House Passes 'Terrorism' Act Against Animal Activists
by Megan Tady
© 2006 The NewStandard
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 -- Monday afternoon, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that reclassifies unlawful animal-rights tactics as terrorism under certain conditions, even if they are non-violent.... the bill will classify civil disobedience actions -- such as blockades, property destruction, trespassing, and the freeing of captive animals -- as terrorism... enhance penalties against activists who "interfere" with animal enterprises by destroying property or engaging in behavior that appears "threatening." It even includes perceived threats to companies that work with animal enterprises and takes into account resulting profit losses.”
In other words, Oprah as terrorist. No more civil trials -- straight to criminal law. Not just “spitting on the sidewalk” but hard-core, locked-up-in-Guantanomo terrorism. It was easy to see this one coming.
There are several elements to this development. One is the meat industry, which wants no attention to its de-beaked chickens crammed into gym-baskets, it’s e-coli-spreading slaughter practices and feedlots, its illegal employees scalded and slashed by lousy work conditions, and so on. Another is the high-minded medical research community and its specially bred and expensive white mice and rats with “knockout” genetics, monkeys confined and infected because that’s the only way to find out about human diseases if they won’t let you do such things to humans, or cats literally wired for sex and violence in the name of understanding those potent human forces. The fur industry -- of course. So far growing plants are not included as victims of cruelty, but that food industry is also intent on eliminating public interference with its more dubious practices like not providing latrines for workers in the fields.
In short, 9/ll worked so well as a political ploy for Bush, was such an argument for power and secrecy, that entire industries have decided to follow suit. In the past when attempts have been made to regulate such organizations, they have depended on simple passive resistance: making things unavailable, stonewalling, conforming to the law only when inspectors were present, blocking the funding of enough inspectors to enforce the regulations. It’s all worked pretty well, a kind of board game of approach and avoidance.
But this is different. There is a edge in this approach, a determination to skewer the individual, to intimidate anyone who tries to take on the status quo by punishing him or her as “other.” At the very least, ecoterrorists will need a lot of money for lawyers. At the most they may simply disappear into “rendition,” confinement in a country with low standards about torture and no habeas corpus.
True enough that setting fire to laboratories, liberating mink from “ranches,” setting loose millions of dollars of mice and destroying the experiments they support, are bad things to do and often come from people who are neither thoughtful nor helpful. They meant to be provocative and look what they provoked! But defining them as “terrorists” ups the ante enough to attract the truly nutso. Do we want people blowing themselves up in local animal shelters?
In the last wave of extravagant superrich industries, the 1900’s Age of Gold, which many writers are beginning to compare to right now in terms of growing wealth disparity, there was violence against workers, sabotage against factories, riots and assassinations enough to dislocate public order. Is this what we’re moving towards?
Many humane workers think that they’re trying to make everyone be gentle pacifists who never kill any animals anywhere. They never consider overgrazing, belligerent deer in towns, vicious animals, or anything else that interferes with their vision of life as naturally an Eden: a zipless, prelubricated, eternal childhood Land of Sunshine. Instead, their harassment of government and corporate bodies has irritated the latter enough for this kind of out-of- proportion overkill.
I understand the irritation. When I was doing animal control, there were always individuals who locked onto us as evil monsters, used sunshine laws to demand time-consuming and expensive compilations of records, got on talk shows to whip up emotion over incomplete versions of lamentable cases, and generally hounded us into plugging our ears. But they weren’t terrorists. And a few of them had good sense -- they could become valued allies and friends. Still, there was always a rough edge of law enforcement that muttered, “Those women need a good ...” you know. Only a short step from there to rape, which can hardly be separated from violent assault. If they’re “only” terrorists...
No newspaper has discussed this federal law. I see no articles in magazines about it. Journalism believes that animal stuff is for children. All that tiresome stuff -- so hard to sort out. So...well, icky.
They tell me -- and I guess I believe it -- that in France there is no law against cruelty on grounds of being inhumane. Rather it is illegal to offend the sensibilities of others through cruelty. In this country, we don’t care much about sensibilities. The great overriding consideration is the profit margin. It is increasingly illegal -- to the point of being considered terrorism -- to interfere with anyone’s profit margin. Crimes against the dollar are crimes against the State.