Friday, February 10, 2012

My Generation 1: Judge Errs By Failing To Demonstrate Common Sense (Sea World Decision)

"Much learning does not teach understanding."  -- 
Herakleitos,  Fragment 16

Killer whales denied anti-slavery protection

By Lauren Steussy,, Feb. 9, 2012

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to give killer whales at SeaWorld constitutional rights.

     The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sued SeaWorld Inc. in San Diego on Oct. 6, 2011, for allegedly violating the anti-slavery 13th Amendment rights of orca whales.

        Monday, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller heard the case. Miller was the first judge to ever hear arguments over animals' constitutional rights.

      Miller did not immediately dismiss the case. Instead, he took it under submission Monday after about an hour of questioning.

   "As 'slavery' and 'involuntary servitude' are uniquely human activities, as those terms have been historically and contemporaneously applied, there is simply no basis to construe the Thirteenth Amendment as applying to non-humans," Miller stated in his ruling.

     SeaWorld filed a motion to have case dismissed even before the hearing.

     "Today’s decision does not change the fact that the orcas who once lived naturally wild and free are today kept as slaves by SeaWorld," a PETA spokesperson stated Wednesday after the ruling. "PETA will regroup and determine how to continue to work for the legal protection they deserve."

     In the courthouse Monday, an attorney representing SeaWorld said that PETA's arguments had "no place in a federal courtroom." He added that, regardless of whether animals were being abused, this was not a matter of constitutionality. If PETA were truly concerned about the well-being of the whales, they would file an Animal Welfare Act lawsuit, he said.

     "Orcas ... are not human beings. And I need not remind the court that African-Americans are," the attorney said, drawing on the intention of the 13th Amendment to abolish the slavery of humans.

     The official complaint filed in October in the U.S. District Court for Southern California lists five SeaWorld orcas as collective plaintiffs in the case. Three of those killer whales live in the San Diego SeaWorld park. The other two live in the Orlando location. 

     "They were ripped from their homes and families with whom they would have spent their entire lives," said Kerr. "They're denied everything natural to them. 

          They're confined in the equivalent of concrete bathtubs."


     PETA alleges that the two SeaWorld locations restrained and kept the whales in “constant involuntary physical confinement,” with no means to escape. The complaint also accuses SeaWorld of depriving the killer whales of “their ability to live in a manner of their choosing” and for “intentionally subjugating” the killer whales’ “wills, desires, and/or natural drives and needs of [SeaWorld’s] own will and whims.”

     In response, SeaWorld said the killer whales have no constitutional standing, and the lawsuit is a waste of the court's time.

  "PETA has once again showed that it prefers publicity stunts to the hard work of caring for, rescuing and helping animals," SeaWorld's spokesperson said in October.



Memo to Judge Jeffrey Miller:  

"The orcas at Sea World are slaves."



  1. Rather than go to Sea World, people would be far better enlightened and enriched if they were to go on a whale-watching cruise from Montauk or Nantucket.

  2. Of course they would. We've had the pleasure of seeing whales in Cabo San Lucas and finally last summer in Kennebunkport. It was unforgettable. I remember years ago in Los Cabos being fairly far out on the water seeing a seal just skipping along living its life. He/she reminded me of a NYC sidewalk pedestrian, probably late for a meeting, lost in thought. I understand the judge's decision from a legal point of view and think he was anxious not to be perceived as a bad and unthoughtful person. But on a basic common sense level, he is mistaken here. They're slaves all right -- nothing but slaves -- and their incarceration at Sea World is scandalous. Curtis

  3. Yes, it is so sad. I have never liked seeing any animals in captivity, but the circus animals in the water or on land are the most depressing.

  4. Nin, hi. I posted a reply but it seemed not to "take." No, this is dreadful and, although the judge is a little too old to be part of My Generation, he's younger than Mick Jagger. I think My Generation gives itself far too much credit for having heart and soul. I think that for the most part My Generation (Democrats, Republicans, Independents) is heartless, soulless and cruel. But I'm having a reasonably good day. You? Curtis

  5. Why thank you VERY much. Happy Thanksgiving to you. Curtis