Under a relatively new law called the "Animal Enterprise
Terrorism Act" (A.E.T.A.), activists engaged in efforts to bring needless
suffering to an end for non-human animals inside factory farms, vivisection
labs, circuses and the like, now potentially face charges as "terrorists" in
federal courts even if their actions are peaceful and First Amendment
Although a pre-existing law from 1992 known as the "Animal
Enterprise Protection Act" was initially created to further prosecute and
create harsher penalties for activists who use illegal tactics to save
lives, such as liberating animals from abusive situations and causing
economic damage to industries that profit from suffering, the A.E.T.A. has
taken it one step further and tacked on the label of "terrorism" for such
If labeling a person who actually saves innocent lives a
"terrorist", rather than the person who systematically abuses and kills
animals for a living seems Orwellian to you, the vagueness used in writing
this law will be even more unsettling.
Although the law is allegedly
intended to curb illegal actions, it essentially says that those interfering
with the operations of an animal enterprise with the intent of causing
economic damage are committing acts of terrorism.
Well, doesn't that
include every single boycott, protest, campaign and demonstration to put an
end to animal exploitation? Aren't we trying to cause economic damage to a
company that abuses animals by boycotting them? Isn't that the whole point?
When taken literally, that law goes so far as to include even living a vegan
lifestyle since our very choice of diet is "disrupting animal enterprises."
The terms and language used in this law are far reaching and potentially
very threatening to the legal Animal Rights and Animal Welfare movement.
The law does include a clause that states:
"Nothing in this section
shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct (including peaceful
picketing or other peaceful demonstration) protected from legal prohibition
by the First Amendment to the Constitution."
But within less than
three years of the laws passage, four activists from California involved in
anti-vivisection campaigns were indicted for violating the A.E.T.A., even
though none of them was involved in illegal actions and all of them adhered
to completely legal First Amendment protected activities.
face up to 10 years in prison for passing out leaflets, attending
demonstrations and circulating public knowledge on the Internet about known
animal abusers. Does any of this fit into our ideas of terrorism or sound
like terrorist activity to you?
The fact that the government is
classifying activists as terrorists who simply want animal abuse to end is
one of the most grotesque misuses of such a timely sensitive word. To
compare the actions of peaceful protests to the attacks of 9/11, even if you
are someone who is not aligned with the animal activist movement, is totally
Is it possible that some of this is the result of
tremendous pressure from animal abusing industries that want animal
protection movements to disappear. The idea of freeing animals from
exploitation is simply bad for business.
In a time when terrorism is
an actual threat to many of us, it seems terribly unfair and extremely
disrespectful to those who have lost loved ones to real terrorist attacks to
even remotely compare them to animal activists.
It is interesting to
note that in the long history of the animal rights movement, not one person
has been killed by an activist. That is because killing is fundamentally
antithetical to what these activists are trying to achieve, which is a more
just and peaceful world.