Can Chimps Have Human Rights?

Can Chimps Have Human Rights?The New York Court of Appeals recently reviewed a mind-boggling case: a petition for the status of “legal person” for a chimpanzee. Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, is trying to gain human protections, including freedom from captivity, for a chimp named Tommy in upstate New York.

The animal rights activist bases his argument on the similarities between primates and humans. Wise states, “As a matter of both liberty and equality, Tommy should be seen as a person.” Steven Wise goes further by claiming his captivity is “a morally wrong thing to do.”

Last December, a judge from Montgomery County threw out Wise’s writ of habeas corpus for the 20-year-old chimp. In addition, three other cases filed for chimps in New York were discarded.

Showing sympathy, Justice Joseph Sise said Wise made a very strong argument, but could only agree insofar as habeas corpus applied to chimps. The judge added, “Good luck with your venture. As an animal lover, I appreciate your work.”

Unwilling to take no for an answer, Steven Wise took the case to the state Appellate Division on October 8.

Why is Steven Wise pushing for human rights for an animal? He states himself: equality.

In ultimate analysis, cases like this join in a universal process, which has as a goal, the destruction of all inequality. After the distinctions between man and animals are gone, there will logically be a push for equality of man and nature. If nothing differentiates man from the rest of creation, what would stop him from declaring himself equal to God?

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