Saturday, January 25, 2014

Flipping Flipper

In the works of two of my favorite science-fiction writers, L. Neil Smith and Larry Niven, dolphins are regarded as persons and have the rights of persons. In Neil's case, so do chimps and yetis and other hominids. In Arthur C. Clarke's The Deep Range, the plot turns on recognizing that whales are folks and shouldn't be eaten. But that's science-fiction. As far as I know, dolphins are still considered to have about the same intelligence as dogs, who are wonderful people indeed, but not legal people.

I first became aware of the new Indian law by coming across this net meme, but it sounded a little extreme — Why should India decide to treat dolphins like people before they decide to treat women like people? Now, it might be a good idea to limit what people can do to or with dolphins, just like it might be a good idea with regards to lots of animals.  It's a matter of codifying what we regard as humane behavior. That can be debated. But nobody's proved that any non-human is equivalent in any way to a human being, so no laws or rules should be base on the notion that any are.

But this meme does seem to be an exaggeration.  I found this at io9:

No, India did not just grant dolphins the status of humans

Contrary to widespread reports, the Indian government did not recently grant legal personhood status to dolphins. But it didabolish the use of dolphins in aquatic theme parks — an important precedent that could eventually inspire other countries to do the same.

This news actually came out a few months ago, but it's making the rounds again. This time, however, there's considerable confusion as to what the Indian government has actually done.

The Minister of the Environment and Forests in India merely abolished the use of dolphins in marine circuses, advising state governments to reject any proposal to establish a dolphinarium “by any person/persons, organizations, government agencies, private or public enterprises that involves import, capture of cetacean species to establish for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and interaction purposes whatsoever.” (Read the rest HERE.)

1 comment:

  1. In David Brin's "Uplift War" novels Dolphins and chimps pilot space ships.