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393Re: Top Chiron lawyer's home is vandalized -- Protesters clothed in black linked to animal-rights group

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  • Matthew G Liebman
    Aug 16, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      [I've added the sfbaveg list to the recipients, because I think this issue
      deserves serious attention. Those new to this thread can read from the
      bottom up. This thread began this morning on most other bay area AR lists,
      and is in regards to the recent property destruction at the Orinda home of
      William Green, a lawyer for Chiron and a major supporter of Huntingdon Life
      Sciences. Pete Cohon has criticized such tactics, while I disagree with
      him.]

      Pete,

      First and foremost, I want to say I appreciate the nuance and
      constructiveness of your latest email. I think that the more we actually
      empirically discuss and evaluate our tactics, the more effective we’ll be.
      That requires everyone to avoid pigeonholing people as either sell-outs
      (mainstream) or terrorists (direct action). There are not two opposing
      camps, but rather a spectrum of tactics, most of which will be needed for
      animal liberation. As a future animal rights lawyer myself (I’m currently a
      student at Stanford Law School), I’ve chosen to pursue more mainstream
      avenues, as you have Pete, but I understand that the battle will not be won
      with law alone.

      Second, I really think you should disavow your earlier statement about
      finking on those who advocate direct action. Your suggestion can only fuel
      a sense of paranoia and fear among those who work for animal liberation.
      The only kind of rats we need more of in this movement are the kind that we
      save from HLS.

      THE MORAL ISSUE:
      Regardless of what your dictionary says, violence carries an extremely
      strong connotation, especially in the context of animal rights activism and
      the Bush/Ashcroft regime. Words mean what they convey, nothing more and
      nothing less. When the animal exploitation industries use the word, they
      intend to convey an image of animal rights activists as violent towards
      humans. It is very important for us to make people realize that in 30 years
      (I mistakenly said 20 in my last email), ALF actions have caused hundreds
      of millions of dollars in damage, and liberated thousands of animals, but
      not one single person has been injured or killed. When you partner up with
      William Green (who whined about “animal rights terrorists” in front of the
      US Senate Judiciary Committee three months ago, also the man whose house
      was trashed yesterday) or Teresa Platt (the executive director of the Fur
      Commission) to decry violence, you tacitly accept the connotations that our
      enemies ascribe to the term “violence.” AR advocates should tease out the
      multiple meanings of words like “terror” and “violence” to point out
      crucial differences between what we do and what they do. When you lump SHAC
      activists in with violent people, you’re doing the oppositions work for
      them.

      As for the Golden Rule, I think it makes for some pretty ineffective
      activism. Should we only use tactics that our opponents are HAPPY with?
      That seems nonsensical to me. Even mainstream campaigns are not consistent
      with the golden rule. I would not want someone to put me out of work (as we
      all wish to do with slaughterhouse employees); I would not want someone to
      pass a law against my livelihood (as many of us are lobbying for in
      California against foie gras); I would not want someone to disturb me with
      nightmarish pictures of death (as mainstream pamphlets do), and so on. Do
      they ENJOY our tactics? Would we enjoy them if they were done to us? No, of
      course not. But that doesn’t make these tactics immoral.

      If property becomes an object of moral consideration, the rich will
      continue to hold precedence over the rest of us who own less property. And
      since property is only that which the law recognizes as belonging to
      someone (as a lawyer, I’m sure you’re familiar with legal positivism), any
      animal liberation is by definition a property crime, since animals are
      nothing more than property in the eyes of the US legal system. Was the ALF
      breaking the Golden Rule when they broke into the Penn Head Injury Lab to
      liberate tortured primates? Was that not a form of property theft?

      And while we’re quoting our “chosen people,” how about this one, from Dr.
      Maxwell Schnurer:
      “The ALF and Holocaust resistance represent a method of bringing about new
      understanding that challenges these mental habits [of objectification,
      fragmentation, and consumption]. The actions of these militants blaze new
      paths of meaning far beyond the direct action they participate in. The
      meaning of active militant resistance can pervade the popular consciousness
      of entire societies, and in the case of the ALF and of the Holocaust
      resistance, their actions work to make mindlessness more difficult.”

      The world might be a very different place had these Holocaust resistance
      fighters treated the Nazis as they would have wanted to be treated.

      If we could win liberation for animals through sanctuaries and compassion
      alone, not a single person would participate in militant direct action.
      Everyone wishes it were that simple. It’s not.

      THE EFFECTIVENESS ISSUE:
      As I said in my last email, this is the issue I’m less comfortable with.
      Pete, you say that these tactics will not win over the hearts and minds of
      the average American. I think you’re right. Sabotage cannot “help our AR
      movement grow into the mass movement we must achieve in order to reach our
      goals.” But I don’t think that’s the goal of direct action.

      Our struggle is a multi-layered one. On the one hand, we seek to create a
      cultural shift towards ethical respect for non-human animals. On the other
      hand, we seek to alleviate the suffering experienced RIGHT NOW by living
      animals.

      We work towards the first, long-term goal through education, legislation,
      lawsuits, documentaries, and other mainstream tactics, including Pete's
      laudable accomplishments.

      The second, short-term goal demands less patience and demands DIRECT
      action. Sabotage, vandalism, and property destruction will not make William
      Green more compassionate. But they just might encourage him and others to
      stop supporting HLS. The past 5 years have shown how effective these
      strategies can be at crippling animal abusers.

      Of course, we have to be sure that we don’t compromise the first goal in
      pursuing the second. If sabotage and property destruction give us a bad
      image, then we should strongly reconsider those tactics. But it’s not clear
      that the coverage is always bad press. And it’s not clear that bad press
      can’t be helpful. PETA got terrible press in the 80s for supporting the ALF
      rescues, and today it is the dominant voice in popular culture for
      mainstream animal rights. The civil rights movement and the Montgomery Bus
      Boycott got terrible press, but we know now that they were right, and they
      succeeded to some degree. Karen Dawn of Dawnwatch.com keeps a close eye on
      the way these issues play out in the popular media, and her webpage is a
      helpful tool to think about AR media images.

      I don’t believe that sabotage and property destruction are always good in
      and of themselves. They’re good to the degree they’re effective. This means
      the movement should be very thoughtful about when we use these tactics:
      activists can’t simply smash stuff when the rage hits them. Thoughtless
      destruction can be counter-productive and these activists end up acting
      selfishly: they satiate their own feelings while animals suffer as a
      result. But this also means that we shouldn’t condemn thoughtful
      destruction. Destruction that is calculated at strategic targets, as the
      SHAC campaign is, can be effective. Quoting Shakespeare: “There is nothing
      either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

      Of course some tactics are more effective than others. For me, I think open
      rescues are generally better than lab raids. I think home demos that last
      for 2 hours are generally better than home sabotages that last for 8
      minutes. I think arguing against animal abusers is generally better than
      intimidating them. I think good press is generally better than bad press.
      But these are my preferences, and I’ll save my venom for the exploiters,
      not for those allies who disagree with my preferences.

      Best,
      Matthew



      Quoting Pete <plcohon@...>:

      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Thanks for your thoughtful response to my post, Matthew.  You wrote: 
      > "The
      >
      > question is not one of morality, since direct action causes no physical
      >
      > suffering, only economic suffering."  I respectfully dissent.
      >
      >
      >
      > The cornerstone of all morality is, of course, the Golden Rule.  Since I
      >
      > moderate the Veggie Jews' Yahoo group, perhaps I should phrase it in the
      >
      > negative as Rabbi Hillel did: Do not do unto others that which you would
      > not
      >
      > want them to do unto you.  I understand that it's stated in the positive
      > in
      >
      > some cultures but the meaning is the same.  I don't think any one of us
      >
      > would consider it anything less than unacceptable if we were personally
      >
      > victimized in a way that caused us only economic but not physical
      > suffering,
      >
      > especially in an effort intended to intimidate.
      >
      >
      >
      > I've got a real problem with the "new" definition of violence as
      > something
      >
      > that "can only truly be perpetuated against sentient beings," according
      > to
      >
      > Matthew.  I'm afraid that not only I but the dictionary as well disagrees
      >
      > with you.  According to my admittedly not "new" Funk & Wangles, violence
      >
      > involves the use of force to achieve ends.  It has nothing to do with the
      >
      > object of the force or whether it is sentient.
      >
      >
      >
      > But I agree that, at least on one level, as you said, "The question IS
      > one
      >
      > of effectiveness."  And by that measure alone, violence should be
      > rejected.
      >
      > If you think that violence will help our AR movement grow into the mass
      >
      > movement we must achieve in order to reach our goals, just ask some of
      > the
      >
      > 95% of Americans who eat a standard American diet what they think of
      > animal
      >
      > rights "terrorism," as the media calls it.  I think you'll find that very
      >
      > few of them are sympathetic to our cause.  The fact is that mainstream
      >
      > Americans, the very people we have to reach with our message, do not
      > approve
      >
      > of violent tactics to achieve social change, (at least here in the
      >
      > homeland), and they become more estranged from rather than sympathetic to
      >
      > our cause with every new act that they perceive to be "terror."  The
      > media,
      >
      > which represents financial interests tied to animal exploitation, will
      > not
      >
      > miss a chance to portray any small act of isolated violence as typical of
      >
      > the AR movement as a whole.  They understand the value of making our
      >
      > movement look extreme by focusing on violence.  So should we, and we
      > should
      >
      > learn to avoid that very extremism in order to most quickly defeat the
      >
      > forces of cruelty arrayed against us.
      >
      >
      >
      > I regret that my self-righteousness offends you, Matthew.  I freely admit
      > to
      >
      > having that fault, but as faults go, it's not so bad.  It's inspired me
      >
      > during my career to provide free legal representation to about 30 animal
      >
      > rights and peace activists charged with demonstration related crimes (not
      >
      > one of whom ever served one minute in jail); I've written the three
      > sections
      >
      > of the California Green Party platform dealing with animal issues, and
      > I'm
      >
      > proud to say it's the most progressive AR platform of any political party
      > on
      >
      > earth as far as I know; I've organized Greens for the Ethical Treatment
      > of
      >
      > Animals within the California Green Party to get the AR platform planks
      >
      > passed; I organized the University Alumni Campaign Against Vivisection
      > for
      >
      > In Defense of Animals to decrease alumni contributions to universities
      >
      > involved in animal experimentation (and that's just about all of them);
      > and,
      >
      > most recently, I've organized Veggie Jews to try to spread the veggie
      >
      > message into the Jewish community, whose support is needed to end some
      >
      > slaughterhouse abuses.  Now, I know that's not much compared to what many
      >
      > professional animal activists have done and do every day, but it's the
      > best
      >
      > that I could squeeze in while earning a living, and it's a lot better
      > than
      >
      > nothing.  So, if I am a bit self-righteous at times, at least I do try to
      >
      > put it to good and nonviolent use.  (Thank goodness you didn't point out
      > how
      >
      > egotistical I am.  Now that would be a lot harder to defend.)  ;-)
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      >
      > From: "Matthew G Liebman" <mliebman@...>
      >
      > To: "Pete" <plcohon@...>
      >
      > Cc: "South Bay Veggies" <southbayveggies@yahoogroups.com>; "Veggie Jews"
      >
      > <VeggieJews@yahoogroups.com>; "SFVeg" <SFVeg@yahoogroups.com>; "Freedom
      > For
      >
      > Animals" <freedomforanimals@yahoogroups.com>; "BAARN"
      >
      > <baarn@yahoogroups.com>
      >
      > Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 1:11 PM
      >
      > Subject: Re: Top Chiron lawyer's home is vandalized -- Protesters clothed
      > in
      >
      > black linked to animal-rights group
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > > Pete,
      >
      > >
      >
      > > Anger and destruction may make you uncomfortable, and that is fine. You
      >
      > may
      >
      > > choose to be activist in other ways. But don't get self-righteous
      > against
      >
      > > activists that have been successful in bringing HLS attrocities to
      > light,
      >
      > > and in bringing HLS to its knees.
      >
      > >
      >
      > > Your inability to distinguish between property destruction and true
      >
      > > violence demonstrates the degreee to which you've been duped by the
      > forces
      >
      > > that attempt to discredit our movement. Breaking windows that were
      > payed
      >
      > > for with blood money is not violence. Neither is embarassing an animal
      >
      > > abuser in front of his/her neighbors by "outting" them. Violence is
      >
      > > punching a beagle puppy in the face. Violence is dissecting a monkey
      > while
      >
      > > she's still alive. Violence is killing 500 animals every day.
      >
      > >
      >
      > > "Violence" can only truly be perpetuated against sentient beings. While
      > I
      >
      > > do not participate in property destruction, I understand the motives of
      >
      > > those who do. Sabotage has been a driving force behind every freedom
      >
      > > movement, from the Boston Tea Party to the suffragettes to the Jewish
      >
      > > resistance fighters. Please reconsider the way you use the term
      >
      > "violence."
      >
      > > I do not support violence in this movement, and I would be upspeakably
      >
      > > dissappointed if a living being were hurt or killed as a result of
      > these
      >
      > > actions. But in 20 years of operation, not a single human being has
      > been
      >
      > > harmed by the actions of the Animal Liberation Front. Again, these
      > actions
      >
      > > are not for me; but I understand those who are comfortable with them.
      >
      > >
      >
      > > The question is not one of morality, since direct action causes no
      >
      > physical
      >
      > > suffering, only economic suffering. The question IS one of
      > effectiveness.
      >
      > > It's undeniable that the SHAC campaign has struck hard against HLS's
      >
      > > economic interests. The media image question is a bit more difficult.
      >
      > > Whether or not these types of actions give animal rights a good image
      > or
      >
      > > bad image is an empirical question, and not a simple one. Clearly these
      >
      > > things turn some people off. But on the other hand these actions bring
      > the
      >
      > > issue into the public realm where they can be discussed. If you believe
      > in
      >
      > > the rightness of our cause, you should be comfortable with that.
      >
      > >
      >
      > > Anyone who watched ABC7 news last night saw that for, I believe, only
      > the
      >
      > > second time, footage of HLS attrocities were showed on prime time news,
      > to
      >
      > > an audience of thousands. This would not have happened but for a few
      >
      > broken
      >
      > > windows.
      >
      > >
      >
      > > These actions also help make groups like PETA seem more moderate in
      >
      > > comparison. They let people know that this is a serious issue that
      > people
      >
      > > feel extremely passionate about. Sure Tribe of Heart does the same
      > thing,
      >
      > > and that's great. The more strategies we use, the more effective we'll
      > be.
      >
      > >
      >
      > > I think the strategies we use should be discussed thouroughly, with a
      >
      > focus
      >
      > > on whether or not they WORK. This is a tactical discussion that we
      > can't
      >
      > > ignore. However, holier-than-though assertions of "childishness" and
      >
      > > "terrorism" are not responsible ways of strategic planning.
      >
      > >
      >
      > > For anyone interested in a nuanced and thoughtful discussion of these
      >
      > > issues, I highly recommend Steven Best's new book "Terrorists or
      > Freedom
      >
      > > Fighters?" Also, Satya magazine recently did a very balanced 2 issue
      >
      > series
      >
      > > on activism, violence, and sabotage.
      >
      > >
      >
      > > Finally, for those of you not on the veggiejews list, I thought you
      > might
      >
      > > be interested in seeing what Pete said in a secondary posting:
      >
      > >
      >
      > > "When groups known to use violent tactics advertise a demonstration, we
      >
      > can
      >
      > > speak and write to warn folks of the dangers of such tactics. The
      > groups
      >
      > > who engage in such tactics should never be allowed to give the
      > impression
      >
      > > that they speak for our movement.We can avoid all AR actions and
      >
      > > fundraisers by groups that encourage or use violence. In my opinion, we
      >
      > > should even go so far as to inform the authorities about any past or
      >
      > > planned terror acts in the name of our movement, so as to protect our
      >
      > > movement and the animals from the violent backlash that terror tactics
      > can
      >
      > > cause."
      >
      > >
      >
      > > With friends like this, who needs COINTELPRO?
      >
      > >
      >
      > > -Matthew
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > "G-d said, 'See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the
      > earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours
      > for food.  And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky,
      > and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of
      > life, [I give] all the green plants for food.'  And it was so.  And G-d
      > saw all that He had made, and found it very good."  [Genesis, 1:29-31]
      >
      >
      >
      > Veggie Jews is an on-line and real world organization with events in
      > local communities dedicated to supporting Jewish vegans and vegetarians
      > of all ages and spreading vegan, vegetarian and animal rights values into
      > the Jewish community.  Our non-Jewish friends are always welcome.  Please
      > tell a friend about us.
      >
      >
      >
      > And remember: It's only kosher if it's cruelty-free.
      Pete <plcohon@...> wrote:

      The following article from today's Chronicle tells the story of an attack
      by supposed animal rights protesters on the home of a lawyer employed by
      one of Huntingdon Life Sciences corporate clients. Huntingdon, as you
      probably know, engages in horribly cruel and unnecessary animal experiments
      for it's clients. It's conduct is totally inexcusable.

      But so is the conduct of those who attack a home in the name of the AR
      movement. Such violent conduct only plays into the hands of those who call
      our movement "terrorist" by taking attention away from the serious work of
      stopping Huntingdon's cruelty and placing it on the tactics of a few
      extremists. It is noteworthy that, during the Viet Nam war, U.S. government
      agents infiltrated to anti-war movement (Project Cointelpro) and turned it
      to violent tactics in a successful effort to damage the anti-war movement.
      And it raises serious questions about the motives who would use such
      tactics now in the name of our AR movement.

      Sadly, those same extremists will continue their inexcusably foolish and
      harmful tactics as long as there are those who will support them. In my
      opinion, those who support such tactics by going to violent demonstration,
      even if they do not participate in the violence, condone terror tactics and
      all the harm that such tactics are doing to the AR movement.

      For an example of just how one can use one's energy and creativity to help
      develop the AR movement into a mass movement that will finally end cruelty
      of the kind practiced against animal victims by Huntingdon, just consider
      the fine work of the folks at Farm Sanctuary or IDA's Project Hope, who
      dedicate their lives to saving animals and using them to publicize the
      plight of so many others who could not be saved. Consider the work of Tribe
      of Heart, whose new documentary, Peaceable Kingdom, about Farm Sanctuary,
      may well turn the hearts of millions toward a more compassionate lifestyle.

      Then ask yourself: Whose work will really make a difference by turning
      public sentiment against animal cruelty, those who work in a compassionate,
      intelligent and realistic way to save animal lives and build a movement or
      those who throw childish temper tantrums and commit crimes in the name of
      our movement?

      Whether we win this struggle for compassion sooner or later will depend on
      the tactics we choose. I, for one, choose to win sooner by rejecting the
      violent and childish tactics that can only serve to defeat or slow us down.
      For the sake of our movement's success, for the sake of the billions or
      trillions of animals who will suffer more every day that our victory is
      delayed by extreme and counterproductive tactics, won't you please join me?

      Pete

      ___________________________________

      San Francisco Chronicle
      Monday, August 16, 2004

      ORINDA
      Top Chiron lawyer's home is vandalized
      Protesters clothed in black linked to animal-rights group

      Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer





      Orinda police are investigating the vandalism of the East Bay home of
      Chiron Corp.'s top attorney on Sunday, in which a group of people broke
      windows and tried to flood his home with water during a noisy protest.

      Neighbors said the people were animal-rights protesters wearing black
      clothing and masks, and carrying signs. The demonstrators converged on the
      home of Chiron's general counsel William Green on Sunnyside Court in Orinda
      abou
      t 10:15 a.m. while he was away on vacation, neighbors said.


      The protester
      s broke about a dozen windows and turned on his garden hose in his backya
      rd deck, and left after 20 minutes. No arrests were made, but neighbors
      provided license plate numbers to Orinda police.

      "I feel a bit violated
      by this," Green said Sunday evening, minutes after retur
      n
      ing home to survey the damage. "I think it's beyond the pale of what should
      be permissible in civilized society."

      The protest comes six months aft
      er Chiron filed a lawsuit against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA. Th
      e group's name refers to Huntingdon Life Sciences, a New Jersey company t
      hat performs animal testing for clients, including Chiron.

      It was n
      ot immediately clear Sunday whether the protesters were connected to the Sto
      p Huntingdon group.

      Green, 60, has previously been the target of protest
      ers over at least the past two years, with flyers stuck on telephone phones
      and gravestones placed nearby representing dead ani
      m
      als. Other employees have also been awakened by late-night visits by protest
      ers with megaphones.

      Neighbor Jim Abrams, 60, said the Orinda protest b
      egan with marching and chanting. But tensions grew when Abrams
      tried to block the side gate to Green's home, and some protesters charge
      d past him.

      "They ran toward one of the gates that goes into the ba
      ckyard," A
      b
      rams said. "They broke some windows, and the hose was running on the deck
      -- I don't know if they intended to throw the hose into the broken window.
      There were some people obviously bent on doing some damage."

      Chiron's
      lawsuit said that the names, addresses and phone numbers of Chiron empl
      oyees have been posted on a Web site and that the group has worked
      with a fugitive suspected of planting bombs at the firm and another busin
      ess last year.

      The suspect, Daniel Andreas San Diego, 25, of Sonoma is ac
      cused of planting a pipe bomb on Aug. 28 at Chiron and another on S
      ept. 26 at Shaklee Corp., a
      P
      leasanton firm that makes health, beauty and household products.

      San
      Diego remains at large, Special Agent LaRae Quy, FBI spokeswoman in
      San Francisco, said Sunday. A $50,000 reward is being offered for tips in th
      e case.

      In a June ruling, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Steven Bric
      k said Chiron had a chance

      of prevailing in the lawsuit and denied a request by the animal-rights g
      roup to throw out the complaint as a SLAPP suit, or one that restricte
      d its free-speech rights.

      Brick said Chiron's lawsuit had more to do with
      "acts of unlawful harassment and threats" rather than the animal-rights gr
      oup's right to free speech. "Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA's) free s
      peech rights under the First Amendment do not protect its conduct in this
      situation," Brick wrote.
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