PETA Slavery Case Against SeaWorld Dismissed, As Whales Are Not People

by Mandy Adwell on 02/09/2012

in Earth,Politics

orca at SeaWorld

Do animals have the same constitutional rights as humans? According to a U.S. federal judge, they most certainly do not.

After People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched a lawsuit against SeaWorld, accusing them of violating the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery, judge Jeffrey Miller threw it out. The judge ruled that orcas do not have the same constitutional rights as people.

The lawsuit was filed in the US district court of San Diego, with five of SeaWorld’s performing orcas listed as plaintiffs: Katina, Tilikum, Corky, Kasatka, and Ulises.

In his ruling, judge Jeffrey Miller wrote “The only reasonable interpretation of the 13th amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons and not to non-persons such as orcas.”

David Steinberg, a law professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, said the lawsuit is “demeaning to the integrity and humanity of people who were owned as slaves.”

That’s actually a pretty good point, and while I think it’s ridiculous that animals are still held in captivity for our entertainment and forced out of their natural habitats to dance around in a tiny pool, putting whales on court documents as plaintiffs is equally ridiculous.

I wouldn’t mind taking out a court case against people who are so boring they find entertainment in a whale jumping out of water over and over, but that’s neither here nor there.

Is PETA helping or hurting the cause by taking such extreme measures? Would you like to see places like SeaWorld not keep whales in captivity?

via Guardian
Image CC licensed by Olivier Bruchez: Orca at SeaWorld

  • Anonymous

    If PETA had won, and got some sort of personhood legally recognised for the Orca, what would be the ramifications?

    Would the Orca have to be restricted from Whaling (or suffer the wrath of Sea Shepperd?) What about the eating of all those endangered seals and penguins?  Not to mention the helpless fluffy little sea-kittens.

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    Orca are restricted from being hunted. Apparently only Indonesia and Greenland allow small subsistence hunts. The international whaling commission recommend a ban on commercial hunting of the species back in the 80s.

  • Anonymous

    You picked up slightly the wrong emphasis regarding Orca and Whaling.

    Having won a sort of personhood in American courts, would Orca then have been subject to the IWC, and forced to stop hunting the reported 32 species of whale [1] that they currently do.

    That was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but if we’re going to convey the privileges of personhood beyond humanity, we also need to think about conveying the responsibilities, as well.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_whale#Mammal_prey

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    Well I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that Orca most probably do their hunting pretty sustainably :) How about humans?

  • Anonymous

    The IWC and, especially Sea Sheppard aren’t concerned with ‘sustainable’.  They’re more in the ‘Thou Shalt Not’ mode.

    Still, if the US 13th Amendment applies to Orca, then, presumably, so does the 2nd. Give the oversized dolphins frikkin’ laser beams for their frikkin’ heads, and we’ll see how sustainably they’ll hunt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/WiseFromWithin Matthew Lee Morgan

    @michaelbirks:disqus , we already provide the legal privileges of “personhood” to non-human entities that are amoral and driven at their core to profit at the expense of others (i.e. large corporations)–not to mention corporations exist more as a figment of our imaginations than they do as something tangible, because they are deliberately designed systems; why not give personhood then to a living being that is conscious/self-aware, intelligent, able to feel pain, fully tangible, and clearly living in a cage having done nothing wrong.

    I think PETA’s real purpose was to draw national attention and drum up support for their cause by getting a lot of (free) press coverage (yes I know it still cost them lawyer and court costs). It’s a smart play though, because the old way of advertising for the cause can’t penetrate deeply and broadly enough into the short-attention-span national awareness these days.

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    It’s certainly not a bad way to get people thinking about it and discussing it, rather than not thinking about it at all. 

  • http://www.whalefacts.org/killer-whale-facts/ Lila

    This was def an interesting case.

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