Saturday, 5 May 2007

animal rights activists are not terrorists

Now that Herbivore magazine has gone online, the print version has morphed into a wonderful little twice yearly book. The first of these (issue 13, carrying on from previous print editions) is devoted to stories of activism.

Despite the fact that I am well aware of the atrocities enacted upon animal life on a daily basis, reading about and seeing pictures of specific examples always horrifies me anew. But the most disturbing narrative in #13 was actually one dealing with the treatment of people - the US government's labelling of animal activists as terrorists. More specifically, the imprisonment of six activists from SHAC 7 who were convicted, not of damaging property or intimidating people, but running a website that publicized the actions (both legal and illegal) in the campaign to shut down a medical lab devoted to torturing animals instead of improving the conditions of human life.

The bitter reality of this situation became clearer this week with reports of the arrest of 32 animal rights activists in Europe. Manufacturing fear is not just an American preoccupation. Apparently Brits, Belgians and the Dutch are also involved in creating an animal activist boogeyman, another terrorist lurking round the corner. Law makers and enforcers talk about activists producing a climate of fear, when really it's the establishment that uses such scapegoats to scare the average citizen and distract him or her from the real problems in society.

I am deeply, deeply concerned about the protective net the government is casting around the companies that make their millions by exploiting, tormenting, vivisecting, burning, caging, poisoning, brutally murdering (the list goes on and on) animals. Safeguarding their parasitic practices and blood money is a higher priority than respecting life. This attitude has led to many of the world's most monumental atrocities. Have we not learned? I fear we have not, but I keep trying to hope that we still can.

Issue 13 begins with an essay/lecture ("Turtle Talk") by pattrice jones on the difference between violence and necessary force - like the difference between pushing a child down the stairs and pushing a child out of the path of an oncoming car. Violence is never acceptable but some situations demand the use of necessary force, she argues.

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Tonight on Kill Eat Exploit the Weak: local rowdy rockers Lucky Number Ten.

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