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animal personhoodanimal personhood

Oregon Comes Closer to Recognizing Animal Personhood

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The current article you are reading does not reflect the views of the current editors and contributors of the new Ecorazzi

Animals in Oregon can rejoice because the state’s Supreme Court has taken a major step towards recognizing their rights.

A decision was made on August 7th regarding a 2006 case. The Oregon Humane Society, with the help of the local sherifs, rescued a horse who had been left without food or water. The officers didn’t have a warrant when they took the near starved to death horse away from private property but the Oregon Supreme Court ruled the action wasn’t illegal and that an animal should have his or her rights considered, just like a person.

It cited other cases like chimpanzees in New York for which Steven Wise, lawyer and President of the Nonhuman Rights Project, has been advocating for personhood and India banning captive dolphin shows because the animals’ status are “closer to that of ‘non-human persons.” In both cases, extensive expert affidavits were filed showing that the animals have a conscience, the ability to understand life, hold on to memories and share the same wish as humans to live their lives autonomously. The Supreme Court concluded that it doesn’t need “a mirror to the past or a telescope to the future to recognize that the legal status of animals has changed and is changing still.”

The decision, although it does not award animals personhood yet, was celebrated by Wise in an op-ed piece for The Oregonian newspaper as a great step in the right direction.

“I can attest that the Oregon Supreme Court accurately captured the rapidly growing stages of a state, national and international legal movement to recognize the legal personhood of nonhuman animals,” stated Wise who is also a professor of “Animal Rights Jurisprudence” at Lewis & Clark Law School. “This is important because legal persons count before the civil law, while legal things are invisible. Entities without legal personhood are mere slaves to legal persons, helpless in the face of their power.”

Thankfully, by setting this precedent in Oregon, the Supreme Court has made sure that animals aren’t quite so helpless anymore.

Via The Oregonian

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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  • Dean Bruckner

    This is nuts, and evil. An unborn baby human is not a person, but a horse is? The Nonhuman Rights Project not raise the status of animals; it will lower the status of people to that of animals.

    Want to see what profoundly anti-human thinking like this did a hundred years ago? Watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n900e80R30#t=10 .

    • Rosa Borisova

      This is human propaganda created to justify EVIL! People’s perverted needs, personal problems and issues have nothing to do with the animals! We have many alternatives, options and choices, the animals have NONE! If you are going to imitate the animals do it then “NATURALLY” don’t cheat using man-made tools to mass murder animals and people just to rip them off their lives,freedom, possessions to gain more power too. Than can’t pretend you are better than the animals. The animals kill only to feed…not to make profits, not to become rich and famous, not to use, abuse, enslave, torture, not to discriminate others, nor to create misery,hunger, suffering,destroying their own environment and their own kind. Without the guns,the bombs and other weapons Hitler and other bloodthirsty psychopaths would have never existed. Can’t even believe that you Sir are spreading so much hate and evil. This is nothing to be proud of but is horrible, shameful part of the human history. What makes us “human”and better than the animals if we can’t have compassion, morals, ethics, respect and appreciation for all other living beings and nature wether we like them or not? Humans don’t need to murder anyone to be well, live well and be happy!

  • Dean Bruckner

    [removed by author]

  • Dean Bruckner

    This is nuts, and evil. An unborn human baby is not a person, but a horse is? This will not raise the status of animals; it will certainly lower the status of people to animals.

    Want to see what profoundly anti-human thinking like this did a hundred years ago? Watch “The Biology of the Second Reich: Social Darwinism and the Origins of World War 1” on You-Tube.

    • p.

      Currently a corporation is a legal ‘person’. This is a category under the law. It does not equate to ‘human being’.

      If the shop down the road is given consideration under the law, it seems reasonable that a thinking, feeling animal might also be considered. It is neither evil, nor anti-human, but rather common sense.

      • Dean Bruckner

        P., thank you for your comment.

        Please see my comment above on personhood.

        Additionally, “common sense” can be profoundly wrong if the moral and spiritual basis of humanity is removed. Eugenics and the survival of the fittest made perfect common sense to the Germans of the late 1800s and 1900s. The related ideologies of the communists in the 20th Century made perfect common sense to them also. And yet nearly 100 million people are dead primarily because of it. Likewise, abortion is “common sense” to many, and more than 52 million Americans are dead because of it.

        C.S. Lewis once remarked that what makes a person insane is not that he is not rational, but that he is only rational. See the article “More on Professor Death: Peter Singer and the Danger of the Humanities” by Wesley J. Smith for a crystal clear example of where this kind of “common sense” will lead us. C.S. Lewis’s book The Abolition of Man described this moral collapse 60 years ago.

        Best regards, Dean

        • p.


          You clearly have some strong opinions in this area, that are probably beyond discussion on such a forum. But a few thoughts on some of your various comments:

          1. I am not American, and do not ascribe to ‘liberalism’ or ‘conservatism’ as a guiding principle. I think that lumping an opponent into any such camp and criticising that camp by the norms of your side defines debate in pretty narrow and unreal terms, and shuts down debate.

          2. I don’t think that McDonalds, for example, is given legal personhood because it is a group of humans, but rather to protect its wealth and property. I see many more ethical issues with this legal development than awarding limited legal standing to animals.

          3. I agree that rationality should not be the overriding concern of any moral theory – acting in this way has been disastrous throughout human history. We have variously claimed that white men, then white men and women, then some non-whites etc. have been the only rational people able to sufficiently reason and be part of our community of justice. There is an onus on us to act justly not on account of any individual’s capacity to reason, but to suffer.

          4. Acting justly towards the beings we share the planet with is not just a project of the ‘left’. If you are interested in looking at a different perspective (to consider or refute) I would recommend Dominion by Matthew Scully. Scully is a self described Christian and conservative and was a speechwriter to Bush and Palin. Like you, he is critical of Singer. However, his book is one of the most eloquent and powerful examinations of our treatment of animals in the modern world and questions what this says about our capacity for justice, mercy, and the ‘dominion’ that we have been given. He argues that conservatives are doing themselves a disservice if they vacate this field, and that – beyond the language of ‘welfare’ or ‘rights’ – many conservatives have not.

          • Dean Bruckner


            Thanks for your measured and cogent response. As to strong opinions, don’t we all believe strongly about some things? In matters of life and death, the healthy human response is to get stirred up. This forum can hold that weight, or enough of it to get at at least some of the truth we need.

            Point taken about American political categories. But in this article, we are talking about a fruit from the tree of the American Left, which is currently called liberal (or progressive). There are some implications for the international Left, but in Europe and, to some extent, in Canada, the whole societies have shifted leftward so far (from a historical perspective) that the shift is no longer recognizable. The lack of debate about abortion in Europe, and the dismissive view of this ongoing debate in the United States as being uncivilized, is an example of this. I agree that shutting down discussion is neither good, nor desirable.

            As to corporate personhood, you do make a good point about the incongruity of mega-corporations being treated as individuals. But anything good can be perverted, and anything genuine can be counterfeited. Reflexively, I am for corporate personhood because of its key link in the chain that upholds wealth and the ability to gather and distribute it, since wealth is a good thing at its root. Rich members of the Left and Right pretty much agree on that, to be sure. I haven’t examined corporate personhood in detail, but the fact that the American Left is so strongly against it immediately puts me on the defensive about it. I think the Left’s views are contradictory about it, though, since (as others have pointed out), they insist that corporations abide by human moral standards (examine the rhetoric of any boycott) but do not insist that animals abide by human moral standards. Therefore, both sides share a de facto understanding that corporate personhood is far closer to humanity than is animal personhood.

            It sounds as if we largely agree about the weakness of solely rational approaches to morality. As to your point about acting justly toward other creatures, it seems you’re shifting the goalposts here. I think I agree with pretty much every point you make in this regard, except that I haven’t looked at Dominion. It’s the means of animal personhood to which I object, and strongly. My point is that acting justly and compassionately toward other creatures is rooted properly and solely in humanity, which is correctly seen thought the lens of the imago dei. Animal personhood cuts off this branch on which we sit, with eventual catastrophic results for all.

            Best regards, Dean

        • Rosa Borisova

          What people’s personal problems, issues and perverted needs have to do with the animals who did nothing wrong to you or other humans? Other than they have being people’s slaves and massacred for centuries,just for being different and powerless!? There are many books written for many reasons by many people but it doesn’t mean that we have to follow and believe all of them. Specially if we can’t think for our selves and use our own brains! Please add to your own “common sense the spiritual basis of humanity and morals”. Add as well some compassion, ethics and respect for nature and it’s helpless living beings we chose to call animals. Trust me you will be just a better person who not only preaches “humanity” but understands it too.Thank you.

    • Rosa Borisova

      Sir, what are you afraid of? Perhaps that the animals will take over your state? Or you are just arguing for the sake of arguing? People have many choices, options and alternatives but animals have NONE! Giving them the protection they need to survive, as they should is our duty, obligation and responsibility! The animals have NOTHING to do with people’s personal problems, issues and perverted, greedy needs. We have exploiting them for centuries, massacring them, savagely torturing, using, abusing them…haven’t we?! Giving animals some protection from evil humans is not going to change how you want to live your life nor it will destroy your environment. This is the kind of thing people do very well,not the helpless,defenceless living sentient beings we chose to call “animals”. Unless you are animal abuser, scared that will no longer be able to take your anger on them and make profits too.

      • Dean Bruckner

        Rosa, you wrote, “Giving [animals] the protection they need to survive, as they should is our duty, obligation and responsibility!” It may surprise you, but I agree completely with this sentence. That’s a good starting point.

        It’s not the end (the goal), but the means (the approach) to the goal that has us in disagreement. You are wrong, profoundly wrong, when you say that giving animals legal personhood equal to that of humans “will not change how you want to live your life.” Refusing to recognize the utterly special and unique status of humans above animals will remove any motive for duty, obligation and responsibility and it will truly become a survival of the fittest, except that then humans will be slaughtered by the millions and tens of millions, along with animals.

        Please open your eyes.

        • Rosa Borisova

          Sorry but how is protecting animals from abusers, sadists,psychopaths and other misguided humans will change how I/you want to live?

          • Dean Bruckner

            Thanks for your reply Rosa. Let me answer with an illustration:

            If an appendix is ready to burst, it needs to come out; few (if any) circumstances can justify leaving it in there. However, it needs to be removed competently while minimizing damage to the rest of the systems of the human body. Anesthesia, infection control, clamps, a sharp scalpel are all needed. A chain saw will certainly remove the appendix, but with catastrophic and likely fatal damage to the rest of the human body.

            Granting animal personhood is just like using a chain saw to remove an appendix. The unique moral status of humans is the underpinning of any society and indeed humanity. By tearing this out along with the “infection” of animal abuse, society will bleed to death. The “surgeon” will be holding the inflamed appendix in his hands for the camera with a smile, while everything in the operating room, including the newly dead body on the table, is covered in blood.

            Separating personhood from moral accountability is senseless and illogical, and will lead to widespread violence, and eventually both mass murder and genocide. Search online for the article “So, Chimps Are Vicious Killers” by Wesley J. Smith for more thoughts on the difference in moral accountability between animals and humans.

            Justifying policy by one’s intentions, even good ones, and not by the actual, real-world results of such policies in history and present experience, is a major failing of the Left (Progressives/Liberals) in our society. Please don’t be part of it.

    • Rosa Borisova

      Sir,the ONLY “nuts” and “evil” living beings on this planet are the humans. I am not shore where did you get your 40-s info but we are in the year 2014.Your comments are quite confusing nonsense! No one is saying that “An unborn human baby is not a person, but a horse is”? Please stop twisting things…not everyone is stupid.

  • djaymick

    If animals are given personhood, then I will vote for each of my 6 animals in the next election. They should have the right to vote, just like any human.
    Can I get unemployment/welfare for them too? They don’t work, but should be given the same basic rights as a human.

    • p.

      Granting personhood to certain animals will not make them the equal of humans under the law. It will just mean that certain considerations will apply. It is a pretty small and sensible legal step.

      • Dean Bruckner

        Corporations are “persons” because they are composed of human beings acting together, and because the limited liability corporation is necessary to economic development. And yes, giving personhood to certain animals will have profound negative effects on humans. You are right in one respect; animals will not be the equal of humans under the law. Instead, they will be above humans under the law. See my comment on India above for a real-world example.

        Of course, when the historic western foundation of anthropology is removed, there won’t *be* any law that matters, and only naked power will matter. The Left is mostly there already.

  • FU-Obummer

    So this is what taxpayer funded employees get to do in their work time – decide on animal rights. On the flip side, I’m so glad to see that Oregon has absolutely nothing else important going on in their pathetic state.

    • Rosa Borisova

      Taxpayers are paying for herbivore animals to be enslaved for centuries to feed humans who are not starving to death, their lives are not in danger and are NOT carnivore!?These notorious places called “farms” I call “The dead flesh/slavery camps” are supported from the tax payers and are taking 70% of the U.S. public lands. So that only “farmers” can profit from but getting people sick. Tax payers are paying also for “laboratories/research” facilities to perform useless, sadistic, unimaginable, horrors called “experiments” on helpless, vulnerable, innocent, peaceful, harmless and defenceless animals to find cures caused by choosing to eat other animals’s flesh?! A hefty price the animals must pay for our own stupidity?! In addition you seem clueless that the legal murders called “hunting”are funded too by the tax payers. Only to destroy wild life for personal gains,”fun”,trophies, “sports” and other ridiculous activities murdering them to extinction. All this under that bogus pretext that there is a need to “control/manage” animals where they must control themselves instead but they wouldn’t!? So Sir, the above described travesty the tax payers are paying for is nothing compared to the tiny few $$ to protect the animals, will not going to kill anyone but it will be beneficial for the survival of these wonderful living beings bringing so much harmony,joy and beauty in the world we live in.

  • markkozikowski

    non-human persons
    What can the definition of Non-human Person be exactly?
    In order to be a person, one must be a human.

    • p.

      A ‘person’ is an entity with certain legal standing. A corporation can currently be a person. It does not equate to human.

      • Dean Bruckner

        I don’t know what your political affiliation is, and it’s not relevant to this discussion (unless you make it so). But this reminds me of a truth: liberals feel responsible only for their intentions, not the actual consequences of their policies. Your comment seems to illustrate this way of thinking.

  • Darll

    Congratulations to Oregon for demonstrating above-average civility. Hope the other states will follow. “The greatness of a nation and it moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” – Mahatma Ghandi. In the Bible, humans were assigned the status of ‘stewards’, not masters. Sounds like God made us merely the Maintenance Department.

    • Dean Bruckner

      Yes, no doubt Hindus feel that the 400 million cattle in India contribute so much to India’s spiritual, moral, personal and economic progress. As a westerner and a Christian, I respectfully disagree.

      The grinding poverty for the majority of humans in India, which exists side by side with the sacred cow, and in large part because of the belief system that makes the cow sacred, is a perfect illustration of where the animals-as-persons movement in the United States is going. I am not trying to disrespect sincere people, but wisdom requires looking carefully at the real-world effects of every belief.

      Why do you think Deepak Chopra came to the U.S. to preach Hinduism? I think it’s because Americans have never experienced its societal effects close up. If you like having animals on the same moral plane as persons, you should visit India to see where that philosophy is headed. Is all of India bad? Or course not; there is great beauty there. But that part of it is bad. The reason why Deepak Chopra can get rich in the West is because the Judeo-Christian world view that built the West more closely matches reality than competing world views, and is immeasurably more beneficial to humans and animals alike.

      Humans can be humane; animals cannot be humane. When an organization of lions or sharks experiences a mass movement to protect the rights of zebras or seals, let me know.

      P.S. The reason that humans were granted a co-regency of the world in the Biblical book of Genesis is that humans were created in the image of God, which the animals were not. The Bible (Proverbs of Solomon) also states that “a righteous man (one who lives life under the authority of God and his laws and sees the moral world the way it is, not the way he wants it to be) has compassion for the needs of his animal, but even the kindness of the wicked is cruel.” If you remove the foundation of special creation and humanity made in the image of God, all the rest of the house collapses, and power and cruelty are all that ultimately remain. When humans refuse the special role that God made for them, they become like animals. So does their society.

  • Rosa Borisova

    This is fantastic! I am tired of people dismissing the importance of the animals in our world. In-fact they are way more valuable than humans. Just because they look different, don’t talk, wright, read or use the computers it doesn’t mean that don’t deserve to live! Those who see this as negative …you have nothing to worry about and nothing to loose. No animal will take your job,freedom, money or will ever care about voting. It is time, way over due people make shore animals are defended,protected and free.

  • Rosa Borisova

    Just about anyone with some simple common sense will know that the animals do not use, abuse,enslave and murder people for “fun”,profits and trophies. They do not steal,experiment on humans,do not lie, rape, cheat, manipulate and never will! Animals take only what they need in order to survive. Thinking that “this… will lower the status of people to animals” is ridiculous nonsense, is”nuts” and is “evil”!!! If you are well off under your own skin Mr. Bruckner, you can’t be afraid of loosing your”status”to a cow can you?!

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