Animals Aren’t Men, Even If Government Says So


I once saw, with mine own eyes, a squirrel steal an acorn from a second squirrel. This shouldn’t be surprising; squirrels are career criminals and everybody knows it. Think of how often the beasts raid bird feeders and you’ll have the point.

The inaptly named Stephen Wise would have police arrest thieving squirrels in the same way cops collar men who rob gas stations. If you thought the criminal justice system was overwhelmed now, think of how it will be when wolf packs are brought in on murder charges (eating deer). Birds in particular are serial killers. How we’re going to catch and imprison them all is going to be tough. But it has to be done.

Who’s Wise? President of the Nonhuman Rights Project. According to the Daily Beast (yes):

Unlike PETA, which lost a case in 2012 alleging that five orcas held by Sea World deserved constitutional protection under the Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting slavery (the judge in the case ruled that the Thirteenth Amendment only applies to persons), Wise has been pursuing a more radical, nuanced, and researched approach to the issue of animal rights: he wants the most intelligent animals—apes, dolphins, elephants—to be granted legal personhood, so they can invoke habeas corpus and challenge their detention in zoos and other facilities in a court of law.

Of course, if a whale can show up at the DA’s office and fill out the paperwork for a habeas corpus, or whatever, few would deny the beast the subsequent rights. Why the whale needs habeas corpus is another matter—some whales kill photogenic seals.

Now animals aren’t people, and there is no continuum between them and us. There isn’t a line in the sense of an arbitrary point between more and less advanced beasts, as Wise would declare. Any attempt to create such a line would lead to endless bickering and shifts. One day crows would be on this side of the line, the next day the other side, and so on.

People are rational-animals and are in a class by themselves. There is no line because men are the only rational-animals. No beast is a rational-animal.

Wise doesn’t understand this, and instead invokes, as is weepingly routine in our culture, racism and sexism to explain how animals are really people but people can’t see that.

“Today, all animals are on the ‘thing’ side of the law, and all humans are on the ‘person’ side. If you look back 150 years, there were humans on the ‘thing’ side of the law–women, children, slaves. We are trying to open another hole in the wall and move some animals from the ‘thing’ side to the ‘person’ side.”

Why insist, or rather treat, beasts as rational-animals? Because, says Wise and others, people don’t always treat animals like people. We eat them, for instance, or put them to work without offering them wages. We frown on eating other people, and insist on minimum wages for men.

Yet if animals are people, as Wise would have them be, then animals not only deserve the protections afforded people, they always must fall under the same responsibilities. Fair is fair. If fair isn’t fair, and animals are called people only to protect them from certain uses, then animals aren’t people after all, but merely possessions the use of which (by people) is restricted by various laws.

If you want to insist animals are people, there is no way to avoid contradiction and say animals can only be afforded rights but are excused all responsibilities. We do not excuse any man from all responsibilities. If, say, a three-year-old developed a penchant for shooting mailmen, the child would be restrained. And so on.

If all we want to do is protect certain animals from certain uses, then animals need not be labeled ‘people’. Just pass legislation that says, “No captive whales”, or whatever, and be done.

Polar bears are often cannibalistic. Yes, even though they are white, fuzzy, and cuddly looking, they have the sad habit of eating one another. This cannot be allowed if polar bears are people. That means polar bear police are required. Whether we arrest them for eating seals depends on whether seals are also people.

If you say it’s in the polar bear’s nature to eat seals and each other, you say a truth, but this truth is not compatible with calling polar bears people, because the nature of men and polar bears is different, and it is in the nature of people to frown on eating each other.

Wise notes that when he first began this form of advocacy, people used to bark at him when he entered a courtroom.

As Hillary Clinton would say (and has), “Arf! Arf! Arf!”


  1. La Longue Carabine

    American Indians have a story:

    Before creation of the work, the Great Spirit drew a line and told all the other spirits that one side was for animals, the other for men, and explained the pros and cons. The spirits were to choose one side or the other.

    At the moment of creation, the dogs changed their minds and tried to jump over to the human side. Not the whales or apes, the dogs.

    So, if any animal deserves special protection under the law…

  2. La Longue Carabine

    Dang typo trolls!

    Anyway, this would explain the personalities of some dogs, and of some humans, as their nature depended on how far across the line they got.

  3. Sheri

    Jonathan Livingstone Seagull is finally going to brought to justice for the murder of all the baby birds he took out? Yes!!!!

    Isn’t he going to have to appoint counsel for these creatures? Do I smell an employment program for lawyers, paid for by the government?

    So the argument is “because humans such as women, children and slaves were treated wrongly”, all living things are therefore treated wrongly? A fallacious argument would be a generous characterization.

    “and say animals can only be afforded rights but are excused all responsibilities.” Seriously, you have forgotten all your doom of the week/day posts? Responsibilities apply only to conservatives, Christians Big Oil and Big Pharma and their only reponsibility is to do as they are commanded by the progressives. No one else is ever responsible. Unless they get in the way of progressives. You know, polar bears could be in trouble for not going extinct…..Quick, polar bears, die out!

    And they don’t bark at him now? Let’s get to correcting that and also start bringing those thieving squirrels along with us in little squirrel handcuffs.

  4. Wilbur Hassenfus

    “Yet if animals are people, as Wise would have them be, then animals not only deserve the protections afforded people, they always must fall under the same responsibilities.”

    Current legal thinking in the first world (if “thinking” is the right word for it) doesn’t agree with your “must”.

    In fact, rights and responsibilities are increasingly seen as mutually exclusive, which is why the larger primates are such an ideal target for Wise’s moral grandstanding: It’s hard to argue with a straight face that that kid in Ferguson cannot have known better than to arrack a cop. But everybody knows that a gorilla can’t possibly know who not to attack.

  5. Leo

    Animals are people, some boys are girls and vice versa, people of the same sex can be married, we are always at war with East Asia, and reality dissolve
    It’s going to be a wonderful future. See the last verse for my prediction:

  6. You may have mentioned who Hillary was impersonating. But sadly, but not surprisingly, you didn’t.

    Humans are neither all that rational nor the only creatures possessing any rationality. We are primates with very big brains. Humans can be terribly cruel, too, just like many other animals. So it would be nice if at least we could be a little less cruel. Better for us, as humans, and better for our fellow animals, who certainly do not deserve our abuse.


  7. Sheri

    JMJ: Of course, you would think animals need less “abuse” since you consider most human beings nothing but losers that need nannies. You’re becoming very, very predictable.

    Human beings can be rational and less cruel, they just chose not to be. It’s entirely within their capabilities. I suppose if you redefine “rational” and “cruel”, that would change the outcome. Language is very fluid, you know. So let’s go with rational being not progressive and less cruel as not using progressive ideas in dealing with people, animals and the economy. There, problem solved.

  8. Wilbur Hassenfus

    JMJ: And all we need to make us “a little less cruel” is for guys like you to dehumanize and punish heretics as cruelly as you’re able.

  9. Ray

    The people who want give animals human rights don’t do it because they love the animals. They do it because they hate humans.

  10. Leo

    YOS, thank you for the reference.

  11. Rich

    “in little squirrel handcuffs” Best smile of the day!

    btw did you know that the female has to be pursued by males for thirty minutes in order to ovulate? There’s a lesson in that though I’m not at all sure what it is.

  12. Sheri

    JMJ: Hillary claimed she was going to train a dog to bark when someone lied and sic it on the Republicans. Actually, one would hope she would keep it away from the Democrats or it’s die from constant barking the first day.

    Rich: Squirrel males have it tough!

  13. Steve E

    Wilbur Hassenfus: The beatings will continue until morale improves. 😉

    Rich: Squirrel foreplay? Maybe if they used the little squirrel handcuffs they could knock 20 minutes off the chase time.

  14. Shecky R

    This entire piece is written by an irrational being who mistakes his own delusions and arbitrary labels for “reality.”

  15. Joy

    Animals “need less ‘abus’e”!
    There is no need of abuse. There is no justification of abuse of any kind.
    There is argument, no doubt, about what constitutes abuse.

    Those with a high degree of responsibility resulting from status, intellect or other strength are held to a high standard of account precisely because it is incumbent upon them to know what constitutes abuse. This is true of abuse of systems as well as the usually direct types.

    Speak for yourself,
    Humans are cruel compared to what or which standard of moral correctness?
    From where does this moral code originate and on what authority do you draw your conclusion?

    To make a statement about a group of anything without a qualifier it is correct to deduce that you are making it about the entire group. That is to say you are describing a feature that entails from being part of the group.
    “Humans are quantity surveyors” is as true as your statement.

    Furthermore, humans are not primates.
    Biology doesn’t even class primates and humans together.
    (Primates always struck me as rather stupid they are overrated in intelligence.)

  16. Ye Olde Statistician

    This entire piece is written by an irrational being who mistakes his own delusions and arbitrary labels for “reality.”

    Agreed. Mr. Wise isn’t so wise.

  17. Since my summer holidays in in the Poconos back the late fifties, Shecky always made me laugh. But this time he, while not speaking a truth, implies one by comparison–viz: an animal would never, ever mistake its delusions and arbitrary labels for reality.

    Side note. I left out the scare quotes and I’m curious, Sheck, do you concede Briggs’s Ds and Arb Ls are really representative of reality, just not of “reality”?

  18. Joy

    I wouldn’t have imagined that reality would ever become such a tired old word.
    Reality’s now a cliche.

  19. Nate

    JMJ said:
    “So it would be nice if at least we could be a little less cruel. Better for us, as humans, and better for our fellow animals, who certainly do not deserve our abuse.”

    I have found at least something small to agree with you on, JMJ. It’s our job to be good stewards of the creatures of the earth, and we have a responsibility to ensure we do not force needless suffering on living beings.

    The work of Temple Grandin ( has been pivotal over the past 30 years in helping folks in the livestock industries to be better stewards of creatures in our care.

    I think the key word here is stewards. Often us Moderns look at what we can get out of X (whatever X may be), but neglects the responsibilities that we take on ourselves when we involve ourselves in X. Geneticists are already working to try to deal with foreseeable fallout from inbreeding of domesticated animals (as a result of poor stewardship). People are busy breeding dogs and cats for a quick buck.

    Historical Christianity has taught kindness and respect toward animals, as how one treats the lesser beasts often reflects on how one treats people. See the discussion here:

    “The service of man is the end appointed by the Creator for brute animals. When, therefore, man, with no reasonable purpose, treats the brute cruelly he does wrong, not because he violates the right of the brute, but because his action conflicts with the order and the design of the Creator.”

  20. andyd

    Joy is a “human as primate” denier. Who’d have thunk it.

  21. Nate

    Joy…. Primate is an Order in biological classification pretty high up the tree. Humans are pretty clearly here…

    Humans: Animalia – Chordata – Synapsida – Mammalia – Primates – Haplorhini – Hominidae – Homo – H. sapiens

  22. Joy

    andy d, there’s a lot about me that would probably surprise you but I’m saying nothing.

    When I studied A-level Biology humans were not classified as primates.
    I’m staying with that. Skip out the primate part.
    We must be on a different lineage. I’m not going to check your classification I’m taking it as the current classification. No wonder Dawkins wa so excited. We were taught that the nearest to us are orang-utans. We are on separate branches.
    Distant cousins! Hence ‘cous’ in jungle book.

    I nearly didn’t catch the last two comments as I went looking for a squirrelly link. This was what I intended to say.
    “Criminal Penguins – Frozen Planet – BBC One”

  23. Oldavid

    All this nonsense is squarely based on the No 1 dogma (impossible and idiotic superstition) of contemporary “”science””… Materialism and its ideological assumption of “Evolution”. Plants and animals are equal products of blind chance as are “hominid” animals like us randomly touching computer keyboard keys for no reason at all.

    Of course, consistency would require that if big strong polar bear “animal people” may catch and eat smaller, weaker polar bear “animal people” big strong hominid “animal people” should be allowed to catch and eat smaller, weaker hominid “animal people”.

    After all, what’s called “morality” is just a dialectical survival mechanism which only justification is that it works as a pragmatic advancement (survival, dominance) of self.

    I got that right didn’t I McJonesy?

  24. Oldavid, no, you got that all twisted up, and apparently have a medieval understanding of the world around you. Your moniker works, though!

    Nate, religion and animals rights have a mixed history, some good, some not so good. But when you look at it, it seems religion rarely had much to do with the subject, but rather people sometimes rationalize in religious terms the way they’re going to treat animals anyway. It’s nice when you see religious groups take an interest in the subject as it’s usually for the good.

    As for denying evolution and such, that’s just loony.


  25. Rich

    I wonder if Mr Wise would endorse the actions of the Hartlepool fishermen who, according to legend, hanged a monkey as a French spy during the Napoleonic wars. Their football club is called the Monkeyhangers to this day.

  26. Joy

    It’s not legend, it’s true.
    ”that’s just loony’
    Another world beater.
    Personally I don’t deny evolution. It is still not a complete system to explain several aspects. I have outlined them on more than one occasion on here and have never had an answer yet, why? because they don’t know the answer and there isn’t an answer.
    the most obvious being how life starts in the first cace for evolution to take effect.
    Evolution is a mechanism. It has never been explained by any as yet who pretends to understand how evolution works. There are a lot of individuals who I call trendies, others will call moderns, who argue for evolution in exactly the same way as they support Manchester United! No thought goes into it.
    I’d like half an hour with Dawkins to ask him how the various mechanisms work and I am sure they’d be no answer except ‘time’ and ‘random chance’.

    Evolution bears some of the weight but not all to explain man’s existence.
    That is the most reasonable approach. See John Lennox argue with Dawkins at the natural history museum.

  27. swordfishtrombone

    Are small children rational? Probably not but that isn’t usually used as a rationale for giving them less rights than adult humans. At the very least, it’s a good thing to consider these sorts of issues – pretty much the only thing religions have to say about animals is which ones we’re supposed to eat or not.

    @ Joy: Evolution doesn’t claim to explain how life started in the first place, so it’s unfair to use that as a criticism of it. If you’d like to question Richard Dawkins, why not read one of his books? The Selfish Gene would be an obvious choice.

  28. Ye Olde Statistician

    Are small children rational? Probably not but that isn’t usually used as a rationale for giving them less rights than adult humans.

    Except for voting, signing contracts, etc.

    Actually, if you consider the person as four-dimensional, the small child is simply a cross-section of the whole person taken at a particular point on the time axis. So yes, a small child is rational in that the whole of which he is a part is rational. Once the child has learned to use language, it should be beyond question.

  29. swordfishtrombone

    @ YOS:

    This article is arguing that animals aren’t rational so shouldn’t be given ‘human rights’ – that wouldn’t include being able to vote or sign contracts. The point I’m making is that we usually give greater protection to children *because* they’re less rational.

    Your ‘4-D’ argument is really weak. How is the ‘whole’ of a person rational if part is not?

  30. Joy

    I will at some point run into a biologist, a real expert in the field of biology who can explain, or should be able to, how the various disconnected problems with evolution are explained. I might find it in braille but reading text is physically painful.
    He has retracted at least one of the assertions he made in the book you mention.

    I don’t mean to be as scathing as all that. I used to find him scary mainly because of his icy, unyielding approach to the subject of God. I have found this not to be the case as I’ve listened to him more recently. He was warmer in a debate with Adrian Mcgrath.

    The objection about the subject is that it appears not to be understood by many of it’s proponents. I wonder what Darwin would say. He did not consider that he had replaced God because he described natural selection.
    Genetics, cell biology never impinged on my belief in God when studying Biology. I’m not sure what breakthrough they suddenly think they’ve made other than a political one; opportunistically seizing upon the anti-religious sentiment following the murderous destruction of the Twin Towers.

  31. Joy

    I mean Alister Mcgrath not Adrian!

  32. Ye Olde Statistician

    How is the ‘whole’ of a person rational if part is not?

    How are you rational if your big toe is not?

  33. swordfishtrombone

    @ YOS: “How are you rational if your big toe is not?”

    Let me ask again: How is the ‘whole’ of a person rational if part is not?

    (Note to anyone reading this: Yes, philosophical/theological discussions really are this pointless.)

  34. swordfishtrombone

    @ Joy:

    I agree with you regarding Richard Dawkin’s personae. I recommend going on YouTube and watching some of the videos where he reads out hate mail he’s received. It’s extremely funny to hear him reading out appalling bad language in his refined english accent 🙂

  35. Joy

    Well my my.
    I like Richard’s jumper. It looks like cashmere.
    I really liked the hydrangeas behind the beautiful fish tank. Mesmerising.
    At least he can laugh at the insults. He has my sympathy.

  36. Ye Olde Statistician

    YOS: “How are you rational if your big toe is not?”
    Let me ask again: How is the ‘whole’ of a person rational if part is not?

    That was the answer. I gave you an example where the whole (you) would be rational but a part (the big toe) is not. There is no privileging of the time dimension over the spatial dimensions.

    Beside, the fallacy of composition should be noted. Turned about, your question becomes: if the whole is rational, then each part must be rational. But consider that while an adult human being is visible to the naked eye, the cells of which he is composed are not. Or “how can a cat be colored when its parts (atoms) are colorless? Or how can salt be safe to eat when its parts (sodium and chlorine) are dangerous to humans?

  37. swordfishtrombone

    @ YOS:

    You’re basically trying to argue that the whole of a person (where ‘whole’, in the case of your original 4-D example, is a person’s entire lifetime) is ‘rational’ when that person is clearly not rational as a young child. You might as well argue that the whole of a person is an adult, it would make as much sense.

  38. Ye Olde Statistician

    “Adult” refers specifically to a particular phase in the organism’s development. It is defined along the time axis. But the capacity for reason is an essential characteristic of the human, even when it is impeded by accident, injury, state of development, or membership in a disfavored political movement. Your car is an artifact designed for transportation, but it is still a car even when it is up on blocks.

  39. Michael 2

    Good heavens or good grief.

    Joy: The process of evolution is well understood and simplified takes place two ways. Meiosis splits your DNA into two sets of 23 chromosomes, but which of each pair goes into a gamete might be random. That means that any particular gamete is only one of 2^23rd power (two to the 23rd power) of possible combinations. Your spouse also has a similar combination, 2^23. Together that makes a grand total of 2^46th power possible different children from one pair of parents. Not that they could have that many, but there are that many possible distinct outcomes. In reality it won’t be that many if you have two identical copies of a chromosome.

    So the mix-and-match of sexual reproduction produces enormous variety in each generation.

    Next you have mutations. Some happen because of DNA damage, but other changes happen through recombination which can be forced by viruses.

    Occasionally these changes produce offspring better suited to the environment. If they breed true, they will eventually replace less adapted forms of the same species, and eventually become a different species.

    YOS: The most perfectly rational being of all is a computer. But it does nothing without command for it has no desires of its own. A perfectly rational human has been imagined; “Spock” of Star Trek was such an attempt. But I believe no such creature can exist, for it would have no desires by which its own life would be preserved particularly in the face of competition by other forms of life that are less rational and more “driven”.

    These laws and rights of animals invoke mechanisms not yet discussed, and that is “social contract”. The constitution of the United States is a contract; and thus binding and effective only on persons capable of contract, which excludes children and animals. Some laws are designed to protect children, but it is not children that made them. Rights exist where agreement exists; since your rights are nothing more, nor less, than agreements to let you do some things without infringement. A right is not proper to demand labor from me but unfortunately many people mistake rights and suppose their right can burden me.

    Now since it is obvious that animals cannot represent themselves in court, these same self-serving people suppose that they will be appointed Guardian ad Litem on their behalf to sue others and of course earn fees in the process. It is simultaneously ridiculous but also brilliant since all you need is enough Democrats in a state legislature to make it so; then the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution can force it on everyone else. In this manner the tail can wag the dog.

    Animals will thus be treated as imbeciles are already treated; institutionalized for their own good and at taxpayer expense handlers, caretakers and guardians appointed; I expect all such persons will be Democrats.

    Animals generally won’t know and won’t care about any of this. Many were going to be eaten anyway so it hardly matters who eats them. I’d rather be killed instantly by humane humans than to have wolves or bears start eating me even before I’m dead:


  40. Ye Olde Statistician

    The most perfectly rational being of all is a computer.

    Reason ? Calculation

  41. Joy

    Michael 2: I’m glad you didn’t go anywhere I thought you’d disappeared.
    Michael my understanding is to A-Level. I was always an A student until the final. In genetics it is possible to score 100% and I always did. In ecology (which was not a dirty word) I scored an A. Can you imagine such a thing? Physics? different matter. 4/10 and that was the top in the class. The teacher was Faraday’s grandson and he never once made me feel a fool. I had abad in my attitude towards the entire idea of physiotherapy and I never thought I’d actually be one. The physics was only baby physics to supplement what a physio might need to know. It’s unclear to me why credentials count more than arguments but they always do whatever some might assert. He said
    ‘keep asking questions Joy”.

    What I wonder or what I said is that there seems to be some other new information on which ‘experts’ and commentators are cockily talking as though evolution has all the answers for our existence and our development. Aside from the claims made by sociology and made up stories about human behaviour which is one area where the mechanism is stretched to suit the prejudice, there are structural and functional mechanisms of humans but also of animals which I don’t believe evolution can be responsible for.

    Developments in Biological research do not appear to have added anything to the story of how traits are retained other than the usual isolation, bottle neck, fittest, natural selection ideas. These are unarguable in my view. There must be more. There is gene dominance but that appears to be arbitrary. Some traits which are exactly counter to the evolutionary mechanism are retained. Others which appear to be rather minor conveniences are retained. Some are so elaborate, to my judgement, that there seems to be no way that evolution could have arrived at the design in the linear way that it works.
    I have written about this before on here and heard and had discussions with others and there has yet been no explanations other than to say ‘yes it can’, time and chance. So either there’s nothing else to say or those who argue about it don’t know all the information.

    Describing meiosis, even, doesn’t explain what drives the process of life always in the opposite direction to ordinary matter and energy on it’s own. One either believes that you start with mind and end with mass, energy and the other is to say that you start with mass energy and end up with mind.
    Mind seems to me to be the only explanation for life. By mind I really mean a creator.

    Of course it hardly needs saying that organic chemistry once it is built is a kind of engine of it’s own. Those things are explained at a chemical and cellular level. (although when you contemplate a cell and all that’s going on, even in a plant, it boggles the mind that it all actually dovetails and works )
    It makes the internal working of a laptop look like child’s play.

    Life started with simple and moved to complex. It’s not clear other than the obvious why else that might be so.

  42. swordfishtrombone

    @ YOS:

    How is the ‘whole’ of a person rational if part is not?

  43. Ye Olde Statistician

    How is the ‘whole’ of a person rational if part is not?

    How is water wet if none of its molecules are? How is an apple red if none of its atoms are?

    We say that a dog is a quadruped even though most of it does not consist of legs.

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