The government came to take his research. So... he dumped all of it to the internet. Blogs, social media, email, torrents, deep web, forums, etc. Included are the instructions for, using readily-available parts and resources, changing the DNA of a human being into something else. At-home, do-it-yourself, species-reassignment surgery. A number of reference DNA examples, mostly anthropomorphic animals, are given to boot.

People start changing themselves into these "furries" but retaining their intelligence. Could it practically be made illegal to do so? If so, then what could any legal discourse be, assuming that the procedure is irreversible? How would the United States react?

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    $\begingroup$ Every country has their own legal system. Can you edit your question to clarify which legal system you are asking about. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Jan 1 '18 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you think that it would it be made illegal? It sounds like harmless fun. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 1 '18 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ after changing their genome, they would be incompatible with the rest of the human race. If they would stay fertile and could make a mutated human-animal hybrid child, I think most goverments would start to treat is as a high risk STD. (So to wipe out furries, you need to make their delusions a reality.) $\endgroup$ – Nuloen The Seeker Jan 1 '18 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ This is unprecedented so legal questions kind of don't make sense. The premise also doesn't make sense. Changing the DNA might not accomplish what you think it does. It would either kill the victim or if magically it didnt, do nothing at all. It's basically suicide or a waste of time. Look how the law deals with either $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jan 1 '18 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site, Derek. Please note that questions along the lines of "How would society respond to X?" are almost universally closed as being too broad for the Stack Exchange Q&A format. If you haven't already, feel free to take the tour to get a better understanding of the site. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 2 '18 at 4:33

Most laws and legals systems start with the unstated presupposition that they apply to Homo Sapiens living within the jurisdictions. Computers, animals, works of art etc. are treated as property, and are not considered to have rights or agency in the same sense that human beings do. This is true even if we know through observation and experience that dogs, great apes and other animals do have rudimentary forms of agency.

Now this is currently accepted since while dogs or advanced neural network computer systems are "smart", they do not have the full spectrum of intelligence needed to be able to enjoy all the rights or exercise the duties of citizens who do have rights under the law. This also applies to children and people incapacitated because of mental illness or developmental issues.

The problem is since much of this is "unspoken" and there are few qualitative definitions of intelligence or what it actually means to be human. This may become a real life issue in a few decades when true AI appears, and likely if humans ever start tinkering with their genomes to create post-human creatures.

So long as the humans retain the actual levers of power, they can legislate whatever rights or restrictions they want on AI or post-humans, and if they are in a minority, there is little they can legally do about it. Should they try to do something about it through violent action, they will be at the wrong end of legalized use of force and suppression to end the insurrection (since that is what it will be considered).

So from a world building POV, the introduction of this sort of genetic engineering would most likely be met with revulsion and legal restrictions. People who are genetically modified beyond some sort of accepted "medical" reasons (defined by law) could find themselves outlawed, deprived of property and effectively becoming wards of the State or property of whoever is deemed to "own" them. And if they use their "animal" natures to fight, then they may be subjected to hunting by the authorities, or worse yet, have bounties placed upon them so ordinary civilians can hunt them for sport.

The idea of a "civil rights" movement for modified humans might be delayed or even aborted should the modifications be extreme enough to make it difficult to identify modified people as "human". Indeed, other genetically modified humans who look human and AI might make this revulsion work to their advantage, getting humans aboard giving human looking modified humans or AI safely encased in a computer rights, while excluding non human looking modified humans. Humans themselves might exploit these sorts of divides to prevent modified beings capable of uniting and combining their abilities to upend the existing Homo Sapiens order.


Making it illegal is simple: write the law, now it's illegal.

Doing something about the law is another matter. Look at the U.S. war on drugs. They're illegal... and they're easily available and people use them anyway.

If the process is irreversible, then I can easily see intelligent furries being sent to the wild because, without opposable thumbs or the ability to communicate clearly, they have no useful place in modern society other than as pets. What's the point of an engineer becoming hoof stock? Such a person would suddenly have no value but to turn grass into fertilizer.

To make matters worse, without the ability to communicate, work within society, and be useful, the skills (including speech) would soon disappear. You may retain substantial insight, but were you later to be given your humanity back, there would be a good chance that you'd be a mute needing to retrained in almost everything (including using a toilet).

I expect that after a burst of popularity (because, if you'll all forgive me, idiot teens will be idiot teens forever) and reality sinking in (the adults left behind realizing that being an intelligent chipmunk is a lot different from cosplay), this would only be used as a method of suicide.