Should Animals Have Their Own Legal Public Defenders?

caged elephant photo
photo: Guyon Morée via flickr.

Let's take the idea of animal rights in a legal direction. Over the weekend voters in Switzerland rejected a proposal to start public funding for lawyers to defend animals in court. Which to many people in the United States may seem like a no-brainer. Public funding for animal rights lawyers? Come on!Switzerland Already Has Strong Animal Protections
But keep in mind that Switzerland already has some pretty tough animal welfare legislation: Pigs, goldfish, and other social animals can't be kept alone; all horses and cows must be given regular exercise outside in both summer and winter; if you want to own a dog you have to take a training course on proper animal care.

And keep in mind that Switzerland already has one state-funded lawyer speaking up for animals. Antoine Goetschel told the BBC, "People accused of animal cruelty very often hire lawyers to defend themselves. Why should someone speak up for the animals as well?"

All to say: At least in Switzerland this is a no to further extending already strong rights. Which, to say the least, isn't the situation elsewhere.

Dolphins, Apes Should Be Considered Legal Persons
Then consider that scientists say dolphins be granted status as non-human persons and in 2008 great apes were granted 'human rights' by the Spanish parliament.

We Need to Speak Up For Those Who Can't
Which is all to say--to back up what Antoine Goetschel says--what's so crazy about considering having lawyers speak up for the welfare of those creatures unable to do so themselves due to communication barriers? Perhaps we shouldn't stop there either: Why not start talking about speaking up for the rights of the planet itself?

Heck, if the fictional person called the corporation has the same rights of free speech as an actual living, breathing entity (at least in the US) certainly we should consider establishing the legal rights of the other creatures with which we share this planet, and the planet itself.

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Tags: Animal Rights | Animals


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