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Did a New York judge just grant chimps human status?

A new species of humans discovered at the zoo? Photo: Chester Zoo/Fote/CC BY-ND

Have chimps in zoos been kidnapped? Photo: Chester Zoo/Fote/CC BY-ND

[by Dean Smith] An American judge has recently given two chimpanzees the same rights as humans.

The two chimps are part of a research lab in Stony Brook University in New York state. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NRP) took the lab to court in challenging its detention of the two primates.

On April 20, 2015, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe issued a writ of habeaus corpus demanding representatives of the lab come before her court and answer the accusation the chimps are “unlawfully detained.” The hearing is tentatively booked for May 6, 2015. This is the first time any animal has received such a ruling.

NRP argues these two chimps are not property, but rather “autonomous” beings — “being able to self-determine, be self-aware, and be able to choose how to live their own lives.”

The organization first took the case to court in December 2013 asking for habeaus corpus writ be issued on behalf of the two animals. It was turned down by judges in two earlier rulings, but continued to appeal.  According to NRP, since New York State only allows humans to have a habeaus corpus issued on their behalf, the court’s recent ruling essentially granted the chimps human-like status.

Though the ruling only requires lab representatives to stand before the court to answer the charge, it nevertheless significantly alters how the court looks at these two animals.

Devaluing humans

The Bible tells us that God created humans in His “image” and “likeness”and that we are unique among His creation.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 NASV)

By elevating chimps to the level of humans, does it devalue humans to chimp status?

If it does, this is not the only thing that devalues humans. Evolution does the same by treating men and women as little more than evolved animals.

The baby in the womb has been devalued to a fetus so it can be killed with impunity. Women are now getting abortions because it is inconvenient. One English woman recently went public with her desire for abortion because her pregnancy prevented her from participating in the Big Brother television program.

Premeditated murder can result in minimal penalties which shows how much a person’s life is valued. In April, a Bali court sentenced Americans Tommy Schaefer to 18 years in jail and Heather Mack to 10 for brutally murdering Mack’s mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack.  The court described the attack as “sadistic.”

The three from Chicago were vacationing on the island in August 2014, when the two killed Sheila. Her battered body was found stuffed in a suit case in the trunk of a taxi cab. According to the court record, Sheila did not approve of Schaefer, apparently for good reason.

In Tokyo, Japan, an American man Richard Hinds could be out of jail in as little as five years for strangling an Irish girl, Nicola Furlong, to death in 2012. The nineteen year old man was sentenced in 1993 for a murder the court described as “atrocious and vicious in nature.”  The mother of the dead girl called the decision a “travesty.” In addition it sentenced James Blackston to three years in jail for raping Nicola the same night she was killed.

Do these sentences reflect how much society values human life?

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