Posts Tagged ‘AEPA’

Green Is The New Red by Will Potter

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

I have long been a subscriber to Will Potter’s blog, Green is the New Red. It keeps me updated on recent attacks on freedom of speech and provides a watch on the injustice that is attacking our right to nonviolent direct action. I had just finished reading Dara Lovitz’sbook, Muzzling a Movement, and had researched the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (1992), followed by the chilling Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (2006), so I knew to what depths large animal agribusinesses would stoop to protect their financial interests. Activists were being arrested for hosting websites and for chalking slogans on the sidewalk. Not only that, they were being placed in Communication Management Units (CMUs) to further isolate and penalize them for their nonviolent beliefs. And they were being labeled terrorists, a word that has long-term consequences for anyone convicted of it.

Potter weaves a fascinating tale that goes between actual terrorist attacks, such as the ten nail bombs exploded in Madrid, and the desperate acts of activists frustrated with a world in decline, including arson and targeting of individual exploiters and their families. As someone who is invested in peaceful, nonviolent activism, some of the reported efforts discussed in the book seemed sadly misguided; even some of the activists who once participated in arson now regret doing so. But supporting certain tactics, or criticizing the same, are not the main thrust of Potter’s book. His book, like his blog, reports on a shift in attitudes towards activism and freedom of speech that predates the attacks on the U.S. that took place September 11th, 2001.

In the new world Potter explores, being vegan is seen as radicalism, there is guilt by association only, free speech is labeled as terrorism; and CMUs have been developed to keep prisoners, and aspects of the prison system, under wraps. Eco-activists are seen as a threat in two areas: profits and tradition. The use of intimidation towards activists also reflects a perceived threat to the existing social paradigm that is expressed by eco-activists and animal rights advocates. Mr. Potter has done an admirable job of detailing an environment in which those who are trying to save the natural world are at odds with those who want to pillage and destroy her. A very good read.





Activism, Not Terrorism

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Mission Impossible Theme

Good afternoon. As you know, the earth is currently experiencing the sixth mass extinction of species. The oceans are already devoid of most predatory fish and the entire ocean may well be a dead zone very soon. Clear cutting of ancient rainforests is killing off habitat and both animal and botanical species. Billions of animals are callously killed each year, leaving the water, soil, and air quality greatly diminished. Climate instability is increasing. Human overpopulation continues unchecked.

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to battle these forces using creative vegan education while avoiding capture and labeling as a terrorist.  This message will self destruct in 30 seconds.

Creative Vegan Education Takes Many Forms

Sometimes it feels like Mission Impossible, this work of vegan education.  There are so many creative approaches to education of the public. There are forums such as Animal Rights Zone and Abolitionist Approach. There are lectures given on college campuses. There are those who maintain vegan cooking classes, recipe blogs and information sites. Some folks are setting up vegan information tables, while others attend farmer’s markets with leaflets in hands. Some have tried going door to door with the vegan message. Others create informative and creative vegan videos.  Some are creating animated films or documentaries, helping to familiarize people with those who are vegan or with vegan ideals. Some host vegan radio shows. Some write books on the subject and promote their books on television and at bookstores. Some challenge misinformation about veganism in the media.  Some have even tried using street theater and open rescue to highlight the plight of nonhuman animals.  Some folks travel with a message of peace, teaching the importance of veganism in the process. There are a number of abolitionist vegan groups and meetups that are beginning to surface, too. Some of us podcast and try to share information and encouragement in that way. There are lots of ways to get the message out, but it is becoming more and more apparent that the message needs to be received by people everywhere. It is not an easy assignment, this idea of vegan education and the forces are many.

As many kinds of creative education as exist, there are also as many obstacles. The rise of animal welfare agency approved so-called “humane animal products” allows some in the public to believe commodified animals lead idyllic lives. They casually omit the reality of the slaughterhouse where they all meet their cruel and vicious demise.

There are forces at work to marginalize or minimize the work of activists, calling them names like extremists. Imagine, those who want all beings treated nonviolently are extremists, whereas those who want to use their poor young bodies to make a quick buck are considered normal. Some strange world we live in, huh?

Abuse as a Business Model?

A recent article in Mother Jones (How The Meat Industry Turned Abuse Into A Business Model) highlighted the built-in cruelty of a system that pushes for extremes, leading to more demands on workers, faster slaughter times, and leaves animals fighting for their lives to be seen as the enemy. Workers are often paid per animal. They need the animals to die faster or at least to be disassembled more quickly, even if they are still alive and conscious throughout the process. Who needs anything badly enough to participate in this? Even the workers are exploited, suffering injuries, illness and even death.

What do these animal exploiters do to protect themselves from anyone who might be angry enough to take action against them? When one sees the world as there for personal use, well, one exploits still other animals, of course. Here is what Jim Hightower has to say:

Hightower Commentary clip (guard dogs)

The name of that article in Mother Jones? How The Meat Industry Turned Abuse Into A Business Model. Pretty ugly business, truly. No wonder they want to keep that curtain tightly closed.

The Spanish Twelve, SHAC, and Freedom of Speech

Recently, twelve activists from Animal Igualadad in Spain were arrested because they were researching the mink industry. In the United States, activists have been arrested for hosting a website that supported underground activism, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.  The government was unable to capture those doing the actual underground work, so they went after the activists who voiced support for those trying to end animal exploitation. Extrapolating those who advocate for animal interests into acts of eco-terrorism has become Standard Operating Procdure in some quarters and nothing less than free speech is at risk. Governments have gone after those trying to protect the environment and those trying to protect animal beings. No matter where one stands on issues of direct action and illegal activities, we may all agree that our right to voice protest over the treatment of nonhuman animals is critical to educating the public. Take away free speech and the internet, and our voices will be of limited use.

I recently read Dara Lovitz’s book, Muzzling a Movement, which delineates the injustice of labeling animal activists terrorists, along with Will Potter’s book, Green Is The New Red. Most of us are aware that terrorists employ tactics of fear by striking at random targets. They use violence. Their goal is to create chaos and destabilize the governments of those they attack. They induce fear by killing random civilians. Animal and environmental activists, on the other hand, choose specific targets related to what they see as injustice. They do not use violence and have never caused the loss of life nor damaged property of anyone outside the animal or environmental exploiters. In fact, it is the animal and environmental exploiters who are usually the ones taking life unjustly. (Those involved in underground activities have used tactics such as arson to attack the financial viability of exploitive industries, but most social justice movements have those who chose tactics unappreciated by the majority. They have not, however, been labeled as terrorists.)

At stake is the well-being of multinational corporations and an international power grab. Such corporations have grown in strength during the last few decades to the point that they have almost no accountability.  Using their financial wealth, they buy their way into governments and put pressue on the officials they have bought to make certain they get their way. These bully tactics have caused the erosion of democracies around the globe. During a global recession, they cast themselves as the purveyor of jobs, thus the activists are erroneously painted as a threat to the global economy.  The fact that innocent beings are being tormented and killed is not of any significance to these folks. They need to keep the curtain closed so that more people do not find out what ugly business they purvey while keeping the heat on those that defend the innocent and try to open the curtain.

Environmental and Animal Activists as the Number One Domestic Terrorists

In the United States, we passed the Animal Enterprise Protection Act in 1992, followed by the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006.  Labeling activists as terrorists has serious consequences. Some have been forced into Communication Management Units, incarceration which further limits the activists’ ability to communicate with the outside world. They are unable after they serve their time to travel freely and remain on carefully scrutinized watch lists. Some of those so labeled have done nothing more than host websites or write slogans in chalk on the sidewalk.  These laws open up a loophole which means any effective advocacy which may hamper the ability of these corporations to make money exploiting animals might come under scrutiny and anyone supporting the actions of others who use direct action may be liable.  One only has to look at recent legislative attempts to make illegal any photographs taken at an animal enterprise to see to what extent animal exploiters are willing to go to protect their dirty business while sacrificing our liberties.

Here is a clip from an interview with Will Potter of Green Is The New Red blog and book fame:

Rabbi Moskow interview w/Will Potter Clip

Back to vegan education: it seems important that we learn what works most effectively in order to maximize our ability to spread the word about what is going on.  Filmmakers have helped with such exposes as Earthlings and The Animals Film. Undercover videos help, too, although there is the danger that the public will believe these are anamolies, not standard business practices. One need only look at the intense emotion elicited from the Four Corners film of cows slaughtered in Indonesia following live export to see that people initially look towards more humane practices rather than towards ending animal use. Is there a humane way to murder living beings? Even those who have witnessed lethal injection report it is horrific to watch. Killing is simply ugly business. Stealing one’s very life is the ultimate show of disrespect and injustice and there is no way to pretty that up or make it humane. Killing is killing.

Animal Rights Activism, in Context

A recent post, Rotten to the Core, by Dr. Roger Yates  of On Human Nonhuman Relations, states:

If new and recent  animal advocates could be transported back to the late 1970s and early 1980s just for a day or two, I think that they would see that things have changed and changed for the better.

Don’t think this is about complacency or sitting back – its about context.

We need to stay strong as activists of whatever stripe we chose to be. We need to work hard to maintain our freedom of speech and stand with those whose rights have been violated. And we need to make certain that we are free to continue providing as much vegan education as possible to the rest of the world. We need to seize every opportunity to highlight the plight of our fellow beings and awaken the sleeping majority to our natural connectivity with all other forms of life. Things are changing, even if entirely too slowly. As Dr. Yates said, its about context. We must remember that.

Vivos Inc. – underground hideouts for the wealthy (as referenced by Hightower Commentary)

Muzzling a Movement by Dara Lovitz

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Anti-terrorism legislation now includes those who fight for protection of  the natural world, whether they are called “eco-terrorists” or “animal rights extremists,” and Dara Lovitz has pulled the covers off the governmental game. “Labeling individuals as terrorists helps the government to legitimize the violation of individuals’ freedom of speech,” relates Ms. Lovitz in her book, Muzzling a Movement. Far from being a defense of violent activism, Ms. Lovitz’ book is instead a look into the insidious assault on the freedom of speech of activists in order to enable horrendous crimes by those who are making lots of money with their destructive practices. Once Ms. Lovitz began to understand how laws are failing nonhuman animals, it was not long until she realized laws were also being designed to silence those few brave souls who wanted to speak out on their behalf.

Dara Lovitz’s Book Reveals Corporate Manipulation, Conflicts of Interest, and Violations of Civil Rights

Why did Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, co-sponsor the AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act) along with the conservative James Inhofe (R-Ok)? Feinstein did not have any notable contributors from animal agriculture or the animal testing communities, but her spouse had ties indirectly to vivisectors.  Inhofe, however, had direct ties to Koch Industries, his largest contributors, who are involved with chemical processing and forestry products, and Inhofe has a history of support for animal agriculture. Even more troubling than the conflict of interest indicated by this legislation is the trampling of constitutional rights to free speech and criminalization of non-violent activism. Where terrorists tend to target innocent people randomly, animal activists only target those who are guilty of specific acts against nonhuman animals. Where terrorists tend to be violent and kill people en masse, animal activists have never killed anyone and use mainly peaceful tactics.  The majority of animal rights activists consider themselves part of a basic peace movement and want to actually end violence. So why the label terrorist?

Muzzling a Movement is About Silencing Free Speech

By labeling activists as terrorists, individuals face unfair and extreme penalties, have their ability to travel severely restricted, and may be confined and suffer deprivation and harrassment due to the label “terrorist.”  Ms. Lovitz takes a look at how corporate interests and protection of capital assets are protected by law rather than the rights of citizens or other sentient beings.  Some people convicted under the AETA have been confined in CMUs – Communication Management Units – where there is little contact with the outside world. Perhaps most unjust of all, those convicted under this statute including those who were working to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), may be forced to financially support the very horrific acts they have been arrested trying to prevent by assigning restitution to these corporations as part of their conviction.  Dara Lovitz has written a slender volume that is an easy read and filled with pertinent information for any animal rights activist. Included are a state-by-state list of laws that protect animal enterprise, the AEPA (Animal Enterprise Protection Act) and the AETA. Recommended reading for those involved in animal rights activism or anyone concerned about free speech.

Dara Lovitz is an Adjunct Professor of Animal Law at Temple University Beasley School of Law and the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University. She is a board member of Four Feet Forward and Peace Advocacy Network.