Tag Archives: francione

We must reject extremism

 

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.

*drum roll*

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.

 

StalkingWe all support the right to protest…but when do things go too far?

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?

Arson

 

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.

Regards

Speaking of Research

Violence vs Non-Violence? The AR Debate!

A Fractured Movement?

It is easy to believe that the animal rights movement is one giant bloc, working together to abolish animal research using tactics which range from the legal, to the dubious, to the outright criminal. However it is these range of tactics which prove to be the most divisive point for activists, and is causing large fractures and infighting between groups. Recently the Thomas Paine’s Corner blog (TPC) (Warning: AR Extremist Website) has been attacking those parts of the animal rights movement who reject the use of “militant direct action”. The editors of this website include two Animal Liberation Front Press Officers (Jerry Vlasak and Jason Miller – see links for more details on them) and numerous other pro-violence extremists such as Camille Marino and Gary Yourofsky.

Emotion & passion drive action; not sterile debate. Attitudes change when people engage and feel. BE DISRUPTIVE. UNRAVEL COMPLACENCY. IT’S OUR JOB. We need to obliterate the status quo — not tolerate it; not become a part of it. Be loud! Be unafraid! Be Militant!
– Camille Marino – “Negotiation is Over” blog (Warning AR website)

“Do not be afraid to condone arsons at places of animal torture,” [Yourofsky] has written to supporters.
Matter of fact, if an “animal abuser” were to get killed in the process of burning down a research lab, “I would unequivocally support that, too.”
– The Toledo Blade, Sunday, June 24, 2001 (copy of article on AR website here)

TPC "approaches anti-capitalism and total liberation from an essentially anarcho-veganist position"

TPC "approaches anti-capitalism and total liberation from an essentially anarcho-veganist position"

TPC’s pro-violence rants have reached epic proportions, as this recent piece by Jason Miller (ALF Spokesman) on the TPC blog shows:

Call it [attacks on vivisectionists] extensional self defense. Call it justifiable homicide. Call it vigilante justice. A rose is a rose by any other name and it’s time for that flower to blossom in the AR movement. One of the master’s principal tools to maintain power, domination, and affluence is violence or the threat of violence—be it physical, psychological, social, political, or economic.

Consider this. Hideous as their agenda may be to some of us, anti-abortionist activists love embryos and fetuses enough to utilize violence as a form of extensional self-defense on their behalf. The question isn’t, “Do we agree with their agenda?” The question is, “Have they been effective?” Their record speaks for itself. Assassinations of doctors who performed abortions have nearly eliminated the practice of late-term abortions in the US. Food for thought.

Essentially Miller argues that any tactic that works – no matter how disgusting or morally reprehensible – should given consideration by his fellow activists. This kind of pro-violence rant, and the violence it encourages, has brought comment from non-violent AR activist Gary Francione. I’m no supporter of Francione, but I applaud his condemnation of the violent fringes of the AR movement:

Those who claim that there is such a thing as destroying a building or engaging in a break-in that does not result in harm or the risk of harm to sentient beings (humans and nonhumans alike) are simply deluding themselves.
– Francione’s blog “The Abolitionist Approach”

A Novartis executive has his house burned down by the Animal Liberation Front in August 2009

Did this arson attack risk harm to sentient brings? Almost certainly!

Sadly, other parts of Francione’s blog contain questionable pseudoscience (often thrown these in as “extras” to his arguments) and an even more questionable justification of anti-vivisection through arguments of sentience (see the AR belief section for a counter-argument).

Nonetheless, the fury of TPC against Gary Francione has been disgusting. His position of non-violence pro-veganism has apparently (according to Francione) resulted in him and his supporters receiving death threats. The TPC and “Negotiation is Over” blogs attacks have brought many other groups, such as HSUS, into the crossfire, as the fractures in the AR movement become more and more public:

[Francione’s] amoral and unconscionable actions became so regressive and dangerous, we have penned this response to denounce him unequivocally not only as a fraud, charlatan, opportunist, and megalomaniac, but also as a traitor and enemy to the animal liberation movement and as a major impediment to social transformation. Just as Wayne Pacelle of HSUS recently demonstrated that he is a collaborator with systems of oppression, so too Francione has now degenerated into an agent of state repression. He and Pacelle have now both attempted to defame and falsely accuse the radical wing of the animal liberation movement of terrorist actions and have sought to enlist and join forces with the state, the police and the FBI to break the back of militant forces in the movement.
– Camille Marino on TPC and Negotiation is Over blogs (Warning: AR wesbite)

Violence vs Non-Violence?

I will briefly end with my own assessment of the violence question. AR extremist groups frequently defend their actions by comparing themselves with other violent liberation movement in history e.g. The French Resistance who fought the Nazi’s in Vichy France.

The problem is that the entire argument fundamentally relies on the movement being morally justifiable. If you are willing to murder for your cause then you do so in the belief that you are in the right, that does not make it right. History is littered with examples of reistance/liberation movements who committed murder in the belief it would further their liberation cause – The Red Army Faction (Bader-Meinhof Group) killed many trying to liberate Germany from capitalist oppression, the Black September massacre at the 1972 Munich olympics was an action committed for liberation, recently Russia helped “liberate” South Ossetia from the Georgian Government and in 1945 the Soviet Russian forces liberating Germany raped and killed tens of thousands of unarmed German civillians.

The problem is that those animal rights extremists willing to commit arson, grave robbings and other attacks, do so in the belief that they are one of the “good” liberation/resistance movements – the fact that they are a tiny minority of people does not effect them if they believe they have billions of animals on their side (especially if they grant these animals moral equivalence) . There is little we can do to convince these extremists that their actions are wrong and immoral – many of these individuals have given years of their life to the liberation movement – for them to change their mind would be to say that the prime of their life has been wasted – something few people would be willing to accept.

Sadly there are a small number of people for whom jail will be the only deterrent – however our efforts in debating them can serve to stop them creating the next generation of animal rights extremists.

Cheers

Tom