From each ape according to his ability

I was discussing animal (and plant) rights in class yesterday, and now I see that the Spanish Socialist Party wants to make apes legal persons (via Althouse):

The Spanish Socialist Party will introduce a bill in the Congress of Deputies calling for "the immediate inclusion of (simians) in the category of persons, and that they be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings." The PSOE's justification is that humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans.

This is precisely the problem with using the "percent similarity" -- should baboons be included? What about chickens? Should they have rights according to their "percent similarity" to us? Mushrooms?

A pox on everyone who repeats the "percent similarity" meme!

UPDATE (4/26/2006): A reader writes:

Sorry to bother you, but the chimp story is not true. Just media making a story more interesting:
[This linked story] contains words from the minister Cristina Narbona (environment cabinet):
"En ningún caso ni se crean ni se defienden derechos humanos para los simios; en ningún momento se habla de otorgar derechos humanos a los grandes simios", reiteró.
Which can be translated as: "In no case we will create or support human rights for the simians; at no time do we talk on giving human rights to the big apes", she said.

A pox on sensationalist simian stories!