PETA Sues for Orca Slaves
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People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known to the public as PETA, have recently filed a lawsuit. In a post on the PETA blog the company announced that it was filing a suit claiming that Sea World was in violation of the 13th amendment.

The blog talked about the suit as an innovation in the way that the law was applied, “In the first case of its kind, PETA, three marine-mammal experts, and two former orca trainers are filing a lawsuit asking a federal court to declare that five wild-caught orcas forced to perform at SeaWorld are being held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The filing—the first ever seeking to apply the 13th Amendment to nonhuman animals—names the five orcas as plaintiffs and also seeks their release to their natural habitats or seaside sanctuaries. The suit is based on the plain text of the 13th Amendment, which prohibits the condition of slavery without reference to “person” or any particular class of victim.”


While the success of the suit is yet to be seen, many legal minds are already beginning to weigh in on the issue. Most of them are saying that the suit has no merit, while others are just using faulty logic.

Elie Mystal, writing on the Above The Law blog, had this to say about the suit, “Non-human animals are not non-human animals because thinking makes it so. They’re animals because they’re animals. Now I think animals should be way, way more respected then most humans treat them. But applying a human right — such as freedom from involuntary servitude — to animals both denigrates people and disrespects the animals that they anthropomorphise.”

Now, this seems to be a bit of a stretch. While the case may or may not ever be considered in a court of law saying that giving animals the right to not be kept in cramped tanks and used for human amusement degrades the humans involved is more than a bit of a stretch. If anything the choice to honor the rights of other species in the world would be an action that would make us all human. After all, if being human is summed up as being able to think, then surely the ability to think about how we treat other species should be a good thing and not a bad one.

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For those of you not familiar with the term anthropomorphise, it means “the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object,“ according to WordReference.com and in this case it seems like a bit of a stretch. Anyone who has seen a dog with a thorn in its paw, or heard it howling because it was lonely when its owners were at work, will know that animals can feel pain.

As to the legal case, PETA’s general counsel, Jeffrey Kerr, had this to say about the case, “Slavery is slavery, and it does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on gender, race, or religion.”


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