“You and Me Baby Ain’t Nothing But Mammals”

Prof. Rick Hasen reminds us that the language of the law is not that of biology (go to the post for links):

The Southern Fried Scientist says a new Florida statute aimed against bestiality actually bans sexual activity between humans. The statute bans certain unapproved sex acts involving “animals,” and the scientist notes that humans are animals, ergo the statute bans unapproved sex acts involving humans. The assertion is getting some attention.

The problem with this interpretation is that the statute itself explicitly distinguishes between “persons” and “animals,” prohibiting sex acts between the two groups. A court facing a question of interpreting the statute would almost certainly read the statute’s use of the term “animals” as “non-human animals,” both to avoid absurdity and to conform with (1) the intent of the drafters; (2) the purpose of the statute; and (3) a commonly used (if scientifically inaccurate) understanding of the term “animal” to exclude humans.

For more on the title, see lyrics here, and video here.