Sunday, January 14, 2007

Will Potter: Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Signed into Law


After a cold and wet morning, politicians and celebrities slogged through the muck of the National Mall on November 13, to pay tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. and break ground on the new national memorial in his honor. Democrats and Republicans, Clinton and Bush, Oprah and Jesse were all on hand in muddied wingtips and pumps, clamoring to show their support for the civil rights leader and his once-controversial tactics.

Representative John Lewis of Georgia told PBS NewsHour, “King inspired me and thousands of other Americans to get in the way. He inspired us to get in trouble. But it was good trouble; it was necessary trouble. And that’s why we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today.”

But hours later, those who had spent the morning waxing eloquent about dissent and making trouble were nowhere to be found as about half a dozen lawmakers allowed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) to pass the House of Representatives on a voice vote.


...the most disturbing segment of this whole scare-mongering debacle was how Sensenbrenner ended the floor debate: “This is a good bill. I think that all of the fears that the gentleman from Ohio has placed on the record are [considered] ill-founded by practically everybody who has looked through this bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).”

The ACLU, in fact, had sent a letter to members of Congress on March 6, urging opposition to the legislation, and the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) sent a nearly identical letter. The biggest concerns raised in these letters were never addressed by Congress. Yet while the HSUS and other mainstream animal welfare groups like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were outspoken against the AETA, the ACLU informed lawmakers in September that “the ACLU does not oppose this bill.”

Why? Perhaps because there are so many other civil liberties issues competing for critical attention. Perhaps because corporate scare-mongering and green baiting has turned animal rights activists into political lepers. Or perhaps history repeats itself. The ACLU has a long, venerable history of defending the civil liberties of even the most unsavory characters, including the KKK. Yet during the Red Scare of the ’40s and ’50s, the ACLU formally barred communists from leadership or staff positions. Meanwhile, the National Lawyers Guild took a beating for refusing to name names and purge members who also belonged to communist organizations, but it stood its ground.

This time around, the National Lawyers Guild was out front opposing the AETA and the Green Scare. And this time around, the silence of the ACLU spoke volumes, essentially giving the Green Scare the green light.

You can read the full version here.


Jim Dicken said...

You are absolutely right. The silence of the ACLU speaks mountains. EVEN THE ACLU recognizes that ANIMALS do not have the same rights as PEOPLE, and to even consider animals as having such rights is inhumane to the animals. To even think of putting animals in the same category as minorities in this country is disgusting if not out right insanity.
Your basic premise of Animal Rights is a bankrupt ideology which in the end is more of a denial of rights. YOU WOULD DENY Animals Medical care. You would deny them the ability to reproduce, to openly and freely associate with human beings.
How is this improvement of Animal Beings..?

Ellie said...

Jim, this law is about silencing activists. It is not about the moral philosophy of animal rights. Both animal welfare and rights activists opposed the bill. The two organizations mentioned in the article, HSUS and ASPCA, are animal welfare, not animal rights organizations. However, an animal rights organization also opposed the bill.

Apparently, you fail to see that speciesism is similar to other forms of oppression, such as racism and sexism. It's the oppression itself that's illogical, not the reasons why the oppression should end.

Animal rights activists assert that because nonhuman animals have fundamental awareness of themselves, their personal interests should be protected. And in order to protect their interests, they cannot be our property.

Animal rights would not deny animals medical care, or the right to reproduce as they choose to reproduce. It would protect their right to experience their lives on their own terms.

If you want to learn more, I think Professor Gary Francione is the best source. He's written several books including "Introduction to Animal Rights".

Ellie said...

Ronald, I think unfortunately the ACLU took a cop-out. It should have insisted on the obvious--that boycotts, mailings, and peaceful civil disobedience are NOT acts of terrorism, and that advocates have a right to freedom of speech. I think the ACLU should have spared the time and effort to do this, or they should stop claiming they represent our Constitutional rights.