Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Kangaroo court in Austria to decide if chimp is human

I'll get back to the discussion about the "charade of veganism", but I felt that this story is just too important to pass up. As you can read in the article, a court in Austria is set to rule if a chimpanzee is human. There is so much much utter absurdity in this story that it really deserves close analysis.

First, notice the comment about the chimp recognizing himself in the mirror, playing hide and seek, etc. Just how is this proof that the chimp is human? Isn't being human dependent upon being a member of the species Homo sapiens ? Indeed, that is specifically how the American Heritage Dictionary of Science defines the term human: "a member of the genus Homo, especially H. sapiens". That to me seems to be a much more workable, rational definition of the term human, rather than trying to define the word by some arbitrary, vague set of behaviors. My pet scarlet macaw is able to say his own name, along with a plethora of other words. Does this make him human also?

The next statement here that I find to be of great importance is this one: "If Hiasl is granted human status- and the rights that go with it- it will signal a victory....". This begs the question that if the chimp is granted human status and the rights that go with it, will he also be burdened with the moral responsibilities that also go with human status? Responsibilities such as respecting other persons' life and property, obeying the law, etc. If not, why? After all, the flip side of rights is responsibilities. If Hiasl, or any other chimp, is not capable of taking such moral responsibilities, and in fact doesn't even possibly posses the potential to take such responsibility, then really, by what logic should he be granted full human status?

Notice next the statement that one of the central arguments in favor of human status is that chimps posses 96-98.4% shared DNA with humans. But so what? Since when does being 98% of something qualify as "full" status? For example, if we have a sample of a metal that is 98% gold, can it be considered as being fully composed of gold? Of course not, such a notion would be both false and absurd. The same logic applies here. Common sense ( which seems to be in short supply in this case ) dictates that being 98% genetically the same as a human is not the same thing as being fully human. One must also ask this question: if sharing 96-98% of DNA with humans qualifies an organism as human, then where is the cutoff point where we say that something no longer is human? 95%? 94%? And furthermore, why is this cutoff point chosen, and how is it non-arbitrary? Mice share 90% of their DNA with humans. Should they be considered human also?

The astute reader will also notice that the article refers to the judge in this case, Ms. Bartl, as an "animal rights campaigner". If Ms. Bartl is indeed an ARA, then how can she possibly be unbiased and impartial in this case? The fact that she has not recused herself in this case because of possible conflict of interest should be appalling to anyone who values an intellectually honest, impartial legal system. It makes this out to be nothing more than a complete farce, an utter kangaroo court.

The last paragraph of this story contains the daftest part of it. I thought I was going to die of laughter when I read it. Notice that Mr. Balluch, who has brought this case, claims that Hiasl is capable of managing his money! One can't help but wonder what Mr. Balluch is smoking. What proof can Mr. Balluch offer that any chimpanzee is capable of financial management? What a patently absurd statement. Sheer, unadulterated lunacy. And ARAs wonder why they and their beliefs are so frequently the target of scorn and derision. Mr. Balluch's comments are a prime example of why. That which is ridiculous, by definition, deserves ridicule. I must ask, if Mr. Balluch is indeed convinced that chimps are capable of managing money, would he be willing to hire one to be his own personal financial advisor? Don't hold your breath.

This story contains so much absurdity, so much insanity that it is tempting to laugh at it. It would be funny, except for the fact that the kind of ideologues and social engineers, and their allies in activist courts, that like to push these kinds of things are dead serious in forcing their agenda upon society. We must be vigilant if we are to protect our freedoms. This, I think, will be a case to watch closely. Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic about this one; the deck already seems to be stacked against reason. I'm glad I'm not a European, particularly an Austrian.

No comments: