Animal rights and animal nuts
By Alan Caruba
Other than the biblical injunction against inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, the beginning of our modern concept of humane treatment, I do not believe animals have "rights." Humans do, but animals are, well, animals. We grow, slaughter, and eat a lot of them. Others become members of our family as pets and some serve mankind for the purpose of research to defeat the diseases that afflict us.
An important trial began in New Jersey in early June. The defendants are the leaders and members of the US chapter of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) who Executive Assistant US Attorney Charles McKenna described as a group of stalkers and criminal instigators who terrorized families through "a campaign of thuggery and intimidation." Both in England and here, Huntingdon, a company that undertakes animal-based research for pharmaceutical and other companies, has been targeted by SHAC. The six "activists", as one newspaper characterized them, are being prosecuted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
"These defendants," McKenna told the jury, "were going to drive this company out of business at any cost and there was no end to what they were going to do." The tactics they used involved all kinds of intimidation such as making threatening phone calls and even included overturning cars belonging to Huntingdon executives and workers. Suffice it to say, most reasonable people would conclude that their tactics went way beyond "advocacy" and, as their lawyer postulated, their right to free speech.
A mistrial was declared due to the illness of one of the defendant's attorney and a new trial is expected later this year.
Back in March, the New Jersey Audubon Society asked the State to reduce the population of white-tailed deer. Seems these deer whose dead bodies are routinely seen by the side of most of the Garden State's highways, have become an ecological "stressor" for birds and other wildlife, so let's get out our guns and shoot the danged critters. The Audubon folks are also thinking about opening some of their own preserves to hunters. Let us pray they don't inadvertently bump off some bird-watchers.
Okay, so let's see what's going on here; "Bad" SHAC people attacking Huntingdon executives versus "Good" Audubon people who want deer hunted and killed before they destroy the New Jersey forest environment in ways that have already eliminated at last fourteen bird species. And what can be said of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection who, after decades of deterring any hunting to reduce the State's black bear population, has discovered they pose a real danger to people? After caving to the animal rights advocates, they now are reluctantly advocating a hunt.
Then there's the revelation by the Center for Consumer Freedom that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) kills thousands of animals every year at its Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. The Center notes that, between 1998 and 2003, PETA put to death more than 10,000 dogs, cats, and other creatures they dub "companion animals" and, get this, raked in nearly $29 million in 2004 from people who thought PETA wouldn't ever harm any animal. In the years noted, PETA killed 78.3 per cent of the animals they received.
PETA has also waged war against laboratories that use animals for research purposes, using the most corrupt forms of propaganda to target Covance of Vienna, Virginia. According to the FBI, PETA has donated thousands of dollars an animal rights groups like the Animal Liberation Front that the FBI considers to be no less terrorist than Islamic fundamentalists. PETA are the same people who don't want you to wear real fur and who spend huge bucks on campaigns to scare little children who might be served chicken in the school cafeteria or go fishing with dad. PETA wants all of us to become vegetarians. Hypocrites? The worst!
The national madness about animals seemingly has no end. In May when a rare woodpecker specie was spotted in Arkansas, the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture could not wait to announce the proposed spending of more than $10 million to provide habitat for its protection. That's on top of the $10 million already being spent for research and habitat protection efforts being spent by private conservation groups. This particular bird, the ivory-billed woodpecker, has not been seen in 60 years. Let's put this silly bird right up there with the millions spent to "save" the California condor. There is something obscene about spending $10 million on yet another soon-to-be extinct bird.
Back in 1998 the US Fish & Wildlife Service decided to reintroduce the Mexican Grey Wolf that used to range in Arizona and New Mexico. Across the border in Mexico, of course, there were plenty of these wolves. They were only "rare" here. At some considerable cost to US taxpayers, some of these wolves were captured and released, and showed their gratitude by killing livestock, a far easier prey than chasing down a jackrabbit. In less than seven years, the same USF&W put the word out. "Kill the Mexican Grey Wolf!" We can find money to waste on these and other animal-related projects, but we can't find it when it comes to hiring more border guards to help stop the illegal immigrants streaming across the border every month. Go figure.
Congress is discussing extending, once again, the Endangered Species Act. This law has had less than a one percent (1 per cent) recovery rate in its 30-year history, but it did have a devastating affect on the value of privately owned property designated as "critical habitat." Suffice it to say, this law has been a spectacular failure and needs to be sent to the great congressional shredding machine for really bad laws.
The capacity of the federal government to waste millions on the enforcement of bad "animal rights" laws, juxtaposed against a new trial for allegedly criminal animal lovers, is a reminder that a little bit of common sense would go a long way when it comes to the hysteria over "endangered species" and the fact that your local supermarket is filled with the remains of dead animals, all nicely canned, frozen or wrapped in clear cellophane so you can see how fresh it is!
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, 2005
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