Earlier this month an American animal rights group made a push to gain legal recognition for the personhood of non-animals.
Earlier this month an American animal rights group made a push to gain legal recognition for the personhood of non-animals. Representatives from the Nonhuman Rights Project filed three separate suits in New York, in each case claiming that an animal had had his rights denied by his owners.
The first to be lodged was that of Tommy, a chimpanzee, who is being held captive in a cage in a shed at a used trailer lot in Gloversville, NY. In that case, the judge rejected the claim, but expressed his sympathy for the case of NRP.
Judge Ralph A. Boniello said, “I’m not going to be the one to make that leap of faith”, but he said that the arguments of the group were sound and he wished them the best of luck in campaigning for legislative action.
Despite this setback, NRP’s lawyer Steven Wise is confident that the campaign will progress: “I think that people in the future will look back,” says Wise, “and see this as the opening salvo in a sustained, strategic litigation campaign that led to a breach of the personhood barrier which currently divides humans from non-humans.”
Jennifer Mason of Personhood USA expressed grave concerns about the premise of the campaign: “The most dangerous flaw in these lawsuits is the premise that personhood is based on cognitive abilities. Cognition or self-awareness is not a standard to determine personhood. If that were so, some disabled people, infants, and elderly determined to have fewer cognitive abilities than others could be labelled non-persons”.
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