Letter: Monkeying around with the facts

Re: Will Coggin’s July 30 column “Animal lawyers dog the legal system”: This is nothing but misleading.

Coggin bases his scare tactic-laden article on the efforts of the Nonhuman Rights Project and its president, Steven Wise. He misrepresents the goal of the organization, which is simply to help certain nonhuman animals gain the status of a “legal person.” In other words, establish that some animals have some legal rights. In America, even corporations can have legal personhood. But you won’t hear Coggin mocking that concept.

In fact, Coggin represents The Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit organization long criticized for its close ties to alcohol, tobacco, and meat corporations. The leap Coggin makes from Wise’s battle to save sentient creatures from a lifetime of suffering in captivity to the idea that activists are coming to take our pets away is absurd, but standard fare from The Center for Consumer Freedom.

Coggin paints a picture of a legal system in shambles due to the increasing number of law students and lawyers willing to consider animals’ place in the law. In fact, we should be heartened by the rapid growth of the field of animal law. What society values, what science tells us, and what the law says don’t always line up, and what Coggin calls “radicalization” is actually a sign that the law is growing and evolving as any healthy field should.

Stephen Wells, executive director

Animal Legal Defense Fund