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Should Chimps Have Human Rights?

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the our-brothers'-keepers dept.

The Courts 1019

An anonymous reader writes "A Brazilian court has already issued a writ of habeas corpus in the name of a chimp. And now an Austrian court may well decide that a chimpanzee is a 'person' with what up until now have been called human rights." From the story in the Guardian/Observer: "He recognizes himself in the mirror, plays hide-and-seek and breaks into fits of giggles when tickled. He is also our closest evolutionary cousin. A group of world leading primatologists argue that this is proof enough that Hiasl, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, deserves to be treated like a human. In a test case in Austria, campaigners are seeking to ditch the 'species barrier' and have taken Hiasl's case to court. If Hiasl is granted human status — and the rights that go with it — it will signal a victory for other primate species and unleash a wave of similar cases."

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well ... (-1, Flamebait)

polar red (215081) | about 7 years ago | (#18600903)

The US has a monkey president ..[/obligatory]

Short Answer: (5, Insightful)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | about 7 years ago | (#18600929)

No. Just no.
Animal cruelty is one thing, but writs for Chimps? Seriously now...

Not *full* humans rights, but see Spain... (4, Informative)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | about 7 years ago | (#18601095)

FYI there was a proposal in Spain [blogspot.com] to give to all the non-human Great Apes some very basic rights (they cannot be killed, tortured or keep in captivity).

And the scientific name for Great Apes (humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans) is hominids [wikipedia.org] and we have in common more of 97% of our DNA even with the more different of them (this obviously doesn't make them automatically humans).

Re:Not *full* humans rights, but see Spain... (4, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 7 years ago | (#18601233)

FYI there was a proposal in Spain to give to all the non-human Great Apes some very basic rights (they cannot be killed, tortured or keep in captivity)
But it's OK to do it to other animals, e.g. bullfighting?

Re:well ... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18600987)

does no editor look at the fucking date stamp? jeez, this must be the latest april fools i have ever seen. only on slashdot. the real monkey is kdawson.

Re:well ... (-1, Flamebait)

jkrise (535370) | about 7 years ago | (#18601023)

The US has a monkey president ..[/obligatory]

Monkey --> Ape --> Gorilla --> Chimpanzee --> Missing Link? --> Man

Most people think the president has evolved to Chimp atleast.

http://www.bushorchimp.com/ [bushorchimp.com]

When dissing, diss properly, or do not diss at all.

Re:well ... (4, Informative)

onion2k (203094) | about 7 years ago | (#18601255)

[blockquote]Monkey --> Ape --> Gorilla --> Chimpanzee --> Missing Link? --> Man[/blockquote]
This is a common misconception. There's no missing link that shows chimpanzees ever evolved into humans. The "missing link", if found, would demonstrate that both species came from a common ancestor millions of years ago before the two evolutionary paths diverged.

Re:well ... (1)

carpe_noctem (457178) | about 7 years ago | (#18601211)

Maybe in this case it would be more beneficial to not give chimps the same rights as humans.... muahahaha, off to the vivisection lab with YOU, curious george!

Great Apes Project (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18600917)

See also: Great Apes Project [greatapeproject.org]

Re:Great Apes Project (4, Insightful)

kestasjk (933987) | about 7 years ago | (#18601073)

Rights come with responsibilities. If we give chimps human rights will they pay their taxes and obey the law?

Treating them humanely doesn't have to mean giving them human rights.

Re:Great Apes Project (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601157)


"Rights come with responsibilities" is such an irritating sound-bite meme that doesn't really carry any meaning. Responsibilities are whatever burdens society deems fit to leverage on you that you are unable or not interested in removing.

Rights are whatever freedoms society either grants you or that you have managed to claim and defend.

I, personally, don't see the connection between the two. I don't "purchase" my right to life by paying my taxes.

Re:Great Apes Project (1)

Kierthos (225954) | about 7 years ago | (#18601235)

If they earn enough money to be taxed on their income, sure, why not?

Re:Great Apes Project (2, Insightful)

KDan (90353) | about 7 years ago | (#18601311)

The defendant shall henceforth be required to contribute one third out of every Banana to the welfare of the state.

- By order of: The Supreme Court of Kangaroos

I don't know (3, Interesting)

aussie_a (778472) | about 7 years ago | (#18600919)

I don't know if Chimps should have human rights. I think what we need to do is research that does work to gauge how well chimps could cope in human society when raised in that society and how intelligent they can then become.

Then compare that with the lowest human being and work your way up through the human being scale (if the chimp is better then the lowest human beings we have) until we find a type of human (most likely suffering some form of mental retardation) that is comparable with your average chimp. Then assign chimps the same rights as that human being has.

Unfortunately until now most research has been far too biased or faulty one way or another, and as such we don't know if chimps are equal to some humans. As such, how are we suppose to know if they deserve human rights?

Re:I don't know (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601013)

If a human "baby" is born without a brain, it's a human. By extending human rights on the basis of manifest intelligence alone you either end up in the lawyer driven hellscape of genetically modified sheep, mice, even rocks being people, or the eugenic distopia of a more sanitary version of ancient Sparta. It's probably better to just stick with the preturnatural sanctity of "human" life premise of much current law. After all, as much as I like dolphins, they're not the one's tasked with creating a socio-economic system capable of preventing an asteroid or comet impact saving the rest of everything larger than a cockroach. And as far as dolphins are concerned, that's pretty supernatual. If they don't like it, they're free to rise up and challenge us for supremacy.

Re:I don't know (4, Insightful)

cyclop (780354) | about 7 years ago | (#18601245)

If a human "baby" is born without a brain, it's a human. By extending human rights on the basis of manifest intelligence alone you either end up in the lawyer driven hellscape of genetically modified sheep, mice, even rocks being people, or the eugenic distopia of a more sanitary version of ancient Sparta.

I endorse the latter (though I wouldn't call it so).

A brainless (anencephalic, technically) human baby is genetically human, but it (no, nor he or she: it) shouldn't be really considered human. It's a mindless body -basically, it's meat. Sorry for the rudeness, but technically it's nothing different.

To me, rights should follow ALSO from mental capabilities. No being should suffer if it's not necessary, but why can we do medical experiments -and thus cause sufference- on well aware, thinking, self conscious chimps and we cannot do them on mindless human bodies (that wouldn't practically suffer)? To me it's pure non sense.

Re:I don't know (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 7 years ago | (#18601143)

Then compare that with the lowest human being and work your way up through the human being scale (if the chimp is better then the lowest human beings we have) until we find a type of human (most likely suffering some form of mental retardation) that is comparable with your average chimp. Then assign chimps the same rights as that human being has.

You must not have thought that through.

We have normal human beings in stable comatose states that pretty well enjoy the full spectrum of human rights, even though they exercise few of them. We have individuals coping with every sort of debilitating syndrome, disability, deformation, or disease one can imagine that are granted the full spectrum of human rights. We have ongoing controversy surrounding rights for unborn children, trying to establish at what point they should enjoy human rights protection with opinions ranging from conception to birth, while the majority of us think both of those options are wrong and yet are unable to satisfactorily pinpoint anywhere along the continuum of human development where it should be.

My point is, a normal healthy gerbil might be higher up than the lowest functioning recognized human beings. If that's your test methodology a chimp is a shoe-in.

That doesn't make them human. Nor should it make them eligible for human rights. That said, they are due some protections. No animal should have to suffer unduly, and we already have numerous laws regarding cruelty to animals and whatnot. And perhaps the higher animals merit additional protections.

I can easily see science developing more intelligent chimps capable of working in sweatshops in china. We'd be outraged if science introduced "Brave New Worlds" methods for 'holding back' human development to create a sub-human to use as slave laborer -- I think we should be equally outraged at the prospect of elevating apes into that same subhuman role.

Re:I don't know (2, Interesting)

cyclop (780354) | about 7 years ago | (#18601279)

I think we should be equally outraged at the prospect of elevating apes into that same subhuman role.

Why? They would probably experience a richer life than common apes nonetheless, provided they are of course treated with care and they have basic rights to rest, eat, be healthy and free time to play.

I remember that in the scifi book Rendez-vous with Rama of A.C.Clarke similar beings were engineered for janitorial tasks on spaceships. They were subhumans, yes, but they were extremly respected because of their role. Why can't it be so? What is outraging is that a lot of humans are still forced to do works that a subhuman (or a robot) could do, just to thrive and live.

Re:I don't know (1)

voisine (153062) | about 7 years ago | (#18601159)

You are making the assumption that intelligence is the primary requisite attribute for personhood. I'm not sure that's the right criteria. I think species is a better one. I'm more concerned that giving chimps human rights will lower respect for human rights that I am concerned about what rights chimps have. They may be able to communicate with us, they may have complex social structures, they may have feelings, but they're not humans. Pigs have all those attributes, maybe not in the same measure, but I don't want be told that I can't have my bacon because pigs have rights. There's no reason to be cruel to animals, but they are not human beings. Treating them as if they are degrades humans.

Chimps should have the right to vote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601175)

They're human too!

Re:I don't know (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 7 years ago | (#18601187)

May I make an elitist comment ?
I think a large portion of the /. crowd are reader of Science Fiction. I don't mean only space operas, I am talking about real anticipation here, those who question the nature of sapience, morality or the basis of human society. I am sure we are a good number here to have read a lot about it and to have thought a lot about it.
Those should know the very profound changes that a transition from "human rights" to "sapient rights" would bring. As much as I would like people embracing it all over the world, seeing adult dolphins having more rights than human foetus, I think making the transition today would bring open conflict with a lot of established (*cough* religious) moral beliefs.

It works both ways (1)

MarkByers (770551) | about 7 years ago | (#18601213)

> Then compare that with the lowest human being and work your way up through the human being scale (if the chimp is better then the lowest human beings we have) until we find a type of human (most likely suffering some form of mental retardation) that is comparable with your average chimp. Then assign those human beings the same rights as that chimp has. In other words, lock them up in a cage in a zoo and laugh at them.

There, fixed it for you.

Genetic research (1, Interesting)

DrYak (748999) | about 7 years ago | (#18601289)

In term of genetic phylogeny research has shown (by counting the number of mutation 'distance' between species to assert divergeance and subsequently putting them in a tree) that the chimp is our direct ancestror.

Not some distant cousin. Our direct great-grand-father.

They had some over population problems. The tree got overcrowded. They kicked out some individuals to free space in the tree. 6 millions laters, the kicked out individuals came back with chainsaws to cut the damn tree in a sort of ironic genetic revenge.

Kinda self-explanatory... (1)

daddyrief (910385) | about 7 years ago | (#18600931)

Isn't it in the name?

Human rights?

Re:Kinda self-explanatory... (1)

FredDC (1048502) | about 7 years ago | (#18600975)

My thoughts exactly, it's "human rights" not "primate rights"...
What's next? Chimps should be given the right to vote? Chimps can drive cars?
I am pro animal protection and all but this is just ridiculous...

Re:Kinda self-explanatory... (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | about 7 years ago | (#18600979)

The name's racist. Animals deserve many of the protections and guarantees embodied in what we call "human rights."

All it means is that the category needs to be renamed.

Re:Kinda self-explanatory... (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | about 7 years ago | (#18601019)

When I hear this kind of arguments, it kind of makes me sad. Granted, you can give rights to animals even if they would never give you the same rights ... we already do the same with killers. But to give what is defined in human rights to animal ??? Do you even get out of your home and country ? Or the most exotic thing you have seen in the world is your cat ?

There are hundred of millions people dying out there for non respect of basic human rights. Clean in front of your own door before to look at other's.

Re:Kinda self-explanatory... (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | about 7 years ago | (#18601087)

What's particularly sad is your narrow vision.

Just because we haven't solved the biggest problems doesn't mean all the others should be ignored. Should we stop trying to cure AIDs because we haven't killed cancer, and people in Africa will die of cancer instead? Of course not.

Why shouldn't animals be afforded the right to exist in a suitable environment, free from molestation and protected from harm? Nobody's saying they should get to vote, but what makes humans deserving of protection from harm and not anyone else?

How can you say that an animal would "never give you the same rights"? Have you experience on a planet where humans are livestock and dolphins run the show? We should protect the environment and wildlife precisely because we're the only ones who CAN and simultaneously pose the greatest harm to them.

That gives me an idea (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 7 years ago | (#18601147)

Or the most exotic thing you have seen in the world is your cat ?

Come to think of it, you have a point there, my cat certainly deserves citizenship.

After all, the fuzzy things managed to tame humans, so it kinda says something about where they are in a sorted list by IQ. Plus, you've seen how they're attracted to books you're reading, or to your keyboard. They're natural nerds, I tell you ;)

Second, but probably more important, giving cats a right to vote can't _possibly_ make it any worse. When was the last time you saw a cat torturing another cat for fun, or to scare the other cats into submission? When was the last time you saw a cat go to war? For that matter, when was the last time you saw a cat kill another?

I mean, sure, they fight, but with the natural weapons they have they'd be perfectly capable of taking each other apart if they wanted to. The species however has clear rules of engagement and of signalling "I surrender" or "I'm not a threat, don't attack me". Plus, most of the fights you get to see are either (A) actually playing/training, or (B) because humans force them into situations where the normal conflict resolution mechanisms don't work. E.g., bringing another cat on the territory of another without all the "rituals" (so to speak) normally associated with joining another group, and without the possibility to just go away.

Plus, they have built in mechanisms to avoid needing a war in the first place. Most felines release a number of eggs based on how well fed the mother is. So if the cat can barely feed itself, it will at most give birth to one kitten or two. If it's doing perfectly well, it will do its part for population growth. So it's hard to end up in a situation where they'd need to start a war for resources.

So I have to wonder how much worse it could possibly be if the cats could vote on issues like the stupid war in Iraq. My take is that it couldn't be any worse than letting humans do it.

Re:Kinda self-explanatory... (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | about 7 years ago | (#18601137)

Oh! So that's where we went wrong. We shouldn't have called it human rights, we should have called it Caucasian rights. If only our ancestors had of had that foresight, I could have my black slaves working for me still. Damn our ancestors and their lack of foresight!

Re:Kinda self-explanatory... (1)

TheEmptySet (1060334) | about 7 years ago | (#18601145)

Not that I think the proposal is practical, but: By any sensible metric (behavioural or especially genetic) the pygmy chimp is much closer to us than the to other primates. The question should be whether homo-troglodytes deserves the same rights we would afford to cro magnon man or neanderthals.

Is it still April Fools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18600933)



Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18600939)

I'll never give rights to those damn, dirty apes!

How about human rights for humans? (5, Insightful)

Virtual_Raider (52165) | about 7 years ago | (#18600949)

Not long ago certain former "leader of the free world" took away its citizens' habeas-corpus provision. Every MINUTE a person (in the up-until-now traditional sense) dies of malnutrition or trivially treatable diseases. I'm all for the ethical treatment of animals but we do have more pressing problems.

Re:How about human rights for humans? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | about 7 years ago | (#18600965)

So wait, we should continue to torture beings that are quite possibly sentient and intelligent and could be a productive member of society just because there's a human who doesn't have enough food to eat? Wow. Just, wow.

Re:How about human rights for humans? (-1, Troll)

GearType2 (614552) | about 7 years ago | (#18601027)

Not to sound racist but.... MONKIES BELONG IN TREES! There, I said it. The giant elephant in the room has been pointed out by me.

Re:How about human rights for humans? (4, Insightful)

Virtual_Raider (52165) | about 7 years ago | (#18601045)

Quite bluntly put: yes. Like I said, I am in favor of ethical treatment of animals, but that doesn't extend to granting them rights that we can't even assure for other humans. Your empathy and mine are placed on different subjects, you feel for possibly sentient beings which is commendable. I feel for beings known to be sentient beyond doubt. I will never turn into a chimp, but I may very well one day end up being one of the dispossessed.

Re:How about human rights for humans? (0, Flamebait)

aussie_a (778472) | about 7 years ago | (#18601201)

Now if only we had of had that logic when it came to granting blacks equal rights. "Let us oppress the blackie until all Caucasians are no longer starving. Let us cut the blackie up and perform experiments on it to improve the Caucasian until there exists no Caucasian whose stomach grumbles at night. I'm all in favour of ethical treatment of animals, but that doesn't extend to granting them rights that we can't assure for other Caucasians."

I will never turn into a chimp, but I may very well one day end up being one of the dispossessed.
You have no empathy, you're merely selfish and looking out for yourself. I pity you, and if you are white, I hope you never consider oppressing blacks is a good solution. After all, you would as soon turn into a monkey as turn into a black.

Re:How about human rights for humans? (1)

cyclop (780354) | about 7 years ago | (#18601297)

I don't understand why granting realization of human rights to humans and endorsement of primate rights are mutually exclusive.

Re:How about human rights for humans? (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | about 7 years ago | (#18601009)


Re:How about human rights for humans? (2, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | about 7 years ago | (#18601197)

I think that refers to the "free" in "leader of the free world".

Re:How about human rights for humans? (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | about 7 years ago | (#18601253)

Huh. For a website full of computer programmers, you'd think that syntax would be well-entrenched. Too bad the brain doesn't halt on compiling errors.

Re:How about human rights for humans? (1)

Godji (957148) | about 7 years ago | (#18601057)

Well, we will always have more pressing problems. If let this be a reason (excuse) not to solve the less pressing ones, then as a society we will stop achieving anything.

Re:How about human rights for humans? (1)

cnettel (836611) | about 7 years ago | (#18601061)

For chimps, it's rather simple. Even if every single chimpanzee on Earth died this year, it would not even be a dent in the overall statistics for the number of persons (whatever the definition) on the planet.

I agree with the sentiment, though. Extending the rights to organisms that can never really claim them themselves, is quite peculiar. On the other hand, making that the single basis could lead down the road of revoking the rights for some human beings, but I find the species barrier convenient, and it certainly currently avoids issues taking up time in courts determining who is a person and who isn't (ooops...).

Re:How about human rights for humans? (-1, Offtopic)

shird (566377) | about 7 years ago | (#18601169)

Have you ever waited in line to buy a hamburger? Shouldn't you have used that time to save those people from malnutrition? In fact, what are you doing buying a burger, shouldnt that money have gone towards savining those people from malnutrition?

What are you doing posting on slashdot? Shouldnt you be out saving those people from malnutrition?

Think of the children!

Give me a fucking break. Mod parent down.

Anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18600955)

Noticed the datestamp on this "news".

1 of april, so I guess it is a first april spoof.

I predict (0, Flamebait)

RelliK (4466) | about 7 years ago | (#18600959)

creationists will go apeshit!

Re:I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601049)

Yes! For that reason alone, we must support this. Those idiots are beyond the reach of rational argument, so we might as well just piss them off into apoplectic rages.

Re:I predict (1)

value_added (719364) | about 7 years ago | (#18601207)

creationists will go apeshit!

I think it might unnerve them, but they may be more accepting at first. Everyone likes cute animals, right?

The problem is that the concept of rights is an evolutionary one (cough), so granting human rights implies/infers other rights. Remember we're talking about a term which has legal significance. I doubt you can confer one right and discriminate on the basis of the amount of body hair or a preference for fruit to exclude other rights.

And then, where would those rights begin and end? The right to free speech, free association, the right to vote, etc. Well, that last one might be an improvement. What would really gall the creationists is two chimps that wanted to mate. Sex outside of wedlock is A Bad Thing, so they'd have to be married first, right? And that would require redrafting the current crop of constitutional marriage amendments to read "gays or chimpanzees". And because homosexuality in chimpanzees is hardly unusual, that would leave you with "gays, chimpanzees, or gay chimpanzees", leaving the legislators to contend with anyone, gay or otherwise, who wants to enter into a union with a chimpanzee.

Awesome! (4, Funny)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 7 years ago | (#18600963)

If they get Human Rights, can I get Animal Rights, like flinging my poo at my boss when he annoys me?

Why not? (1)

quokkapox (847798) | about 7 years ago | (#18601299)

As long as you don't mind him "grooming" your wife and daughters when you're not around.

Seriously, why don't we humans just try to grow up and respect other [near-]sentient life forms more, in general, when possible. We could start with not blowing each other up with suicide bombs and JDAMs. Maybe move on to not killing elephants just to saw off their teeth to make jewelery. Work on not killing the other primates for meat and dolphins for sport too.

Our species has a loooong way to go on morality. If we don't sort these things out, we're not going to make it.

sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18600967)

just as soon as he learns how to file his tax return

Re:sure (4, Insightful)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 7 years ago | (#18601125)

just as soon as he learns how to file his tax return

Or, more generally: rights come with responsibilities. Which is something most of the animal rights movements fail to acknowledge.

Re:sure (1)

wall0159 (881759) | about 7 years ago | (#18601227)

"rights come with responsibilities."

I don't think that's as true as you think it is. Next thing you'll be saying cannibalism is ok, as long as you only eat people who don't vote!

Re:sure (1)

aussie_a (778472) | about 7 years ago | (#18601239)

Wow, I love that logic. Let's keep oppressing the blackie who has grown up in another society. Let us not educate them or give them any education. Instead let us keep the blackie locked up in cages for our amusement and medical benefit. But hey, the second the blackie learns how to file a tax return, we'll let him out of his cage.

By that standard (5, Interesting)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 7 years ago | (#18600989)

By that standard, shouldn't people, say, in vegitative states or with extreme cases of metal retardation be legally not human, and therefore eligible for the hot dog machine?

On Penn & Teller's Bullshiat, a show with many many many subtle flaws despite it's many many many good parts, they once had a little bit in the PeTA piece about how if animals have rights, then therefore they should have responsibilities. When I first heard this I thought at first that this was just a bit of flat humor, but then it occurred to me that this was actually a very powerful argument. Fine - if the primate deserves equal protection under law, then he should get equal treatment under law as far as paying taxes, sending his offspring to school, not assaulting people by climbing on them, being hygenic, etc.

Re:By that standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601129)

Fine - if the primate deserves equal protection under law, then he should get equal treatment under law as far as paying taxes, sending his offspring to school, not assaulting people by climbing on them, being hygenic, etc.

And not spying for the French [wikipedia.org] , of course.

Re:By that standard (1)

De_Boswachter (905895) | about 7 years ago | (#18601173)

if the primate deserves equal protection under law...
Humans are primates too! According to taxonomists: Eukaryota; Metazoa; Chordata; Craniata; Vertebrata; Euteleostomi; Mammalia; Eutheria; Euarchontoglires; Primates; Haplorrhini; Catarrhini; Hominidae; Homo.

Re:By that standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601291)

A in B does not imply B in A.

The fact that humans are primates, and that humans have human rights, does not imply that primates have human rights.

Metazoa rights do not encompass the same things as Primate rights (the set of Metazoa rights covers next to nothing; the endangered species list is the only thing I can think of and it's not very consistently applied), which do not now (maybe someday, but I doubt it) encompass the same things as human rights, although humans have ALL of these rights.

Re:By that standard (1)

wall0159 (881759) | about 7 years ago | (#18601189)

...or you could argue that primates already do that in their own civilisation, where they live (and where humans keep "invading"). Giving other primates human rights doesn't mean they should be forced to work at Walmart.

Re:By that standard (1)

Mr. Shotgun (832121) | about 7 years ago | (#18601295)

Besides the obligatory image of bananas arriving by the bushel at the IRS, that does propose and interesting idea.
What if we did try and extend legal obligations and protections to the animal kingdom. How would we go about enforcing them? Would we imprison violators like we do now with our human criminals? Would a dog that bites someone get 5-10 for assault, which would be a life sentence for the dog? What about animal on animal crimes? Or providing protection for prey from it natural predators, e.g. deer vs wolves? Would we try and rehabilitate a lion by trying to convert it to a vegetarian diet? Humans can make that decision easily, but I am not sure if trying to force an animal to go against it's natural instincts is such a good idea. All in all I think that trying to give legal rights to animals is just going to open a big can of worms, a can which may be outlawed as it constitutes a inhuman living environment for the worms.

A chimp is not a duman (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 7 years ago | (#18601007)

So why should it get human rights. The question should be if a chimp should get chimprights.

Should a chimp have the right to an opinion, the right to follow a religion, the right for education, the right for a fair trial, the right to be treated equally (to other chimps and humans?). Those are some of the human rights, and I don't think it applies much to chimps.

It's sad how poorly they are treated (3, Insightful)

edwardpickman (965122) | about 7 years ago | (#18601021)

Generally Chimpanzees are considered on par with the intellegence of a five year old child. Can you imagine having this discusion about the rights of a five year old child? Would anyone ever consider medical experiments reasonable on a five year old child? Yes they aren't human but genetically they are close. What if we do meet a more intellegent race? Is it okay to experiment on them and detain them simply because they aren't human? Certain rights should be expanded to include both less intellegent species as well as more intelllegent species. Whales, Dolphins and Great Apes should arguably have some basic rights as sentient beings.

Re:It's sad how poorly they are treated (2, Interesting)

mr_matticus (928346) | about 7 years ago | (#18601133)

The better question is, "if we encounter a superior race, are all the jackasses here willing to accept being killed for sport and used in experiments without legal protection?"

After all, if lesser creatures don't deserve any kind of respect, then logically we wouldn't if there were clearly superior beings. We'd be pretty annoyed if we were drugged or killed for fighting back, I'd imagine.

Re:It's sad how poorly they are treated (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 7 years ago | (#18601281)

What about cows, pigs and sheep? Chickens? Fish? Insects? Plants? Bacteria? Where do you draw the line, and what justification is there for treating any living organism differently from another?

Brazilian judicial system (2, Informative)

vivaoporto (1064484) | about 7 years ago | (#18601029)

Brazilian judicial system is similar to the U.S. one, each judge has the final say over his jurisdiction. Despite of that, Brazil is ruled by civil law, not common law, so the decision of that judge is completely irrelevant for jurisprudence. There are a lot of judicial activism there too, so it is not rare (but it still weird) that a judge bias can affect the decision, on this case, an animal right defensor judge accepting an animal as a litigant, back in the seventies, a judge acquitted a man that was on trial for murder accepting a witness statement from the dead friend which he had communicated telepathically with a medium [guardian.co.uk] .

Despite of those aberrations, judicial system in Brazil is not that ridiculous. It is massively slow and a lot of times unjust, but we are not near to give animals (or companies, for all that matters) full rights of a natural person.

Next, humans in the UK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601039)

Now that the monkey gets habeus corpus, perhaps we could
get apes to campaign for its reintroduction for humans
in the UK!

Must...be...said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601041)

I, for one, welcome our new simian underlings.

Why not? (1)

Unique2 (325687) | about 7 years ago | (#18601043)

He recognizes himself in the mirror, plays hide-and-seek and breaks into fits of giggles when tickled.

I have cow-orkers that would struggle with those tasks and I still have to respect their human rights.

think of the bovines (1, Funny)

symes (835608) | about 7 years ago | (#18601151)

I have cow-orkers

Nothing beats giving a cow a jolly good orking, I say.

As for the original idea of giving chimps human rights... first of all, it's probably a leftover April fools story. Even so, imho, you can't give primates human rights in the same way you can't give primates bowler hats and umbrellas, they just don't fit. Sure, develop primate rights and model them on human rights but blurring this species barrier to this extent is, imho, just plain daft. What next? Equal ops and positive discrimination?

What next? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 7 years ago | (#18601067)

If they win this case, will the chimp then be liable to pay taxes?
It may also need to be deported, since it doesn't carry a valid human passport.

Brazillian Legal system (1)

ColeonyxOnline (966334) | about 7 years ago | (#18601069)

The Brazilian legal system is as slow as the rest of our bureaucratic country. There have been instances of companies that declared bankruptcy and their property stayed in legal limbo for about 15 years. Most people I know do not use the court system, because it is painfully slow (compared to the US courts that is).

At least in Brazil, by the time the chimp gets anything done in court, he will either have moved on to some juicer bananas, or just evolved into politicians to enact laws for it's own benefit.

The chimp is being used by the activists (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601077)

I mean, from TFA, "vivisection laboratory" sounds too damn evil and their country doesn't seem to outlaw that activity.

They're mocking their own legal system instead of using the political way to outlaw that specific activity in their country.

Discrete errors (5, Interesting)

denoir (960304) | about 7 years ago | (#18601127)

One common mistake is to view different species as their own independent and crisply defined sets. This is at odds with the reality of evolution, which is a continuous process. There are many examples of species where the intermediate stages are alive [wikipedia.org] . This isn't the case for humans and chimps, but it illustrates the problem of dividing up species.

If we go by similarity to humans - we are apes. African apes, to be specific. That means that chimps are closer relatives to us than say orangutans are to chimps.

The intermediate stages from the common ancestor to the human and chimp branches are extinct, but that's just a coincidence, something that could have been the other way around. Looking at it that way the ethical questions become more difficult. When you can't define clear groups, the in-group/out-group ethics becomes difficult to rationalize.

Rather than an ethics based on questionable categories we need one based on functions - especially cognitive capabilities relating to suffering. When it comes to chimpanzees an the other great apes, the answer is very clear - we do need to give them rights. They may not understand it themselves, but neither do human children and we offer them rights and protection. Apes are a trivial problem - it becomes more difficult when you distance yourself further. What about cats, mice or even insects or one-celled organisms?

Yes (1, Insightful)

Flying pig (925874) | about 7 years ago | (#18601139)

Most of the posts so far just display the general level of ignorance about the remaining primates. They still have basically a medieval world view about the status of human beings. Guys, get with the plot, we've had Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and we now know we are just one mammalian species on a small planet going round a medium sized star. We are not semi-divine beings essentially different from the other mammals, and the way we treat our relatives tells us something about ourselves.

There are now anthropologists who argue that modern man has been systematically eradicating the other hominids because of our peculiarly aggressive and expansionist nature, and we are now eradicating the other primate species. Is this something to be proud of? We won't even allow chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans a quite small range in which to survive. And we have a depressing tendency for one human group to apply this to other human groups. Not long ago - in fact, until now - some white Americans were arguing that black Americans belonged to an inferior species. It's part of a most unpleasant mindset that has given us genocide and species extinctions, and in a world where growing populations cause more competition for food, air, water and energy, it is something we somehow have to combat if we don't want the last World War to look like an Episcopalian convention by comparison with the wars to come.

Admitting that other large primates deserve the same rights we give ourselves in the West - the right not to be killed because somebody wants our land, the right not to be locked up in a featureless room and gawped at - is not only not unreasonable, it's part of rising above the aggressive little monkey in our own brains and improving our own chance of long terms survival.

Social Service (1)

jlebrech (810586) | about 7 years ago | (#18601141)

Will that mean that he will be able to claim incapacity benefit from the government.

That chimp is clearly disabled for a human, he cannot speak and sit up straight.

Just too fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601155)

If the slaves captured by UK, had been free only 200 years ago and nobody needs to apologize about that. The chimps must wait another millenium at least.

Re:Just too fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601275)

It was common for slaves to be sold into slavery by their own people. It's well documented, certain groups choose to ignore the facts for political gain. We see the same shit happening today all over Africa with it's despots and banana republics.

There just isn't the drama in having the real slave traders apologize to their own.

Sorry we sold you to whitey but we're kinda busy buying guns while our people starve, why not help end their plight? Buy 2 and get 1 free.

Why don't Chimps deserve the right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601165)

To live their life according to perverse laws that serve the wealthy
To work 60 hour weeks so that they can afford property
To be forced to pay taxes into a system that keeps them subservient
To slip below the poverty line when their jobs are outsourced

Chimps have it easy right now and they're of a comparable intelligence to the mouth-breathers that make up the god fearing 50% of the US population. Human rights and responsibility, let 'em have it I say; the chimps too.

only if... (1)

venicebeach (702856) | about 7 years ago | (#18601191)

Obviously this is only fair if humans are also given Chimp Rights!

For example, the right to throw poo at our neighbors, the right of adults to wear diapers in public...

OMG (1)

kentrel (526003) | about 7 years ago | (#18601203)

I'm 26!
I break into fits of giggles when tickled!
I recognise myself in the mirror!

What does this make me!??

excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601219)

so when we mow down their forest we will be legally obliged to offer them a bedsit in scunthorpe? who is going to cash their dole checks so they can buy bananas?

Yes and no (4, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 7 years ago | (#18601237)

I do not believe chimps should have human rights, but that we should improve the rights of all animals. It seems us humans see animals as... well animals. We often forget these are things with feelings and emotions just like we do. We should never think of killing another human because "that's wrong" but at the same time we rarely think twice about killing hundreds of animals for the sake of cheap wood or because some stupid reason like "I hate bugs". Basicly we're that asshole kid who runs around hitting everyone and it's about time we faced up to this, we scream and shout about global warming while at the same time completely missing the little picture where we're wiping out entire species of animals because we can't use basic birth control and have an over populated planet in some areas.

I want to point out right now I'am not some nutter who runs around bombing animal testing labs. I accept some things must be done such as conservation and culling of over populations in the animal world. This while not pleasent if something we need to do to keep a balance in wild life, I would not wish to stop it nor would I ever attempt to.

woa, what about (4, Interesting)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | about 7 years ago | (#18601247)

my dogs? They damn sure recognize themselves in a mirror, they fully understand what a mirror is and play games in the mirror. The make will sit in front of the mirror and look me directly in the eye via the reflection, he likes doing that. And he knows it's a reflection because as I move my hand up behind his head, he can see my hand in the mirror and he'll tip his head back to meet my hand. And he coordinates it perfectly. He really, fully understand what a reflection is and how they work and he enjoys playing mirror games.

They also play hide and seek and are smart enough to anticipate what the other will do and make strategic counter moves to "cut em off at the pass" when playing in the yard.
And they enjoy being petted and tickled, that's obvious to anyone with a brain. And they even have favorite words. Like my puppy, when I call her by her regular name she responds and comes, sits, stays, etc..
But when I call her "wiggly dog" she explodes into a fit of tail wagging like you've never seen, she wags her entire body, like a snake wiggling on the ground. You can tell she takes extreme pleasure in being called "wiggly dog".. The male, his favorite thing is when I call him "big dog", he gets all excited about that just like the puppy.

My dogs are intelligent. I demand they get equal rights too damn it!

In the other studies... (1, Funny)

jsse (254124) | about 7 years ago | (#18601261)

He failed to recognize himself from his own mistakes, plays monkey-dance in front of human of 120 average-IQ and breaks into chair-throwing fury whenever the word 'Linux' is being mentioned. He is also our closest evolutionary cousin that we choose to deny having relationship with. A group of world smartest nerds argue that this is proof enough that Ballmer, a 51-year-old human, deserves to be treated like a chimp.

Without strange choices,society could be difficult (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601301)

Let's say someone is sleeping at night. A cat is meowing loudly outside. The person goes out and beats it to death with a baseball bat. Should they be punished?

That question is something different societies have different laws on, and the debate about it is something that could split political parties, but more importantly, whichever law you enact could have a somewhat fundamental impact on the society.

But let's say you go with a situation where beating a cat to death for waking you when you sleep two nights in a row is illegal. Then should not;

1. Any other animal also have the right to avoid death, sudden or prolonged, including cattle? Such as rabbits in a field that are mangled by the use of treshers? How is killing rabbits in order to help yourself gather corn different from killing a cat that bothered your sleep?
2. Fish also have a similar right? Is fishing with a net anything else than a 'fish holocaust'?
3. And also bacteria? Why set a _size limit_ or _cuddlyness limit_ on what it's allowed to kill?

In all of these cases, a powerful argument could be made for why the activity in question should be illegal, and if delivered by a good speaker and a motivated group could sway at least a number of listeners. The distinction we currently have (cats/sleep no, rabbits/corn yes) has at least some elements of arbitrariness. But much more importantly, a legal decision on each of these would have enormous impacts on most societies. Get the right judge in, and what do you have? A coastal nation that can't fish without catching each individual fish live and euthanising it painlessly? A country that can't farm without the use of hand tools? It just sounds crazy because we are not used to doing it.

Chimps could very well be given 'human rights' and/or be placed inside the Convention of Human Rights, given the right arguments and the right speakers, and the reasons why they don't have elements of arbitraryness, like everything above. But the effects it would have are staggering - in some countries every able person would have to be set in as psychiatric carers at chimp hostels, and bullying chimps that harass other chimps would have to be identified and tried by courts. I trust that humanity's tendency for usually and in most cases pragmatically accepting easy solutions will win out.

The Date (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18601313)

Did anybody happen to notice the date on this news story? I call OMGPONIES on this.
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