Animal rights activists are going ape over the latest insanity bubbling up in Europe. The Telegraph (UK) reports that lawmakers in Spain’s Socialist majority caucus have proposed a law that “would eliminate the concept of ‘ownership’ for great apes, instead placing them under the ‘moral guardianship’ of the state, much as is the case for children in care, the severely handicapped and those in comas.”

This kind of proposal is the logical consequence of animal-rights philosophy that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States advocate in order to advance radical vegetarianism, and it’s perfectly nuts. No ape will ever snap out of its animal state and take up a career as an accountant or firefighter, while human beings have emerged from comas to do exactly that. Unlike a child, no ape “grows up” to go to college, and we suspect that Stephen Hawking would be pretty miffed if he were put under “moral guardianship” alongside a chimp. The Telegraph followed up its news story with a damning editorial:

[I]f animals do not engage in moral arguments or contractual relations, they cannot be said to have rights. Logically, chimps’ rights would involve being able to sue a chimp that bit you, and requiring the animal to understand and participate in the trial that followed.

The dignity of chimps is a decent human attitude, not an inherent simian attribute.

The proposal would also bar lifesaving medical research from being performed on simian subjects. We took animal-rights activists’ opposition to animal research to task in a series of advertisements targeting PETA, covered last week by The Washington Times:

“We’ve really followed the animal rights thing wherever it’s led,” [said a CCF spokesman.] “We want people to understand that the animal rights movement is a cancer on society.”