An Inclusive Litany


Letter to the Editor, the Boston Globe, June 9, 2002:
Exciting as attorney Steven Wise's challenge is to the existing cultural status of nonhuman animals, Wise's critics are not confined to those who exploit animals. Many of us in the animal advocacy movement reject Wise's elitist categories in which nonhuman animals are patronizingly ranked according to whether or not they possess "practical autonomy" and other abstract qualities entitling them to "liberty rights."

This hierarchy reduces the majority of Earth's creatures to the level of human infanthood and mental retardation.

Do we really believe that the mentally intact, functioning adult members of other species are comparable to the least competent members of human society? Could a group of unaided 3-year-old children create a workable society comparable to that of chimpanzees in their natural habitat?

Defending animals by denigrating them distorts the fight for justice on their behalf. Consigning the majority of animals to the wasteland of foregone conclusions is cruel and unjust. The whole silly structure of "liberty rights" is more medieval than modern, and the science invoked to support it is prejudicially narrow and selective.

—Karen Davis
United Poultry Concerns Inc.
Machipongo, Va.

[Ed.: Mr. Wise, author of Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights, recently announced to an audience at a Washington, D.C., bookstore that, based on the fact that 98.7 percent of their respective DNA was the same, "I don't see a difference between a chimpanzee and my 4 1/2-year-old son."]

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