Monkey Business in Spain

colson2Spain’s 1-to-nothing victory over Germany in the finals of the European Soccer Championship marked her first major title in 44 years. Well, now Spain has gotten the proverbial monkey off her back—just in time to make the monkey a Spanish citizen or the next best thing to it. The same week that Spaniards were busy watching the home team make soccer history, the Spanish Parliament’s environmental committee was busy making history of its own: It approved a series of resolutions that committed Spain to fulfilling the goals of the Great Apes Project. The stated goal of the Project is to obtain for “non-human great apes the fundamental moral and legal protections of the right to life, the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and protection from torture.” If this sounds like they want chimps, orangutans, and gorillas to be treated like people, well, that is exactly what they do want. One of those people who wants that is Princeton professor Peter Singer, who favors infanticide and the disposal of otherwise unwanted humans. Singer says, given the “rich emotional and cultural existence” of great apes, humans should extend them the “same considerations” they do to “other members of their own species.” This blurring of the line between apes and people was summed up by Pedro Pozas, the head of the Project in Spain. He called the committee’s vote “a key moment in the [defense] of our evolutionary comrades.” “Evolutionary comrades?” It is hard to imagine another two-word phrase that better encapsulates the power of bad ideas. Other Spaniards did not share Pozas’s revolutionary enthusiasm. The Madrid newspaper, ElMundo, asked why the government was trying to “turn the country of bullfighting into the principal defender of the apes.” It noted that the only apes in Spain were those “that could cross over from Gibraltar.” What’s more, given “the [economic] problems that Spanish farmers and fishermen are experiencing,” you would think that the government had more pressing priorities. The opposition Popular Party thinks so, too. It acknowledged that great apes had been mistreated, but that the solution lay in anti-cruelty laws and protection of habitat. It called the equivalence between apes and humans “impertinent” and “unserious.” Sadly, the measure’s proponents are very serious. Christians can support measures to protect great apes. And we can also, as C. S. Lewis did, question the morality of experimentation on animals. But that is not the issue here: What motivates the proponents is not so much the protection of animals—it is the diminution of people, the desire to see man put in his place as just another animal. And it is fitting that the current government of Spain would be the first one to take the plunge. As Reuters noted, the Socialist government has turned Spain, which did not even permit divorce until the 1980s, into a “liberal trailblazer.” From gay “marriage” to church-state relations, the Zapatero government is intent on re-inventing Spain. Or, in this case, even reinventing Spaniards, if we mean by “Spaniard” those whose moral and legal rights are guaranteed by Spanish law. Which leaves only one question: Are apes better goalies or forwards? Olé, indeed!  
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For Further Reading and Information
Learn more about the Great Ape Project. Also read more here. Donald G. McNeil, Jr., “When Human Rights Extend to Nonhumans,” New York Times, 13 July 2008. Martin Roberts, “Spanish Parliament to Extend Rights to Apes,” Reuters, 25 June 2008. “Spain to Recognize Rights of Apes?” Catholic World News, 27 June 2008. Thomas Catan, “Apes Get Legal Rights in Spain, to Surprise of Bullfight Critics,” The Times(London), 27 June 2008. “El Congreso Reconoce los Derechos a la Vida y a la Libertad de los Grandes Simios,” El Mundo, 25 June 2008. “Una ley muy mona,” El Economista, 1 July 2008. BreakPoint Commentary No. 951005, “Aping the Image of God: Are Great Apes Nonhuman Persons?” BreakPoint Commentary No. 030507, “Abusing Our Power: Do Christians Sanction Cruelty to Animals?” BreakPoint Commentary No. 051010, “A Really Big Deal: Comparative DNA.” Regis Nicoll, “Chimp Change: Evolution’s Underwhelming New Breakthroughs,” BreakPoint Online, 25 January 2006. Vicotoria Burnett, “Zapatero: Spain’s Bold Liberal,” New York Times, 10 March 2008. “Spanish Socialists Want Abortion Law Relaxed,” AFP, 5 July 2008.


Chuck Colson



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