Letter: At Least They Have Hearts and Brains

To the Editor:

Regarding your March 3 commentary “Beasts on Trial: The Case for the Moral Agency of Animals”: It should come as no surprise that pigs, goats and their ilk were once afforded judicial trials. Is this any more shocking than what occurred in our current age when the U.S. Supreme Court and the most recent Republican presidential aspirant both declared “corporations are people”? At least our furry farmyard friends have real hearts that beat, real blood that spills and brains that think. Corporations, non-corporeal entities conceived by legal construct and birthed by documents of incorporation, are created simply to make money and not to make moral decisions. We too infrequently hold corporations morally accountable for their transgressions and too few of them see the inside of a courtroom for the human injuries they cause. Farmyard animals have no less moral agency than the amoral tax-evading multinationals that run the world’s economy. They have never fleeced someone on a mortgage, have never brought the world to the edge of economic collapse by their greed, and have never spilled oil into pristine waters in the mindless search for more profits.

If corporations, lifeless concepts born of imagination, have the right to personhood, why shouldn’t sentient farmyard animals, born of flesh, have the right to due process?

Len Ziefert



Column: Justice for Beasts

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In the fall of 1457, villagers in Savigny, France, witnessed a sow and six piglets attack and kill a 5-year-old boy. Today, the animals would be summarily killed. But errant 15th-century French pigs went to court. And it wasn’t for a show trial — this was the real deal, equipped with a judge, two prosecutors, eight witnesses, and a defense …