Violence in Context

Adonia David

 Yesterday I received an email with a picture of cats that were force-fed toilet cleaner by Proctor and Gamble – an example of animal testing of the type that goes on every day.  The photo was posted by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), an umbrella entity that many view as a fringe and frightening network of individuals who are willing to save animals in testing facilities by taking steps that are prohibited by society such as property destruction etc. (ALF’s guidelines insist that all precautions be taken to make sure no animals or humans are harmed when any destruction occurs, but the fact remains that arson and similar activities are carried out at times).  I have seen other information posted by ALF, perhaps the most disturbing being the story of Britches, a newborn monkey stolen from his mother for a study on “maternal deprivation” and whose eyes were sewn shut to study “sight deprivation.” He was kept in what appeared to be a shut cabinet and given none of the affection a young animal requires.  Members of ALF saved him and, watching the video, I’ll freely admit that I saw them as the heroes of the story despite their reputation. Continue reading

AETA 4 Case Dismissed

David Cassuto

The first and so far only case yet brought under AETA (the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) has been dismissed.  It seems that the government did little more in its indictment than recite the statute and state that the defendants had violated it.  The Constitution requires more.  Without a clearly defined set of allegations, the defendant cannot possibly defend herself.  The indictment must allege with specificity how they broke the law, when, and precisely by who.  Continue reading

New Book on AETA and Animal Activism

David Cassuto

From the email, a new book by Dara Lovitz:

I am pleased to announce the publication of my book, Muzzling a Movement: The Effects of Anti-Terrorism Law, Money, and Politics on Animal Activism, which examines the silencing of the animal activist movement in violation of time-honored constitutional principles.  For further information, or to order your copy, go to the website for Lantern Books.  You can also order the book from Amazon.  

Thank you so much for your support!

Dara Lovitz, Esq.

Can U.S. v Stevens Bite Back?

Irina Knopp

barking_cartoon_dogI am currently working on a paper that looks at the case, arguments for and possible consequences of U.S. v Stevens. Recently, I’ve found several articles online suggesting that the statute in the case thought to promote animal rights in America could possibly hurt animal rights groups.

Rory Eastburg, author of the article “High Court to Consider Categorical Ban on Cruelty Images,” warns that animal rights groups should be very careful what they wish for because such groups often use film and images to expose the animal abuses that go on and the vague exemption for serious content in 18 U.S.C. § 48 may get them in trouble.

He states, “Many if not all films made by such groups falls squarely within the terms of the statute because they are recording unlawful treatment of animals.” Eastburg fails to explain how animal rights group videos/images would fall under the interstate commerce element of 18 U.S.C. § 48.

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National Lawyers Guild Activist Handbook

The National Lawyers Guild has published a new booklet for animal and environmental activists entitled: Operation Backfire: a Survival Guide for Environmental and Animal Rights Activists.  You can download it here. It offers some background on the AETA and AEPA (predecessor to AETA) and how to comport yourself when detained or questioned by law enforcement officials.


–David Cassuto

Radio as Animal Enterprise — Some Further Thoughts on AETA

The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for downing two towers in Snohomish County, Washington.  The ELF statement declared that: “AM radio waves cause adverse health effects including a higher rate of cancer, harm to wildlife, and that the signals have been interfering with home phone and intercom lines.”  No one was injured but the property damage was apparently significant.  Read about it here.

The government has labeled ELF a domestic terrorist threat and acts like these domestic terrorism.  My question is whether those responsible need fear prosecution under AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act).  I have blogged elsewhere about the danger of AETA’s vagueness and its overbreadth and here we have an example of what I mean.

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Animal Advocacy: A Threat to All That’s Right and Good…

Here’s a newsflash: animal rights people control the discourse on animal issues.  At least that was the message of the recent meeting of the Animal Agriculture Alliance.  One speaker, Professor Wes Jamison of Palm Beach Atlantic University, opined that animal advocates drape their message in a cloak of religiosity because people are ignorant about yet receptive to religion and therefore vulnerable to messages couched in piety.  Plus religious converts tend to be zealous and donate big bucks.

Bruce Vincent explained that animal advocates thrive on conflict and market fear.  He urged attendees to budget money in their business plans to become activists for animal and extractive industries.  Vincent is the Executive Director of Provider Pals, a cultural exchange program linking school groups with farmers, ranchers, miners, loggers, oil field workers, commercial fishermen and “others who provide the basics of everyday life.”

Kay Johnson Smith, executive vice president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance believes that if industrial agriculture doesn’t act soon, regulations will be on the horizon.  Her solution: Create self-imposed guidelines and follow them.  Factory farmers should not squash the discussion; they should take it over.  Only through being proactive can the industry stay unregulated.

There’s much more from many other people, which you can read here.

What can we take away from all this?  As I see it, this level of consternation would bode well were Big Food not still skating along without any real threat of regulation and protected by laws like AETA.  As things stand, such rhetoric augers neither good nor ill; it simply reflects the status quo and the fact that Industrial Agriculture did not become dominant by being complacent.  We should study these speeches carefully, absorb their lessons and fear neither the speaker nor the spoken word.

–David Cassuto