November 2, 2011.
Carl Sagan, who was the faculty sponsor of Cornell University’s animal rights group, once asked, “How smart does an animal have to be before killing him constitutes murder?”
A variation on that might be: How intelligent does an animal have to be before enslaving her and forcing her to work against her will constitute slavery and involuntary servitude under the thirteenth amendment?
That is precisely the question that PETA is attempting to answer in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Diego. PETA’s suit asks the court to apply the thirteenth amendment to five orcas who are currently enslaved at Sea World quarters in Florida and California. PETA argues that the thirteenth amendment’s prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude does not specify human beings, and that these five orcas have all of the necessary attributes to warrant the amendment’s application to them.
The suit is worth reading—especially the sections that describe the capture of the five orcas out of the wild, the intelligence and behavioral attributes of orcas in their native habitats, and their current sad existence. The Associated Press explains that “[t]he lawsuit details the distinctive traits of orcas, the largest species within the dolphin family, including their sophisticated problem-solving and communicative abilities and their formation of complex communities. Naomi Rose, the Humane Society [of the United States’] marine mammal biologist, said there's a growing body of research suggesting that whales, dolphins and porpoises have the cognitive sophistication of 3-to-4-year-old human children.”
When I first read about the suit on PETA’s Web site, I was simultaneously impressed by the organization’s legal initiative and dubious at the lawsuit’s prospects. So I was delighted to read supportive words from constitutional virtuoso and Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe.
Read the rest here.
Comment: The animal rights fraternity across the globe will be watching this lawsuit very closely.
Reading this article makes me very sad and depressed about my own quest to become and stay vegetarian.
Last weekend I went with the moms and a friend of hers to an SPCA fund-raiser. We were the only people of color there.
Why do people of color generally not support sh*t that has to do with the humane care of animals?
That aside, the article above is right to press us to give up eating meat. It is a struggle in meat centered societies/cultures but it must be done (if even to cut down drastically for ethical reasons and not just health concerns).
I have failed miserably to keep my vegetarian ideal. Again.
My return to Kimberley has all but erased my determination to live ethically in this regard.
I only have myself to blame and when I walked in-between the dilapidated kennels at the Kimberley SPCA my heart weighed a ton.
I knew that the majority of animals there would be dead in just days.
In one of the kennels next to some of the most beautiful kittens I have seen was a monkey.
Some fool had a monkey at home and abused it too.
Oh I should say that I have been to Sea World in Orlando Florida in the late 80s. I was disgusted and vowed never to return.
If you going to Sea World with your kids in tow, don't. Take em to the SPCA and let them pick out an animal companion to love and care for.
You won't be sorry.