I made the word chimpeople up as a combination of chimpanzee and people. This issue I’m going to talk about reminds me of a question in Jackie French’s kid-philosophical The Little Book of BIG Questions that asked, if animals can be as intelligent as humans, can they be considered people? It’s a question to really think about, and a group called the Nonhuman Rights Project seems to say that at least chimpanzees can.
So far, the Nonhuman Rights Project’s proposal has been rejected thrice. If a chimp were to be considered a legal person, then this would mean: a human is not allowed to perform experiments on, own, or imprison it.
It’s not that the judges who rejected this were thinking something on the lines of, “CHIMPS? Are you serious? I’m never saying yes to that.” In fact, this is what they were basically saying: “You bring up a good point. I’m going to legally reject your case, but I personally don’t really say no. It’s just a radical case that’s hard to embrace for most.”
The Nonhuman Rights Project knew that this was going to happen. They know that there are many people who might not be ready to accept chimpanzees as people because humans can’t fully understand animals yet. For example, there are still some people who think animals are emotionless, when scientific research has proved that they do have feelings. Also, not a lot of animals, if any, think like humans do, and have different skills. (But baby chimps are actually smarter than human babies.) Don’t forget that judges are really busy people who might not have enough time to bury themselves like toddlers in philosophical and scientific questions.
But the group of animal rights activists remains stronger and more hopeful than ever. “Luna,” you may ask, “what about your perspective? What do you think about all this?” Well, I think if an experiment should not be performed on a chimpanzee, then neither should it be performed on people. (There’s this school near UCLA that experiments on kids–as in trying to find out what teaching methods work for kids, and there are experienced teachers helping new teachers to teach the kids.) I also think that first, we have to get to understand chimps before we accept them as legal people so there won’t be any legal issues with discrimination and animal racism, etc.
Well, now I have a question for you. What do you think?