Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Anime Parliament: The People v. The Pokemon League
If you woke up this morning aching to find something that would challenge your threshold for Geekanerdiness, today may be your lucky day. This session of Anime Parliament took place at the New York Anime Festival over the weekend, and the main argument of the day concerned the rights of Pokemon. And as if the video alone wasn't enough to make your feeble mainstream mind squirm, hit the jump for resident Pokemon expert AHR's analysis of the argument...
The "Is Pokemon Training Animal Abuse" question is one I can remember debating on the playground. While I'm glad the Parliament saw fit to offer some protection against Pokemon abuse, it seems to me they reached their conclusion through a flawed argument. One reason offered for the establishment of Pokemon rights is that Pokemon can, through no extraordinary circumstances, reach human level intelligence. The only real evidence offered is the existence of Psychic Pokemon, as if innate psychic power could be equated with intellectual capability. Sure Psychic Pokemon can bend spoons with their mind, but can they understand math and science? Can they communicate abstract concepts and feelings, or produce art? Can they create functioning societies? As we've seen numerous times on the series and in the games, when left to their own devices Pokemon pretty much behave like regular animals do. The major difference between animal and Pokemon intelligence is that Pokemon can loosely understand English, and can therefore more or less communicate their wants and needs to humans. However, I don't see any evidence that their desires extend beyond food, shelter, kinship and a vague inclination towards either excitement or passivity. Accepting this, the laws that govern a Pokemon's right to self-determination need to be formulated along the lines of animal rights legislature, as opposed to imagining Pokemon are in some way the intellectual equal of human beings. I mean, people EAT Pokemon in that series. Those burgers and sushi the characters are always stuffing their faces with can't all be made of tofu.