The Telegraph reports that the government of Spain is preparing legislation to recognize the rights of apes.
Spain could soon become the first country in the world to give chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and other great apes some of the fundamental rights granted to human beings under a law being proposed by members of the ruling Socialist coalition.
The law would eliminate the concept of "ownership" for great apes, instead placing them under the "moral guardianship" of the state, much as is the case for children in care, the severely handicapped, and those in comas, said the MP behind the project, Francisco Garrido.
I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong about legislation to prevent cruelty to animals. There's plenty of room for argument and thoughtful advocacy on this issue, as indicated in former Bush White House speechwriter Matthew Scully's book Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. But this account of the Spanish legislation suggests an attempt to erode the clear distinction between human beings and animals. Once we start down that slippery slope, we are heading toward the world of Princeton Prof. Peter Singer, who thinks that human babies (not just fetuses, but babies after birth) don't have a right to life, but at least some animals do. Do we really want to go there?