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R-Calf-LMA and "TRIBE"!!

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Will Chimps Make Chumps of Us In Court? Comes Now, Plaintiff Bonzo, In the Matter of Bonzo v. Researcher.

There's probably no clearer sign that we've produced too many lawyerslooking for clients than the campaign to declare chimps legal persons permitted to sue us.

While I'd like to think this shows we're evolving into a more humane species, the mind reels at the prospect of letting chimps have their day in court.

Who's next? The family parakeet? Are we to be pecked to death by legal petitions from pet parrots? Will pigs be suing for defamation of character?

Yet none other than the esteemed constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe has stood up more or less foursquare for granting chimps legal rights to sue in their own names and petition courts to protect their interests. The chimps would get a court-appointed guardian ad litem. But then, Tribe, a Harvard Law professor, is in the business of churning out ever more lawyers. And they do need work. Still, courts in their infinite tomfoolery have seen fit to grant legal personhood to corporations, for pity's sake. So why not chimps? At least they're alive. And they surely have more human DNA than corporations.

"The whole status of animals as things is what needs to be rethought," Tribe told The Wall Street Journal. "Non-human animals certainly can be given (legal) standing." He contends, for example, that nothing in the Constitution says that the 13th Amendment forbidding slavery applies only to humans.

Do we really want to go there? Wouldn't, say, any remaining workhorse on a farm qualify as an enslaved animal? And what about the dairy cow, chained by the udder to the milk pail forevermore?

Tribe may be courting professional ridicule in appearing to suggest that the Constitution can be stretched to prohibit enslavement of animals. But his heart, at least, is in the right place when he says that humans must stop thinking of animals as things. That would be a profound, fundamental shift in ages oldinter-species relationships.

It's not as though animals aren't already protected by law from cruel treatment. That's not what's at issue here. This is about chimps marching - OK, waddling - into court to seek injunctions against, say, human researchers who want to mess with their bodies for the good of our kind or to sue those who misuse them for fun and profit.

Just like the rest of us, chimps would be able to seek compensatory damages to cover their medical expenses from abuse or to seek punitive damages from those who deny them their rights.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that this cutting-edge cause resonates here in Seattle. The Chimpanzee Collaboratory, a collection of research and advocacy groups, has not only received Tribe's support but has received $1 million in funding from Seattle's own Rob Glaser, chief executive of RealNetworks Inc., over the past two years. The national organization rightly is concerned about the welfare of some 1,500 captive chimps bred but largely unused for AIDS research; they can live 50 years.But why, if we're going into these perplexing waters, limit legal personhood to chimps? Why not extend it to all the non-human primates? I've strolled hand-in-hand with a baby orangutan who used a sponge to clean up the kitchen counter where he ate yogurt cunningly pilfered from a refrigerator; I'm inclined to cut these beings a lot of slack, personwise. But I definitely draw the line at chickens.

The scientific evidence is undeniable that chimps, one of our closest relatives, function as sentient beings on close par to a 3- or 4-year-old human. Steven Wise, author of "Rattling the Cage," made a persuasive argument when he told The Journal: "If a human 4-year-old has what it takes for legal personhood, then a chimpanzee should be able to be a legal person in terms of legal rights."

Predictably, the people who make money alleviating human suffering by imposing it on research animals are not keen on this proposal.

Frankie Trull, president of theNational Association for BiomedicalResearch,rightly warned that in our litigious society, conferring personhood on chimpanzees is a "slippery slope" that eventually might prevent any use of laboratory animals for scientific research.

Don't dismiss his warning as merely self-serving. Biomedical researchers serve you and me by alleviating our sickness and suffering. So far, they've done much of it by using animal bodies as surrogates for ours.

If chimps receive legal personhood, it surely will be less easy to treat them cavalierly in the laboratory. But Tribe seems to be of the opinion that they nevertheless could be used for research to satisfy some higher human goal. Even with new legal rights, chimps would not have an absolute veto over whathappened to them, he argues.

If that proved true, humans, in the last analysis, still would be in charge of the chimps' fate. The new legal, moral and ethical challenge would be to strike the proper balance between the interests of humans and the newly enshrined legal rights of their closest cousins.

If this comes to pass, prepare to build more courtrooms.

The best resolution of the research dilemma, of course, would be if scientists could devise other methods besides relying on animal surrogatesto test their medical theories. The threat that chimps may one day show up in court to sue them for mistreatment just may be enough to hasten that happy day.
Looks to me like R-CALF or any other livestock organization would be making tracks as fast as they can in the opposite direction from Mr. Tribe.
Aren't they holding cattle hostage with intent to send them to slaughter? According to Tribe, cows have rights too. What is R-CALF thinking to align themselves with a nut like him and some of the other enviro-whackos they have become associated with? :roll:
You guys need to do your homework. R-CALF HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TRIBE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LMA Receives Another Black Eye In Checkoff Battle

by Troy Marshall, BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly, December 17, 2004

Many have speculated how anti-beef checkoff forces arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court could afford a lawyer recognized as one of the best in the business. A recent article in Feedstuffs sheds light on how one of the leading authorities on constitutional law might have taken up the anti-beef checkoff cause.

While everyone understands the argument concerning the lack of distinction between imported beef and domestic beef, and the anxiety some feel by collecting checkoff dollars from beef importers as well as domestic producers, Laurence Tribe sent shockwaves through the industry with his comments to reporters this week.

The Harvard University Law School professor, known as likely the nation's most prominent liberal constitutional scholar, elaborated not only on the arguments we've all heard. He also drew a distinction between live cattle and dead cattle, and how the government seemingly doesn't care about live cattle.

To grasp the motivation behind Tribe and some of the anti-beef checkoff folks, read Tribe's direct quotes in the latest issue of FeedStuffs.

"The government program sees every herd of cattle as just so much pre-slaughtered beef," Tribe says. That "bothers" his cattle producer clients, he says, noting "a lot of these people are kind of humane." He also says, given different business circumstances, "some of them might become vegetarians."

Short of becoming vegetarians, Tribe says, the checkoff opponents "don't want to see their animals treated as nothing but meat." He concludes: "Because this program does that, and associates them with it, it is a fundamental insult to their humanity."

It's hard to fathom these statements coming from a man representing the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA); and in public, no less! If nothing else, it now seems obvious how LMA could have afforded someone of Tribe's stature -- LMA gave him an opportunity to serve a greater aim. Animal rights and/or welfare perhaps?

This isn't the first time in recent memory that the industry has been used as a pawn by anti-beef activists. Anyone remember last spring when R-CALF teamed with three, so-called "consumer" groups to publicly beat up USDA over its BSE response?

Perhaps R-CALF and LMA should consider that when activist individuals or groups are willing to help fund or promote their policies, they might just have a vested reason for doing so.
- Troy Marshall, BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly, December 17, 2004

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