After Animal Rights extremists vandalized the home of Chiron attorney William Green several days ago, Chiron successfully obtained a temporary restraining order (subscription required) banning SHAC members and people associated with SHAC from threatening or vandalizing the homes of Chiron employees, or harassing them:
An Emeryville biotechnology company obtained a temporary restraining order Friday against the U.S. arm of an international animal rights group.
The move by Chiron Corp. against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty comes after weekend pickets at the homes of a Chiron attorney in Orinda and a Valent USA employee in Walnut Creek.
``After Sunday's illegal and bizarre behavior we needed to seek some remedy,'' said Chiron spokesman John Gallagher.
Gallagher said that Stop Huntingdon distributed information about the demonstrations beforehand and weekend protesters carried banners advertising the group's Web site.
But an attorney for the group said there is little evidence that Stop Huntingdon had anything to do with the Contra Costa protests last weekend and that organizers cannot be held liable for what protesters do at an event.
``There is no evidence that SHAC-USA directed, authorized or ratified the actions that are considered to be illegal,'' said attorney Mark Goldowitz, of the California Anti-Slapp Project. SLAPP stands for ``strategic lawsuits against public participation,'' which lawyers say corporations use to stifle opposition.
The temporary restraining order bars Stop Huntingdon or anyone associated with the group from threatening or vandalizing the homes of Chiron employees or harassing Chiron employees.
[ . . . ]
After pipe bombs exploded at Chiron and at Shaklee in Pleasanton last fall, police fingered a Sonoma animal rights supporter who is still at large. Stop Huntingdon posted claims of responsibility from other animal rights groups on its Web site.
Attorneys for Stop Huntingdon have argued that the lawsuit and restraining orders constitute SLAPP suits, which they say dampen free speech.
Goldowitz said he is fighting the suit on the grounds that it was filed as a result of Web site postings that are protected by the First Amendment. . . .
And in this simple story, we see the elements that make it so tough to deal with Animal Rights violence.
As I've pointed out many times, what SHAC and their fellow extremists actually do is almost certainly not illegal: they have the right post names and addresses on their web site. They have the right to express their belief that Chiron and it's executives are the devil incarnate. They have the right to inflame passions by characterizing biomedical research as animal torture or abuse, to call for holding the perpetrators accountable, and to provide instructions on how to intimidate, coerce, vandalize and terrorize, and how to create incendiary devices along side tofu recipes, if they are of a mind to. They also have the right to encourage assembly and to schedule protests.
As I've said before, they have the right to tell people how to make explosives - where to get the components, how to assemble them and how to detonate them.
As long as they themselves don't openly encourage or perform the violent act, they are free to speak their piece - and it is on this basis that Mr. Goldowitz is mounting his defense: "There is no evidence that SHAC-USA directed, authorized or ratified the actions that are considered illegal," and that all SHAC has done has been to exercise its free speech. Indeed, to cover their respective arses, SHAC and their fellow travelers simply include a disclaimer:
SHAC’s stated aim is to bring about the closure of Huntingdon Life Sciences by all legitimate forms of protest, and by highlighting their record of animal cruelty, staff incompetence, falsification of data and criminal activities.
Nothing contained on this website or in any SHAC publication is intended to encourage or incite illegal acts.
Any names and addresses of Huntingdon Life Sciences' laboratories and companies associated with them are published for the sole purpose of allowing members of the public to voice their concerns and carry out protests in a legal manner.
SHAC does not encourage or incite any illegal activities.
SHAC does not encourage or incite repetitive, threatening or abusive communications with these companies, be this by telephone call, fax, email or letter.
SHAC has no links or involvement with the Animal Liberation Front or the Animal Rights Militia, whoever they may be.
Any articles from the press published on this web site relating to illegal activities carried out against HLS and associated companies
are posted for the sole reason of publishing news related to Huntingdon Life Sciences and are not intended to incite or encourage similar acts.
Many of the demo reports are received by SHAC anonymously and we cannot take any responsibility for the content or accuracy of these reports.
The comments expressed on this web site are not necessarily the views of SHAC or the site editors.
See how easy it is?
Regular readers of AC know the second half of the equation: SHAC depends on anonymous useful idiots - passionate, sincere, socially conscious people of deep conviction who the SHAC leaders have probably never met and whose names are probably unknown to them - to conclude that violence is warranted, and to take it upon themselves to do the actual violent deed.
Of course, a restraining order that prohibits SHAC and known SHAC associates from approaching a target's home is meaningless: they don't do violence. The anonymous useful idiots, self-identified and motivated by Animal Rights rhetoric, are the dangerous ones, and there is no way to anticipate who they might be or to guard against them and their violence.
SHAC's tactics are exceptionally effective, and that's worrisome not just because of what SHAC does, but because their tactics could easily be adapted for use by a wide variety of potentially violent groups.