hearts and minds

April 1, 2015

Chimps in New York, Orangutans in Argentina, and Corporations in our Faces

A court in Argentina ruled that an orangutan is a “non-human person” and as such has inherent rights. A court in New York ruled that a chimpanzee does not have any rights, and is not a “person” in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. [http://www.care2.com/causes/landmark-ruling-an-orangutan-is-a-non-human-person-with-rights-says-argentina.html] The ruling against chimps comes in the nation whose corrupted supreme Court has ruled without justification that corporations are “persons” in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution.

The supreme Court of the USA has long been gifting the Constitutional rights of a person to corporations. For example, a corporation’s alleged “religious beliefs” take precedence over a human being’s health care. Meanwhile, a living, innocent chimpanzee has no rights at all and can be experimentally dissected, dismembered, and permanently mutilated while being kept alive for the “procedure”. How are we to understand and deal with these controversial issues of “rights” – and wrongs?

A personal disclosure: I embrace the concept that chimps and orangs and other living beings have inherent unalienable rights. But I absolutely oppose the illegitimate doctrine that artificial legal entities like corporations have the Constitutional rights defined for a “person”. [Note that there is an important distinction between inherent rights and Constitutional rights.]

The question of rights (for persons; for living biological non-human entities such as orangutans and forests and planets; for artificial legal abstractions such as corporations) must be considered carefully. In each separate instance, we must be clear whether we are talking about inherent unalienable rights or we are talking about explicit legally defined (i.e. Constitutional) rights. An inherent, unalienable right is a right that we assert exists whether or not any particular government, organization, institution – or other individual or authority – explicitly agrees that the right exists. We talk about “women’s rights”, “human rights”, “animal rights”, or “corporate rights”, whether or not a particular government, etc., does or does not recognize, ignore, protect, or violate those rights. In the case of Constitutional rights, on the other hand, we must carefully and thoroughly examine whether certain of those rights have been legitimately or illegitimately asserted and exercised.

If our Constitution does not address certain rights that we consider to be “inherent”, then the Constitution can be (carefully) amended to allow the protection of those inherent rights. I do not believe that our U.S. Constitution provides adequate, if any, Constitutional rights to natural life support systems, or to any living beings other than human beings. However, I do share the belief of many that living beings (whether human beings or not) have inherent, unalienable rights. Indeed, I believe that our planet has the inherent right to sustain life.

I, along with almost all people, strongly believe that corporations do not have inherent unalienable rights. On top of that, it is absolutely clear that the text of the U.S. Constitution itself establishes that corporations do not legitimately have the Constitutional rights of a person.

A belief that an animal – or that Mother Earth – has rights should not be based upon the specious, tenuous argument that corrupted Supreme Court Justices have illegitimately held that corporations have the Constitutional rights of a person. First, a corporation is clearly not a living being. Second, in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution, neither an animal, nor a tree, nor a corporation, is a “person”.
In the meaning of the U.S. Constitution, a “person” is a living, breathing human being.
Finally, establishing the essential truth that corporations do NOT have unalienable, inherent rights, and also do NOT legitimately have the Constitutional rights of a person, does not cripple or contradict any claim that animals (and forests, wetlands, and oceans) have inherent rights, or that those rights should be respected and protected by law and/or by the U.S. Constitution.

1 Comment »

  1. The only natural right of living things is the right to Try to Live. Everything else is statutory (written into law or created by cooperative agreement within a society). There are no immortal living things, and thus, there is no natural, unrevokable right to live.
    The rights of corporations are granted by society as well as the rights of people in that society are.
    Distinguishing the level of isolation from the natural world is the issue. Civil agreement that humans have a right to live (or vote, speak, believe, defend themselves, etc.) should always be read with the full meaning in mind:
    “You have the right to live in this society as long as you allow the same right to others within this society.”
    It’s a quid-pro-quo. All human rights are…in the legal bottom end of it.
    That we don’t have clear distinctions of real persons vs corporate entities (shared risk artifices) doesn’t really have to do with any “natural” rights. It has to do with the basic prioritization of a society’s mores.
    In America, we have abdicated all human value to the numbers in bank ledgers. This is the epitome of Capital-ism: capital as the highest order of a society’s morality. This “love of money” is evil because it is blindly followed out of convenience of the thing. Nobody has to take responsibility for their actions because they simply let the numbers decide who lives and who dies.
    I digress… The point is really that you are right: a corporation cannot have such a thing as a natural, inalienable right, because NEITHER DO PEOPLE. A cat can have kittens in the oven, but that don’t make them biscuits. Calling a right “inalienable” doesn’t make it so. ALL rights (except the right to Try to Live while living) are statutory and imagined into existence by civil action.
    The key is to have an effective human bureaucracy of some sort that can delineate the differences and the responsibilities while taking the necessary actions to establish a sustainable artificial environment (civilization).
    Accepting anything as “inalienable” smacks of supernatural power, which always leads to failure to maintain the part of the system that those rights ACTUALLY come from (the people’s knowledge and consent).

    Comment by Dan C. — May 25, 2015 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

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