This is the question that animal rights activist Camille Marino must be pondering as she heads back to Florida with an order by Wayne Circuit Court Judge Susan L. Hubbard to remove threatening statements from her web site against a Wayne State Professor, for which she will face trial on May 2nd.
Marino’s lawyer, John F. Royal failed to convince the judge that the court had no jurisdiction over the case. He remained convinced that “Our position is that everything that was posted so far is protected by the First Amendment”. This is a view that other animal activists have expressed before.
Mr. Royal argued that O’Leary can’t prove his client wrote the threatening postings on the blog, including statements such as the professor is a “serial torture-murderer” and “a piece of human excrement.” Yet earlier Wednesday, Ms. Marino was once again expressing her view that researchers are “torturing” animals and that her job is to “use a sledgehammer and expose what they are doing.” The judge rejected this argument as well.
The judge’s decision is not surprising. Because of her hateful and threatening language, Ms. Marino has been recently featured in the Hate Watch column of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In that interview, she apparently acknowledged writing the statements Mr. Royal now seems to deny.
“I simply published information about a man who tortures dogs to death for money. He’s euphemistically called a researcher,” she said of the Wayne State professor. On NIO’s (Negotiation is Over) website, she described the researcher as a “Serial Torture-Murderer” while encouraging “[l]ocal NIO activists” to “show up at his home and snap pictures of his blood-money mansion and his miscreant spawn for publication.”
But, as we know now, O’Leary’s lab was inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare and an internal group. There was “no evidence of noncompliance in Dr. O’Leary’s lab with the federal policy on humane care and use of laboratory animals” in his important work to study cardiac diseases. In other words, despite Marino’s inflammatory words, Dr. O’Leary was doing the research society has charged him to do, according to the mandates of the Animal Welfare Act and the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
As Ms Marino heads home the judge’s advice to her was simple: “If you continue to engage in posting where you are threatening him and he’s in fear, you are violating the law.” But we know how she feels about the rule of law. In her recent interview with SPLC Ms. Marino offered that: “ [...] the law does not exist to protect the innocent. The law exists to regulate and enforce the agenda of the corporate industrial complex. Their job is to make money, to make money off the animal holocaust. When we talk about laws, it’s all relative [...]”
There is no doubt that Ms. Marino has been faithful to her deepest held convictions and principles in the past. We will have to wait and see if she decides to remove the threats from her web site, as ordered by a Judge whose job is merely to “enforce the agenda of the corporate industrial complex”, or if she will stick by her principles, challenge the order, and exercise what she and her lawyer are convinced are her first amendment rights.
In the meantime, society and hate-watch groups – the Southern Poverty Law Center has just published a new and more detailed report on NIO and its activities - will continue to view the actions of Marino and her accomplices for what they are: the organized harassment, intimidation and threats from animal rights thugs who cannot accept their failure to convince the public of their ideas by means of reasoned debate, and have decided that it is now time to force them unto others by means of threats and violence.
Speaking of Research