Bob Barker Donates $1 Million to Northwestern School of Law

In March, Bob Barker announced he was donating $1 million to Northwestern University’s School of Law to endow a course devoted to animal rights law.

In the past, I have been accused by individuals from universities that Barker has donated money for implying that what Barker is buying is nothing more than indoctrination of their students in animal rights ideologies. I don’t believe that, and don’t think what I’ve written sustains such a view, but Bob Barker explicitly does believe that this is what he’s accomplishing with his donations. Barker explained to Chicago’s WABC,

Animals need all the protection we can give them. We intend to train a growing number of law students in this area of law in the hope that they will ultimately lead a national effort to make it illegal to brutalize and exploit these helpless creatures.”

And by brutalize and exploit, Barker means things like animal research. Barker had to do a bit of defending of his donation to Northwestern in light of ongoing federal investigations into alleged mistreatment of research animals at the university. Barker said he was unaware of the allegations or the specifics, but told the Chicago Sun Times that in general,

I’m well aware of the cruelties and the mistreatment of animals in animal research. But many good things will come of this [donation].

Over the past few years, Barker has donated $6 million to establish or enhance animal rights law curriculum at law schools at Northwestern, Yale, Columbia, Duke, Stanford, and the University of California Los Angeles.


Bob Barker donates money to university. WABC, March 22, 2005.

Barker has to bite his lip before giving NU $1 million. Chicago Sun-Times, March 23, 2005.

Memo to Steven Wise: Your Gaze-Inspired Intuitions Don’t Mean Squat

Steven Wise apparently has a new book out, Though the Heavens May Fall. The book is ostensibly about an 18th century British court case that helped turn the tide against slavery in that country, and of course you can probably imagine the sort of lesson that Wise wants us to take from that (if you can’t, its that such a similar case could turn the tide toward animal rights).

As animal rights activists go, Wise is relatively harmless. He has a complex model — widely criticized by other activists — that would grant certain species legal rights based upon how likely they are to have the sort of sense of self that human beings have. Its overly complex and unworkable in this writer’s opinion, but at least Wise doesn’t run around naked or make statements that killing those he disagrees with is not such a bad idea.

But he also used an argument that is simply stupid, unconvincing, and a bit out-of-character given Wise’s legalists arguments. He gave a speech at the University of Michigan in February in which he said,

Those of us who have had the opportunity to look a chimpanzee in the eye know that we are looking at a creature who is almost like us.

Both this — and its negation — are simply non-sequiturs that might reveal something about the personal preferences of the person making the statement, but add absolutely nothing to the debate about whether a chimpanzee or other animal is similar enough to human beings to warrant granting it rights.

And just to make clear, the following sentence is also irrelevant,

Those of us who have had the opportunity to look a chimpanzee in the eye know that we are not looking at a creature who is almost like us.

Wise should be smarter than this given the criticism he’s taken from other activists. If Joan Dunayer says something like,

Those of us how have had the opportunity to study a beehive closely know that we are looking at creatures who are almost like us.

Dunayer thinks bees should have rights. Wise does not. Presumably Wise does not believe intuitions based upon gazing at a beehive are enough to make a difference, so why does he pull out this canard in trying to convince us that his intuitions upon gazing into a chimpanzee’s eyes should do the trick?


Speaker: society should move toward granting animals rights. Pauline Lewis, The Michigan Daily, February 17, 2005.

Bob Barker Gives More Money to Establish Animal Rights Law Programs

Bob Barker was busy in December endowing yet more animal rights law programs at major universities.

Barker gave $1 million each to both the Duke University School of Law and Columbia Law School to create animal rights law programs.

At Duke Law School, according to a press release,

The Barker fund will support teaching at Duke Law School in the growing field of animal rights law, including opportunities for students to work for course credit on cases involving compliance with state animal cruelty laws and other forms of animal rights advocacy. North Carolina is the only state that allows individuals and citizens’ organizations to seek injunctions against violators of the state’s animal cruelty laws.

At Columbia, according to the law school,

Mr. Barker’s gift will support current initiatives into animal rights law, as well as open up possibilities in which the Law School will draw on its wealth of resources and contacts to develop future endeavors.

During the 2005-06 academic year, for example, the gift will be used to enlist the services of David Wolfson ’93, a partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, to teach a class on animal rights. Mr. Wolfson represents, on a pro bono basis, groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. He also has published on animal rights law and has taught classes on the subject at several law schools.

There was also speculation that Barker may donate a similar amount to the University of Michigan Law School.


Bob Barker awards Columbia Law School $1 million to support the study of animal rights. Press Release, Columbia Law School, December 2004.

TV Personality Bob Barker Donates to Duke Law School for Animal Rights Law Study. Press Release, Duke Law School, December 6, 2004.

Animal rights law program may expand. Laura Van Hyfte, The Michigan Daily, January 10, 2005.

Chimpanzee Collaboratory Wants Chimpanzees to Have Standing in U.S. Courts

Steven Wise garnered a fair bit of attention in April when his new group,
The Chimpanzee Collaboratory, launched its campaign to grant chimpanzees
standing in U.S. courts. If successful, this would allow animal rights
activists to sue medical researchers, animal entertainers, zoos and other
entities for violating the rights of chimpanzees in their care.

Wise summed up his view in Nature writing,

I say that a minimum level of autonomy — the abilities to desire, to
act intentionally and to have some sense of self, whatever the species —
is sufficient to justify the basic legal right to bodily integrity.

. . .

Such immunity rights as bodily integrity and freedom from slavery can
belong to human children, infants, the very retarded, the profoundly
senile and the insane.

And, of course, if a retarded child has a right not to be
experimented on, why not a chimpanzee?

This is old hat for Wise, but it was odd seeing Harvard Law professor
Laurence Tribe offering his support, however odd, to the Chimpanzee
Collaboratory. Unlike Wise, it wasn’t clear that Tribe had really thought
through his claims.

ABC News, for example, paraphrased Tribe as arguing that if a corporation
— which is certainly not a sentient entity — can have rights, can’t
animals? But this is an entirely specious argument since he only reason
that corporations have rights is that they are the results of the
collective action of rights holders.

The corporation known as The New York Times deserves to be protected by
the First Amendment, for example, because it is composed of individuals
each of whom also possess such rights.

The odd thing is that Tribe seems to have something entirely different in
mind than Wise. Tribe, for example, seems to think that granting legal
standing to chimpanzees would simply be a way to more vigorously enforce
existing animal cruelty laws rather than create legal rights for them.
Tribe claims, for example, chimpanzees that have legal standing could
nonetheless still be used for medical research.

And where is the Chimpanzee Collaboratory getting the money to pursue
this campaign? The Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes that Rob Glaser,
chief executive of RealNetworks Inc., has given $1 million in funding to
the group over the past two years.


Should we let chimpanzees sue? ABCNews, May 2002.

U.S. activists demand lawyers for chimps. The BBC, April 26,

Will chimps make chumps of us in court? The Seattle Post-Intelligencer,
April 30, 2002.

Prison Guard Convicted for Crushing Kittens in Trash Compactor

Ronald Hunlock, 47, was found guilty this week of aggravated cruelty to animals for crushing to death five kittens in a trash compactor at Sing Sing prison where he was a guard.

Hunlock discovered the kittens during a search of an inmate’s cell. Hunlock ordered the prisoner to put the kittens in the trash compactor as a punishment, but when the prisoner refused to do so, Hunlock placed the kittens in the machine and started it himself.

Hunlock’s defense argued that the facts were largely irrelevant since New York’s Felony Animal Cruelty Laws was excessively vague and overly broad. The judge in the case, Peter M. Leavitt, disagreed, finding the law consistent with New York’s constitution.

Hunlock faces sentencing on March 19, 2002, and faces up to two years in prison.


Conviction applauded by animal activists. Zachary R. Dowdy, Newsday, December 19, 2001.

Guard convicted of crushing kittens. Associated Press, December 18, 2001.

The Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights Law

Pearson Television, which owns “The Price Is Right,” recently donated $500,000 to the Harvard Law School to establish the Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights Law.

According to a Harvard Law School press release,

The Fund will support teaching and research at the Law School in the emerging field of animal rights law. The income generated by the gift will fund periodic courses and seminars at the Law School on animal rights taught by visiting scholars with a wide range of views and perspectives. In addition to classroom instruction, the gift will assist visiting and permanent faculty members in conducting research in this growing area.

Barker and Pearson Television executive Syd Vinnedge presented the gift to Harvard Law School Dean Robert C. Clark at a special ceremony at the law school.

“This fund will allow our faculty and students to explore in depth an emerging field of law that has ramifications in many traditional legal areas. We are grateful to Pearson Television for this gift — our students will benefit greatly from their generosity and from Bob Barker’s sensitivity to the issue of animal rights.”


Harvard Law School Receives Gift from Pearson Television to Fund The Bob Barker Endowment for the Study of Animal Rights Law. Harvard Law School, press release, June 14, 2001.