Today’s Pop Quiz:
What kind of social activism involves:
- Stalking persons at home and screaming “murderer” through bullhorns
- Issuing “wanted” posters listing home addresses
- Thinly veiled (or not so thinly veiled) suggestions that their targets should be murdered
- Razor packed letters and death threats
- Adherence to the motto “by all means necessary”
And your choices are:
A. Anti-abortion extremists
B. Animal rights extremists
C. All of the above.
If you chose C, you were right!
Animal rights extremists and anti-abortion extremists are now sharing the same play book. Don’t believe us? Consider the following.
Wanted postersOn the left is a wanted poster featuring Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas physician who was repeatedly targeted by anti-abortion extremists. In 1993, Dr. Tiller was shot five times by a long-time abortion activist. He survived that incident, however he did not survive a follow-up attack in 2009. One Sunday morning while attending church in Wichita, he was fatally shot in the head.
The poster is eerily similar to one recently issued by animal rights extremists targeting two researchers at a research university that also happens to be in Kansas. In this case, we covered the photos because thankfully, the researchers have not been targeted with physical violence. However their names are being been heavily circulated by extremist groups.
We think the answer is very simple. Things go too far when you do not have a true public audience, when your acts have nothing to do with explaining the public the reasons behind your activism. Instead, your main goal is to threaten and intimidate others and submit them to your views by the use of violence and force.
Targeting biomedical researchers at their homes has been a tactic employed in recent years by those opposed to the use of animals in research. Researchers’ addresses are frequently distributed by extremists along with information portraying them as monsters who must be stopped at all costs, by “whatever means are necessary”. Sadly, this behavior has achieved its desired effect – researchers, families and neighbors are frightened. Are we over-reacting? Are these empty threats?
No, their threats are not empty. Home demonstrations are followed frequently by criminal acts that could easily become deadly.Above you can see depictions of clear criminal activity. Can you tell the difference?
On the top left is a photo of the “New Woman All Women” clinic in Birmingham, Alabama which was bombed on January 29, 1998 critically injuring a nurse. In 2005, suspect Eric Rudolph, also known as the Olympic Park bomber, pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state homicide charges linked to this act and others. He received five consecutive life sentences.
The other three pictures are all linked to animal rights extremism. The photo on the bottom left is from a security surveillance camera that captured one of two homemade bombs as they exploded approximately one hour apart at a biomedical company that uses animals. Investigators say the second intended to target responding police officers and firefighters. The suspect, Daniel Andreas San Diego remains on the loose.
The next two photos on the right column show a car and home that were firebombed at the University of California Santa Cruz. The researchers were targeted for their use of animals. The family was in the home when the firebomb was tossed at the house. Family members (including two small children) escaped through an upstairs window. It’s easy to see how that case could have been even more tragic. The person or persons responsible for these crimes have never been caught.
The Animal Liberation Front Press Office would like the public to consider such actions as mere “property damage”. Bombing a family in their sleep is merely attacking property? Mailing razor blades and death threats is civil disobedience? Of course not, these are all criminal acts that are encouraged, publicized and applauded by animal rights extremists.
Promoting and celebrating murder and hate
The rhetoric shared by those opposed to abortion and animal research is disturbingly similar.
I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many … I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives. – Dr. Jerry Vlasak, 2003 Animal Rights Convention presentation
“They are persons worthy of defense, like any born person, and they must be defended by any means necessary to protect them, including the death of the assailants, which in this case would be the abortionists and their direct accomplices.” – Rev. David C. Trosch, Roman Catholic priest
“It would be great if all the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories and the banks who fund them exploded tomorrow… Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.” - Bruce Friedrich, PeTA.
Bill O’Reilly repeatedly referred to Dr. Tiller as “Tiller the baby killer” in his show and, of course, quickly moved to abstain himself from any responsibility after the murder.
And the list goes on and on… Is this what our polarized society has come to? Is advocating for murder and hate an acceptable way to achieve social change? Is it truly free speech?
Most animal rights activists reject violence
And yet, it is clear that many animal rights activists do not support the activity of these extremists to achieve their social goals.
The same prominent philosophers that have argued for elevating the moral status of animals have argued against such violence, including Tom Regan, Peter Singer and Gary Francione. It is clear that those that wield firebombs in one hand and a copy of “Animal Liberation” in the other did not pass the cover of the book.
Gary Francione writes:
I am violently opposed to violence [...] the animal rights position is the ultimate rejection of violence. It is the ultimate affirmation of peace. I see the animal rights movement as the logical progression of the peace movement, which seeks to end conflict between humans. The animal rights movement ideally seeks to take that a step further and to end conflict between humans and nonhumans.
Bryan Monell and Chris DeRose from Last Chance for Animals:
The animal rights philosophy is based on respect for all life and that extends to our adversaries’ families. LCA is opposed to targeting anyone’s children. This is counterproductive and the antithesis of the animal rights philosophy. Children, like the animals in laboratories, are innocent.
Shannon Keith, Director of Behind the Mask:
I cannot emphasize enough how critical open dialogue is to further a constructive merging of two areas of thought, that will hopefully be a means to assisting in more humane standards for animals used in science, as well as engaging in discussions about the elimination of animals used in medical research and the alternatives readily available.
Knowing that these researchers are willing to engage in peaceful, rational and progressive discussions is very hopeful.
An honest and open public dialogue on the use of animals in biomedical research cannot occur when scientists are fearful of expressing their opinions.
The challenge in front of the broad public is clear. Are we (the vast majority of people that agree with civil dialogue as the only way to resolve ethical disagreements) going to submit to the will of a few extremists? Or are we going to find ways to come together to isolate those that reject social norms and civil debate in a pluralistic, democratic society? For those that welcome dialogue the action is imperative, as one hopes we never have to lament another case like that of Dr. Tiller.
Speaking of Research