You just knew it was coming: At the request of the Swiss government, an ethics panel has weighed in on the "dignity" of plants and opined that the arbitrary
killing of flora is morally wrong. This is no hoax. The concept of what could be
called "plant rights" is being seriously debated.
A "clear majority" of the panel adopted what it called a "biocentric" moral view, meaning that "living organisms should be considered morally for their own sake because they are alive." Thus, the panel determined that we cannot claim "absolute ownership" over plants and, moreover, that "individual plants have an inherent worth." This means that "we may not use them just as we please, even if the plant community is not in danger, or if our actions do not endanger the species, or if we are not acting arbitrarily."
The committee offered this illustration: A farmer mows his field (apparently an acceptable action, perhaps because the hay is intended to feed the farmer's herd--the report doesn't say). But then, while walking home, he casually "decapitates" some wildflowers with his scythe. The panel decries this act as immoral, though its members can't agree why...
What folly. We live in a time of cornucopian abundance and plenty, yet countless human beings are malnourished, even starving. In the face of this cruel paradox, worry about the purported rights of plants is the true immorality.
What folly indeed! The basic folly is the fact that we don't know what rights are and why they apply only to man. Ayn Rand once wrote:
"The concept of individual rights is so prodigious a feat of political thinking that few men grasp it fully - and two hundred years have not been enough for other countries to understand it. But this is the concept to which we owe our lives - the concept which made it possible for us to bring into reality everything of value that any of us did or will achieve or experience." (A Nation's Unity in "The Ayn Rand Letter", II, 2, 3).
Rights are a necessity of human existence because man has free will and is capable of good and evil. When Individual Rights are upheld they serve as moral principals that help man live with one another on this earth in a rational and peaceful way. To give rights to animals and plants is to step toward the destruction of man because they trivialize the life of man by tying his mind and hands up in knots so that he does not know anymore how to live.