Animal Rights

India Declares Dolphins "Non-Human Persons" With Rights

Dolphin parks to be shut down.


It's been a while since the Hit & Run commentariat has had a big debate on animal rights, so I thought I'd let you all sink your teeth into this:

If we can't get our rights through peaceful means, we're willing to act violently.

India has officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons, whose rights to life and liberty must be respected. Dolphin parks that were being built across the country will instead be shut down.

India's Ministry of Environment and Forests has advised state governments to ban dolphinariums and other commercial entertainment that involves the capture and confinement of cetacean species such as orcas and bottlenose dolphins. In a statement, the government said research had clearly established cetaceans are highly intelligent and sensitive, and that dolphins "should be seen as 'non-human persons' and as such should have their own specific rights."

Elsewhere in Reason: Nick Gillespie Sibilla discussed dolphin rights here last year.

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  1. Cetaceans, the renewable oil resource.

  2. Good start, let's see the same for the rest of the animals not just the cute ones.

    1. Equal rights for cockroaches!

      1. Not intelligent, sorry. Next time someone pulls out a stock anti-liberty strawman (ROADZ, Somalia), please take a moment to reflect on your own use of strawmen.

        1. But tonio if we don't let people torture sentient beings and use them for their own gain we'll become just like n.korea! oh wait...

        2. also for your comment below, I don't really care about the indians rationale I was using my own. Intelligence is a factor because it is needed to experience pain/suffering but if you had a machine that was as intelligent as us but experienced zero emotions positive or negative then I would assign a pig more moral concern.

          1. An interesting position in light of new research showing that plants communicate with one another via an interconnected network of mycorrhizae on a broad spectrum of topics, including predation, parasites, intraspecies crowding, etc. Some researchers hypothesize that the plants of the entire continent are interconnected by a single network of fungal rhizomes. Very "Avatar", only real.

            Back when research had only shown a few examples of plants communicating with one another I enjoyed skewering my vegan friends who tossed around the term "speciesist" with the example of acacia trees warning each other about antelope predation using acetylene gas. Clearly a sophisticated and altruistic response to having your extremities gnawed off by a predator. The newly described interconnections are potentially many orders of magnitude more sophisticated, and should offer hours of fun for armchair philosophers.

    2. Their rationale specifically listed the intelligence of those species; not the cuteness. Thank you, come again.

      1. Thank you, come again.

        Please tell me the humor of using that phrase on this thread was fully intended.

        1. He says it so much during his work shift that he can't help it slipping into his posting.

        2. Yes, HM, it was deliberate snark.

          1. But was it a deliberate tie-in back to India?

            1. Yes. And perhaps culturally insensitive; sorry.

      2. Research suggests that at least some birds are as intelligent as great apes. Now we don't need to institute protections for the American crow considering how robust the species is, but if intelligence were the only factor then it would be necessary to penalize the harming of crows similar to how we would penalize the harming of apes or dolphins. So the endangeredness of the species surely plays a role.

        1. Funny coming from someone who eats crow all the time.

          1. I considered making that joke, but decided it was too on the nose.

            1. That's what you get for having inhibitions.

              Drop some ludes and get back to us.

      3. Their rationalization was the intelligence of those species. But if the actual basis was intelligence, several species of parrot, corvid, and octopus would make it long before many cetaceans.

  3. Without getting into the animal rights of it all...

    Couldn't they just have banned the parks instead of granting them personhood? Which seems like a can and a half of worms.

    SLD, of course.

    1. Yeah, how come these persons don't get to own property, vote, marry, etc.?

      1. Children can't own property or vote but are persons.

        1. "can't own property"

          You just try taking those Barbies from a little girl. She thinks she owns them.

        2. Children can own property. They can't transfer it or be responsible for debts on it, including taxes.

        3. I'm just pointing out the complexities of declaring animals to be legal persons. Heck, maybe dolphins and the great apes should have the vote. Couldn't do any worse than humans.

          1. I can see that, but it's not like we don't have some experience with legally recognized persons that don't get the full gamut of rights. Recognizing dolphins as persons doesn't mean we have to let them vote or get married to Rick Santorum.

              1. Yikes, I'm not sure I needed to be aware of that today.

      2. They can do all that, just not in India, apparently. They fall into a very low caste.
        And property is tricky for Dolphins; they have a hard time holding onto it and remembering where they put it down.

        And did anyone bother asking the Dolphins whether they wanted the Dolphinariums shut down or not? Maybe they like it there. A lot safer than the ocean, anyway. And more people to rape.

    2. This is a debate that libertarians have been avoiding for years. As I have often said here, libertarians' failure to engage the debate didn't stop the debate; it simply meant the debate went on without you.

      1. My emotional reaction, as both a pet owner (two dogs and two cats) and an animal lover, is that of course cruelty should be illegal.

        But I just can't support that notion, because I cannot think of, nor have I heard, any convincing argument to grant non-sentient (and at this point that is completely synonomous with non-human) life any rights.

        It goes against what I desperately want to be true, but I cannot escape the logical conclusion that animals are simply property, and can be used as such.

        Now that doesn't mean one can't attempt to shame animal abusers, and to make it unacceptable in the sphere of public opinion, of course.

        1. They have the right not to be abused because they're living, breathing creatures. People who abuse animals should be penalized by the law. The only real question is what qualifies as abuse.

          1. That is an emotional response, Irish, not a rational and logical one. As is so often the case in animal rights discussions. JJ is very correct.

            1. Don't abuse living creatures for your own sadistic enjoyment is not an emotional response. It is a basic moral statement.

              Animals deserve the right to not be abused by the mere fact that they are living creatures that feel pain, a classification that I believe should give you certain privileges in a civilized society. I'm not arguing that they have the same rights as people, just that there are certain things that should not be allowed to be done to animals.

              Claiming that my disagreement with you is only happening because I'm 'emotional' and you're 'logical' is just a way of avoiding an argument and claiming high ground that you haven't earned.

              1. Agreed with Irish. Libertarians who argue that the only relevant criterion for consideration of a moral issue is how it affects rational beings, are merely substituting their own somewhat arbitrary axiom for another somewhat arbitrary axiom.

                I'm unapologically against infanticide and animal abuse, based partly on the capacity of children and animals to feel pain. Like Tonio says below, when your premises don't support morally correct conclusions then maybe it's time to re-examine.

              2. Don't abuse living creatures for your own sadistic enjoyment is not an emotional response. It is a basic moral statement.

                A "basic moral statement" that, strangely, was completely unknown to most of humanity as recently as 150 years ago.

                1. "A "basic moral statement" that, strangely, was completely unknown to most of humanity as recently as 150 years ago."

                  This seems to be the mirror problem of Tony's about rights in general discussed below.

            2. Epi, I have worked long and hard to avoid emotion-based arguments for animal welfare, and to promote ones based on evidence and reason.

              As much as I respect you, I think you're taking the easy way out.

          2. They have the right not to be abused because they're living, breathing creatures.

            I don't follow the logic of how you came to that conclusion.

            No snark, please, explain.

            1. I always try to make arguments for animal protection based on the intelligence of the organism, and its ability to feel pain; both of which are related to the neural complexity of the organism.

          3. You get loads of ugly problems if you simply declare it illegal to abuse animals. Everyone has a different definition of what that is. Hard core PETA types will say that keeping them as pets or raising them for food is abuse. Some will say that letting your cat outside all night is abuse.
            Lots more people will say that horse racing or rodeo or bullfighting is abuse.

            Whatever else they may be, animals can be the property of humans. Giving rights to such animals will create a lot more opportunities for people to abuse each others' rights than it will protect animals. I don't want to see some animal equivalent of CPS poking their nose into the business of everyone who owns livestock.

            1. I'm not sure the term 'abuse' is any more elastic than lots of common legal concepts. As it is we've had abuse laws and the equivalent of animal CPS for a long time in the Anglo-American world and it seems to have been largely limited to common sense ideas of abuse.

              1. Well, if what constitutes abuse is well defined and limited to particularly nasty cases of unnecessary cruelty, it doesn't bother me. I certainly don't like people to needlessly cause higher animals to suffer. I'm not sure it passes the libertarian super-purity test, but I can live with it.

            2. I would consider most of that pretty abusive(I mean seriously sticking knives into an animals back for fun?).

              For me the hardest issue out of the ones you mentioned is pets, small children as well as neglectful/sadistic adults cause a good amount of pain and suffering but on the other hand I see how therapeutic a pet can be for people experiencing depression or just bad days as well as more normal people who really love their pets and treat them well.

              I guess what I'm saying with pets is that yes lets have them but I actually would like to see a pet CPS.

              1. I'm a fan of bullfighting. I can certainly understand why people are revolted by it. But I look at it this way. The fighting bulls get to live almost all of their lives in about as perfect and luxurious a way as a bull can live. Not physically altered in any way. Free to roam and fuck and do whatever the hell it feels like with hardly any human contact. Then the last 15 minutes of their lives really suck. but overall, I'd say its a better life than most cattle get to have.

                1. A cursory glance at the wikipedia page would indicate otherwise. A few of the things that stand out are bred for aggression, branded, tested by how badly it attacks a horse(bad for the horse), the ones that fail are sent to slaughter, the ones that succeed are further tested by fighting each other which often leads to severe injuries and deaths, then 15 minutes of hell in the ring. occasionally pardoned ones actually do seem to achieve a good life though. No thanks, plenty of entertainment out there that does far less harm and is more enjoyable.

                  1. But what is the yardstick? In the natural state the comparable life would have the bull chased from the herd by the dominant bull and then harried by a cougar. The cougar proves too small to take down the bull, but he does manage to inflict serious and painful wounds to his hindquarters and flanks that take weeks to heal. Later, the bull is attacked by a pack of wolves who pull him down by his hindquarters over several hours and then slowly devour his entrails while he bleats out his misery for an hour or two before losing consciousness. His life is short, stress-filled and brutal. Notably, the wolves do not pause to ponder the morality of their actions. They do enjoy playing a game of tug-of-war with one of the bulls forelimbs though...

        2. That's why you make the rights up. We did it for people, we can do it for animals, depending purely on prevailing values. Considering them property is not any less arbitrary a value.

          1. While I don't agree with your contention that rights are "made up" I do agree that the fact that they are or have long been considered property is not a disqualifier. There are lots of things we used to designate as property that we later recognized as deserving of protections and/or rights.

            1. Like certain types of people! Who, it is claimed, possessed all the rights of personhood while never once in their lives getting to enjoy any of them.

              This is one important reason natural rights theory is problematic. If you want to assert a new rights system for, say, animals (or workers or corporations or whatever), then you have to claim that, what, after tens of thousands of years, we just found them under a rock one day?

              1. "what, after tens of thousands of years, we just found them under a rock one day?"

                Of course not. How long did it take most people to realize the earth orbited the sun? That doesn't mean that during that time it did not. In the same way the fact that people let their power lust cloud their ability to see that certain people had rights does not negate the fact they had those rights all along.

                1. With what instruments are rights measured? What mathematical units can rights be expressed in?

                  To use my metaphor, we did, indeed, find heliocentrism under a rock one day (i.e., it was there all along).

                  Rights, as abstract concepts and not natural phenomena that precede human brains, are things we had to invent.

                  1. I feel like we already had a similar discussion over the weekend, but...

                    While the study of moral objects is not sufficiently empirically testable to be considered part of science, that does not render the topic manufactured or arbitrary. One does not find the real numbers gathered in a field, ready for scientists to whip out their microscopes to study them -- they are a higher order concept which humans have, for lack of better explanation, built into the mainframe. Morality is similar: there isn't a single human being alive who doesn't acknowledge morality, even if only to decide that they will henceforth ignore it.

                    We consider the innumerate to be unfit to interact with society; perhaps someone should come up with a similar term for people whose concept of morality is so fuzzy that they consider morals and ethics an arbitrary, human invention.

                    1. There can be (and probably is) a biological basis for morality, as an aspect of human sociability, but you can't look at different cultures in different times and claim that there is one clear set of moral rules everyone agrees about. Even if it is a biological trait, it's in competition with versions of itself like all others.

                      Modern standards of morality, while not arbitrary in the sense that they were chosen at random and serve no purpose other than to exist, certainly rest beneath a scaffold of history and human action. At any rate, there is absolutely no way to determine the absolute 100% correct political system for modern human beings based purely on a prior ethical system. Our ethical system must be tweaked to fit our circumstances--morality is thus another avenue of innovation. We improve technology, we improve society, and we improve ethical norms. None of it requires anything prior out there in the cosmos to be discovered. It's all just social evolution.

                    2. "you can't look at different cultures in different times and claim that there is one clear set of moral rules everyone agrees about"

                      Again, this would be true for chunks of mathematical truths, wouldn't it?

                  2. "Rights, as abstract concepts and not natural phenomena that precede human brains, are things we had to invent."

                    Can't you say the same for numbers? Do you not buy into numbers?

                    1. But I do buy into rights. I just appreciate them a lot more than you do because I don't pretend they came from a magic elf, but realize they only came about via centuries of bloody struggle. They're analogous to numbers in that they are abstractions we invented for practical ends.

                    2. Numbers are not just practical, they correspond to actual qualities of our world. And the understanding of math has evolved (through great efforts of many people) and differed through time and space, but that doesn't mean numbers don't correspond to reality in an important way.

                      Ditto rights.

                    3. This is why I refuse to extend the analogy too far. Science and math have to do with descriptions of the world. Rights and morality have to do with prescriptions for living in a society. The latter require premises that necessarily involve the unique nature of the human social animal. Perhaps there is a science of morality to be discovered, but we haven't done so yet, despite libertarians' claims, as society is a hugely complex thing to study.

            2. While I don't agree with your contention that rights are "made up"

              That's because, unlike Tony, you don't believe that the government should be allowed to abuse and violate it's own people if 51% of the population thinks it should. He's a big fan of majoritarian mob rule.

              Tony's beliefs are textbook fascism, both from an economic and a moral perspective, and he should be ignored whenever possible.

              1. Actually it's quite clearly textbook liberal democracy (which by definition precludes simple majorities deciding issues of civil rights).

                But carry on throwing out words like "fascism" to distract from the fact that your belief system rests inherently on the concept of a Santa Claus of rights (and which rights he doles out you, of course, get to decide for everyone--and I'm the fascist).

                1. What are "civil rights"?

                  Sounds like a bunch of sky daddy fantasy created to avoid submitting your policies for the majority to judge them.

                  1. They're a collection of freedoms and entitlements people have asserted for themselves, often involving bloody struggle, and managed to get codified in constitutions or laws or recognized by courts, and which have been evolving since about the time of the Magna Carta.

                    1. Ah. So one can then state that the "civil right" to be free of gay marriage is a right which should be separate from the voting public in those states where it has been confirmed as a civil right... by the voting public.

                      Do you see where you run into problems with your dichotomy?

                    2. You can assert that all you want, and people with brains will make a counterclaim, and the best man will win.

                      Gay marriage clearly is a right in some jurisdiction and not others. Some Christians do in fact claim a right to be free of gays being married. The existence of this incremental and conflicting system of rights proves my case, not yours.

                      Unless you'd like to tell me where the rights Santa comes down on the subject of gay marriage? If you know, you should have gotten your insight to the Supreme Court a few weeks ago so they wouldn't have had to bother with thinking it through.

                    3. "You can assert that all you want, and people with brains will make a counterclaim, and the best man will win."

                      So the "best men" in the 1700s were ones who thought enslaving black people was perfectly ok?

                    4. The best men in the 1700s owned slaves.

                    5. And there you have it folks

                    6. That slavery was once considered morally acceptable, again, makes my point, not yours. That slavery only ended in this country after bloody struggle, again, makes my point and not yours.

                      Furthermore, that people went on accepting slavery despite its obvious moral problems proves that commerce can corrupt morality, and should be closely watched and regulated--again, making my case and weighing against libertarianism's.

                    7. "That slavery was once considered morally acceptable, again, makes my point, not yours."

                      No it doesn't. I'm saying that regardless of whether or not it was viewed as morally acceptable then, it was morally unacceptable. You're arguing otherwise.

                      "That slavery only ended in this country after bloody struggle, again, makes my point and not yours."

                      No it doesn't. That slaves had their rights violated doesn't mean they didn't exist.

                    8. The existence of this incremental and conflicting system of rights proves my case, not yours.

                      The existence of different legal systems proves that morality is subjective?

                      Using Tony-Logic, I suppose that the mere multiplicity of answers that a class can give for a given algebra problem "proves" that there is no correct answer for said problem.

                      However much you paid for your college education was clearly too much money.

                    9. So what's the correct answer with respect to gay rights? Who do you get to tell off, the Christians or the gays?

                      And, more importantly, who or what told you this was so?

                    10. So do you only believe in positivist rights? If so, how do you judge if any particular positivist regime is just?

                    11. Well this is an interesting question. My point here has been only a descriptive one. Rights are, in fact, human inventions rather than human discoveries. But I do not advocate for strict legal positivism, and feel that there is some (confined) space for moral judgment in legal systems--only because it is impossible to capture everything in codified law or make a the most just system in the attempt. For any system to be just it requires that prevailing moral attitudes bend toward justice, no matter how positivist the system.

                    12. What is justice? You can't go down this road and then try to arbitrarily draw your own sacrosanct line while decrying others for arguing against positivism

                    13. Justice is like the other things--not strictly definable but appreciable as a prevailing social attitude. Rights, morals, and a concept of justice are among those tools humans use to attempt to maintain a stable society. Declaring a strict definition for any of them is to start on a road to social instability, which is why such modes of thinking must be rejected.

                    14. Rights are, in fact, human inventions rather than human discoveries.

                      No they're not. Privileges are human inventions.

                      The right to the availability of low-cost or free abortions is a privilege. Someone must provide it to you.

                      My right to bear arms, for instance, exists without you, and in fact, exists better without you.

                2. "(which by definition precludes simple majorities deciding issues of civil rights)"

                  Define "civil rights." It's hilarious how you talk about libertarians having a Santa Claus of rights and then proceed to do the exact same thing.

                  1. I see The Immaculate Trouser beat me to the point

              2. I'm not an expert on fascism, but I don't get that they were into a lot of democracy. Their problem seemed to be in thinking of the "the State" as some organism possessing rights that superseded that of individuals.

                1. What do you think a prog's insistence on the existence of a "social contract" is?

          2. We didn't make rights up for people. We made privileges up for people. Big difference.

        3. Well if your premises don't support the conclusions which you know to be the morally correct ones, maybe it's time to re-examine your premises. And I say this in all seriousness.

        4. "My emotional reaction, as both a pet owner (two dogs and two cats) and an animal lover, is that of course cruelty should be illegal. But I just can't support that notion"

          Not even for this guy?

          1. That fucker should be thrown off a second story balcony.

            1. This attitude sums it up pretty well, this is how people react when they actually have to see the cruelty.

              I say just make the largest slaughterhouses and factory farms transparent by allowing media and citizens with cameras to see the most common practices and I think either people or industry will change.

        5. They can be your property without allowing you all the "uses" you might have with inanimate property. You should be able to trade them, use them, etc. But it's not outrageous to say you also have an obligation to feed them, keep them in reasonable health, transfer ownership or make a good-faith effort to do so if you want to get rid of them, etc.

        6. any convincing argument to grant non-sentient (and at this point that is completely synonomous with non-human) life any rights.

          Are dolphins non-sentient though?

          1. "and at this point that is completely synonomous with non-human"

            I think this indicates that he believes that they are not sentient. At least in theory, he might not agree if I were to torment his dog and it started yelping and trying to get away.

      2. Just what defines personhood if not rights, both alienable and in-?

        1. I think that is a question that simply has not been answered adequately yet. So far, personhood has pretty much been attached to being a member of Homo sapiens. What the details are is still poorly defined, but we haven't needed to worry about it too much because it was obvious what was and was not a person (excepting the abortion debate and a few other cases around the edges).

    3. They can reopen the parks when they have to imprison dolphins for murdering porpoises.

  4. I'd be interested in their take on animal rights if they'd first released a statement that said "research had clearly established cetaceanshumans are highly intelligent and sensitive, and that dolphinshumans "should be seen as 'non-human persons' and as such should have their own specific rights."

  5. If we give cetaceans personhood now, then Kirk won't have to come back in time from several hundred years in the future to retrieve one to save the world.

    1. I don't really see how that follows, JJ. Kirk had to come back in time so that he could say "well, double dumbass on you!" Everything else stems from that. Also, Scotty had to paradoxically "invent" transparent aluminum.

      1. I read an article on some science website a few months back that posited transparent aluminum is a real possibility.

        This guy said that moving one atom in the structure of standard aluminum actually does render it invisible, but also incredibly unstable, so that the phenomenon can only be observed by instruments for a billionth of a second or something like that, but if a way could be found to stabilize the atomic structure after the alteration, it would, in effect, create transparent aluminum.

        1. What does any of that have to do with Spock using his Vulcan neck pinch to knock out a punk on the bus?

          1. That punk is the actual inventor of transparent aluminum. Spock Jedi mind-melded with the punk.

          2. Nothing, of course. Fiddling with the atomic structure of common metals is a very niche subject.

            1. People say they "fiddle with the atomic structures of common metals" just like they say they listen to Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk and read "everything" by John Updike.

              Just another hipster fashion statement.

              *returns to making rainbows out of iron*

              1. I'm taking away all the matter from my wall but leaving the atomic forces.

      2. If Kirk hadn't stolen those two whales, they would've been able to keep the population up, thus preventing the arrival of that black tube thingy in the first place.

  6. I'm eating some beef lasagna, so I'm probably not the right person to comment on animal rights in India.

  7. Haven't marine biologists found that dolphins have such large brains because it allows them to live in cold water better and not because it makes them any smarter than any other marine mammal?

    1. regardless of the size of their brains Cetatian behavior clearly deliniates them as just a hair (at a minimum) behind humans in terms of abstract reasoning capacity

      1. I could be wrong but I seem to have read that is a lot more in doubt that it used to be.

        1. Dolphins are probably somewhat similar to elephants in intelligence--still considered "of great intelligence" relative to other species, but not necessarily more so than some apes and birds.

          Of course defining intelligence is difficult across such divergent species. Apes possess the most familiar aspects of intelligence being evolutionarily close to humans, but dolphins and birds would have had to develop their forms of intelligence separately, so it probably takes a somewhat different form.

        2. Remember that it's intelligence and "sensitivity." Dolphins and orcas are supposedly highly emotional creatures.

          1. Emotion is associated with neural complexity, too.

        3. "Penn & Teller's Bullshit!" had an episode on dolphins that everyone in this thread should read.

          Dolphins are dumb. Accept it, you fools.

      2. We should graft arms on to them and see what happens.

        1. I'm guessing masturbation.

          1. Now that's a clear sign of intelligence...

  8. It's been a while since the Hit & Run commentariat has had a big debate on animal rights

    The primary goal of Reason writers is to troll us, isn't it?

    1. That's the goal of any website with pageview-driven advertising. It's like going to a car lot and getting peeved when you figured those bastards are only talking to you in order to try and sell you a car.

      1. So when Reason told me that they actually liked me and wouldn't make me pay if their pimp didn't require it, they were lying?

        1. Sorry, dude.

          1. He's so young and naive. But he'll learn.

  9. The Day of the Dolphin! Loved that movie as a kid. All I remember were talking dolphins and Patton.

    1. I loved the scene when he slapped the dolphin in the hospital.

      1. Well, that dolphin WAS a pussy, and deserved it.

        Not like that dolphin in the next bed, who gave a flipper for the cause...

      2. We should've let Patton take his dolphin army straight through to Moscow.

        1. Shamu! You magnificent bastard I read your book!!!

  10. They put off working on the caste system to give fish human rights?

    1. Fish? Really? Biology fail.

      Cetaceans are air-breathing, warm-blooded, live-birthing mammals just like humans.

      1. I've slapped you with a fish called sarcasm.

        1. I think I saw that movie. Something about a bank robbery at the animatronic zoo?

        2. Don't know you well enough to have intuited that. Sorry.

      2. Uhh, dude, they swim in the sea. They're fish.

        1. Taxonomy, how do it work?

          1. ONLY FISH SWIM IN THE SEA!!

            1. So if I swim in the sea, then I'm a fish?

              1. Tonio is not a gay fish.

              2. But do you live underneath the sea?

                Unless you're in Sealab, I'm gonna say no!

                1. I hate Pod Six. I don't even know why we have a Pod Six. Total suck pod.

        2. That's some languages take on it. In Thai, a dolphin is bpla loma which translates as "hairy fish"; a whale is bpla wahn which literally means "whale fish". But for some bizarre reason, a walrus is chaang nam or "Sea Elephant" and an otter is meow name which means "Sea Cat".

          1. The Thai name for cat is meow? Haha

              1. Is it believed that the name originally came from people trying to make a word that sounds like the noise cats make, and then ended up calling the animal that? Although I assume that's not really something that could be known for sure

                1. That's basically the reason, yeah. You find it a lot in different languages' names for birds (think "cuckoo"). In Thai the name for a crow is "kaa", which is the same as in some Indian languages as well.

          2. Yes, and there are folk taxonomies which classify bats with birds because they all fly. And it makes sense if you don't know about taxonomy based on common descent.

            Paging MJGreen...

        3. /sarc? I hope

  11. Sure, go ahead and laugh. It's all fun and games, until a dolphin hires a lawyer and sues your ass for a civil rights violation. That'll learn ya!

    1. Dolphins don't hire lawyers, they hire ORCAS!

      1. But orcas are dolphins

        1. Fucking dolphins - specieist all the way down

  12. Maybe if they declared women to be persons with rights they might start doing something about the horrendous numbers of rapes in India.

    1. Don't be silly, NutraSweet. Women aren't people. Dolphins are. Well, the male ones, at least.

      1. Ah, so their penchant for gang-rape is why they were granted personhood?

        1. That, and they make funny sounds and jump through hoops for fish, much like NutraSweet.


    2. Maybe that's why they are trying to get the dolphins out of India. They are pretty rapey.

  13. I'll give dolphins rights when dolphins stop raping and murdering their way across the ocean's floor.

    They're the serial killers of the sea. We shouldn't pen them up for our own amusement, but so that we might save other animals from being dolphin murdered.

    1. Maybe they're giving them rights so they can charge them in court for all the raping. And boy, have you tried to click, clack, and scree the Miranda?

      1. No, but once I danced the Macarena with nine Thai women in a Roppongi disco. Does that count?

    2. Goodbye! Thanks for the free fish!

    3. umm have you looked at human history or even the news? If someone was watching us they would draw the same conclusions as you.

  14. It's not surprising that this is coming from India. Unlike the Abrahamic faiths, with their belief that God made animals for man to use/eat/fuck, the Dharmic religions of the Indosphere have influenced the various cultures of the region's view on the relationship between humans and other animals. It's harder to argue against the personhood of highly-intelligent animals, like dolphins and great apes, when there is an underlying cultural assumption that that dolphin could have been grandpa in a previous life.

    1. The slippery slope to Jainism, sweeping the ground in front of you lest you step on a bug.

      1. True, but you also get to walk around butt-ass naked in public; so there's that.

        1. My dong is the only true religion.

        2. I've seen the average American. Bug, not feature.

          1. If they didn't eat anything that casts a shadow, they would probably slim down a bit.

            1. How does that explain the southern Chinese, though?

      2. We studied Jainism in a religion class. "You cannot even harm an insect." "Well - that's not gonna be the religion for me..." *smashes beetle*

        1. Wouldn't you basically have to kill yourself then? Walking around you are bound to kill an insect at some point. If you eat anything, then some animal was killed to make that food possible.

          1. Intentionalality is taken into account. And the more extreme forms of Jainism even avoid killing plants, eating only fruits, nuts, seeds and leaves that can be non-lethally harvested.

          2. Yeah - not gonna lie - I didn't get Jainism at all. Way too WEsternized by that point, I guess.

    2. Yet another reason religion is retarded.

      1. Peter Singer is convinced animals are more valuable than some humans. Once you go off the rails and deny the central value of humanity, it is a quick slide into insanity.

        1. Reading him is the reason I became sure that utilitarianism is evil.

          1. Same.

          2. I plan on reading some of his stuff at some point, I doubt I'll have the same reaction as you though.

        2. Their pain and suffering should be taken into account, and there are alot of humans I'd like to see die before certain animals.

    3. I am not sure dolphins are as smart as we originally thought they were. As far as great apes go; granting Steve Smith personhood is a pretty big step.

      1. Intelligence is only tangentially related imo, it is important in that you need some to experience pain/suffering. Overall though it is the actual pain/suff that is the relevant factor imo.

    4. ^This. But ironically, some of the evangelical christians are big on non-factory farming. Google "creation care".

  15. Hey, I'm in Honululu and am going to need the PM links delayed about six hours. Ok, thanks.

    1. Can't you read tomorrow's A.M. links now. Or something...

      1. I tried reading them reflected off the eyes of this girl I met at the beach, but they were too slanted.

        1. How did they get the links to slant? I'll never learn the fancy HTML.

    2. Good choice; I was just there a few weeks ago. Go to Teddy's Bigger Burgers and get a 9oz burger. Hmm, 9oz burger...

  16. As Irish pointed out, dolphins are rapists and probably involved undersea sex trafficking. So if we give them human rights I fully support prosecuting them for, among other crimes, transporting a minor over state line for immoral porpoises.

  17. Given what we've learned about the sexual culture of India via Reason it seems that this was only a matter of time.

  18. Who will set up the dolphin courts to punish them for rape?

  19. I would love to see the Venn diagram of people who get all upset over the rights of dolphins versus those trying to protect the rights of unborn human beings.

    Maybe there's more overlap than I would have assumed. Maybe. I'd like to see the evidence, though.

    1. Chalk me up as someone who has angst over allowing people to do with great apes and cetaceans what they will.

      I do agree that the overlap between the two groups is conspicuous in its apparently miniscule set cardinality.

    2. I think it would depend a lot on what you are talking about when you say "unborn human beings." Single cell human embryos might be thought to have less rights than a dolphin while later stage fetus probably will have more.

      1. How many more beyond the right not to be murdered can the unborn use?

        1. You might argue that they might have a right to certain obligations from their mother (not to smoke, drink, etc., while carrying).

          1. Which shall (or ought to) increase as they age in the womb?

        2. The right not to be murdered is a positive (i.e. fake) right. No one has the right to murder you. But that's a bit different.

          1. They're all fake - right, negative or positive - ultimately.

    3. I have seen exactly one car with "Meat is Murder" and "Choose Life" bumper stickers. Old 7th Day Adventist Black Lady was driving.

    4. Logically, there should be way more of an overlap. But the fetus-fanciers are very invested in the magical Human DNA(tm) premise, which is the only way they can justify personhood beginning at conception.

      I've always been consistent that organisms deserved protection based on their neural complexity, not their DNA.

    5. Maybe those people want to ensure unwed dolphin mothers or dolphin victims of dolphin gang rape have access to safe dolphin abortion, or something.


    6. Dolphins are probably higher up, if a fetus is at a point in its development that it can experience pain and suffering then I would support regulation that only allows abortion techniques that minimize this pain.

      1. So we can still kill and eat dolphin embryos?

        Just trying to get a ruling from the crunchy-granola vegan crowd.

        1. If you can do so without hurting the parent or the embryo then yes, eat as many as you want. It's about trying reduce the level of suffering and pain in the world for me. For an analogy I try to not eat eggs anymore not because I respect the eggs rights but because I don't like the way the mothers are treated to get the egg. If you were to grow a replica of an egg on a plant or something I would eat it if it was before the point the embryo gained the ability to feel pain.

          1. OK, as long as we're on that general topic, what about killing and eating *human* embryos?

            1. Probably wouldn't do it myself but again if you're not hurting the mother or embryo that is up to you. I mean once they get the lab grown meat figured out you might be able to convince me to try the human stuff(I think this was brought up a while back in another thread) so if you were looking to catch me saying something that you could use to shame me and invalidate my opinions you could try that one.

  20. Let's say you're a fisherman. And Indian fisherman. One fine afternoon you're out on your boat catching fish. You reel in your net, or your trap, or your line, or whatever method you use to catch your fish and there's a dolphin. Dead. Are there dolphinslaughter charges in your immediate future? Maybe to avoid that possibility you'll just drop the thing overboard and hope no one saw you. But the government finds out lots of fishermen are accidentally killing dolphins. So how do they respond? Fishing quotas? Mandatory recording equipment on deck in case a dolphin is pulled up? Compulsory signing of government agents on board as do-nothing crew who watch your every move?

    1. "Hello, USA NSA? We need your help..."

    2. Porpoises (dolphins) don't strike fishing lures, so line-caught tuna is cetacean friendly. Nets are a problem.

      1. Tonio do you think tuna fall outside the realm of animals that deserve protection? If so why, it seems like fish act as though they feel pain, I guess it could be a purely chemical reaction and I hope it is, but I'd rather not take the risk.

    3. "Mandatory recording equipment on deck in case a dolphin is pulled up? Compulsory signing of government agents on board as do-nothing crew who watch your every move?"

      Actually I was thinking about something like this for current U.S. slaughterhouses although though I doubt we would have to use a gov't agent, just make it so that if you want to make a living by killing things you have to let any animal rights group in at anytime so they can record and report standard practices of the facility.

  21. I think this is all the work of Don Shula.

  22. If anything, this is another embarrassment of rightsism. Why must dolphins have rights in order to protect them? Why not simply tell me that I am not allowed to hurt them, or capture them and confine them?

    Once you say, "Well, uhh, they have rights," you create all the other questions being asked in this thread. What other rights do they have? Since they're not humans capable of human thought or human speech, who is authorized to represent their interests? What are their interests and how do we know? Do they have obligations? Can they be tried for crimes?

    1. Wait, hold on. Is it possible for me to represent an entire species in a class action and become phenomenally rich? Hmmmm.

    2. And if they have legal rights, should they also have responsibilities? If a dolphin attacks or kills another dolphin or a human, should it be put on trial and then locked up in prison? I would think that (legally anyway) the rights and responsibilities of personhood should go together.

      1. If a five year old attacks and kills a human? An insane person?

        1. They'll get locked up, anyway. I guess it's better than being shot, as would likely be done with an animal who did the same. So maybe they should keep the dolphiaria, but only put bad dolphins in them.

          1. Through most of our history we did not lock up five year olds or the insane even for murder (well, as punishment, we may have for incapacitation sake).

            1. I'm pretty sure people have been locking up the insane for quite some time. Young children, not so much. But if they are shown to be a danger, you need to confine them or somehow remove their capacity to harm people.

      2. There's the solution. We'll just make the dolphariums into dolphin-jail and make performing in the shows part of their rehabilitation.

        1. Like a dolphin-prison-rodeo.

      3. I'm definitely an outlier in this regard so I speak for very few other people, but I think the end goal that's a yes. The first and easiest way to reduce suffering is through our own actions by not consuming products created from torture and to not be violent toward eachother or animals. However when it becomes feasible we should even implement a system that will either get rid of or rehabilitate carnivorous species, preventing bad behavior in other species, and so on.

    3. That's a good point. I guess one response is that if you were to just call them interests they'd get outweighed all the time. But I think that might be easier to deal with than all the potential issues with talking about rights.

  23. But dolphins are still dumber than cows, right? Or is this just another one of those wacky castes the Indians love so much?

  24. India has officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons, whose rights to life and liberty must be respected.

    And soon the United States will follow suit, just in time to grant voting rights to Mr. Eeeeee! and Ms. Eeeeee! and all their extended family, so they can all vote Democrat - using one of several convenient proxies, of course.

  25. Okay, I just scrolled through quickly, but has no one made a caste joke yet? I'd do it, but I'm not that funny.

  26. So does India consider dolphins to be persons at conception, or birth?

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