In the March 7, 2022 issue of The New Yorker appears a fascinating article, “The Elephant in the Courtroom” by Lawrence Wright, “A curious legal crusade to redefine personhood”.
The title is a play on the title of a highly recommended documentary, “The Elephant in the Living Room”, about human beings who keep wild animals at their homes and wild animals who live near human homes.
The article concerns Happy, an Asian elephant who was housed in the Bronx Zoo, kidnapped when she was a baby from her dead mother. The lawsuit asked to move Happy from the zoo to an elephant sanctuary. Happy was one of seven baby Asian elephants kidnapped from their dead mothers; the poacher named them for Snow White’s seven dwarves. All were moved to zoos and circuses throughout the world; all to a bad end except for Happy.
Nonhuman animals have been considered “things”, without legal rights, much as African slaves in America until the Civil War and married women up until the early twentieth century were considered “property” or “things” of white men. The article at length discusses the thinghood versus personhood throughout history.
These days, governments all over the world have recognized the legal rights of nonhuman animals—India, Costa Rica, Hungary, and Finland have recognized the legal rights of dolphins and orcas. In Argentina, a judge ordered an orangutan named Sandra be moved from solitary confinement in zoo to a sanctuary.
The list goes on. Some humans are waking up to the sentience of nonhuman animals, but not all humans. Legal scholars have plenty of arguments against recognizing legal rights of nonhuman animals, which are set in the article.
In the most egregious case, in 1906, a human being was put in on display in the Bronx Zoo in the primates’ hall alongside with an orangutan. He was Ota Benga, of the Pygmy tribe, captured in the Congo. A number of ministers protested the exhibition and sought his freedom, but not before Benga committed suicide.
The article goes on at length to discuss animals used to perform dangerous tricks in circuses and  marine parks, animals used in “medical research”, and animals born and raised for human food.
Highly recommended for readers who care about sentient nonhuman animals, the history of persons who were considered “things”, and the fascinating account of legal arguments for and against legal rights for nonhuman animals.
In the same issue of The New Yorker appears a review of a new biography of Charles Dickens, “The Inimitable” by Louis Menand. Dickens liked to read his works aloud dramatically to an audience, he dressed well, lit up a room whenever he arrived, had ten children with his wife, and then fell in lust—I mean, love—with seventeen-year-old woman when he was forty-five and supported her. He died of kidney failure when he was fifty-eight. He sure knew how to write for the public, hundreds of thousands of his books sold in the week in which the books were offered. He was the most successful author (maybe) of all time. Highly recommended for Dickens’ fans and readers who care about the life of a creative person.
So there you have it, my friends.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US, in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is in Print as a beautiful trade paperback on November 17, 2020 in the US
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CHROME is in U.S. print as a beautiful trade paperback. Also in U.K. print, in German print, in French print, in Spanish print, in Italian print, and in Japanese print. New! Now in Print in Australia at in Australia
The ebook is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, India Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, and Mexico Kindle.
Summer of Love (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) is in print as a beautiful quality trade paperback in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan.
The Gilded Age (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, in Japan, and in Australia
The Garden of Abracadabra
(“Fun and enjoyable Urban Fantasy”) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan.
(“Highly recommended and very memorable.”) is in print in the U.S., in the U.K., in Germany, in France, in Spain, in Italy, and in Japan.
One Day in the Life of Alexa
(“[An] absorbing read with an appealing narrator and subtly powerful emotional rhythms.”) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories (“A must-read collection—The San Francisco Review of Books) is in Print in the U.S., in the U.K., in Germany, in France, in Spain, in Italy, and in Japan.
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