Don't let it be said I can't poke fun at environmentalism. A Portland City Commissioner has been lambasted recently, mostly by the right, for suggesting our trees should have rights--most notably, old growth trees having the "right" not to be cut down. While I think it's fine to reasonably preserve old growth trees in city limits, saying it is because they have an inherent right to exist opens it up for some funny extensions of that logic and conflicts with my idea of what rights actually are and where they come from (note: it's not god giving us carte blanche dominion).
The Oregonian's conservative columnist David Reinhard wrote about it today:
If trees have rights, on what philosophical grounds can we deny shrubs, bushes and rocks rights? They can be as "incredible" and "show-stopping" as a mighty oak, a towering elm or a broad maple. If you go in for extending rights to nonhumans, isn't Saltzman guilty a kind of speciesism?
Or some other "isms"? Lookism and ageism? After all, it's hard to believe that Saltzman wants each and every tree to have rights. It's likely that only gorgeous trees will get them. Or heritage trees that, as Saltzman said, "have been there long before us." But shouldn't plain or young trees have rights, too? At least in the moral universe of our Thomas Jefferson of trees?
The punchline refers to a recent dispute about renaming a road after Ceaser Chavez that brought the city to DEFCON 2 levels of confrontation. Talking about which letters get grafted to a tin sign apparently riles folks up. So do trees.