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Fw: [AR-News] (US/ca) UC Santa Cruz Article and My Comment

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  • Lindy Greene
    They ve made the work of legitimate animal protection advocates unimaginably harder. But no one claims that the Underground Railroad made the work of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2008
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      "They've made the work of legitimate animal protection advocates
      unimaginably harder."

      But no one claims that the Underground Railroad made the work of the
      Abolitionists any harder or that the Sons of Liberty (Boston Tea Party) made
      the work of the American Revolutionists any harder...

      Every social justice movement in history has had that element willing (or
      compelled) to operate outside the law to address injustices that the law
      never should never allowed in the first place.


      [Metro Santa Cruz - opinion]

      Vegan or animal rights activist? Firebombings or arson? Domestic
      terrorism or protest?

      When people start throwing around this kind of loaded language, it's
      no longer a debate over semantics. As soon as police and university
      officials declared last week's attacks on the property of two UCSC
      professors to be acts of domestic terrorism, the door for nuanced
      discussion closed. Incendiary rhetoric was lobbed back, most notably
      by Jerry Vlasak, MD, of the North American Animal Liberation Press
      Office, who wrote in response to the attacks, "UC-Santa Cruz may
      consider themselves an institution of higher education, but they are
      also an institution of animal torture and killing. This is
      historically what happens whenever revolutionaries begin to take the
      oppression and suffering of their fellow beings seriously, whether
      human or nonhuman. It's regrettable that certain scientists are
      willing to put their families at risk by choosing to do wasteful
      animal experiments in this day and age."

      It's difficult to tease out nuanced positions amid such hard-line
      declarations. Press coverage has played fast and loose with
      terminology and facts. In a 24-hour news cycle fueled by innuendo,
      loaded terms such as "terrorism," "firebombing" and "veganism" become
      easily intertwined. Among pundits and columnists, bloggers and
      readers, A plus B does not need to necessarily equal C to suggest
      intent or association. If A, B and C reside in the same few column
      inches together, that's good enough.
      Conservative bloggers have been pointed in their critique of the
      animal rights movement, asking why the community has not openly
      condemned the attacks on UCSC professors. The rhetoric calls to mind
      post-9/11 demands for all Americans of Arab descent to condemn the
      actions of a handful of Islamic extremists. And many individuals and
      groups have, in fact, responded in the past week. Marcus notes, "I was
      delighted to see the Humane Society of the United States offer a
      $2,500 reward for information leading to the conviction of the

      The Humane Society's gesture has earned it condemnation on both sides
      of the debate. The Center for Consumer Freedom, a well-heeled lobbyist
      group that serves as an allegedly independent mouthpiece for corporate
      benefactors including Philip Morris, Tyson Foods and the Coca Cola
      Company, fired back with a withering yet predictable press release.
      "Nobody should be fooled by HSUS's paltry gesture," it read. "While
      pretending to be part of the solution, the group continues to be a
      significant part of the problem--an over-zealous social movement bent
      on extending legal rights to animals, whether or not thinking people
      like the consequences. The entire community of Santa Cruz is learning
      this week what can happen when human beings resist the sort of
      evolution the animal rights community has planned for them. And it's
      not pretty."

      The CCF's argument has enjoyed an unexpected level of play on
      anarchist blogs and forums, where the response is considered an
      example of why the Humane Society's tactics are ineffective. On animal
      rights blog Green Is the New Red (www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/),
      independent journalist and civil liberties watchdog Will Potter
      writes, "In many ways, Feedstuffs and CCF are absolutely right. This
      is a turning point in history. Not just for the animal rights
      movement, but for a country showing frightening parallels to the worst
      eras of government repression. The question, then, is this: Should we
      all, like HSUS, try to buy ourselves a little time? Or should we step
      up and fight the New McCarthyists head on?"
      Erik Marcus, a former journalist himself, is not surprised by the
      portrayal of the animal rights community and vegans in the press. "My
      impression is that [the media coverage] has been appallingly inept,
      and the reason for that is very simple: unlike many important
      political issues that emerge, this is one that does not attract beat
      reporters," Marcus says. "I think the problem is that the people
      reporting on this story have no background in any of these issues, and
      as a result I think the coverage is appallingly simple-minded. I don't
      think this is a case of reporters seeking to mislead, it's just not
      part of their beat."

      It's these considerations that alarm activists like Marcus, who notes,
      "The sort of activism I do is based on making good relationships with
      people." Pointing to the press circus that has arisen in the wake of
      the attacks, Marcus directs blame at the perpetrators, and reiterates
      that he believes they have done far more harm to the community than
      they anticipate. "They are distracting focus from indefensible animal
      abuses that UC-Santa Cruz perpetuates on an ongoing basis," he says.
      "They've made the work of legitimate animal protection advocates
      unimaginably harder."

      full story:
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