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Animal-Rights Terrorism

posted: 4.15.13 by Donna Winchell

I wasn’t even aware there was such a thing as animal-rights terrorism until one of my sons read about it for an assignment. In fact, he read a pair of  essays, one on each side of the question Is “Animal Rights” Just Another Excuse for Terrorism? The first, John J. Miller’s “In the Name of the Animals: America Faces a New Kind of Terrorism,” laid out very rationally how far animal rights activists sometimes go in support of their cause. The second author’s subjectivity is apparent from his title: “Dispatches from a Police State: Animal Rights in the Crosshairs of State Repression.”  It was a good exercise in contrasting slanted language and objective language. It was also a good exercise in recognizing warrants.

Miller explains how far animal rights activists have gone in their attacks on one particular company, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), which uses animals in experimentation. Not only did they attack the company, intentionally overloading its server, for example, but workers at home, vandalizing their cars, spray painting their houses, and throwing rocks through their windows. They went further to attack any company that had anything to do with HLS, and employees of those other companies. For example, they smoke-bombed the office of the insurance company that covered HLS, and they harassed people who worked for the insurance company, picketing their homes and making threatening late-night phone calls.  These were people who had nothing to do with  HLS other than working for a company that did business with  HLS. The activists’ basic philosophy when it came to protecting animal rights was anything goes or, more explicitly, the rights of animals to live and not be abused in the name of research overrides the rights of humans to live in peace.

The author of the second article, Steven Best, is one of the activists. He calls our country “post-constitutional America” because the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act criminalized “animal enterprise terrorism,” or “any politically motivated activity intended to obstruct or deter any person from participating in any activity involving animals or an activity involving natural resources.”  There may be some legitimate cause for concern about the broader implications of that act, but Best loses the sympathy of all but the most exteme of reader as he goes on to posit animal rights as only the next step in the “great abolitionist struggle of past centuries and . . . the abolitionist movement of our day.”   He writes, “Animal liberation is in fact the anti-slavery movement of the present age and its moral and economic ramifications are world-shaking, possibly more so, than the abolition of the human slavery movement.” And this: “Animal liberation is a direct attack on the power human beings . . . have claimed over animals, since at least the dawn of agricultural society ten thousand years ago.”  Think about the assumptions that underlie such logic.

[Photo: Lab Mix by jeffreyw]

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