Human Rights Are For Human Beings

by Doug Patton


It seems that judges are now in the business of attributing rights to animals of the two legged and the four legged variety. They release child rapists on probation and give constitutional rights to terrorists, while meting out prison sentences for animal owners and parents who discipline their children.


The San Francisco based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just overturned the 22-year sentence of Ahmed Ressam, the so-called “Millennium Bomber.” Ressam, you will recall, was convicted of trying to cross into the United States from Canada with 125 pounds of explosives in the trunk of his car. Seems he wanted to give us a little Y2K surprise on New Years Eve 1999 until an alert customs agent stopped him.


Last year, Nebraska District Court Judge Kristine Cecava told convicted child molester Richard Thompson that his crimes “deserved a long sentence.” She then sentenced him to probation because he was “too short to survive in prison.”


Last week, another Nebraska man died in prison while serving a two-year sentence for beating his dog to death.


Meanwhile, a meddling Democrat in the California Legislature wants to ban all spanking of children under the age of four.


What is going on here?


A disturbing trend has crept into our societal consciousness in recent years. It is the tendency to bestow human rights on animals, while placing layers of new restrictions on the rights of human beings. A pair of recent headlines illustrates the point.


The first headline, “Man Who Beat Dog Dies in Prison,” from the Omaha World-Herald, tells the story of the Nebraska man who died in prison while serving time for beating his dog to death. Now before I get myself too deeply in trouble here, let me state that I think people who mistreat animals are cruel cowards. That said, I do not believe that any human being should be incarcerated for killing an animal. Severe civil penalties, such as stiff monetary fines, yes, but prison? I don’t think so. The only exception, in my opinion, should be if the animal is the property of someone else, and the value of the loss is such that the crime rises to the level of a felony.


It is important to remember that animals are property; they are not people. Animals, unless they live in the wilderness, belong to human beings, and therefore should not be endowed with human civil rights. Otherwise, what are the limits to which our courts should be allowed to incarcerate human beings for destroying them? If beating one dog to death is worthy of a two year prison sentence, what should be the sentence for killing five dogs? Ten years? And are all animals created equal? What about fifteen cats? Fifty-three parakeets? Would the destruction of two hundred gerbils justify a life sentence? If we continue down this ridiculous path, is there a point at which we should execute a human being for killing animals?


The second headline to catch my attention read, “California Lawmaker Seeks Ban on Spanking.” It seems that Democrat Sally Lieber, a California State Assemblywoman, plans to introduce a bill that would ban parents from spanking their children. The proposed measure would make it a crime in California to spank a child under the age of four, and the law would carry a punishment of up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.


Parental rights and property rights used to be sacrosanct in this country. Today, our legislators, and especially our courts, seem bent on turning the U.S. Constitution on its head in this area. Can you imagine a scenario whereby a terrorist and a child molester are on their way out of prison as a dog owner and a father who dared to spank his three-year-old child are on their way in? That is where we are headed. That is the future we are handing down to our children and grandchildren, and unless we stop this nonsense, they will grow up not knowing that human rights are for human beings.




© Copyright 2007 by Doug Patton



Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and public policy advisor. His weekly columns are published in newspapers across the country and on selected Internet web sites, including Human Events Online, and, where he is a senior writer and state editor. Readers may e-mail him at

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