Judges to Flipper & Friends: Fuck Off!


In a ruling that will no doubt come back to haunt humanity when we enter into the inevitable eventual power-sharing arrangement with ultra-intelligent sea mammals, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that, "The world's whales, porpoises and dolphins have no standing to sue President Bush over the U.S. Navy's use of sonar equipment that harms marine mammals."

Continues a news service account:

"If Congress and the President intended to take the extraordinary step of authorizing animals as well as people and legal entities to sue they could and should have said so plainly," Judge William A. Fletcher wrote in an 18-page opinion for the panel.

The lawsuit was brought against Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on behalf of "the cetacean community"—defined as the world's whales, porpoises and dolphins—by their self-appointed lawyer, marine mammal activist Lanny Sinkin.

Whole thing here. No word if The Incredible Mr. Limpet, Alpha, or other fictional sea-living employees of the federal government were called to testify.

In a related case, Yes v. Music Fans Everywhere, the court ruled that the 1978 song, "Don't Kill the Whale," really sucks.

Update: Reason Contributing Editor Walter Olson, proprietor of the always interesting Overlawyered.com, has a quick post on the case that links to other attempts to give animals legal standing. Read it here.

NEXT: Cold Warrior on Ice

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  1. The lawsuit was brought against Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on behalf of “the cetacean community”

    good god. sometimes it genuinely makes you long for a despot to clean house, doesn’t it?

  2. “So long and thanks for all the fish”

  3. For your information, Don’t Kill the Whale is an amazing song. It’s no Revealing Science of God, but it’s also nowhere near the bottom of the Yes playlist.

  4. Did you know that there are tens of thousands of watery mammmals off the coast of Florida who have been systematically denied the vote? I smell another election lawsuit coming.

    For more fun lawsuits, see Tyler v. Carter. The case lacks cetacean plaintiffs, but it does have cyborgs. And it has “proteus”, a kind of telepathic Internet, if you will. I am also posting this message to proteus [insert psychic humming sounds of your choosing here].

    I am now in the proper state of mind for early voting 😉

  5. I’m a Yes fan, and I have to agree that “Don’t Kill the Whale” blows.

  6. This looks like a job for Howard.

  7. Were Aquaman, the Man from Atlantis or Prince Namor to be called as expert, partially human witnesses?

  8. It’s a little disconcerting that an appeals court had to make this ruling, which implies some lower court thought “the cetacean community” had a case.

  9. The Revealing Science of God is quite possibly the greatest Yes song, off of the greatest of the Yes albums.

    Don’t Kill The Whales, not so good.

  10. I, for one, welcome our new dolphin overlords.


  11. “The Revealing Science of God is quite possibly the greatest Yes song”

    Only the first 2 hours are good. After that it kind of tails off.

  12. “Drama” was the greatest Yes album. Topographic and Close to the Edge tie for second, but Drama had tight compositions and outstanding production.
    The recent expaned re-release featured the Roy Thomas Baker produced unreleased tracks, which are easily the worst Yes tracks ever, far beyond anything after Trevor Rabin joined.

  13. Just say no to Yes.

  14. Awaken, from Going for the One is my fave Yes track. All the majesty of RSoG, but a little more concise. Close to the Edge, South Side of the Sky and Yours Is No Disgrace are close behind. I agree with Jeff that Drama is fantastic and very underrated by Yes fans.

  15. Everyone who likes Yes should be listening to The Flower Kings (who don’t do any fish-related songs), and maybe Porcupine Tree (who do).

  16. Nick, I hope you’ve learned your lesson about making a Yes reference in a thread.

    (Incidentally, in this reporter’s humble opinion, the holy trinity of Yes albums is The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To The Edge. They’ve certainly done some fine stuff since then (especially Drama), but they hit their peak 32 years ago. Sigh.)

  17. In my part of the woods the Northern Pike are raising hell with the Walleyes. Come election time I expect things to be really bitter. Jimmy Carter may be the only one I know of to oversee the matter.

  18. As a committed Yes-o-phile, I can’t really single out my faves (though the use of “Heart of the Sunrise” in the opening to Buffalo 66 was nothing short of stupendous). I can more easily single out the stinkers in their discography; Tormato pretty much tops that list for me as an LP. And “Machine Messiah” off Drama is as bad a long song from a band that does good long songs as “Like an Inca” is from Neil Young.

  19. Sadly I am old, now… no one in my office ven knows who “Yes” is/was. I mentioned “Going For the One” or “Close to the Edge” and they all said, “What group is that?” Am i a codger or are they merely philistines?

  20. H&R: The online refuge for high school policy debaters and Yes fans.

  21. Also, I just wanted to express my appreciation that the comment server is much faster than before. Now I will be able to share even more of my wisdom and enlightenment with y’all. 😉

  22. “…for high school policy debaters and Yes fans.”- I’d say thatt he two groups are pretty much the same group.

  23. “”…for high school policy debaters and Yes fans.”- I’d say thatt he two groups are pretty much the same group.”

    Hey! I was in the math club, not the debate club! Sheesh.

  24. “J” *ROTFLMAO* I made SF home movies…

  25. Mmmmmmmm, Cetaceans

  26. matt,

    It’s a little disconcerting that an appeals court had to make this ruling, which implies some lower court thought “the cetacean community” had a case.

    Learn a little bit about the law; it could just as easily be the case that the propopents of this novel notion of standing could have lost at the Federal District Court level and appealed. That this is an appeal tells you nothing about the particular status of the parties.

  27. Heart of the Sunrise was the icing on the Buffolo 66 cake, no question.

  28. Awaken, from Going for the One is my fave Yes track.

    Ditto here. I also am a huge fan of “Yours is no Disgrace” and “Turn of the Century.”

    But I’m a way bigger Rush fan than a Yes fan.

  29. This whole thing bears a creepy resemblance to Rush’s “The Trees” (except it was trees battling trees in the legal realm in that one).

  30. Is this the Dread Spout decision?

  31. db, Rush are my favourite band (and no, not totally because of the historical Objectivist connection). Don’t get me started on the high points of their catalogue 🙂 Jeff, I bought my first Porcupine Tree album last week (In Absentia). Bloody marvellous it is too. Not necessarily prog, more like the thinking man’s English rock music (fans of Radiohead and Marillion will find much to like).

  32. as long as we’re making bad jokes:

    Did you hear that whales don’t have standing?

    It’s because they have no legs.

    /leaving now.

  33. “Is this the Dread Spout decision?” LOL!

    By the way, science fiction writer Larry Niven, in the future history for his “Known Space” series, posits the passing of the UN’s Cetacean Civil Rights Act in 2017.

    Eventually we’re going to owe reparations; start saving now.

  34. Adam Soudure,

    Rush is my absolute favorite band ever, as well. My personal favorites are “Natural Science,” anything on “Signals” or “Grace under Pressure,” and, well, it’s really hard to class them. I love at least two songs from every album they’ve produced, and the entirety of the early-mid ’80s works.

    The humanistic brilliance of “Countdown” probably ranks as my biggest Rush favorite.

    As you said, “Don’t get me started on their high points!”

  35. This case is a major setback for the related cause of Crustacean Liberation.

    Free the Lobsters!

  36. “…brilliance of ‘Countdown’… ranks as my biggest Rush favorite”.

    I never thought I’d see the day when “Countdown”
    and brilliant appeared in close proximity to each
    other a sentence, let alone ranking as a favorite.

  37. Humans rule! Dolphins can “suck it!”

  38. The dolphins can go fuck themselves.

  39. db, Countdown is a winner for sure. For me, it’s between Natural Science or The Camera Eye. That said, every song Permanent Waves through Grace Under Pressure is a near masterpiece. Caught them on the 30th Anniversary tour earlier this year and loved it (they played Between the Wheels!).

  40. I used to like Yes but then my THC patch fell off.

  41. Adam,

    I cheered my head off when I heard the first notes of “Between the Wheels” this summer. It’s another one of my favorites. In fact I just got done listening to it in my car on the way back to my office.

    I also loved that they played “Natural Science” on the 2002 tour. I think the only other time they ever played it live was on the Permanent Waves tour.

  42. I didn’t see them this tour, but on the last several tours I was always disappointed that they didn’t play anything from Presto (I guess Show Don’t Tell popped up once or twice). It’s my favorite Rush album, and I think grossly underrated by most folks.

  43. Karl,

    I will admit that Peart laid the cliche on a little heavy (e.g., “Excitement so thick/you could cut it with a knife”) in “Countdown,” however, the subject matter is close to my heart (heh heh). The statement it makes about the power of human ingenuity is unforgettable. Also, the musical structure of the piece, especially around the point of the launch, is quite close to the real experience. The low rumbling beat during the slow rise from the pad (“Scorching blast / of golden fire / as it slowly leaves the ground”) juxtaposed with the rapid leap in pace at the point where the shuttle really starts moving (“It tears away with a mighty force / the air is shattered by that awesome sound”) sends chills down my spine every time I hear it.

    I also especially like the pseudo-biblical metaphor of the engine exhaust (“like a pillar of cloud / the smoke lingers high in the air”) leading humanity out of the desert of the Dark Ages.

  44. Nick:

    If you get into arguments over an obscure song from Yes, it means you have become the thing you abhor.

    Enjoy, and your Starcastle DVD is in the mail. Please send all punk CDs by return mail.

  45. J,

    Presto is another winner in my book. I read a review of it recently that said something to the effect that “Show Don’t Tell” ‘slaps the listener around’ in a way that no Rush song since Signals was capable of. Musically great, although I’ve lamented Peart’s turn away from some of his objectivist roots (even thought I’m not one myself), I’ll take my Rush any way I can get it.

  46. I just picked up In Absentia a couple of weeks ago. Another great Porcupine Tree disc is Lightbulb Sun. I sorta think of PT as alternitive prog. Lightbulb Sun is one that I’ll play in my car when I’ve got non-prog passengers. They’re all thinkin’ its just alternative, but TAKE THAT SQUARES!!! IT’S PROG!!!

  47. By the way, did anybody else start humming “Pink Cetacean and a White Sport Coat”?

  48. DB: I’m not un-fond of Countdown, even given the aforementioned cliche’s (bordering on cheese even). But it seems to get panned pretty hard by lots of fans. It does grab emotionally and the launch sequence is pretty cool, but I do find the rest to the music to be plodding along somewhat. I guess it’s kind of in the middle of the pack for me; It just seems that most who express an opinion about Countdown seem to disproportionately come down on the utter garbage side. Utter Rush garbarge which is of course still great. 🙂

  49. By now this is way off-topic, but one of the plotlines in Sharyn McCrumb’s excellent If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him involved a woman who hired a lawyer to sue for the right to marry a dolphin. Check out the book if you want to learn the tragic ending…

  50. Wasn’t this all settled by the Moby Scott case?

  51. Best Porcupine Tree: Up The Downstair. Check it out. Yes, PT does prog, but they also do metal, shoegazer, and 70s singer-songwriter stuff.
    Also get Damnation by Opeth, it’s the best Pink Floyd album you ever heard.
    Anything by Flower Kings, Iluvatar, or Pallas (except Beat the Drum).

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