Maybe all we need to do is grant elephants the right to incorporate (and/or declare themselves part of a religion) and allow their "personhood" to flow through pre-existing mechanisms we already have for granting non-sapient entities rights and recognitions under the law.

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You act like this is so crazy. But in Medieval Europe, pigs, cows, goats, horses, and dogs that allegedly broke the law were routinely subjected to the same legal proceedings as humans.

For example, look at the case from the fall of 1457, where villagers in Savigny, France witnessed a sow and six piglets attack and kill a 5-year-old boy. Today, the animals would be summarily killed. But errant 15th-century French pigs went to court. And it wasn’t for a show trial—this was the real deal, equipped with a judge, two prosecutors, eight witnesses, and a defense attorney for the accused swine.

Judges routinely considered animals’ personal circumstances before making a legal decision. Take the exonerated piglets in the opening anecdote. The judge deemed them innocent not only on technical grounds (no witnesses came forth to confirm that the piglets attacked), but also because the pigs were immature, and thus poorly positioned to make clear choices. Furthermore, they were raised by a rogue mother, he indicated, and thus unable to internalize the proper codes of conduct for village-dwelling piglets.

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