Warner Todd Huston
Cuz animals are people too, ya know?
By Warner Todd Huston
December 23, 2009

I've always been amazed at liberals when it comes to their absurd penchant for acting as if animals are somehow just like people. This anthropomorphizing of the animal kingdom is fine if you are talking with kids, reading fairy tales, or creating entertainment, but when you are talking like adults about science or generally about animals there is no place for it. Animals are not people. It's just that simple.

But apparently we can't tell that to the left-wingers at NPR because on Dec. 22 on the Morning Edition program we got a pretty silly story about baboons and their "mystical moment" that beggers description.

The story is about a troop of 30 baboons in Kenya that was being observed by professor Barbara Smuts who was studying them for several months. As it happened, one day as Smuts was following the troop back to its sleeping area, the whole troops stopped dead in its tracks.

Here is how NPR described the incident:

    All of a sudden, Smuts says, "without any signal perceptible to me," every one of the baboons, the adults, the little ones, all of them, stopped walking and sat down on the edge of a pool of water. They not only stopped walking; they stopped talking. "Even the little kids, and you know kids are always making noises, but even they got quiet."

    The quiet was total. "I really wondered what was going on," says Smuts. The baboons didn't focus on any one thing. They all, or most of them, gazed down into the little pool right below them and hardly moved. There was no fidgeting, no touching or grooming, no discernible activity, just a communal "almost sacramental" contemplation. Smuts calls it a "sacred" quiet.

And here is the absurd way NPR wrapped up the tale:

    The big dangling question here is the oddball possibility that a troop of monkeys (baboons are not apes, they are more distant from us) might have the capacity for a kind of group expression of wonder or rapture or thanks. Only baboons know what they were doing during those moments Barbara Smuts saw, and though my broadcast partner Jad is right to be skeptical, I can't give up the idea that maybe groups of highly social, communicative animals might, on occasion, address the mysteries of their (and our) world.

Of course we don't know why the animals stopped and remained so quiet like that. But to ascribe a human-like sense of wonder, or "thanks" to them is simply ridiculous. This reading of what these monkeys were doing says more about the wistful, unscientific expression of the humans reporting the story than it does about animals' behavior.

But it is of a piece with the assumption that many of these people have of the "nobility" of animals and it reflects their sense that animals are equal to — and some even think better than — humanity. They are neither, however, equal to, nor better than, people.

But ascribing human-like sensibilities and worth to animals makes it easier to break down the proper relationship between us and animals and sets the stage for lowering humans to the point where animals get "rights" in our courts of law.

The truth is that monkeys and apes are not just like people. Ask Charla Nash about that one.

© Warner Todd Huston


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Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston's thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites... (more)

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