September 10, 2013
I would really enjoy discussing the definition of legal “rights” with these people. The Boulder Rights of Nature organization in Boulder, Colorado, seeks to establish rights belonging to nature itself as a means to protecting the environment. As a legal matter, it’s difficult to see how these “rights” could be enforced, given the lack of legal standing (one generally cannot sue to enforce someone else’s rights unless one has a special relationship with the other person, and since the rights here would be asserted against property owners to prevent them from “harming” the natural beings on their own property, it is difficult to conceive who besides the property owner could have that “special relationship”).
But leaving legal standing aside, this could get interesting if it gains any traction with the media. A few years ago, I wrote on this blog that the intentional killing of any human organism (including the pre-born) should be illegal, and a reader objected that I was imposing my religious beliefs on other people. He urged that one cannot grant “personhood” to an unborn human because other people do not believe that unborn humans are “persons.” I disagreed, of course, and argued that the granting of rights and “personhood” to a human being comports with justice and also is not religious. The Boulder Rights of Nature organization helps prove my point. That organization is not “religious” as far as I can tell. If a law granting “rights” to nature (the trees and flowers) is irreligious, a law granting rights to preborn humans is not religious, either.
In that vein, I especially love this quote from BRON’s proposed draft Sustainable Rights of Nature Ordinance:
While not eliminating property ownership, these new laws seek to eliminate the authority of a property owner to destroy, or cause substantial harm to, natural communities and ecosystems that exist and depend upon that property.
Could we not draft a similar law stating, “while not eliminating a woman’s dominion over her own body, this new law seeks to eliminate the authority of a person to destroy, or cause substantial harm to, natural human organisms that exist and depend upon her body”? Are preborn humans less deserving of protection than trees? If the Sustainable Rights of Nature Ordinance is not inherently unjust, could a law preventing the intentional killing of innocent preborn humans ever be unjust?