Plant Rights

An ethics panel commissioned by the Swiss government has determined that the arbitrary killing of plants is morally wrong. From The Weekly Standard:

A "clear majority" of the panel adopted what it called a "biocentric" moral view, meaning that "living organisms should be considered morally for their own sake because they are alive." Thus, the panel determined that we cannot claim "absolute ownership" over plants and, moreover, that "individual plants have an inherent worth." This means that "we may not use them just as we please, even if the plant community is not in danger, or if our actions do not endanger the species, or if we are not acting arbitrarily."
The committee offered this illustration: A farmer mows his field (apparently an acceptable action, perhaps because the hay is intended to feed the farmer's herd--the report doesn't say). But then, while walking home, he casually "decapitates" some wildflowers with his scythe. The panel decries this act as immoral, though its members can't agree why.

The author of the Weekly Standard article appears to have some kind of conservative agenda. (He's a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, which makes him suspect in my book.) However, the basic facts about the Swiss ethics panel appear to be correct. The text of the panel's report, titled The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants, can be downloaded as a pdf file.

From my point of view, what makes this interesting is that it represents the fulfillment of a satirical prophecy. Back in 2004 I posted about the spoof Society for the Protection of Plants. It only took four years for the satire to become true.

Food Law/Police/Crime

Posted on Tue May 13, 2008


There's only one proper thing to do here, clearly. Give plants the vote...NOW!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed May 14, 2008  at  01:30 AM
That's not such a radical suggestion, CMG: plenty of current voters are pretty brassic (in the non-lint sense).
Posted by outeast  on  Wed May 14, 2008  at  02:33 AM
More than that, I will vote FOR them. They would do much less harm than the current MP-s.
Posted by bootes  on  Wed May 14, 2008  at  08:57 AM
Great! Now I can argue with those annoying vocal vegetarians who think they are morally better than the rest of us.
Posted by Captain Al  on  Wed May 14, 2008  at  09:01 AM
I'm surprised at the Swiss.

Unless it's a cunning plan to make people stop eating vegetables and eat more chocolate.
Posted by Renquist  on  Wed May 14, 2008  at  09:11 AM
I have images of "Day of the Triffids" running through my mind.
Posted by KDP  on  Wed May 14, 2008  at  09:14 AM
Don't forget the original version of "The Thing." The monster sure looked like a man, but he was more vegetable, an "intellectual carrot," according to one character.
Posted by Comstock  on  Wed May 14, 2008  at  10:51 AM
Little-known fact:

The "intellectual carrot" in the original version of "The Thing" was played by James Arness.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed May 14, 2008  at  06:55 PM
I totally support plant rights. Plants generously provide us with the very air we breathe and in return we allow them to suffer unnecessary pain and anguish just because they are different to us? How is that fair?

Some of the biggest abusers of plants are ungulate herbivores like sheep, cows and deer. So consequently, I am going to eat more lamb, beef and vennison from now on.
Posted by David B.  on  Thu May 15, 2008  at  03:52 AM
Joke or not, plants ARE living beings. Just like animals, fungi and bacteria. Have some people never heard about them growing, flowering etc ?
Posted by Christophe Thill  on  Thu May 15, 2008  at  04:39 AM
"I said Feed Me, Seymour"! The Declaration of Independplants. Yes, CMG, the voice of Audrey II was Levi Stubbs, and inside, moving the rubber tendrils was Miss Kitty. Or was it Doc? I forget
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu May 15, 2008  at  08:52 AM
T'wasn't long ago, I saw the WHOLE series of posters that "Society for the Protection of Plants" ran... Some of them were quite amusing (plants striking back, and all). nice if Alex could find them, as, after I emailed them when they first came out, I never saw them again... I believe there were about 10 posters in all...
Posted by Christopher  on  Thu May 15, 2008  at  06:30 PM
I'm with you David! Fire up the grill and pass the Worstester... werzchester... Worcestershire... The A1 sauce!
Posted by Captain DaFt  on  Thu May 15, 2008  at  07:05 PM
What about the rights of malaria-carrying mosquitoes? What about the rights of malaria organisms? What about mankind's wholesale slaughter of the smallpox virus? All life is sacred ... yeah right.
Posted by Wendy Collings  on  Thu May 15, 2008  at  08:42 PM
And what about the mass murder caused by spermicides, Wendy?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri May 16, 2008  at  02:13 AM
This may be the excuse for not mowing the lawn I've been searching for.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Fri May 16, 2008  at  10:07 AM
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