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Dark Matter:
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Dark Matter: the Mind of Janet Kuypers, 2009
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Charred Remnants
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Adolph Hitler, O.J. Simpson
and U.S. Politics

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Adolph Hitler, O.J. Simpson and U.S. Politics
Defining Human Life

Don’t worry, this isn’t about abortion or when life begins... It’s deciding if a chimpanzee is a human being. Really.

Janet Kuypers editorial

    I was staying at a hotel, and they dropped a local newspaper at our hotel door (funny, most hotels usually drop off a USA Today, but whatever), and since I didn’t have time to scour the paper for any interesting stories, I just pulled out the stories with valuable (or at least interesting) headlines. The Commercial Appeal (Friday, 09/27/07, http://www.commercialappeal.com) had a headline across the top of the second page the headline, “Can chimp be a person? Court to decide” — which made me think that this had to be a story worth saving.
    I read on the caption next to the photo of a chimpanzee (the closest thing to a subhead I could find), which said “Pan and another chimpanzee were smuggled to Austria from Sierra Leone for use in pharmaceutical experiments. Now activists want to make sure the apes don’t wind up homeless.” Interesting. Then this little article could be a statement on the legality of smuggling animals like this across country lines, Or, depending on what the pharmaceutical company was testing these chimpanzees with (cosmetics or medical drugs, and I think that even the non extremist would believe there is a difference), and whether the animal was treated fairly over its live imprisoned in Austria. So when I read that caption, I was interested to see what the argument from these activists would be about. So I had to read the article.
    But this AP article from Vienna (can’t tell you much about Vienna, we only stopped there by train, but didn’t stay long to get a feel of the town) this chimpanzee, who now has a human name (Matthew Hiasl Pan, and I don’t know who gave the chimpanzee the name) has been in court, thanks to the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories (ah, so maybe this will be a story about the cruel captivity of this chimpanzee, I mean, the cruel captivity of Pan). For the legal shelter, where Pan and another chimpanzee (named Rosi) were living for 25 years, recently declared bankruptcy, and no one knows where these chimpanzees (I’m sorry, Pan and Rosi) will go after the building shuts down. These “animal rights activists were campaigning to get Pan, a [now] 26-year-old chimpanzee, legally declared a person”, because Donors are willing to pay for the $6,800 upkeep a month for Pan and Rosi, but according to Austrian law, only people can receive personal gifts (which is what the donations for upkeep would be).
    Hmm. This story is seeming less and less like a cruelty-to-animals story, but a people-wanting-to-care-for-a-chimpanzee-legally story. Because as the story explains, “Both [Pan and Rosi] were captured as babies in Sierra Leone in 1982 and smuggled into Austria for use in pharmaceutical experiments. Customs officers intercepted the shipment and turned the chimps over to the shelter” — which is apparently now going bankrupt,
    Once again, hmm. So this isn’t about the cruelty to the pharmaceuticals company testing who-knows-what on these smuggled chimpanzees. They were rescued when the attempt to smuggle them into the country was made, and all of their lives they have been living in a shelter. But people would like to set up a trust fund to help pay for the costs for Pan (remember, it costs thousands of dollars a month to take care of this chimpanzee) has a life expectancy in captivity of about 60 years.
    Now, this scenario probably seems like an expensive endeavor, but these activists want to ensure that Pan and Rosi won’t be legally sold to someone who doesn’t live in Austria — because in Austria, these chimpanzees are protected under strict animal cruelty laws — and people from the Association Against Animal Factories want to make sure these chimps don’t leave the country, where they are better protected. So they only way they see they can pull this off is to get Pan declared a human, so he can get funds for keeping him safe in captivity in Austria.
    But the Association Against Animal Factories “vowed Thursday [09/27/07] to take their challenge to Austria’s Supreme Court after a lower court threw out their latest appeal.
    A provincial judge in the city of Wiener Newstadt dismissed the case this week, ruling the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories has no legal standing to argue on the chimps’ behalf.” So the Association Against Animal Factories has been pressing to have Pan legally declared a person, so that a guardian could be legally appointed to look out for Pan and Rosi.
    I read through to the end of the article, because I have to share with you the last paragraph from this AP article. “Group president Martin Balluch accuses the judicial system of monkeying around.” (Now this is the priceless quote from the man, wich concludes the article...) Martin Balluch said, “It is astounding how all the courts try to evade the question of personhood of a chimp as much as they can.”
    Well, no duh. I hate to state the obvious, but who wants to correlate personhood with a chimp? It will be interesting to hear with the Austria Supreme Court, from a country with such great rights given to animals, will say about this. Will a chimpanzee have to given personhood in order to keep it safe in Austria? Or can they decide that a chimpanzee cannot be considered a human, but Pan and Rosi could be ensured byan organization so that it would not leave the country? Only time will tell... We’ll have to keep a watch out to see how the Austria Supreme Court decides...

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