“Apes and Gorillas are People Too”

Photograph: Guardian

I was curiously surprised when I read here that the Spanish government is to give human rights to great apes.  Of course it’s good news for the marvellous hairy beasts in that they will be given protection from experimentation and exploitation.  That protection should already be in place by way of their animal rights but if giving them human rights on acount of their kinship with their human cousins assures that protection by law then I won’t argue.  And anyway, it’s not such a crazy idea if you read this article.  It’s an old article and some of it may be irrelevant now but it does explain how making apes people by law can actually help protect the rainforests and also the livelihoods of the indigenous people.

But who can fail to miss the contrary message by the Spanish government?  They talk about animal rights and want to protect the gorilla while continuing to allow their barbaric bullfighting customs. 

Animal rights.  Human rights.  What does it matter?  All species have rights . . . just different needs.  Shame the world can’t protect all species from human abuse.

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5 Responses to “Apes and Gorillas are People Too”

  1. matt says:

    This is an intriguing solution to biodiversity destruction! I wonder if it works practically, in the sense that apes can hardly hire a lawyer to state their greviences in a court of ‘human’ law.

    I agree, all species need protection. A world with only humans in it would be a very boring world indeed and no doubt one that couldn’t properly function.

  2. Pete Smith says:

    I still have a problem with the concept of ‘rights’, human or otherwise. Must be the lingering after effects of those philosophy courses at uni in the 60s 🙂
    As I see it, rights can’t exist without obligations, they’re opposite sides of the same coin. You’re right in principle to say that all species have needs, but whether in the non-human world we can use the idea of rights and obligations is doubtful. Imagine the lion thinking “that zebra has as much right to life as I do, I have an obligation to support that right by not killing and eating it”.
    I might endorse a call for human rights if we consistently exercised our obligation to treat all non-humans in exactly the same way as we would like to be treated ourselves. Until that happens, I don’t see we have any more or any less right to food, water, shelter, safety, clean environment etc etc than the other species we routinely abuse and exploit.
    Frankly, I don’t like the human race much 🙂

  3. keithsc says:

    Perhaps we don’t have the right yet we do have the power which is where the problem lies. And as to treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves – it would be good if we achieved the UN Declaration of Human Rights but we are far off doing that. We have not got anything else to work with though…

  4. the Grit says:

    Hi Pete,

    It’s nice to know that someone on the Internet is slightly older than I am 🙂 You are, by the way, correct, in my opinion, in your assessment. Well, until you go off about treating non-humans as we would like to be treated. On one hand, we can’t even seem to apply that principle to other people, let alone to tomatoes. On the other hand, while I suspect that most inhabitants of our planet don’t want to be eaten, at least in the way you mean it, I, for one, am going to going to go along with the natural order and slaughter and eat some life form with a lower position on the food chain when I get hungry.

    As to my feelings for the human race, I agree with you, although probably for different reasons. My personal reason for general species disappointment is that, although almost everyone on the planet has had access to at least the majority of our accumulated knowledge and wisdom for decades now, most people refuse to make use of it! As a group, I’m figuring we deserve what we get.

    Hi k,

    Personally, I’m quite glad that we have the power to keep wolves and bears from dragging me from my bed to become a midnight snack. The real problem is that, as a species, we don’t have the will power to quit breeding to excess. Truly, if you think things are bad now, just imagine what the world will be like when we add an extra one or two billion people in the next few decades.

    As to human rights, well, we all know the UN is a joke, and always has been. My personal theory is that, considering the success the United States has had in this area, every country in the would should adopt our Constitution, modified to fit their local governmental divisions. Heck, if you want human rights, it’s hard to beat our recent Supreme Court ruling determining that child molesting isn’t a sufficiently horrible crime so as to deserve the death penalty. On the other hand, they also, after only 200+ years of skirting the issue, finally admitted that our right to keep and bear arms is an individual one. This is good because it means that our inevitable next civil war will be quite spectacular.

    the Grit

  5. violentina says:

    thanks for those info guys
    it would be a great help for me….for my up-coming fight in debate….ACADFEST sponsored by UP HARONG….
    ….can you send me some info about apes.as fast as you can….and why should we give human rights on apes?…thank you very much…..send it tome in facebook=sherfeilbermundo@yahoo.com

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