Saturday, February 11, 2012
IT HAD all the elements of a very bad comedy. A highly litigious and publicity-hungry animal rights group. A frivolous lawsuit that never stood a chance. A pod of well-fed killer whales as the LITIGANTS. And a puzzled federal court judge who would not suffer his time being wasted.
Thus commenced the circus that was the case bought against popular theme park SeaWorld by PETA in October last year. It concluded in a San Diego court yesterday after the presiding judge Jeffrey Miller threw the case out lock stock and barrel.
The facts are these. PETA filed suit against SeaWorld for the crime of feeding, displaying and supplying medical care to five Orcas. It claimed this was analogous to enslavement and involuntary servitude. It then mounted a case invoking the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which outlaws HUMAN slavery and involuntary servitude and sought to have this extended to whales.
It took just two days for Judge Miller to state the blindingly obvious.
"As 'slavery' and 'involuntary servitude' are uniquely human activities, as those terms have been historically and contemporaneously applied, there is simply no basis to construe the Thirteenth Amendment as applying to non-humans," he wrote.
And then it was over. All that time and money squandered.
"It was a foolish suit and a sure loser," said Steven Wise who himself is the president and founder of the Nonhuman Rights Project, and also seeks to establish 'personhood' and legal rights for animals.
Wise told Science Insider that the dismissal of the PETA case will provide ammunition for his opponents.
"It certainly won't help us," he said.
It didn't help anybody.