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September 28, 2000 Animals deserve basic human rights, author argues





Animal-rights activist Steven Wise opened his lecture on September 12 with a lawyer joke from his mother-in-law. It was his way of showing that he wrote his book Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals to reach a wide audience.

Wise, a lawyer who teaches at Harvard University, spoke to a nearly full auditorium at the D.B. Clarke Theatre in a lecture organized by CARA, Concordia’s Animal Rights Association, as part of Student Orientation.

“I envision a great legal wall,” Wise said. “Human beings exist on one side of the wall, and all other non-human animals exist on the other.”

Anything can happen to animals because they are considered things, and have essentially no legal rights. However, Wise says that chimpanzees, which have been found to have human-like mental capabilities, are entitled to at least some of the rights awarded by the courts to any reasonably autonomous being, such as bodily integrity and bodily liberty.
Tracing the evolution of thought in respect to non-human animals, Wise referred to Plato, Aristotle, and the Great Chain of Being, the idea of humans as the highest corporeal beings, with inherent rights over lesser forms of life.

For more information on CARA, please call 848-7415.

- Kate Shingler










Copyright 2000, Concordia University