AerospaceFan
Topic Author
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Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:30 pm

Most people believe that nonhuman primates, such as chimpanzees, orangutans, and the like, are closely related to human beings. It is often said that the difference in DNA between members of homo sapiens sapiens and other primates can be as little as two percent.

Stephen Wise, a lawyer, has lectured on animal rights at Harvard and Vermont Law Schools. In his recent book, Rattling the Cage, Mr. Wise makes the case that the rights of what he terms "nonhuman animals" may be the focus of transformation and even revolution as our understanding of the humane treatment of animals continues to evolve.

It seems to me, without having read his book, that the concept of actual legal rights requires a number of prerequisites in any entity to whom they may attach. Foremost among them might be such things as sentience and intelligence; and included among them may be practical requirements such as responsibility -- and particularly moral responsibility.

Before one asserts the argument, however, that an actual human level of consciousness must obtain before legal rights should attach, one should take note of the position of many pro-life individuals, who consider the human fetus a form of human life. And, further, one should consider the position of those who are protective of the mentally handicapped, from whose point of view the inability of same to express their consciousness decidedly does not vitiate their central humanity. The example of the late Terri Schiavo comes to mind.

Further, consider that many animals demonstrate a form of responsibility -- working dogs, for example, who perform many valuable tasks. Such animals may serve as guides for the blind, with never a question, or they may take the role of shepherds, all too eager to help their owners, performing days of service with an invariable smile of euphoria upon completion of their tasks, expecting only a modicum of love and sustenance in return.

And then, of course, there is the religious aspect of this issue. Is it true that only human beings have a soul, and what is it that we mean by that, anyway?

What are your thoughts and beliefs concerning the extension of legal, or quasi-legal, rights to animals, and do you agree with the thesis that animal rights may be the next frontier in the extension of civil liberties?

Thank you in advance for your considered responses.

Suggested reading:

http://www.satyamag.com/march00/wise.html

[Edited 2006-10-11 17:02:51]
What's fair is fair.
 
Kieron747
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:34 pm

I have elaborated far too much here. Let me put all of the above in one plain, simple sentence.

There's a gibbon at my local zoo, and I am in love with her. What should I do?

Signed,

AerospaceFan

 Wink
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TedTAce
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:34 pm

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
animal rights may be the next frontier in the extension of civil liberties?

Right after the Equal Rights Amendment is ratified by 3 more states....
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AerospaceFan
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:38 pm

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 1):
I have elaborated far too much here. Let me put all of the above in one plain, simple sentence.

Actually, the issue you raise, though meant in jest, is not so strange in the abstract: If one permits homosexual marriage, and if one believes that any two "individuals" can fall in love, then how long is it, exactly, before there is a call for "marriage" or any similar relationship between members of any two, or several, species?

Given the choice between staying with an unfaithful and horrible wife, and a faithful and wonderful dog, which companion would a great many men actually prefer?

[Edited 2006-10-11 16:51:34]
What's fair is fair.
 
Kieron747
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:47 pm

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 3):
Given the choice between staying with an unfaithful and horrible wife, and a faithful and wonderful dog, which companion would a great many men actually prefer?

I can understand what you mean about the wife, but in that case there is always the option of divorce. It's a far cry from actaully marrying a dog because you get on better!

Fine, have a dog, spend all day with it, but more than that is surely grotesque! I used to have a dog, and I loved her very much, but I wouldn't say I was in love with her.

I think this whole issue comes down to consent. It's quite simple really, how do you know that your pet cat consents to marriage? I mean for f***s sake, it's a cat....

...You'd never tie a cat down to marriage, they are roamers.

Seriously though, I completely agree that animal cruelty should be punished by the law. Extending certian other rights to your pet hamster is surely insane though!

Kieron747
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AerospaceFan
Topic Author
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:54 pm

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 4):
I think this whole issue comes down to consent. It's quite simple really, how do you know that your pet cat consents to marriage? I mean for f***s sake, it's a cat....

But consider this: Koko the gorilla, it may be argued, has the vocabulary of a typical mentally handicapped human being. She apparently understands the meaning of the things she is told, and says.

If a mentally handicapped human being can marry, then why shouldn't gorillas be able to do so, as well?

See, e.g.:

http://www.koko.org/news/Events/event_060807_ABA_DVD.html (exhibition of Koko DVD moves members of the American Bar Association)

(Excerpt)

Quote:
The 20-minute DVD features an interview with Dr. Penny Patterson, and selected video footage of gorillas Koko, Michael and Ndume that condense the ongoing story of Project Koko into a sequence of glimpses that make clear the main implication for humanity — animals are much more than they appear to be. The video clearly shows how similar the intellectual, emotional and behavioral capabilities of great apes (like Koko, Michael and Ndume) are to humans, and helps make the case that at least some non-human animals should be provided with basic legal rights — such as the right not to be killed or to suffer at the hands of humans.

If gorillas can suffer, they can exhibit avoidance and consciousness of avoidance. If they can exhibit consciousness of avoidance, then why could they not consent?

[Edited 2006-10-11 16:56:22]
What's fair is fair.
 
Kieron747
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:05 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 5):
then why could they not consent?

But would the damn gorilla know what it was consenting to? Would the gorilla be accused of adultery if it went off with another (shock horror) gorilla whilst being "married" to a human?

I believe traditionally the purpose of marriage was to form a family and have children. That's gonna be tough when you're of a different species.

I think that many primates can understand and communicate with humans. There is however, always a gray area regarding simple mimicing. I have seen examples of primates using simple communication equipment. They are clearly clever animals who possess similar emotions. They, like all animals deserve to be protected against cruelty.

It depends how far you want to extend "human rights" to animals.

Kieron747
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TedTAce
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:10 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 3):
Actually, the issue you raise, though meant in jest, is not so strange in the abstract: If one permits homosexual marriage, and if one believes that any two "individuals" can fall in love, then how long is it, exactly, before there is a call for "marriage" or any similar relationship between members of any two, or several, species?

I see you LSD is working REALLY good this morning. Equating Gay Marriage with intra species relations is like equating Erkle with Mike Tyson.

Put the Syringe and the Keyboard down ASF, you are making conservatives look like fools.
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AerospaceFan
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:14 am

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 6):
I believe traditionally the purpose of marriage was to form a family and have children. That's gonna be tough when you're of a different species.

Absolutely true.

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 6):
I think that many primates can understand and communicate with humans. There is however, always a gray area regarding simple mimicing. I have seen examples of primates using simple communication equipment. They are clearly clever animals who possess similar emotions. They, like all animals deserve to be protected against cruelty.

It depends how far you want to extend "human rights" to animals.

I think that this is the central dilemma, here. Do we create a secondary category of rights for "nonhuman animals", and if so, on what basis, to what effect, and in what relation in comparison to human rights?

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 7):
Equating Gay Marriage with intra species relations is like equating Erkle with Mike Tyson.

That may be so, but often the consideration of an extreme (a "though experiment") may clarify the nature of those things which are not so outlandish. And this is the nature of a form of intellectual inquiry, LSD or no LSD, might I add.
What's fair is fair.
 
PlymSpotter
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Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 7:32 am

RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:22 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 3):
Actually, the issue you raise, though meant in jest, is not so strange in the abstract: If one permits homosexual marriage, and if one believes that any two "individuals" can fall in love, then how long is it, exactly, before there is a call for "marriage" or any similar relationship between members of any two, or several, species?

Thats Beastiality... proceed straight to Denmark if you have similar views!  duck 

Seriously, how screwed in the head do you have to be to want to marry an animal like that? You can't really draw any parallels with Gay marriage either, 100 years ago gay marriage was 'wrong', now it is perfectly correct, but in 1000 years time marrying a Gorilla is still going to be very, very wrong!

Dan Smile
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
 
Kieron747
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:28 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 8):
Do we create a secondary category of rights for "nonhuman animals",

Again, it is to do with 'what rights'?

In the UK, we have the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and you can get taken to court or even imprisoned if convicted of animal cruelty.

What further rights are needed other that that? Do you want to set up day centres where animals can mingle? Walk-in centres for sick animals? Social services for that parrot that was feeling a bit low?

This entire point is seemingly worthless. Wild animals do not expect rights from humans. They go about their business, surviving and fighting and breeding. They're more concerned where their next meal is coming from, and are NOT concerned with whether they can file a law suit if a human treads on their paw.

I'll tell you one thing though, if certain animals were as sentient as you seem to suggest, I'd say the joke's on us. Imagine the chimp sat at his PC laughing at us sorry lot even discussing this issue!

 Wink

Kieron747

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 7):
I see you LSD is working REALLY good this morning

My money's on mushrooms.
Airliners.Net - The Jam Rag Of The Web.
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:29 am

Actually, void the argument that it would be wrong to marry an animal, someone's beaten us to it  banghead 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4748292.stm

Dan Smile
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
 
TedTAce
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:32 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 8):
And this is the nature of a form of intellectual inquiry

Try as you might to perpetuate your self absorbed image of intelligence this is not an example of intellectual curiosity. Intellectual curiosity would be asking if there coud be a mutual beneft to intra species relations what the legal implications of equal rights would be and leaving it at that. Merging your passion for animal love (thus dethroning Kirkie) with hateful equations of gay marriage makes you nothing more then a mindless bigot with a dictionary.
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Slovacek747
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:34 am

animals are here for us.. i dont mind killing an animal.. will do it gladly at antime for any reason.

Slovacek747
 
AerospaceFan
Topic Author
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:35 am

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 10):
I'll tell you one thing though, if certain animals were as sentient as you seem to suggest, I'd say the joke's on us. Imagine the chimp sat at his PC laughing at us sorry lot even discussing this issue!

One of the reasons that this topic may be increasingly relevant as we approach the future is that, in years hence, we may yet develop an artificial life form that serves either as a perfect simulacrum or an actual exemplar of human existence. (Think of Data, from Star Trek, and "The Measure of a Man" (TNG).)

The popular idea of highly intelligent androids as servants of mankind -- infused, perhaps, with the Asimovian "Three Laws" -- suggests also the possibility that "nonhuman" entities may be entitled to rights that are closer and closer in nature to those of natural-born human beings. One might ask, for example, what rights, if any, that the rather servile, and yet decidedly intelligent, C-3PO of Star Wars fame should have, if he were real.

If these eventualities are in any way plausible, then knowledge of the roots, nature, and limitations of legal rights may be clearly in order, whether they arise from development of animal rights law or otherwise.

Suggested reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Measure_of_a_Man_(TNG_episode)

[Edited 2006-10-11 17:39:24]
What's fair is fair.
 
53Sqdn
Posts: 323
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:37 am

I started to read this thread but, I found an instant comatose moment coming over me. It contained only one letter, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz  tired 
 
AerospaceFan
Topic Author
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:41 am

Quoting 53Sqdn (Reply 15):
I started to read this thread but, I found an instant comatose moment coming over me. It contained only one letter, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz  tired 

It worries me to learn that there is an additional letter to the alphabet consisting of fourteen instantiations of the 26th letter, "z". It appears that there are more than 26 letters in the English alphabet, after all.

  

[Edited 2006-10-11 17:43:10]
What's fair is fair.
 
Kieron747
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:42 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 14):
One of the reasons that this topic may be increasingly relevant as we approach the future is that, in years hence, we may yet develop an artificial life form that serves either as a perfect simulacrum or an actual exemplar of human existence. (Think of Data, from Star Trek, and "The Measure of a Man" (TNG).)

The idea of androids as servants of mankind -- infused, perhaps, with the Asimovian "Three Laws" -- suggests also the possibility that "nonhuman" entities may be entitled to rights that are closer and closer in nature to those of natural-born "human beings".

I can understand that, and how it might be a topic for discussion. But what the hell it has to do with animals is beyond me!


I'm no idiot, but the fact I had to look up

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 14):
simulacrum

in a dictionary pissed me right off!

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 14):
(Think of Data, from Star Trek, and "The Measure of a Man" (TNG).)

I'd rather not now, you have effectively sucked the entire entertainment and escapism value out of Star Trek.

 Wink
Airliners.Net - The Jam Rag Of The Web.
 
AerospaceFan
Topic Author
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:44 am

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 17):
I'd rather not now, you have effectively sucked the entire entertainment and escapism value out of Star Trek.

 Wink

Then my life's work is now complete. Bwahahahaha!

 Big grin
What's fair is fair.
 
Pyrex
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:46 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
And then, of course, there is the religious aspect of this issue. Is it true that only human beings have a soul, and what is it that we mean by that, anyway?

That should NEVER be an issue when drawing up legislation.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
What are your thoughts and beliefs concerning the extension of legal, or quasi-legal, rights to animals, and do you agree with the thesis that animal rights may be the next frontier in the extension of civil liberties?

Animals already have rights - there are laws against animal cruelty, in most countries you can go to jail for it (or bestiality, might I add). The extent of those laws can certainly be discussed but they are absolutely necessary while people like this guy still exist.

Quoting Slovacek747 (Reply 13):
animals are here for us.. i dont mind killing an animal.. will do it gladly at antime for any reason.
Read this very carefully, I shall write this only once!
 
Kieron747
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:50 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 16):
It worries me to learn that there is an additional letter to the alphabet consisting of fourteen instantiations of the 26th letter, "z". It appears that there are more than 26 letters in the English alphabet, after all.

You actually COUNTED the number of zeds? Someone page KROC, we need the SHAFT for this thread!

Kieron747
Airliners.Net - The Jam Rag Of The Web.
 
AerospaceFan
Topic Author
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:56 am

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 20):
You actually COUNTED the number of zeds? Someone page KROC, we need the SHAFT for this thread!

Okay, so let me say, it's fourteen, with a margin of error of plus or minus zero. Rough estimate.

Better?

 Wink
What's fair is fair.
 
skidmarks
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:00 am

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 10):
My money's on mushrooms

Isn't eating other peoples homes illegal? Big grin

Andy  old 
Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional
 
TedTAce
Posts: 9098
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:02 am

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 20):

Don't be surprised, I'm still waiting for him to rationalize/pseudo-intellectualize a response to:

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 12):
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UH60FtRucker
Posts: 3252
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:10 am

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 23):
Don't be surprised, I'm still waiting for him to rationalize/pseudo-intellectualize a response to:

Forget it dude... the guy is too busy referencing Star Trek as a source for yet another one of his verbal diarrhea spasms.  Yeah sure And even if he does respond, all he's going to do is write another 1000 word essay that answers NOTHING. And anyway, come tomorrow they'll be another 10 threads started by him, and he'll have moved on from this.

It's called "shotgun posting." You fire off a ton of threads, and see which ones hit.

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
AerospaceFan
Topic Author
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:23 am

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 12):
Try as you might to perpetuate your self absorbed image of intelligence this is not an example of intellectual curiosity. Intellectual curiosity would be asking if there coud be a mutual beneft to intra species relations what the legal implications of equal rights would be and leaving it at that. Merging your passion for animal love (thus dethroning Kirkie) with hateful equations of gay marriage makes you nothing more then a mindless bigot with a dictionary.

Ted, I just saw your message.

First of all, I'd like to say that I'm disappointed with UH's response, because I had thought that we had an understanding. But that's neither here nor there.

Your response is more interesting, however.

I find that the implication in your message that I'm advocating anything at all to be peculiar. As anyone can see, no one here is advocating animal love, but merely setting forth the possible grounds for an examination of the limits -- I say again, "limits" -- of legal rights in a number of contexts.

I mentioned the idea of thought experiments above, and I hope you will take this opportunity to think about why such experiments could be useful, as I alluded to in a previous message.

Given your reaction, I wonder, not having read your various divorce threads, why you would not grant courtesy to one who has never treated your messages with anything less than respect, and my curiosity in this matter is piqued in view of the nature of the matters discussed. I would certainly hope that you harbor no feelings of transference from issues that have not a whit to do with what is visible here.

[Edited 2006-10-11 18:39:07]
What's fair is fair.
 
53Sqdn
Posts: 323
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 3:51 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 25):
Given your reaction,

Nuclear bomb, nuclear bomb!!!!! What's that bright fla.......ggghhhhh

Live long and prostrate?  drunk 
 
TedTAce
Posts: 9098
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 12:31 am

RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:18 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 25):
I find that the implication in your message that I'm advocating anything at all to be peculiar.

Your honor, Exhibit A:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 3):
If one permits homosexual marriage, and if one believes that any two "individuals" can fall in love, then how long is it, exactly, before there is a call for "marriage" or any similar relationship between members of any two, or several, species?

Now let's be precise, in reality you asked a VERY stupid question as opposed to advocating. However in your question you take a shot at homosexual marriage with the overtone that it's equatable to beastiality. That is NOT acceptable to me or most the other people who have more then two brain cells in this forum.
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AerospaceFan
Topic Author
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:24 am

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 27):
However in your question you take a shot at homosexual marriage with the overtone that it's equatable to beastiality. That is NOT acceptable to me or most the other people who have more then two brain cells in this forum.

Ted, I'm sorry if I phrased the hypothetical in a way that offended you. No offense was meant. I was simply trying to find out what was different in principle as to the element of legal rights between the two kinds of hypothetical relationships.

In much the same way, there are those who said that the Australian high school assignment referenced in the same way was perfectly legitimate, but for a different reason: Homosexuality is no different from any other minority status. If there is fungibility between homosexuality and other statuses, and particularly oppressed statuses, then there should, by rights, also be fungibility at least in discussion between the elements of consent and so forth essential to homosexual marriage, and any hypothetical relationship in which the same elements may, or may not, be present.

Discussion of these things at this level is meant for those who are interested in such an abstract discourse, but if at any time I didn't make this clear, then it was my fault, and I apologize.

However, let's all move on and see if there can be light rather than heat cast upon the larger question of the limitations of rights and their cross-application based on trajectories from their current forms and manifestations.
What's fair is fair.
 
jpetekyxmd80
Posts: 3976
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 5:52 am

Quoting TedTAce (Reply 12):
nothing more then a mindless bigot with a dictionary.

 rotfl 


 yes  yes 
The Best Care in the Air, 1984-2009
 
DrDeke
Posts: 805
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2005 7:13 am

RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 6:02 am

Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 10):
My money's on mushrooms.

I really can't see AerospaceFan taking psychedelic drugs. In my experience, people with his mindset and views on life do not generally enjoy psychedelic/hallucinogenic drugs and tend to have negative experiences if they try them.



Quoting TedTAce (Reply 12):
Intellectual curiosity would be asking if there coud be a mutual beneft to intra species relations what the legal implications of equal rights would be and leaving it at that. Merging your passion for animal love (thus dethroning Kirkie) with hateful equations of gay marriage makes you nothing more then a mindless bigot with a dictionary.

 checkmark 

I know he claims he didn't mean it "that way," but given his other posts, it sure seemed that way to me as well.



Quoting Kieron747 (Reply 17):
I'd rather not now, you have effectively sucked the entire entertainment and escapism value out of Star Trek.

Oh come on, that was a good -- and liberal, even -- episode!  Wink


-DrDeke
If you don't want it known, don't say it on a phone.
 
redngold
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 6:20 am

I'm sorry, but even as the animal lover I am, I find it ridiculous that the head of the Humane Society of the U.S. would propose calling dogs "Canine Americans."
Up, up and away!
 
TedTAce
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:39 am

Quoting Redngold (Reply 31):
I'm sorry, but even as the animal lover I am, I find it ridiculous that the head of the Humane Society of the U.S. would propose calling dogs "Canine Americans."

Posts like this are why I keep you on my RU.  thumbsup 
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jpetekyxmd80
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:41 am

This sounds like an Ali G episode, except that AF is not joking!

Woman can vote, but horse cannot?!  Confused
The Best Care in the Air, 1984-2009
 
AerospaceFan
Topic Author
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RE: Animal Rights: The Next Legal Frontier?

Sun Oct 15, 2006 7:20 am

Quoting JpetekYXMD80 (Reply 33):
This sounds like an Ali G episode, except that AF is not joking!

I think we've completely lost sight of the topic at hand, which is best described by reference to the following:

(Excerpt)

Quote:

[quote=AerospaceFan,reply=0]Stephen Wise, a lawyer, has lectured on animal rights at Harvard and Vermont Law Schools. In his recent book, Rattling the Cage, Mr. Wise makes the case that the rights of what he terms "nonhuman animals" may be the focus of transformation and even revolution as our understanding of the humane treatment of animals continues to evolve.

It seems to me, without having read his book, that the concept of actual legal rights requires a number of prerequisites in any entity to whom they may attach. Foremost among them might be such things as sentience and intelligence; and included among them may be practical requirements such as responsibility -- and particularly moral responsibility.

Before one asserts the argument, however, that an actual human level of consciousness must obtain before legal rights should attach, one should take note of the position of many pro-life individuals, who consider the human fetus a form of human life. And, further, one should consider the position of those who are protective of the mentally handicapped, from whose point of view the inability of same to express their consciousness decidedly does not vitiate their central humanity. The example of the late Terri Schiavo comes to mind.

Further, consider that many animals demonstrate a form of responsibility -- working dogs, for example, who perform many valuable tasks. Such animals may serve as guides for the blind, with never a question, or they may take the role of shepherds, all too eager to help their owners, performing days of service with an invariable smile of euphoria upon completion of their tasks, expecting only a modicum of love and sustenance in return.

And then, of course, there is the religious aspect of this issue. Is it true that only human beings have a soul, and what is it that we mean by that, anyway?

There is no reason to allow comments about gays, horses, and women to distract from the actual issues that have been raised.
What's fair is fair.

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