Friday, May 23, 2008

It All Depends on What the Meaning of "Human" Is

Words fail. Er, FAIL:

His name is Matthew, he is 26 years old, and his supporters hope to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

But he won't be able to give evidence on his own behalf - since he is a chimpanzee
.

It's like a punchline. Except it's not.

Animal rights activists led by British teacher Paula Stibbe are fighting to have Matthew legally declared a 'person' so she can be appointed as his guardian if the bankrupt animal sanctuary where he lives in Vienna is forced to close.

An anonymous businessman has offered a substantial amount to cover his care, but under Austrian law only humans are entitled to have guardians
.

The country's supreme court has upheld a lower court ruling which rejected the activists' request to have a trustee appointed for Matthew.

So now 36-year-old Miss Stibbe and the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories have filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg
.

I think there's a jurisdictional issue there.

One question: if these animal rights activists succeed, will they then begin calling themselves "human rights" activists?

The insists that the chimp needs legal standing so a guardian can be appointed to look out for his interests - especially if the sanctuary shuts down.

Miss Stibbe, who is from Brighton but has lived in Vienna for several years, says she is not trying to get the chimp declared a human, just a person.

Ah. Got it.

Wait...what?

'Everybody who knows him personally will see him as a person,' she said.

An extremely hairy person with an IQ of 5 that eats termites and drinks his own piss, but a person nonetheless.

Unfortunately, I don't have the moral authority to comment on issues revolving around chimp rights, so I'll pass this one off to Bobo.

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