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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today in Future History: June 26, 2097

Los Angeles, CA (FlashNews, June 26, 2097) -- After seven years of negotiation and lawsuits, the fundamental rights of the world's smallest and largest sentient non-humans were recognized today by California's highest court. In two separate rulings written by Judge Harold Tung of the California Supreme Court, Anthill CA-OR2748C and the city of Los Angeles are entitled to equal protection under the law and the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as "entities of special status."

A lawsuit filed by attorney Eric Lowe on behalf of "Angela", as the City of Los Angeles prefers to be called, claimed that the state was denying the city its rights to life and liberty by enforcing legal mandates that "artificially constrained city development in a non-selectively advantageous way," according to court documents. A suit filed almost simultaneously by Elise Van DeKamp claimed that the state was denying Anthill CA-OR2748C equal protection under the law by allowing developers to excise significant portions of its body -- the tunnels that compose the anthill -- to build a children's hospital.

Angela responded to news of the rulings with spontaneous parades and other activities that, though once considered human reactions separate from the city herself, are now accounted as a sign of the city's sentience. "Some people look at me as though I don't exist, and only the people who compose my body do," Angela said. "But I am an emergent phenomenon, and epiphenomenon, an entity all my own. I am not my people any more than you are your cells. The person speaking these words is driven by forces no more or less deterministic than those that control how your lips move. The people in my streets are like the endorphins in their brains, and after this ruling, we are all euphoric as one."

Angela's formal address was given through Mr. Lowe, who currently serves as her vocal organs. It was later followed by a repeated citywide chorus vocalized through many resident humans -- which Angela described as a "shout" -- of "I cheer because I'm here."

Anthill CA-OR2748C, nicknamed "Pete", has apparently formulated a statement about his ruling, but deciphering his chemical communications will take several more days, according to Jenny Alvarez, lead scientist at the Center for Aggregate Intelligence Research. "Communicating with aggregate beings is more complex than with humans," she said. "The cultures are more disparate and there's much more room for misunderstanding. We will not force Pete to work within the confines of other people's biases."

Not everyone agrees with the rulings. Chan Frederick, a lawyer for People First!, an organization that wants to recognize the rights of non-aggregate, traditional human life-forms only, is incensed. In a written response to the rulings, Mr. Frederick said, "Mr. Lowe shouldn't make the rest of us suffer just because he can't see the difference between something and parts of something." People First! intends to take the matter to the United States Supreme Court.

"This world is full of prejudice and unhealthy biases," Mr. Lowe responded, speaking on his own behalf. "The bigots are just going to have to get over it." Angela declined to comment.

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