PRIMATE RIGHTS? The Monkey Trial, Part Deux

Published on December 13, 2014

by John Tutten
Clash Daily Contributor

Last week in a little noticed decision, a three-judge panel in Albany, New York unanimously ruled to deny personhood to a chimpanzee. Yes, a chimpanzee. Tommy, as the chimp is known, lives in a cage under conditions that the animal rights group, Nonhuman Rights Project, argued were essentially that of a person living in solitary confinement.

The group’s lawyer argued that chimps have qualities similar to humans and therefore deserve rights normally provided to humans, like freedom from imprisonment. While this case is a setback for their effort, the Nonhuman Rights Project intends to pursue additional cases in other states.

In a similar case in 2012, a suit was filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on behalf of five killer whales at SeaWorld charging that the captivity of the whales constituted slavery. Fortunately, the clear thinking judge in that case ruled that the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applied only to humans and dismissed the suit.

Now you might be thinking how wonderful it is to see our courts decide something in a rational manner. However, even though these cases went the right way, there is great danger lurking ahead with this issue.

Animal rights advocates are working hard to find one court that will grant to animals what our legal system calls legal standing. Providing legal standing to animals such as chimps or maybe cows or even chickens would allow lawyers to sue on behalf of these animals for whatever injustices they could creatively dream up. Need a new European supercar? Well, just sue the American Kennel Club for the injustice of keeping the dogs in cages or on leashes at the last dog show.

PETA’s attorney in the orca case indicated that even though the SeaWorld suit didn’t go their way, “progress” was made. Once one court allows such a case to proceed, there will be a stampede to bring others to trial.

In cases of this type, animal rights advocates are arguing for the granting of human rights to animals. However, what really lurks behind this is much darker. The intense desire of the core of this movement is not to bring animals up to human status but to bring humans down to the animal level.

The radical animal rights movement believes that humans are the earth’s biggest enemies. Many argue that the human population should be pared back by ninety percent so that the rest of the animal world has their equal share of the earth’s resources. They proclaim that human life is of no greater value than bacteria and deserves no special status.

Filmmaker David Attenborough sums up it up this way:

“Humans are a plague on the earth.”

This, I believe, constitutes the cultural battleground we find ourselves in today. Are humans exceptional, made in a supreme creator’s image, endowed with unalienable rights or are we of no greater worth than the common house fly? Are we the pinnacle of creation and have sovereignty over it or are we just another one of its constituents of no greater worth? The answer has enormous implications for life as we know it.

I believe Darwinism has played a key role in defining human worth down. It has provided fertile ground for the non-exceptional view of humans to take root. Darwin’s theory of the origin life where we are simply the result of natural selection acting on random mutation removes the need for a supreme creator. We just came randomly from previous life. Humans become just another branch on the evolutionary tree and therefore have no more intrinsic value than a snail darter. By the way, don’t ever ask Darwinists where the first life came from. I have seen dislocated elbows result from their hand waving.

I have always found it interesting that Marxism began to take flight as Darwin’s theory became widely known in the culture. Marx was quite fascinated with the natural selection premise and in a letter to German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle he wrote:

“Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis in the natural sciences for the historical class struggle.”

The idea that humans have no divine spark and are just animals plays very well in a totalitarian scheme. How much easier it is to gain and hold power when survival of the fittest is the prevailing mechanism of societal structure. When humans are merely a co-equal constituent of nature, reducing the population is no different that clearing a forest. Starving millions to eliminate the possibility of rebellion is merely prudent.

When we are reduced to animals, do we not then have license to behave as animals do? What happens to the qualities of kindness, altruism, charity, self-sacrifice and honor when we simply occupy one of Darwin’s branches? The view that we are just animals promotes ruthlessness, aggression, and cruelty all in the name of survival. We have seen this repeated many times in history and it appears this new legal route is another indication that our society is headed towards the same destination.


John TuttenJohn Tutten holds degrees in both engineering and business management. He is veteran of thirty-three years in the high technology business world where he spent time in development engineering and technology management predominantly in the area of custom semiconductor circuits. He recently retired to the mountains of north Georgia where he devotes his time to the study of Christian Apologetics and writing in defense of the Christian worldview.