Animal-rights supporters and the mainstream media normally present ape-right proposals in their most moderate form, e.g., this from the June 26th Guardian (U.K.):
[P]otential experiments on apes in Spain will be banned within a year. . . Using apes in circuses, television commercials or filming will also be banned and while housing apes in Spanish zoos, of which there are currently 315, will remain legal, supporters of the bill have said the conditions in which most of them live will need to improve substantially.Co-founded by Peter Singer, GAP's goals--according to the "declaration" on its website--are more expansive, demanding that apes not "be imprisoned [zoos?] without due legal process" and that "those who have not been convicted of any crime" "must have the right to appeal, either directly or, if they lack the relevant capacity, through an advocate, to a judicial tribunal." And apes aren't the end--the Spanish director of GAP, Pedro Pozas, told The Times (London) that:
the vote would set a precedent, establishing legal rights for animals that could be extended to other species. “We are seeking to break the species barrier — we are just the point of the spear,” he said.Blogger/lawyer Wesley Smith correctly concludes:
Of course the purpose of this isn't to merely improve the treatment of great apes--which could be accomplished as it already has been in some places via normal animal welfare statutes. Rather, the explicit point of the GAP is revolutionary--to demote human beings from the uniquely valuable species and into merely another animal in the forest. Once people accept that premise, Judeo/Christian philosophy goes to the guillotine allowing the utilitarian agenda to proceed unhindered, leading in turn to the moral value of the weak and vulnerable among us becoming archaic, resulting in their loss of the right to life and being used instrumentally for those deemed more valuable. . .Sixty-one years ago, Robert Heinlein wrote about a futuristic talking ape asking a court to proclaim his humanity. The SF author's short story, "Jerry Was a Man," was classed as fantasy, allegory or provocative fun.
In the world being born out of the ashes of the sanctity/equality of human life ethic, value will be subjective and rights temporary--depending on one's individual capacities rather than humanity. And we will see apes--animals (and eventually other animals), which are completely oblivious about the hue and cry being mounted against human worth in their names--being viewed as more important than some humans.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out that--way ahead of his time--Heinlein knew Europe. Eventually, I fear, America too.
(via reader Michael Y., Second-Hand Smoke (twice))