Fish, animals, and US law

Offtopic: I find it striking that US laws distinguish between “animals”, “birds”, “fish” and “plants”, as if birds or fish were not animals. All countries classify animals in arbitrary ways according to their social utility: companion, work, laboratory, etc., and they establish the crimes according to the utilitarian value or the sentimental bond towards a human being, which determines the seriousness of the material or moral damages caused.

These classifications are as arbitrary and unfair as those that were once made about black humans or women depending on whether they were married or not.

There are already experts in the field of Animal Rights who pronounce themselves on it:


There are 50 states, each with its own laws; 4 non-state territories; a Military Code and a federal code. That makes it awfully hard to generalize.


I am not an expert in US law, nor do I pretend to be. I have not generalized. I have only pointed out one piece of evidence: 1) Animals are arbitrarily classified. 2) Animals have no legal rights and, therefore, they are listed as property.


Arbitrarily classified? Psittacines are covered by treaty and defined there. Not satisfied with the CITES definition? Other than at Customs and Border Protection, you won’t find much on the topic in Alaskan law. VI and Puerto Rican legislation undoubtedly address them.

You say you haven’t generalized, but you have: "US laws distinguish between (sic) “animals, birds, fish and plants.” So does science:

But there’s no need to hijack my thread.


Oh my God. I think you have a reading comprehension problem. I know there are stubborn people who like to talk nonsense, but this is on another level. I am a biologist. Please, spare me the trouble of explaining that birds and fish are animals and that, therefore, these laws are separating by non-scientific criteria between an element already contained in the container. Laws are not governed by science, but by logic or social interest. That is elementary.

It doesn’t give a damn where these laws are from or their application. That is not the point of the discussion. I will not answer again.

You started generalizing about American law in a thread devoted to mini-ToC’s in Scrivener.

The ad hominem attack, directed at a stranger, is feeble. Arguing from authority is much better, except when you admit that you don’t really know anything about American law, and despite your efforts at generalization, you claim you weren’t really generalizing, though you did feel privileged to comment on American law in a Scrivener support thread.

Surely there are fora where biologists can discuss matters of concern such as this one. I would simply ask that you visit such places and leave this thread alone.

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I have not spoken about America nor have I committed any personal attack on you or a fallacy of authority. I have explained each of my allusions.

I have pointed out that a wrongly titled section appears because it implies that birds and fish are not animals. I have pointed out that it also occurs in other countries. I have not said that it is an error of your country or of a state, nor that there are no differences between states. All of this has been your interpretations, the result of poor reading comprehension and a need to make meaningless inferences.

Privileged to comment on American law? What? You, surely out of ignorance and ethnocentrism, seem to have seen an attack on your sacred country or its all-powerful laws. I don’t give a damn about your country and disgusting people who are incapable of accepting the slightest remark.

Quoting your post in a Scrivener support thread.

It could be a language problem because English is not my native language (I think in my native language when I build sentences) or a problem of excessive sensitivity on your part.

If you had cited any other document, I would have said the same thing. I repeat, the country or the legislation is irrelevant. In my sentence, “US” is only the explicit referent to that expressive element to which I refer. If you had cited any other document it would have said the same thing.

Do you understand now? Or do you still think that birds or fish are not animals? In any case, it would not be necessary to visit a biology forum, but one of elementary education.

Off topic sub-thread moved to a more appropriate forum.

Please note that @pseingalt did not actually write the laws in question, and is not responsible for their content.

The need to differentiate legally between animals that fly, animals that swim, and animals that walk probably dates to the earliest days of the Republic, when biology was a much less mature science than it is now.

And finally, note that the distinction between fish, birds, and (land) animals is quite common in colloquial American English, and native speakers do not find it particularly troublesome.

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“Animal”, “animated”, both come from the Latin “anima” ; which meant soul, back then meaning : “that can move on its/his/her own will”.

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I did not know that. I understand, although it does not stop seeming surprising to me in a legal text (formal language). It reminds me of when many people ask if chicken or fish is considered meat for a vegetarian.

Thanks for the response and sorry for the inconvenience. I try to be polite and contribute to the issues. I only wanted to make an anecdotal mention and the user ended up asking me for a card (figuratively) to have the privilege of speaking about laws in the USA. I consider that very disrespectful.


Given your admitted lack of expertise in both US law and American English, this was perhaps an unfortunate way to embark on your digression. Even more so given that the original thread was a support request, not an invitation to debate animal rights.

I consider it much more unfortunate that the user sends me an image from Wikipedia on how living beings are classified to try to justify an idiomatic and colloquial use (something he hadn’t mentioned); not even seeing that this Wikipedia link doesn’t exactly support his justification.

I want to highlight, again, that if the user has made a xenophobic comment (as I have understood it), this is out of place. One problem that I have observed in this forum, since I registered a month ago, is that it seems populated by square minds and incapable of stepping out of their field or being respectful of others. Maybe it’s a cultural difference, stress or disdain for dialectic, who knows.


I think an objective reading of the thread would find quite a few disrespectful comments on your part as well. For that reason, I’m going to shut things down for the time being.

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This topic was automatically opened after 15 hours.

@Adrlopgal , I find that a lot of US law makes no sense.

Hello. If you like memes, I recommend you take a look at the Vegansidekick memes:

Don’t worry, I’m used to double standards. If we were discussing Human Rights, the matter would not be reduced to colloquial nuances of the language. If there were still laws in some country, at least in the West, that separated humans according to race, I don’t think Wikipedia links would be used to justify it.

I can definitely see that you are very passionate about animal rights!