Green Room

Human Rights for Dolphins and Whales?

posted at 10:09 pm on May 24, 2010 by

Animal rights crazies always come up insane ideas. PETA, for example, has come up with ideas like renaming fish “sea kittens”, making ice cream with human breast milk, and opening a lobster empathy center. In Australia, kids were told they should die to help save the environment.

Considering the above examples, this isn’t all that unexpected from the animal rights lobby. According to them, we need to start providing human rights for dolphins and whales!

Whales and dolphins should get “human rights” to life and liberty because of mounting evidence of their intelligence, a group of conservationists and experts in philosophy, law and ethics said Sunday.

Japan, Norway and Iceland, the main whaling nations, oppose such arguments that would outlaw hunting or even keeping the mammals in marine parks. They have long said there is no real evidence that they are smarter, for instance, than cows or pigs.

Participants at a University of Helsinki conference said ever more studies show the giant marine mammals have human-like self-awareness, an ability to communicate and organize complex societies, making them similar to some great apes.

“We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing,” they said in a declaration after a two-day meeting led by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).

Thomas White, director of the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University in California who was at the Helsinki talks, said dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror, an ability rare in mammals that humans only acquire at about 18 months of age.

“Whaling is ethically unacceptable,” he told Reuters. “They have a sense of self that we used to think that only human beings have.”

Hal Whitehead, a biology professor at Dalhousie University in Canada and an expert on deep-water whales, said there was more evidence that whales have human-like culture.

All of these things may very well be true. It seems to be pretty commonly known that dolphins and whales are indeed extremely intelligent — for animals. There are plenty of animals who possess intelligence, express emotions, and form strong bonds. And while I agree that whaling is unethical, I don’t think there should be some kind of global law against it.

But just because whales are intelligent, and whaling is unethical, that doesn’t mean that they should start getting human rights. Why? Because whales and dolphins aren’t human. They might be intelligent, they might feel emotions, but how do they compare to humans? There is a difference between humans and even the most intelligent animals. I believe that it is the existence of a soul that separates humans from animals.

But let’s say you’re an atheist, and don’t believe that humans possess souls. Does that really make a difference? Give me one example of something a dolphin has done that compares to anything a human has done. There is nothing, because they just don’t compare. A dolphin may be moderately intelligent, but it doesn’t come close to the intelligence of a human. Could a dolphin invent electricity? Put a dolphin on the moon? Write a sonnet? Create beautiful works of art? Absolutely not — it’s just another weak attempt by animal rights wackjobs like Ingrid Newkirk to make it look as if humans are no different than animals. While animal abuse laws are good, giving animals of any kind human rights is ludicrous.

Also, imagine what would happen if we did give human rights to animals. How long do you think it would take the radical PETA lawyers to start suing over so-called “human rights” violations to get environmental legislation passed. Also, think of the BP oil spill. Have any dolphins or whales died because of that? If we gave human rights to dolphins and whales, it would be murder. Is that really the road we want to go down? It’s just a bad, bad idea all the way around.

Thankfully, it’s highly unlikely that it will ever happen. While the PETA crazies may applaud this kind of thing, most Americans would see right through it.

Cross-posted from Cassy’s blog. Stop by for more original commentary, or follow her on Twitter!

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I wonder which way the whales and dolphins would vote? Could they be called for jury duty? How about registering for the draft?

zmdavid on May 24, 2010 at 10:55 PM

PETA should put up or shut up. Their Board of Directors (?) should be chaired by a lobster and all organizational activities should begin and end under the Chair’s leadership, with no human influence.

Robert17 on May 25, 2010 at 8:00 AM

As long as they don’t grant human rights to a fetus… slimy things swimming in goo.

/Sarcasm Off

DANEgerus on May 25, 2010 at 10:11 AM

Bees are way smarter than whales.

Should they get Human Rights as well?

Wait, are whales, dolphins, and bees human? No? Then why are we even having this dicussion.

The fact that we don’t just completely ignore these stupidity instead of giving it a forum is baffling to me.

uknowmorethanme on May 25, 2010 at 11:16 AM

PETA kills dogs. PETA is evil.

rbj on May 25, 2010 at 1:07 PM

There is a difference between humans and even the most intelligent animals. I believe that it is the existence of a soul that separates humans from animals.

But let’s say you’re an atheist, and don’t believe that humans possess souls.

And how do you know that animals don’t have souls. I’m not an expert on Hinduism and Buddhism, but my understanding of them is that both do believe animals have souls. For that matter, some of the traditional Jewish prayers suggests the possibility that animals have souls. I haven’t talked this over with an Orthodox rabbi, so I don’t know for sure how these prayers have been traditionally interpreted, but I could see religiously liberal Jews coming to conclusion that these prayers imply animals have souls. And didn’t St. Francis of Assisi preach to birds?

And I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that male goats have souls in Islam, but not women.

thuja on May 25, 2010 at 4:49 PM