| Igualdad Animal Animal Equality stages animal rights rally in Spain | MR Online Igualdad Animal (Animal Equality) stages animal rights rally in Spain. See Donny Moss, “Using Bodies of The Deceased to Advocate for The Living,” Their Turn: The Social Justice Movement of our Time, May 30, 2015.

The danger of being wrong about animal rights: A social justice attorney’s view

Originally published: National Lawyers Guild (NLG) on March 26, 2018 by Jerold D. Friedman (more by National Lawyers Guild (NLG))  | (Posted Mar 28, 2018)

Because I am a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and brutal taking of life. We don’t have to be a part of it.

—Dick Gregory

Dogs and suitcases are personal property under the law. For the most part, that enables humans to use, neglect, and abuse them indiscriminately. Dogs and other nonhumans1 have been property at least since the invention of money as suggested by the common etymologies of “chattel,” “cattle,” and “capital.” The status of nonhumans as property is so ingrained that humans reflexively don’t consider whether nonhumans should be emancipated and distinguished from luggage. Animal rights theory says they need to be because property has no opportunity for legal redress. Legal persons (hu­mans) can seek damages for past injuries, injunctions for future injuries, and enjoy full protection by the state, but personal property (nonhumans and luggage) cannot. Presently, slicing a hen’s throat is not murder, boiling a lobster is not torture, taking a calf is not kidnapping, caging a chimpanzee is not false imprisonment, and killing billions of fishes2 is not genocide. Yet the neglect, abuse, and terror that nonhumans routinely suffer are no less than humans similarly situated.

The animal rights movement seeks to emancipate nonhumans by hav­ing their legal status changed from “property” to “person” and to let them be free to live their lives as they wish. Animal rights draw from the same ethical tradition as human rights and ask the same types of questions: Can an individual’s market value outweigh their moral value? When is owning, using, or exploiting another considered slavery? Is slavery always wrong? Is it immoral to exploit or otherwise use another even if it isn’t technically slavery? What qualities do humans have that make slavery wrong and do nonhumans have the same qualities? If using humans in a certain way is slavery, is using nonhumans in a similar way also slavery? Is it wrong to keep a slave if the individual doesn’t know he or she is enslaved? What if they were conditioned to accept it, benefit from it, or seem to enjoy it? Should nonhuman emancipation be opposed because of the drastic changes it will cause to human culture, economics, or politics?3 Should all nonhumans be emancipated or only certain classes like apes (since they are genetically most similar to humans) or dogs and cats (as quasi-family members)?

Animal rights and human rights4 reject genetic tests because genes are ir­relevant and oppression is found where genes are said to be relevant. Animal rights disregard “species” for the same reason human rights disregard so-called “race.” Rather than genes, animal rights consider what qualities one should have to be a legal person. If one individual is a person and a second individual has the same relevant qualities, then the second individual should also be a person—period. This merit-driven analysis concludes that nonhu­mans should be legal persons because the qualities that give rise to human personhood also exist in nonhumans: a mind, a will to live, and a capacity to suffer. Humans and nonhumans are living, thinking, feeling beings, and these qualities entitle all of us to the rights to life and liberty.5

Our property laws are no better than a genetic test on the question of moral rights. Take for example an episode of Judge Judy.6 In a widely re­ported episode, the plaintiff alleged that his young poodle, Baby Boy, was stolen and sold to the defendant.7 Judge Judy told the defendant to set Baby Boy on the ground who then ran to the plaintiff and began jumping on the plaintiff’s leg while vigorously wagging his tail. “Take him home,” Judge Judy told the plaintiff.

Judge Judy opted for reason rather than law. She treated Baby Boy as a legal person. She let him testify, albeit through body language, because she recognized that Baby Boy’s interest in his future was primary. She recognized that Baby Boy had a mind capable of love and that he would suffer if that love was denied. The fact that a television entertainer reached justice through moral reasoning while proper judges who follow property law might have awarded Baby Boy to the wrong party is one small example of what property law brings when it’s used to decide the fate of living beings.

U.S. society grappled with these same legal and moral issues in the de­cades leading to its civil war. The presumed supremacy of property law was upended in U.S. v. Schooner Amistad8 after a heated legal battle over the fate of a number of enslaved African people. The presiding judge de­fied the rule of law and enormous political pressure and set the slaves free. “Let justice be done though the heavens fall,” he said. Animal rights calls for the same justice.

I raise Baby Boy and Amistad to separate a lawyer’s instinctive reliance on traditional property constructs from the question of rights. Moral rights—the rights to life and liberty, and to be free from suffering—exist independently of law. The founders of the U.S. government preserved this idea in the Dec­laration of Independence. Moral rights are directly protected by the Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments, among other laws, but laws do not create moral rights, they protect and enforce them. The aforementioned constitutional amendments were enacted to prohibit the government and public from violating moral rights valued by the amendments’ framers and ratifiers. Moral rights are also inalienable. They must be inalienable because they would be fleeting if they depended on government. Imagine if the president and legislature decriminalized marital rape, forced weddings, and genital mutilation because the public elected misogynists or lobbyists paid politicians the right price. We don’t lose a moral right to life because a tyrant is elected although we may lose the legal protection of it.

Altogether, the principles of animal rights are identical to human rights: (1) Moral rights are discovered through philosophy. (2) Governments should create legal rights that protect and ensure moral rights. (3) Governments cannot defend their failure to protect moral rights by claiming the law cre­ates morality. Finally, (4) moral rights should be fairly evaluated and cannot exist within a system of hierarchy and oppression. Male legislators should not control women’s rights, white registrars should not be the gatekeepers of black voters, and humans who use, consume, or profit from nonhumans should not decide their liberty.

The perils nonhumans face

The sparks that initiate social justice movements come from witnessing in­justice. So, while comparing dogs and suitcases helps to make a point, it hides the perils nonhumans face. I recommend that you watch the documentary Earthlings (2005) to witness the breadth and depth of human-caused nonhu­man suffering. And, for scale, Noam Mohr calculated 63 billion nonhumans were killed for food in the U.S. market in 2011.9

An example typical of nonhuman suffering was caught on video and later described by Michael Shermer, president of the Skeptic’s Society:

Appropriately entitled “saddest slaughterhouse footage ever,” the clip shows a bull waiting in line to die. He hears his mates in front of him being killed, backs up into the rear wall of the metal chute, and turns his head around seeking an escape. He looks scared. A worker then zaps him with a cattle prod. The bull shuffles forward far enough for the final death wall to come down behind him. His rear legs try one last time to exit the trap and then . . . Thug! . . . down he goes in a heap. Dead. Am I projecting human emotions into a head of cattle? Maybe, but as one meat plant worker told an undercover USDA inspector, who inquired about the waste stench: “They’re scared. They don’t want to die.”10

Shermer begins to dismantle the idea that it is anthropomorphic (the wrong­ful assignment of human qualities to nonhumans) to claim the bull understood and feared death, but he doesn’t finish the analysis. All animals, including humans, evolved under “survival of the fittest” rules. Animals who care about their lives are more likely to survive because they will flee or attack preda­tors. They are more “fit” and are more likely to reproduce than animals who ignore predators. They pass their fight or flight genes to their children. Thus, it’s anthropocentric (the wrongful belief of humans as singularly important) to believe that nonhumans don’t care about their lives because every extant animal, including the bull, is the product of millions of ancestors who wanted to live. That and the bull’s behavior establish that he wanted to live, knew his death was imminent, and tried to save his own life. His life mattered but he was killed intentionally and maliciously: he was murdered.

Why nonhumans have moral rights: Innate moral interests create moral rights

Expanding human rights from “all [wealthy, white] men are created equal” to “all humans are created equal” has been slow because unequal rights benefit those in power and those who benefit most are deft at sabotaging liberation movements. For example, the political majority incites minorities to attack each other. The animal rights movement resists these types of sabotage be­cause it focuses on the qualities that compel moral rights more than simply getting its own members into the majority. This approach means that animal rights necessarily include human rights. Rather than argue that it’s immoral to conduct medical experiments without informed consent only for a class, the animal rights perspective means that informed consent, as a general moral principle with universal application, is necessary for everyone.

Moral rights start with having an interest in something of moral value, like Shermer’s bull having an interest in his own life. Interests come from an active, functioning mind. Minds come from a nervous system, and nervous systems come from nerves. Animals have nerves.11 Therefore, the idea that animals have moral rights makes a great deal of sense. Those with minds are called “sentient” because they can sense their environment and interpret those sensations. Plants, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms have no nerves—and therefore no brain, mind, sentience, nor moral rights.

How interests actually translate into moral rights has been argued ad nau­seam. These arguments typically focus on human rights that describe how evolution miraculously resulted in a human brain that can think and feel. The arguments typically overlook that nonhumans operate with a neurol­ogy that is functionally identical to humans. We all evolved from the same primordial ancestors who wanted to live and be free, and who avoided pain and suffering. We are all sentient. There has yet to be any sound scientific or philosophical reason to believe that humans experience thoughts and feelings differently than nonhumans in a morally meaningful way. Charles Darwin explained this when he said humans had no unique qualities in the animal kingdom.12 Some biologists like Richard Dawkins suggest that some nonhumans may have a greater capacity to suffer.13 Altogether, if human rights derive from biological qualities (sentience, fear, suffering, etc.), and if nonhumans have those same biological qualities, then nonhumans must have their moral rights recognized.

Further, when recognizing who has moral rights we should err on the side of inclusion because there is no margin for error. Life cannot be restored once wrongfully taken. Time and enjoyment of life lost in captivity cannot be returned. Pain and suffering cannot be undone. This precautionary principle simply means that we should assume others’ lives matter. There would be no hate crimes, genocide, nor anything in between if inclusion and precaution were the norm.

Nonhumans are denied rights with the same techniques used against humans

The animal rights movement matured in the 1970s when more humans began to critically question the power disparity between humans and non­humans. Arguments were then fashioned to comfort those who opposed the disparity—“Cows must be killed because humans must eat meat.” “Rats must be killed to cure cancer.” “Minks must be killed for fashion or warmth.” These arguments are no different than any other type of genetic supremacy ideol­ogy by inflaming the fears of ardent supporters and seducing the undecided to oppose animal rights.

Common themes to delegitimize minorities are sometimes elusive but suddenly obvious when they’re revealed. For example, René Descartes in­famously nailed dogs and cats to boards to dissect them alive. He reasoned that their screams were not the result of meaningful pain or suffering14 because their reaction was like a machine or clock that chimed a bell. Not coincidentally, J. Marion Sims, who is regarded as the father of modern gynecology, managed to preempt objections to his painful experiments on black women by convincing the public that they don’t feel pain. The capac­ity of nonhumans and black women to suffer was inconvenient to those who wanted to profit from cutting them. The capacity of nonhumans to suffer is still denied today by those who want to profit from their bodies and the same mindless arguments are offered to deaden objections. Consider what the U.S. pig killing industry suggests, “Forget the pig is an animal. Treat him just like a machine in a factory.”15

Such themes are known to social justice advocates. We know that op­pressors control the narrative by explaining how the dominated need to be oppressed for their own good, like cutting the beaks off hens so they don’t peck each other or bombing Iraq into democracy. These narratives are more potent when they provide a gift to the listener, like promising to cure lung cancer by forcing beagles to inhale smoke or banning Muslims to stop ter­rorism. Advocates must recognize these themes not only for their individual falsehood but to understand the patterns behind such propaganda. Even if Iraq could be bombed into democracy, that does not entitle the U.S. to com­mit mass murder. Even if lung cancer could be cured by torturing beagles to death, vivisectors are not entitled to commit mass murder. Iraqis and beagles have a right to live that cannot be trumped for another’s profit or pleasure.

All arguments to deny nonhumans moral rights are logical fallacies

Themes of oppression spawn individual arguments. One can master the philosophy of animal rights by swapping each instance of “human” with “nonhuman” in arguments for and against human rights. For example, a pro-human-slavery argument might claim that the ability to force a human to labor justifies doing so. This is of course absurd because might does not make right. This argument is just as absurd when applied against nonhumans because strength does not become the measure of morality by changing spe­cies. The ability to force a bird into a cage, a dolphin into an aquarium, a dog in front of a sled, or a rat into a medical experiment does not make any of these things moral.

All arguments against animal rights fit into a few categories and each category commits a logical fallacy, such as the appeal to force fallacy of “might makes right.” Learning logical fallacies is useful because they help us to quickly dispense with bad arguments.

Human exceptionalism has been the source of the most popular argu­ments against animal rights such as, “Humans are on top of the food chain; therefore, humans have a right to eat others.” I’ll use this argument to walk you through its fallacies.

  1. It is an appeal to force when it means: whoever is on top of the food chain has a right to kill others because they have the power to kill others.
  2. It is also an appeal to tradition, which means: we have a right to kill others because our ancestors did. We shouldn’t base morality on what our ancestors did. Chances are that murder and rape are in everyone’s family tree. Similarly, we shouldn’t argue that enslaving horses is moral because horses have been enslaved for millennia any more than we can make the same argument to enslave humans. Traditions should not con­tinue for tradition’s sake but because the tradition is moral.
  3. It is also an appeal to evolution, which means: we have a right to kill others because evolution gave us the ability to kill others. This argu­ment is irrational because evolution has given us the ability to do many things (again, murder and rape) but that does not make those things moral. Humans who make this argument confuse themselves with real predators, like sharks, who will actually die without eating prey.

Apart from its logical failures, it’s a popular myth that humans evolved to eat nonhumans. Here is a quick human evolution timeline: Mam­mals who lived around 70 million years ago ate insects. Some of them colonized trees in pursuit of those insects. Over time, these arboreal mammals adapted to a flower and fruit diet. These mammals were our ancestors who evolved into primates. The earliest evidence of meat-eating by our primate ancestors comes from around 3.4 million years ago in the form of carved bones. A cache of carved bones and stone tools discovered in the Olduvai Gorge and dated to around 1.8 million years ago fueled the belief that pre-humans were hunters. The cache provided no data as to how the meat was acquired nor how much meat the pre-humans ate. (Imagine trying to determine the diet of college students by examining petrified cafeteria trash and not knowing the stu­dent population.) Evidence shows only scarce and opportunistic meat eating until 50,000 years ago when hunting became feasible but low technology ensured that these humans were not particularly successful. Meat is still not a significant part of the human diet except for some in wealthy nations. This timeline means humans have only eaten meat out of tradition and not evolution.

(4) It is also an appeal to intellect, which is a variant appeal to evolution. Rapid scientific discoveries around the 1900s coincided with enormous egalitarian pressures. White patriarchs composed the political and sci­entific majority worldwide and predictably white scientists used their disciplines to aid white men to stay in power. In the U.S., black people had recently been emancipated and women demanded the vote. One response from the science community was that white men were smarter and selected by evolution to rule because women had smaller brains than men16 and black people had smaller brains than white people.17 Even if white males had larger brains, it should go without saying that that does not impute white males with a greater intellect or the right to rule. Similarly, the typically large brain of humans compared with non­humans does not impute us with greater intellect (we have a penchant for electing dictators, waging war, and threatening our own extinction) nor a right to rule.18

The appeal to intellect can also be viewed as a variant appeal to force. Aristotle pushed this idea with his Nature’s Ladder argument. He claimed that the most rational beings are higher on the Ladder and have a right to dominate those beneath: the less rational. Thus, divine be­ings dominate natural beings. Conveniently, philosophers like Aristotle were next in line. He considered all men more rational than women and all humans more rational than nonhumans. Yet neither mental strength nor physical strength provide a moral basis for harming others. Brain size should not be confused with intelligence, nor intelligence with wis­dom, nor any of these with a right to rule.

These several fallacies are also undone by their apparent hypocrisy. Imagine any scenario where extraterrestrials were in the seat of power. What if the Earth was colonized by Kanamits, as it was in the famous episode of the The Twilight Zone? Fans of the show know that this big-brained species is much stronger and smarter than even the most exceptional humans. If humans would not immediately surrender to Kanamits or to any other physically and intellectually superior alien race obedient to Nature’s Ladder, then clearly the reasoning many of us use to dominate nonhumans is dishonest and self­ish. The king says whoever wears the crown shall rule until the crown is taken from him! It is as unjust for “superiors” to enslave us as it is for us to enslave “inferiors.”

Social justice includes animal rights

Social justice is called for when individuals of a class are denied moral rights or the laws that protect those moral rights. For example, SeaWorld imprisons orcas (a class) and denies them their moral right to liberty. Tili­kum, the tragic star of the Blackfish documentary,19 was captured in 1983 and died at SeaWorld in 2017. He was a slave for thirty-four years to generate profits for his owners. All orcas and other prisoners of euphemistic “marine parks,” whether born in captivity or captured, want to be free. As sentient beings, they deserve to be free. Tilikum and others like him deserve freedom through social justice.

The National Lawyers Guild made a large step forward by recognizing animal rights as a social justice issue when it adopted its Food Justice Guide­lines (2015). The Guidelines include the following language, “Whereas the Guild has begun to recognize and include animals and animal rights within our larger anti-oppression and anti-violence framework. . . .” Animal rights is a social justice issue no less than any other. Many social justice luminaries recognize that oppression is not limited to humans alone. Dick Gregory and Cesar Chavez included veganism20 in their advocacy because they identified suffering per se as the moral wrong, not just human suffering. I authored dozens of micro-biographies in the Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism21 that included numerous human rights ad­vocates who also pursued animal rights, but they are few compared to the many less famous social justice advocates today who also don’t distinguish human rights as different or superior to animal rights.

Philosopher Steven Best wrote extensively on total liberation to unite all of the oppressed rather than to allow divisions between each oppressed class.22 This approach is vital. Nature’s Ladder is tribal, hierarchal, and seductive. Fighting against tribalism one rung of the ladder at a time is contrary to the NLG’s policy of universal justice and would ignore the identical struc­tural injustice of each battle. Tribalism is the enemy of egalitarianism. In this way, feminists should also fight for the environment, environmental­ists should also fight for animal rights, and animal advocates should also fight for feminism. Each of us can and should support and help all other progressive movements.

Nonhumans are an extreme political minority because they are thinking and feeling beings whose moral rights are ignored. Many live in misery and die horribly. Their suffering is made invisible by the society who claims to love animals but still wants to benefit from their exploitation. They are vic­tims without end because few humans recognize their suffering and fewer do anything about it. Women and other minorities have made significant gains with legal rights due to social justice activism and because they are the same species as the political majority. Nonhumans have the anatomy to suffer but they don’t look like us so they have a long way to go before they receive due empathy and activism.

Nonhumans and their advocates need lawyers. At a minimum, animal rights activists need help on both sides of civil litigation and occasionally in criminal defense. Remarkably, at the time of this writing, the FBI is searching for two baby pigs who were taken by animal advocates when they were newborn and near death at a feedlot.23 How could a compassionate act, which at worst should be charged as larceny, be considered domestic terrorism? Answer: 18 U.S.C. § 43 labels interstate economic harm to an animal enterprise as terrorism. Nonhumans also need lawyers to push the legal envelope toward their emancipation. Steven Wise heads the Nonhu­man Rights Project with the mission to achieve nonhuman personhood for the great apes. Recently, NhRP petitioned for habeas corpus on behalf of two chimpanzees: Hercules and Leo.24 Some attorneys have dedicated their entire law practice to reducing the suffering of nonhumans and sup­porting their advocates like Christine Garcia (California) and Adam Karp (Washington). I administer an e-mail list for nearly one hundred attorneys who litigate at least part-time for nonhumans or their advocates.

In the U.S., attorneys like Steven Wise,25 Christine Garcia, and Adam Karp are vanguards. Attorneys in Brazil were granted habeas corpus for Suíça, a chimpanzee,26 while in Argentina attorneys secured “basic rights” for an orangutan named Sandra.27 Zurich, Switzerland appointed attorney Antoine Goetschel specifically to prosecute animal cruelty cases. And legal advocacy is not limited to the courtroom. In 2013, the Indian Ministry of the Environment and Forests declared dolphins to be “nonhuman persons” to end their private and public exhibition throughout the country.28 This declaration was made one year after scientists passed the Declaration of [Moral] Rights for Cetaceans.29 Mexico City has banned dolphin exhibitions as of January 2018.30 Nonhumans need more advocates of all types to help in and out of court to end their nightmare. I hope that this article helps to inspire you to consider becoming one of their defenders.

What animal emancipation may look like

I ate cows during the 1970s and ’80s, but not whales. I reasoned that eating a whale was eating a person because they were smart and formed families. In the late ’80s, I first understood that cows were smart and had families too. They were people by my “whale” definition but culture had taught me to eat cows and not whales. Without intending it, I created a fictional world where cows were dumb and solitary so I could justify eating them. Now I believe that every form of oppression is caused by individuals creating a fictional world to justify hurting others. Learning about animal rights convinced me whales, cows, and all other nonhumans have moral rights because they all want to live and be free, and don’t want to suffer. I no longer believe only humans are persons. All sentient members of the animal kingdom are persons.

As surprising or shocking as my change of values may sound, living with­out violence against nonhumans has brought enormous peace to me in the last twenty-five years as well as to the nonhumans I would have consumed. The average person in the U.S. eats 4,925 nonhumans in twenty-five years.31

I recognize that paradigm shifts sometimes cause panic. You may feel panic if you imagine no longer eating, wearing, or otherwise consuming or using nonhumans. Fear of change is no reason not to change. It was once unimaginable that human slavery would end. Now human slavery is illegal worldwide and its practice has vastly diminished. Human economies and behaviors must change again for animal rights and all of us will be better for it. I also recognize that animal rights seeks unprecedented change that will take time to normalize. Animal rights will end the meat and dairy industries. It will end leather, wool, fur, and silk. Even the pet trade will end. Every industry and practice that uses nonhumans will end when nonhumans are no longer treated as chattel but as persons. This revolution is necessary today but these industries and practices will be replaced gradually as entrepreneurs find substitutes. Mechanized labor helped accelerate the end of slavery for economic reasons. The end of nonhuman slavery is also accelerating on these economic grounds. The public continues to learn that plants are overall superior and less expensive sources of nutrition compared to any nonhuman flesh. New foods are finding customers such as plant milks (derived from soy, rice, almonds, etc.) are less expensive, less perishable, more healthful, and use less land, water, and other resources than animal milks. Medical research, once inseparable from vivisection, has spawned more accurate non-animal research.

While the economy changes, those who profit most by using nonhumans as property will attack animal rights exactly as every other social justice movement has been attacked by those who fear their own loss of privilege or income. McDonald’s infiltrated a small environmental group and unsuc­cessfully sued its members for libel.32 The Center for Consumer Freedom represents several industries that enslave nonhumans and CCF constantly feeds the media with false and misleading stories of sinister animal advocates. And pig rescuers are being hunted as domestic terrorists! It’s important to recognize that these attacks are the usual propaganda and backlash waged by unjust industries and government enforcers.

Finally, social justice advocates should welcome animal rights even if they reject egalitarian arguments because animal rights directly helps humans. The meat and dairy industries are notorious abusers of workers who are typically undocumented immigrants and these industries have poor occupational safety (for example, those who kill chickens suffer the most finger amputations). Ending meat and dairy would dramatically improve our environment, since the meat industry is the top cause of climate change,33 and reverse deforesta­tion. Farmland rededicated from feeding nonhumans to humans can easily end world hunger by not wasting food on nonhumans. Drought would be less threatening as a vast amount of water is lost to grow nonhumans. Wars ultimately caused by food and water shortages will be averted. A plant diet lowers the risk of almost all diseases, especially the top killers (cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc.) and many current and potential pandemics originate from using nonhumans for food (avian flu, swine flu, Ebola from bats, etc.). Meat and dairy industries receive enormous tax subsidies that should be stopped or at least used for public services. Every industry that uses nonhuman animals does so at the cost of humans, not only meat and dairy. The fur industry, for example, wastes land and other resources, and poisons the environment with concentrated nonhuman waste and fur preservatives.

For further reading, please choose The Dreaded Comparison,34 about hu­man and nonhuman slavery; The Sexual Politics of Meat,35 about patriarchy’s offenses against women and nonhumans; Rattling the Cage,36 about nonhu­man personhood; and The Politics of Total Liberation,37 about uniting social justice movements.


  1. “Humans and nonhumans” is the correct dichotomy, not “humans and animals,” because humans are animals. Compare “Drugs and alcohol,” which wrongfully implies that al­cohol is not a drug. Thus, I use “nonhumans” to refer to nonhuman animals. However, I preserve “animal” in “animal rights” because it’s an established term.
  2. Animal rights theory recognizes individuals, so all group-names are pluralized, e.g., fishes, deers, sheeps, etc.
  3. This question prompts a discussion on the differences between human and animal rights, which is outside the scope of the article.
  4. Collectively, “human rights” and “animal rights” are referred to as “moral rights.”
  5. Animal rights philosophy can be found throughout history. It was developed into a cogent philosophy in the mid-1900s. See Ruth Harrison, Animal Machines (1964).
  6. Judge Judy is a retired judge who presides over a popular arbitration-based reality court television show.
  7. Oliver Gettell, “Watch Judge Judy Set a Dog Loose in Court to Determine its True Owner,” Entertainment Weekly (Aug. 15, 2017, 6:37 PM).
  8. 40 U.S. 518 (1841).
  9. Noam Mohr, “How Many Animals Die to Feed Americans?” Animal DeathCount (May 2014). This titanic number is dwarfed by counting the nonhumans killed for other reasons, in other countries, and those who are oppressed but not killed.
  10. Michael Shermer, “Confessions of a Speciesist: Where Do Nonhuman Mammals Fit in Our Moral Hierarchy?Scientific American (Jan. 2014).
  11. Sea sponges and five other animal species have no nerves and are excluded.
  12. See Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871) (“There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties [and all the differences are] of degree, not of kind.”).
  13. See Richard Dawkins, “Is Animal Cruelty the New Slavery?” BigThink (Sept. 2, 2017).
  14. Descartes admitted that dogs and cats felt pain but he said their pain was different than human pain and unimportant.
  15. John Byrnes, Hog Farm Management (Sept. 1976).
  16. See, e.g., Leigh van Valen, “Brain Size and Intelligence in Man,” 40 Am. J. of Physical Anthropology 417 (1974).
  17. See, e.g., Urmee Khan, “Scientists Claim Black People are Less Intelligent than Whites in Channel 4 Show,The Telegraph (Oct. 15, 2009, 7:00 AM).
  18. Some nonhumans have a larger brain (e.g., whales, elephants, etc.) and a proportionately larger brain (e.g., shrews, Peters’ elephantnose fish) than humans.
  19. Blackfish (Magnolia Pictures 2013).
  20. Vegans do not use or consume nonhumans.
  21. Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism(Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz ed., 2010).
  22. See Steven Best, The Politics of Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century (2014).
  23. See Justin Wm. Moyer, “FBI Raids Animal Shelters, Searching For Piglets Rescued From Factory Farm, Activists Say,” Washington Post (Sept. 14, 2017).
  24. See “Two Former Lab Chimpanzees Exploited For Scientific Research, Waiting to be Released to Sanctuary,NonhumanRights Project (last visited Feb. 4, 2018).
  25. Brigit Katz, “Lawsuit Seeks ‘Personhood’ for Three Connecticut Elephants,” Smithsonian.com(Nov. 16, 2017).
  26. See Introduction to the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, 9th Salvador Crim. No. 833085-3, 2005 (Salvador, Bahia, Braz.) (“[Petitioners] bring action under Art. 5º, LXVIII, Brazil Constitution and Art. 647, Code of Criminal Procedure. The Petitioners seek the Great Writ on Behalf of Suíça, Chimpanzee who is a prisoner at the Zoo Getúlio Vargas, to relief from illegal and abusive acts perpetrated by the director of the govern­ment Secretariat for Biodiversity, Environment, and Water Resources.”).
  27. See Helen Regan, “In Argentina, a Court Grants Sandra the Orangutan Basic Rights,” Time (Dec. 22, 2014).
  28. Venus Upadhayaya, “India Calls Dolphins ‘Non-Human Persons’, Bans In-Captivity Shows,” EpochTimes (May 24, 2013, 9:26 AM).
  29. Dolphins Deserve Same Rights As Humans, Say Scientists,” BBCNews (Feb. 21, 2012).
  30. Emily Green, Mexico City is Banning Dolphin Shows, Taking a Lead on Animal Rights,” PRI (Aug. 25, 2017, 12:30 PM).
  31. See Mohr, supra note 9 (using Noam Mohr’s 63 billion total for 2011).
  32. See McLibel Case, Wikipedia (last visited Feb. 4, 2018).
  33. See “The World’s Leading Driver of Climate Change: Animal Agriculture,” New Harvest (Jan, 18, 2015). The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization published “Livestock’s Long Shadow” that concluded the meat and dairy industries contributed 18 percent of greenhouse gases. Experts at the World Bank published “Livestock and Climate Change” that re-analyzed the FAO report and concluded the industries contributed 51 percent of greenhouse gases.
  34. Marjorie Spegel, The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery (3d ed. 2014).
  35. Carol J. Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (Anniversary ed. 2015).
  36. Steven M. Wise, Rattling The Cage: Toward Legal Rights For Animals (1st ed. 2000).
  37. Best, supra note 22.

Jerold D. Friedman has been an activist since winning the “Super Environmentalist” award in grade school. He’s served on several boards of charities, been published in several books, and has been an NLG member since 2001.

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