For four thousand years, a thick and impenetrable legal wall separated all humans from all nonhuman animals. On the one hand, even the most trivial interests of a single species – ours – are jealously guarded. We have given ourselves the status of “legal person” among the millions of animal species only. On the other side of this wall is the legal waste of an entire kingdom, not only chimpanzees and bonobos, but also gorillas, orangutans and monkeys, dogs, elephants and dolphins. These are “legal things.” Their most basic interests – their pain, their lives, their freedoms – are deliberately ignored, often maliciously trampled on and regularly abused. Ancient philosophers claimed that all nonhuman animals were designed and placed on this earth only for humans. The old lawyers explained that the law was created only for people. Although philosophy and science have long since receded, this is not the case. More disturbing, but equally familiar, is the observation that decisive arguments for the blatant immorality of existing practices will lead neither to their elimination nor to meaningful reform as long as the supposed legitimacy of human exploitation of non-human beings remains entrenched in both public consciousness and economic institutions. policy and legal. To eliminate popular apathy, academics should undoubtedly continue to repeat tired arguments against speciesism in classrooms, popular places and professional research. But in a world much more directly structured by the interests of the powerful few than by the values of the many, this outreach strategy at most plays a supporting role for the even more important project of challenging and ultimately restructuring the institutions that sanction and implement these injustices.
In short, what nonhuman animals need from ethically sensitive intellectuals is not just a rational argument, but effective legal and political action. In chapters 5, 6 and 7, I hope to convince you that equality and freedom, the two most powerful legal principles and values that Western law can boast, require the destruction of this wall. But there are about 1 million animal species. Many of them, say, insects and ants, should never have these rights. The wall must therefore be rebuilt. But how? In Chapter 8, I will show you that the hallmark of the common law, the jurisprudential law of English-speaking peoples, is flexibility. It abhors thick high legal walls unless they reinforce fundamental interests such as physical integrity and physical freedom, and prefers solid walls that can be dismantled and rebuilt according to new discoveries, morality and public order. I hope you will conclude, as I do in Chapter 11, that justice gives chimpanzees and bonobos the right to legal persons and the basic legal rights of physical integrity and liberty – now. Abducting, selling, imprisoning and reviving them must stop – now. Their abuses and killings must be prohibited for what they are: genocide.
Crowds of Romans rush past the gaping Colosseum every day without glancing. Athenians rarely blink at their Parthenon high on the Acropolis. In the same way, when we encounter this legal wall, it is so high, its stones are so thick and it has been standing for so long that we do not see it. Even after many years of litigation for nonhuman animals, I have not seen it. I saved a handful from death or misery, but for the most part, I couldn`t do anything. I was powerless to represent them directly. These were things, not people, ignored by judges. But I stumbled upon something. Finally, I saw this wall. Seventeen years before Jerom`s death, primatologist Roger Fouts met Loulis who was watching him through the bars of another Yerkes cage. Luli`s mother squatted in a corner.
Four metal bolts protruded from his head. Fouts doubted that the brain research she had done had allowed her to know that Loulis was her son. He caught up with the ten-month-old boy, signed the necessary loan papers, and drove Loulis across the United States to his adoptive mother. This book calls for the legal personality of chimpanzees and bonobos. Legal personality establishes the right “to be recognized as a potential holder of legal rights”. That is why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights stipulate almost identically that “everyone has the right to be recognized in every place before the law”. This guarantee, which aims to prevent the repetition of one of the worst excesses of Nazi law, is “often considered rather trivial and obvious” because no state today denies people`s legal personality.