Last night, I caught news that Brazilian courts are considering giving chimpanzees human rights, and following suite, Austria may as well give non-human great apes human rights. This may sound alright and dandy, maybe even give some empathy and fuel towards the conservation effort of Great Apes, but I don’t like this news one bit.
Why you ask?
Well, I don’t feel like summarizing my arguments that I announced a year ago, around the very same time, when the government of Spain issued a bill which called for human rights to other primates… but you can read my comments here. Even recently, in this forum thread, I have argued that non-human primates are not humans.
Humans and other primates do share an evolutionary history, but we are not the same, and I feel that part of the problem with these human rights bills for primates, is that many people have a misconception that primates are our direct ancestors, where we share a monophyletic lineage, which is not completely true.
Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see conditions improve for primates both in the wild and in capitivity, but I do not feel that by giving them rights that will do anything. Maybe violators of these ‘human rights’ placed on primates might be brought to justice… but my gut feeling is that this is all a misdirected effort.
How do you feel about this? Should primates have human rights? If so, which primates… and how does one choose?