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Animal Rights is Terrorism?

Animal Rights is Terrorism?

Under a relatively new law called the “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” (A.E.T.A.), activists engaged in efforts to bring needless suffering to an end for non-human animals inside factory farms, vivisection labs, circuses and the like, now potentially face charges as “terrorists” in federal courts even if their actions are peaceful and First Amendment protected.

Although a pre-existing law from 1992 known as the “Animal Enterprise Protection Act” was initially created to further prosecute and create harsher penalties for activists who use illegal tactics to save lives, such as liberating animals from abusive situations and causing economic damage to industries that profit from suffering, the A.E.T.A. has taken it one step further and tacked on the label of “terrorism” for such activities.

If labeling a person who actually saves innocent lives a “terrorist”, rather than the person who systematically abuses and kills animals for a living seems Orwellian to you, the vagueness used in writing this law will be even more unsettling.

Although the law is allegedly intended to curb illegal actions, it essentially says that those interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise with the intent of causing economic damage are committing acts of terrorism. 

Well, doesn’t that include every single boycott, protest, campaign and demonstration to put an end to animal exploitation? Aren’t we trying to cause economic damage to a company that abuses animals by boycotting them? Isn’t that the whole point? When taken literally, that law goes so far as to include even living a vegan lifestyle since our very choice of diet is “disrupting animal enterprises.”

The terms and language used in this law are far reaching and potentially very threatening to the legal Animal Rights and Animal Welfare movement.

 The law does include a clause that states:

“Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct (including peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration) protected from legal prohibition by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

But within less than three years of the laws passage, four activists from California involved in anti-vivisection campaigns were indicted for violating the A.E.T.A., even though none of them was involved in illegal actions and all of them adhered to completely legal First Amendment protected activities.

They each face up to 10 years in prison for passing out leaflets, attending demonstrations and circulating public knowledge on the Internet about known animal abusers. Does any of this fit into our ideas of terrorism or sound like terrorist activity to you? 

The fact that the government is classifying activists as terrorists who simply want animal abuse to end is one of the most grotesque misuses of such a timely sensitive word. To compare the actions of peaceful protests to the attacks of 9/11, even if you are someone who is not aligned with the animal activist movement, is totally unreasonable. 

Is it possible that some of this is the result of tremendous pressure from animal abusing industries that want animal protection movements to disappear. The idea of freeing animals from exploitation is simply bad for business.

In a time when terrorism is an actual threat to many of us, it seems terribly unfair and extremely disrespectful to those who have lost loved ones to real terrorist attacks to even remotely compare them to animal activists.

It is interesting to note that in the long history of the animal rights movement, not one person has been killed by an activist. That is because killing is fundamentally antithetical to what these activists are trying to achieve, which is a more just and peaceful world.


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photo credit: thanks to Rennett-Stowe via flickr

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12:51AM PST on Jan 9, 2013

I don't like the way Thomas is tarring all animal activists with the same brush and I'd be interested to know where he is coming from - anti-animal or pro-animal welfare. The ultimate goal of animal rights would be that animals do not belong to us and should be able to get on with their own lives. Animals that we have overbred should be allowed to die out. Unless humans change radically we will never get there but that's no reason for doing nothing. I have concerns about people who rescue a few animals from labs etc because I believe they do it to make themselves feel better, often alienating the public because the media put a negative slant on their actions. They may end up in prison themselves where they are then unable to do anything at all for any other animals, and the animals have lost their best advocates for many years, sometimes for good because they are not allowed to associate with animal activists when they come out or they are too frightened to do any more.

4:43AM PST on Jan 8, 2013

I don't accept excess of zeal as an excuse.

The animal rights groups have condemned "private ownership" of animals so that people cannot save the lives of animals without getting into legal difficulty, and this is terrorism. They have destroyed too much already and they have done it with lies, vandalism, arson, and death threats.

10:51AM PST on Jan 7, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

4:02AM PDT on Sep 19, 2012

I would snatch as many animals as I could from a research establishment but I wouldn't put a bomb under a workers car or in the post. As usual it went too far.

7:17PM PDT on Sep 18, 2012

they have the olny one life,as we all do, but they can not speak, can not lie, they do not betray us, they do not sell us for money, and in general, animals - perhaps the only living and thinking beings who kept their soul completely clean and bright.I am not a terrorist and not a maniac, but I believe that animals are sacred because they suffered for centuries from the dirty hands of the majority of the world population, and because they are silent and powerless.
And I will defend and fight for animals all my life!

12:31PM PDT on Sep 17, 2012


8:04AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Terrorist is just a new label for people who oppose the system, meaning in this case the big corporations and interests that profit from the abuse of animals. Those groups have the money (equals power) and lobbyists to get what laws they want. Because groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and PETA have been successful in opposing some abuse of animals, the big abusers are getting worried and are trying to put a stop to the opposition. Since "terrorist" and "terrorism" are big worry words now, they will use them to punish activists. They should not get by with it! Where is the ALCU when you need them?

4:58AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

Shameful hypocrites that voted yes. Why are you even on a site that cares about animal welfare?

4:23AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

BTW- why is this thread being ressurected now, more than 2yrs after it was written anyway?

4:22AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

The word terrorism is overused & misunderstood. Americans really don't know what real terrorism is. 9/11 is about the closest we've seen. The current regime (including some of both parties) would have you believe that we NEED them & their constitution-destroying laws to protect us.

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