Animal Rights Activists Are Terrorists?
Animal rights activists are labeled as �terrorists� on a website run by the
Canadian Federal Government.
The website is part of a training
program for FINTRAC, a government agency responsible for monitoring
financial transactions to ensure they aren�t being used for illegal
activities such as terrorism or money-laundering. The training program was
created to train employees of foreign agencies similar to FINTRAC.
training program consists of workshops followed by an online test that
includes the question: �Under which terrorist group do animal rights
activists and environmental extremists fall?� The answer according to the
website is single-issue terrorists.
It is true that the online test may
not hold the same weight as say, a law defining nearly all animal rights
activism as terrorism, such as we have in the US. And while the agency could
make the point that they were simply trying to find an appropriate example
that would clearly represent a very specific single-issue campaign, it
remains utterly unforgivable to flippantly use terms like �terrorist� to
describe any group with unpopular or fringe beliefs.
In a post 9/11
culture, the word "terrorist" is used all over the world to create the same
kind of jingoistic, fear-driven climate that America experienced in the
1940s and 1950s when Joseph McCarthy was hunting for communists. Back then
anyone that didn�t like the status quo was labelled as a communist to
invalidate their ideas and establish them as an enemy. Nowadays the
establishment is quick to call a person or a group �terrorists� even if
those people are working for peace within the bounds of their constitutional
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was passed in 2006 and
was used in 2009 to bring charges against four activists in California
for leafletting, writing chalk on the streets, protesting and publishing
information that was publicly available on the internet. The
charges against those activists were eventually thrown out by a judge
who had the common sense to see that all of their activities were
constitutionally protected free speech. The four activists were guilty of
nothing more than trying to make social change and were labeled as
When governments and conservative groups use words like
terrorist, they are trying to capitalize on a stigma and invalidate an idea
without ever having to disprove it. If they can successfully brand animal
rights activists as terrorists, then invalidating their actual beliefs
becomes unnecessary, because who wants to sympathize or be associated with
We cannot continue to throw around words like terrorist
around carelessly to describe anyone who has beliefs we dislike. It is not
only inaccurate, it is irresponsible. And it is especially egregious,
especially irresponsible, and especially inaccurate when those who are being
accused of terrorism are activists who engage in legal protests for the sole
purpose of ending violence against animals.