Chimpanzees are not people, no matter how they are dressed up for commercials, but perhaps they are close enough that they deserve some of the same rights humans have.
That is what an animal rights group claimed on Monday when it filed a classic writ of habeas corpus, that revered staple of American and English law and tired cliché of detective fiction — not for a human being held unlawfully, but for Tommy, a chimpanzee in Gloversville, N.Y.
This is no stunt. The Nonhuman Rights Project has been working on this legal strategy for years, sifting through decisions in all 50 states to find one that is strong on what is called common law, and one that recognizes animals as legal persons for the purpose of being the beneficiary of a trust.
The leader of the project, Steven M. Wise, who has written about the history of habeas corpus writs in the fight against human slavery and who views the crusade for animal rights as a lifelong project, said New York fit the bill.
I appreciate people trying to protect animals but I don’t appreciate people being insane, which is what you are if you are investing time and money to get Constitutional rights extended to chimpanzees.
Every time I read about or meet zealots like this I always think, “Aren’t there some humans in distress who you could be helping?”