From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Friday, March 17, 2017

Inalienable rights: To what extent?

(NASA photo)
Ask most Americans, and they will verbally defend the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So what about the countless elders who are locked up in nursing homes against their will?  And the countless children who lead lives of quiet desperation?  And the cognitively
complex animals that are caged, tortured and killed?

Attorney Steve Wise worries about such matters.  He then springs into action. Founder of the Nonhuman Rights Project, Wise is currently “fighting for chimpanzees to someday have legal rights of their own.”

One of his recent statements to the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division is especially intriguing.  Wise claims that if primates were not granted such rights, then the personhood of New Yorkers would not be protected either.

Because a lower court had ruled “that in order to have rights, the chimpanzees need to carry out societal ‘duties and responsibilities,’” Wise fears that disabled humans and children could be at risk.  If people’s rights depend upon their contributions to society, then what about those who are vulnerable and needy?

Societal contributions are not just limited to physical and economic viability.  As Gandhi reportedly said:  The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members. Lincoln concurred.  He stated:  I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights.  That is the way of a whole human being.


Copyright March 17, 2017 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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