I have debated such things with some of my vegan friends: should vegetables be given legal person-hood? Of course, an affirmative is founded in vegetable sentience. If vegetables are sentient, then they, according to the UN charter, have the right to self-determine. I ask myself then, should Palestinians not have the right to legal vegetable-hood. Yes, it sounds stupid to even think of at first bite, but if you peel of the skin and pith you begin to realize that the whole idea of legal person-hood is speciesist and we would serve the unambiguous idiology of justice to question the language we bow to.
“But vegetables don’t have neurons” is a common argument for why its ok to eat vegetables and not ok to eat animals. For me, survival is a good reason to eat, period. It’s not what you eat, its why you eat it and where it comes from. That’s my parable paradigm. What is yours? Because plants don’t have the same structures humans do to conduct information is no good cause to assume they don’t have some apparatus to conduct information from one place to another, register it, respond to it – in some cases to engage or avoid things we associate with pleasure or pain.
I know humans are still struggling with legal person-hood for any other-than human species. To ask people to accept monkeys and turtles as people is asking a lot. It is a big stretch of the moral imagination arc somewhere over the rainbow outside of the comfort zone of an identity that exists on its better-ness because of other-ness. Yet, within this context we can see that when it comes time to compare ourselves to wombats and groove billed anis, all of a sudden we are all one as a species and can stand together in solidarity (perhaps as a species belligerent occupant to the earth). This speciesist perspective is then a unifying cause to champion racism, nationalism and, in some very strange sense, is the cause celebre for championing human rights and equality under the law to all those currently under a belligerent occupancy or under and kind of enslavement be it physical or mental.
In any case, what I’m getting at here is that it is way beyond anyone’s intellectual capacity at this point to realize that we might well just apply rights universally to all living beings – make it a part of our common culture and enshrine it in international law. We can think of the right to self determine as universal – and I don’t mean just universal on the tiny universe of earth. I mean, since the universe is vast (don’t hurt yourself trying to think about it too much) and it is a commonly accepted belief (yes, so common that you believe it too, now) that life exists everywhere where it can and that requires two things: a percolating solution (in our case, water), and a thermal threshold for certain reactions to take place that are not inherent to the environment (solution). These conditions exist all over the place and so life exists all over the place. To think otherwise is foolish because it would set your beliefs outside of the norm of indigenous beliefs (which is, by definition, just one small part of being a fool).
Good, Now that we’re all on the same page page we can agree that the words are somewhat interchangeable. I now can claim I have the self evident right to legal kangaroo-hood. You, dear soul, can get down with your vegetables in a state of pure existential existence-hoodedness and, yes, the Palestinian people most certainly have the right to declare themselves as possessing the right to legal vegetable-hood. Why not?
Since corporations have such rights, too, they must have some homologous structure to a nervous system and, I suppose, a set of organs and systems complimenting all those structures necessary for survival. I can see it now, there will be fortune 500 companies filing for the right to legal asshole-hood.
Pass the hummus, please.