In what has to be one of the saddest days for the animals I have seen in a long time, fledgling political party, the Animal Justice Party, has succumbed to the same infliction that strikes a majority of so-called micro parties.
Aiming for the famed ‘viral post’ on social media by saying anything that will get clicks/likes/shares.
By attempting the viral post, the powers that be within the Animal Justice Party have shown how little they actually understand the big picture issues.
They have also ensured that nothing they do from now on can or should be taken seriously.
A Poorly Thought Out Comment
When I initially read the post on Facebook, I initially thought it was one of those comments that we all make that we end up wishing we didn’t, and quickly remove it.
Except that didn’t happen in this case, and the Facebook post was shared by another branch of the AJP, and re-tweeted by a different one.
The comment in question is
The Animal Justice Party is the only political party in Australia which seeks to provide #personhood to non-human animals under the law. #VoteAJP
Too Busy To Comment
Now, without wanting to fly off the handle myself and make a similar poorly thought out comment, I contacted the only sitting member of parliament the Animal Justice Party has, Mark Pearson, for comment.
I asked Mr Pearson if this was a new direction for the Animal Justice Party, and if it was, what are the implications of giving other animals “personhood” status.
I also asked him why the party has changed their direction from one that was inspired by, and followed Peter Singer, to one that was almost becoming Francione-ish.
Unfortunately for the animals, someone from Mr Pearson’s office responded saying that he did not have the resources to respond in detail to “out of state” comments.
Reading between the lines, the email told me a few things.
Firstly, it was the polite way of telling to <insert expletive>.
Secondly, it told me that he really has no idea what it means.
If this is the case, I trust Mr Pearson, and those in the AJP find the following useful.
Implications of “personhood”
Let’s say for a minute that other animals are granted ‘personhood’ status, what does it actually mean?
Would Mr Pearson be able to be charged with deprivation of liberty because he isn’t allowing his rescued chickens to roam freely, and locks them up at night?
What would happen if due to his negligence, such as being in parliament, one of them fell ill, and died? Would he then be charged with manslaughter, as it was his (in)actions that caused the death of that chicken-person?
What about if he is driving home from a late night parliament sitting and kills a possum?
Would that be a similar offence?
What about those people who have cat’s?
Can they legally continue to keep the cats, and feed them fish-persons or chicken-persons?
Maybe “Personhood” Is For Some Animals
Now, we are getting into the Orwellian part of the discussion.
The initial facebook post implied ALL other animals would be given “personhood” status. Though what if it is only some animals?
Which animals would be chosen?
They couldn’t choose chickens because that would be a huge cost to the economy to shut down chicken producing facilities over night.
They couldn’t choose cats and dogs, for the similar reasons to that of Mr Pearson and his chickens.
How about horses?
Probably not, as zoo’s would have to find a way to rehouse the primates they have.
How about dolphins?
Probably not again. Marine parks would probably shut down, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, though what would happen to the captive animals?
How about whales?
Definitely not here. If it were to happen, then Australia as a nation would be legally bound to armed naval vessels to Antarctica to protect the whales in Australian territorial waters. Once again, this wouldn’t be a bad thing either, though to do it, Australia would need to break a number of international treaties that prohibit the militarisation of that area.
If this ends up being the case, then they aren’t really an “Animal Justice” party after all.
Change Of Policy Direction
Does this “personhood” claim really indicate a change of policy direction for the party?
If the statements made are legitimate, I would say yes it does.
If you read the current policy page you will see it says.
Perhaps the simplest proposal would be to create a new legal category called ‘animals’. (4) Under this proposal animals would be subject to their own set of laws, independent of those that apply to property or humans. It would allow the implementation of laws similar to child custody laws for companion animals, and stronger protection laws for other types of animals.
The Animal Justice Party supports these efforts to create a distinct legal category for animals, and will work towards determining the most appropriate scheme for our Australian legal system. This policy position is based on the view that having their own legal status would encourage respect for animals as sentient creatures, and afford them greater protection under our legal system.
As I mentioned earlier, it indicates a move away from being Singer-inspired, to one along the lines of Gary Francione.
It will also be interesting to see if Mr Pearson stays with the party as I doubt that he has changed his views.
What Can We Do?
First off, if you are in NSW, contact Mr Pearson directly and ask him about this change of direction, and what implications it will have for the state, and Australia.
If you aren’t in NSW, then contact your relevant branch and ask the same question.
If you are in Queensland, you are lucky, the AJP isn’t registered here, and probably won’t be for some time so we don’t need to worry.
The next thing you can do is educate yourself about things such as this, and don’t wildly share poorly thought out Facebook comment because everyone else is doing it.
The animals deserve better than that, and the AJP in it’s current form.