Spain apes the Declaration of Independence.
Jul 21, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 42 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
I can assert without fear of contradiction, that if somebody succeeded in breeding a chimpanzee/human hybrid the news would be earth-shattering. Bishops would bleat, lawyers would gloat in anticipation, conservative politicians would thunder, socialists wouldn't know where to put the barricades. The scientist that achieved the feat would be drummed out of politically correct common-rooms; denounced in pulpit and gutter press; condemned, perhaps, by an Ayatollah's fatwah.
Finding such a missing link, however, may prove unnecessary to achieving Dawkins's end. Judges, too many of whom are eager to further the cultural goals of leftist intellectual elites, are already beginning to issue decrees consistent with the thrust of the Great Ape Project. In 2005 a Brazilian trial judge awarded a chimpanzee a writ of habeas corpus. When animal rights activists recently sought a court ruling in Austria granting legal personhood to a chimpanzee, the nation's Supreme Court refused. Not to worry. A few months ago, the European Court of Human Rights--please note, Human Rights--agreed to take the case, an ominous sign.
These and other concerted efforts to knock ourselves off the pedestal of exceptionalism are terribly misguided. The way we act is based substantially on what kind of being we perceive ourselves to be. Thus, if we truly want to make this a better and more humane world, the answer is not to think of ourselves as inhabiting the same moral plane as animals--none of which can even begin to comprehend rights. Rather, it is to embrace the unique importance of being human.
After all, if not our humanity, what gives rise to our duty to treat animals properly and to act toward each other in accordance with what is--the Great Ape Project notwithstanding--our exclusive membership in a community of equals?
Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture.