Animal Rights: Legal Implications [#geekgirl]
[Via The New York Times Magazine] “Under the partial heading “The Nonhuman Rights Project Inc. on behalf of Tommy,” the legal memo and petition included among their 106 pages a detailed account of the “petitioner’s” solitary confinement “in a small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed”; and a series of nine affidavits gathered from leading primatologists around the world, each one detailing the cognitive capabilities of a being like Tommy, thereby underscoring the physical and psychological ravages he suffers in confinement.
Along with chimps, the Nh.R.P. plans to file similar lawsuits on behalf of other members of the great ape family (bonobos, orangutans and gorillas) as well as dolphins, orcas, belugas, elephants and African gray parrots — all beings with higher-order cognitive abilities. Chimps were chosen as the first clients because of the abundance of research on their cognitive sophistication, and the fact that, at present, there are sanctuaries lined up to take in the plaintiffs should they win their freedom. (There are no such facilities for dolphins or orcas in the United States, and the two preferred sanctuaries for elephants were full.)
“Like humans,” the legal memo reads, “chimpanzees have a concept of their personal past and future . . . they suffer the pain of not being able to fulfill their needs or move around as they wish; [and] they suffer the pain of anticipating never-ending confinement.” What Tommy could never have anticipated, of course, huddled just up the road that morning in his dark, dank cell, was that he was about to make legal history: The first nonhuman primate to ever sue a human captor in an attempt to gain his own freedom.”
Scientists Sign Declaration That Animals Have Conscious Awareness [#geekgirl]
[As reported by altering-perspectives.com] “An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. But will this make us stop treating these animals in totally inhumane ways?
While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it’s the open acknowledgement that’s the big news here. The body of scientific evidence is increasingly showing that most animals are conscious in the same way that we are, and it’s no longer something we can ignore.
What’s also very interesting about the declaration is the group’s acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans, including those that evolved along different evolutionary tracks, namely birds and some cephalopods.
“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states,” they write, “Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors.”
Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.”
New York Senate Passes First Step to Create Animal-Abuser Registry Bill [#geekgirl]
[As reported by ONTP Political] “A first of its kind, the New York senate just passed a bill that not only will require convicted animal abusers to register as such in New York (just like registered sex offenders), but also will require them to undergo psychiatric evaluation. As many are aware, animal abuse/torture is a gateway behavior to human abuse/murder.
The bill was inspired by Buster’s Law, a case about a cat named Buster that was set on fire after being soaked in gasoline. The landmark case made animal cruelty in the state a felony offense.
New York Senator Greg Ball (R-Patterson) said that animal abusers are the worst kinds of people in our society whose behavior towards animals is a measuring stick by which to expect how they would treat people. Further, he shared that such violence cannot and will not be tolerated.”
“Bills Seek End to Farm Animal Abuse Videos” [#geekgirl]
…yep, unfortunately you did read that title correctly. Only in ‘Murica would
potential advocates of animal torturecertain sectors of the agricultural and farming community seek to stop the *documentation* of animal abuse, not the abuse itself:
“…state legislators across the country are introducing laws making it harder for animal welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food safety cases. Some bills make it illegal to take photographs at a farming operation. Others make it a crime for someone such as an animal welfare advocate to lie on an application to get a job at a plant.
Bills pending in California, Nebraska and Tennessee require that anyone collecting evidence of abuse turn it over to law enforcement within 24 to 48 hours — which advocates say does not allow enough time to document illegal activity under federal humane handling and food safety laws….Patterson’s bill, sponsored by the California Cattlemen’s Association, would make failing to turn over video of abuse to law enforcement within 48 hours an infraction punishable by a fine.
Critics say the bills are an effort to deny consumers the ability to know how their food is produced.
“The meat industry’s mantra is always that these are isolated cases, but the purpose of these bills is to prevent any pattern of abuse from being documented,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States, which conducted the California and Vermont investigations.
In Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania it would be a crime to make videos at agricultural operations….Formal opposition to the California bill comes from the ASPCA, the Teamsters, the HSUS and dozens of others. They say these attempts by the agriculture industry to stop investigations are a part of a nationwide agenda set by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think tank backed by business interests.”
Just how an institution like the American Legislative Exchange Council can justifiably label people who document extreme and unnecessary animal abuse as “terrorists” is anyone’s guess: “ALEC has labeled those who interfere with animal operations “terrorists,” though a spokesman said he wishes now that the organization had called its legislation the “Freedom to Farm Act” rather than the “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act.”
In this age of accessible whiz-bang-internet-info, I occasionally stumble across a news item [like the above] that makes it past my rigorous internal “do-not-simply-react-affectively-and-let-these-idiots-get-to-you” filter. This particular news item has me
broiling in my own anger juicesshaking my head in flabbergasted frustration. I’m also left confounded at just how the advocates of such Bills can see themselves as providing any type of reasonable moral compass when it comes to ethical issues: perhaps instead all they see are dollar signs.
Animal welfare & compassion in world farming activist Peter Stevenson guest lectures in Australia in August.
Victorian (Melbourne) date promoted here: but you can also view dates around Australia at the Voiceless website.
As a leading European expert on animal welfare, Peter describes Australia’s live export trade as “the world’s worst”. He explains that conditions in Indonesian abattoirs could not have improved in just one month and that the resumption of trade was met with shock in Europe.
In Australia for Voiceless’s Animal Law Lecture Series, Peter discusses European Union (EU) bans on some factory farming practices and how this cruelty continues in Australia. He suggests that better animal welfare can actually be more profitable for farmers and that changing consumer sentiments are driving more ethical products in Europe.
To listen to Peter’s full interview, please visit the website of ABC Radio National Breakfast.
Monday 15 August 2011
Time: 1.00pm – 2.00pm (doors open at 12.50pm)
Venue: Melbourne Law School
University of Melbourne
Ground Floor G08
185 Pelham St, Carlton, VIC 3053
Details: This lecture, kindly supported by University of Melbourne Law School, will be chaired by Ruth Hatten, Legal Counsel of Voiceless and will feature guest speaker Peter Stevenson and Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan of the University of Melbourne.
Monday 15 August 2011
Time: 6.00pm – 7.30pm (doors open at 5.45pm)
Venue: Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Level 36, Bourke Place
600 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Details: This lecture, kindly supported by Corrs Chambers Westgarth, will be chaired by Ruth Hatten, Legal Counsel of Voiceless and will feature guest speakers Peter Stevenson and Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan of the University of Melbourne.
Earthlings one for the Animals
EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs. The film is narrated by Academy Award® nominee Joaquin Phoenix and features music by platinum-selling recording artist Moby. Initially ignored by distributors, today EARTHLINGS is considered the definitive animal rights film by organizations around the world. “Of all the films I have ever made, this is the one that gets people talking the most,” said Phoenix. “For every one person who sees EARTHLINGS, they will tell three.”
In 1999, writer/producer/director Shaun Monson began work on a series of PSAs about spaying and neutering pets. The footage he shot at animal shelters around Los Angeles affected him so profoundly that the project soon evolved into EARTHLINGS. The film would take another six years to complete because of the difficulty in obtaining footage within these profitable industries. Though the film was initially ignored by distributors, who told Monson that the film would “never see the light of day and should be swept under the rug,” today EARTHLINGS is considered the definitive animal rights film by organizations around the world.