when David Gelbaum gave them $100 million to shut up about it. Think what immigration-control groups could do with that kind of money, but unfortunately the billionaires are on the wrong side of this issue.

Bert said...

"Demeaning middle America as 'racist' and 'reactionary' eases the conscience of urban lib elites who've reaped huge gains at its expense."

Big city liberals have been doing this for decades. They never miss a chance to whine about those nasty working class jerks who refuse to subject themselves to black violence and depravity just so the city can devour their taxes. I think it's hilarious myself.

David said...

The distinction between interests and rights in this context is specious. Every living creature has interests at least by anthropormorphologization; so do inanimate objects by the same process. Humans are not disinterested immortal gods and therefore must put their species interests first in order to survive and thrive. A legitimate interest is a human interest or serves a human interest. (Thus the anthropormophologizing in the first place.) Reason and communication (or property) confer "rights." Regarding nonhuman animals, you could say we have several negative interests. One of these is avoiding inflicting suffering for its own sake, because it's a moral hazard to delight in or pursue sadism. A known childhood practice of many future serial killers is torturing animals.

But the minute they tell me I have to sit in the back of the bus because a Koala bear wants the front seat is the minute I go ape.

Anonymous said...

World War T vs World War C?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_Racer_(film)#Animal_cruelty

During its production, animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made allegations of animal cruelty against the film, reporting that one of the two chimpanzees used in the production was allegedly beaten after biting an actor.[35] The incident was confirmed by the American Humane Association (AHA) Animal Safety Representative on the set, who reported that the stand-in for the Spritle character portrayed by Litt had been bitten without provocation. The AHA representative also reported that "toward the end of filming, during a training session in the presence of the American Humane Representative, the trainer, in an uncontrolled impulse, hit the chimpanzee." The AHA Film Unit referred to this abuse as "completely inexcusable and unacceptable behavior in the use of any animal." The AHA has rated Speed Racer "Unacceptable" chiefly because of this incident, with AHA noting "the aforementioned training incident tarnishes the excellent work of the rest of production" and that it "has no method of separating the actions of one individual in the employ of a production from the production as a whole."[36]

-meh

Anonymous said...

David,

(1) how do you define species? Why must a human identify with organisms with whom she is interfertile, rather than, say, her family, race, co ethnics, citizens, and so on? I do not for a second buy that my interests are compatible with the other 7 billion humans on the planet. In fact, it seems much more reasonable to me that I am competing with most of those humans for resources. Also, for virtually all of history, until ww2, humans did not identify with their species, but with subgroups. We need to return to that.

(2) because of ecology, we actually need to be concerned about biodiversity and the long-term sustainability of our country's physical and biological systems. As american citizens, we need to be concerned about the interests of Americans farm animals and American ecological communities, because ultimately we depend on them for our lives.

Basically, I reject the notion that I should be concerned about the interests of some illegal alien because he belongs to the same species as I do, and not be concerned about the interest of the cows in the farms that supply my grocery store with dairy because our last common ancestors is farther back than Adam. I need cows more than I need Mexicans. I care more about cows more than I care about Mexicans. And I think that, ecologically, that is a rational, defendable position.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Baldwin, it is to the everlasting shame of the environmental movement that they sold out on immigration and population growth in the 90s. There are many who did not.

The raw, undeniable fact is that the more people you have in an area, and the greater their consuming power, the greater the ecological impact on that area. Less biodiversity, more animals in factory farms. More pollution. Take that message to the hipsters,and they will embrace it.

Anonymous said...

Honey Badger Houdini

Honey badgers escape from their enclosure using anything from mud balls to rakes.

-meh

Anonymous said...

While we're getting all science fiction-y, in John Varley's novel, Steel Beach, a sect called the Earthists bio-engineered their bodies to be natural habitats for animals. Animals used for meat also negotiated how many members of the herd would be culled each year.

Bringing the point full circle, the novel also has a curmudgeonly group called the Heinleiners.

David said...

>the interest of the cows in the farms<

If you change that from "the interest of" to "our interest in," then I'm with you.

Anonymous said...

In one of his books, E. O. Wilson actually talks about how if one of our hominid relatives had survived until today, they would be the ultimate victim class to be upheld by Marxist politicians. I wish I could remember the book and chapter.

Steve Sailer said...

Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winner "On Human Nature."

Anonymous said...

Sorry for so many comments. My car's in the shop and I'm stuck at home. - Albertosaurus

Always interested to read your comments.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if in Wake in Fright we arent seeing a variant of a certain groups fear/hate of the rural white?

The shortcomings of non-whites, rural or otherwise, have become all but invisible on screen and if depicted at all are a form of 'authenticity' keeping it real at most.