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Re: E-M:/ FW: When does a tree have rights?

Enviro-Mich message from Gary Stock <gstock@net-link.net>

Anna Dorothy Graham wrote:

> It depends on the jurisdiction and the composition of the court.  I 
> think we all need to be introducing the concept of giving other living 
> beings standing to our lawmakers in hopes of influencing future court
> decisions.

Agreed; it will take years for the concept to fully... evolve.  (Pun
intended :-)  

Among others, note legal efforts by Steven Wise:


   ...who practices and teaches (at the Harvard and Vermont Law
   Schools and elsewhere)...  His major focus is on chimpanzees
   and bonobos.  His basic claim is that ''the legal thinghood''
   of these animals should be replaced ''with a legal personhood''
   that would entitle them to immunity ''from serious
   infringements upon their bodily integrity and bodily liberty.''
   Without legal personhood, he writes, you are ''invisible to
   civil law'' and ''might as well be dead.'' 

   Wise supports this claim with searing narratives about 
   human cruelty and animal suffering.... consider Lucy, a
   6-year-old chimpanzee who was taught American Sign Language.
   For months, Roger Fouts, Lucy's teacher, would arrive at 
   Lucy's home at 8:30 every morning, whereupon Lucy would 
   greet her teacher with a hug, go to the stove, grab a 
   teakettle, fill it with water from the kitchen sink, 
   find two cups and tea bags from the cupboard and brew
   and serve the tea -- all the while hopping from counter
   to counter, chimpanzee style.  By the time she was 12,
   Lucy's human owners were no longer able to care for her,
   and she was shipped to a chimpanzee rehabilitation center
   in Senegal, then flown to Gambia, where she was shot and
   skinned; her feet and hands were hacked off for sale as trophies.    

...illuminating the need for progress, both local and global.

> What really puzzles me, however, is how "corporations", mere legal
> fictions designed only to protect investment, have come to have 
> legal rights that outweigh the rights of individuals or other 
> animate beings -- why should a legal fiction have a right to sue
> the EPA when endangered creatures don't, as a rule?  Why should 
> corporations have constitutional rights?  Why should a corporation
> have the ability to trash the environment without significant
> consequences?  And so on, and so forth ...
> If anyone can explain, either philosophically or historically, 
> please do let me know!

A comprehensive but unsettling launch point:


   "...influences came together in the body of canon law built 
   around the conception of the church as corporate structure 
   in the Middle Ages.  Different theories of the church as 
   corporate body were favored by different individuals but
   all agreed on one key component:  that the church was more
   than just its members and could maintain an existence 
   perpetually, regardless of the death of any individual member."

...which almost certainly prompts some discussion of institutionalized
religion... and I'm _sure_ we don't do that here!

As an alternative, approach the topic from another direction:


...which -- although it does little to dispel the sense of violation
current law evokes -- does remind us that Rousseau, Schopenhauer, Singer
and many others have set down much of the essential groundwork.  As
Bentham said in 1789:

   The question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk?
   but, Can they suffer?  Why should the law refuse its protection
   to any sensitive being?  The time will come when humanity 
   will extend its mantle over everything which breathes ...

Two centuries later, precious little progress on that front --
suggesting that trees will continue to stand mute for generations to come.

At least, among those who refuse to hear...


> > Dear Michigan,
> >
> > Would Superior's southern shore Coaster Brook Trout have the right to sue
> > the state of Michigan's DEQ if a permit is granted to mine nickel on the
> > Yellow Dog Plains?  Maybe, if this new idea for "Wild Law" grows as
> > predicted.  How about if another stream is added to our state's list of
> > impaired waters because of CAFO manure pollution?  How about the fish in
> > Lake Huron, polluted by Lafarge's mercury, or Saginaw Bay and the
> > Tittabawassee River, polluted by Dow's dioxin?
> >
> > When does a tree have rights?
> >
> >
> > The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia
> >
> > http://thechronicleherald.ca/NovaScotian/551378.html

Gary Stock                                        gstock@unblinking.com
UnBlinking                                   http://www.unblinking.com/
Googlewhack                                 http://www.googlewhack.com/

     The best proof for a claim that terrorists are crazy or evil
     would be to acknowledge that the White House is full of them

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