By Anjuli Kolb

"‘This is an historic day,’ Kerr said. ‘For the first time in our nation's history, a federal court heard arguments as to whether living, breathing, feeling beings have rights and can be enslaved simply because they happen to not have been born human.’ …. [Sea World attorney] Shaw warned the ruling would have profound implications … ‘We're talking about hell unleashed,’ he said.” —CBS News, February 7, 2012, reporting on PETA attorney Jeffrey Kerr and his 13th amendment lawsuit on behalf of five killer whales

“Dr. Navarre refers, in his work on excommunication, to a case in which anathemas were fulminated against certain large sea-creatures called terones, which infested the waters of Sorrento and destroyed the nets of the fishermen. He speaks of them as ‘fish or caco-demons’… and maintains that they are subject to anathematization not as fish, but only as devils.” —from E.P. Evans' 1906 study Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals: The Lost History of Europe’s Animal Trials

“…as for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror, and could still be social with it—would they let me—since it is but well to be on friendly terms with all the inmates of the place one lodges in.” —Ishmael, in Moby Dick (1851); part of this passage is cited in D. Graham Burnett’s new book The Sounding of the Whale

Let Me Recite What History Teaches (LMRWHT) is a weekly column that flashes the lavalamp, gaslight, candlelight, campfire, torch, sometimes even the starlight of the past on something that is happening now. The form of the column strives to recover what might be best about the “wide-eyed presentation of mere facts.” Each week you will find here some citational constellation, offered with astonishment and without comment, that can serve as an end in itself, dinner party fodder, or an occasion for further thought or writing. The title is taken from the last line of Stein’s poem “If I Told Him (A Completed Portrait of Picasso)."

Image: Autocowrecks