Readers of recent AC posts will be familiar with a couple of articles on the desecration of Gladys Hammond's grave in the UK. In the second post, I pointed out that the extreme Bite Back website included the desecration in its "Diary of Actions" (October 10), a list of criminal acts supposedly undertaken for the purposes of furthering the Animal Rights agenda.
Though it has yet to be proven that Animal Rights extremists were responsible for desecrating Hammond's grave, Brian Carnell points out that AR activists have desecrated graves for, presumably, the greater glory of animals and their "rights" in the past, and cites an interview in Bite Back! with the ALF's John Curtin, who says this:
BB: One of the things you are most famous for is helping to form the Hunt Retribution Squad (HRS) and participating in the action of digging up the Duke of Beaufort’s grave. Were the action and the formation of the HRS done more as a publicity stunt or was it intended to send a serious message that a sharper edge was being brought to the anti-hunt movement?
JC: It was both really. At the time we began to play with the media a bit - because they had turned on us by that time anyways. That was around the time we became known as the maniacs of the press. Before then we were the little Robin Hoods, the darlings, the animal rescuers. As arson began to be deployed and we began to cause millions of pounds worth of damage, we started to get called the axe wielding, baby-killing lunatics. So there was a bit of manipulation of the tabloid media and to “give ‘em what they want” sort of thing. But there was a serious side to it (HRS), where we definitely did have plans to use violence against hunt people. But that got thwarted by our arrest and it never quite materialized from then. But whether or not it would have happened I don’t know, because I don’t know if we are violent people. But we did - I remember seriously wanting to go along those lines.
BB: How did you get caught for this action?
JC: It's just totally weird what happened. We never actually did dig the body up. And that is an everlasting story in itself, but we did desecrate the grave. We dug a big six-foot hole. We got within like an inch of the coffin. We did all that - got back to London - and bam-bam-bam (the story was in the newspapers).
Basically our weak point was that somebody’s mother knew where this safe house was, and this mother had a hunch-and only a hunch-that her son was involved. She actually went to the police with this information, saying her son was involved in animal rights. All the quirks, circumstances, and coincidences just converged and that was like an Aladdin’s key for the police.
BB: Was this your first time in prison and how much time did you get?
JC: Well at that point I was already on bail for raiding laboratories. I got two years for the HRS action and nine months for something else. It was my first time in prison.
BB: Did you have a hard time adjusting to prison life this first time?
Brian Carnell also points out that even this was not the first time AR activists desecrated a grave, that in 1977 Animal Rights extremists desecrated the grave of a legendary British huntsman. According to Undue Influence:
Even the dead were not safe from Animal Liberation Front terrorism, which set out to shock the public out of its apathy about animal mistreatment. In January 1977 three ALF activists broke into the graveyard of St. Kentigern’s Church in the small Lake District village of Caldbeck to desecrate the grave of Robert Peel, the legendary huntsman and most English of folk heroes, who had lain there a hundred and twenty-three years. They smashed his headstone and dug up the grave. The activists, who did not bill the desecration as an ALF raid, even called the media to report they had exhumed Peel’s remains and thrown them in a cesspit. The police found no evidence of this, but discovered a stuffed fox’s head in the dug up grave. One of Ronnie Lee’s colleagues, Mike Huskisson, and two other activists were captured and sentenced to nine months in jail for the desecration.
So I guess what I'm saying here is that grave desecration, if not an everyday tactic in the Animal Rights' bag of tricks, is certainly not without precedent.
But what is without precedent is this, an extremist actually condemning the desecration:
. . .Mel Broughton, a spokesman for animal rights group Speak, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he condemned the desecration.
He said: "I fail to see how it furthers the cause of animal rights." [Emphasis added — ed.]
However, Mr Broughton said the act may not have been carried out by animal rights protesters.
"The media have tried and judged us already and we have to take into account this possibly could be an act by someone, or persons, to try and blacken the animal rights campaign and I think that has to be taken on board as well."
Asked about comments on a US animal rights website describing the desecration as a success, he said it did not speak for the whole movement.
"It would be wrong to tarnish the whole protest movement on the words of one individual," he said. . . .
Mr. Broughton's organization, Speak (or Speac), you may recall, together with SHAC, worked to scuttle the construction of a research facility at Cambridge University through the use of thuggish tactics of intimidation, coercion and vandalism. Speac and SHAC are now hard at work trying for similar success at Oxford, using the same tried and true methods.
Now, it is true that Mr. Broughton's condemnation is unprecedented: when has an AR extremist ever criticized the actions of another AR extremist? That just doesn't happen — at least not in this dimension.
But before we break out the (Napa Valley) champaign and celebrate Mr. Broughton's ethical rehabilitation, before we accept that his extremism really does have moral boundaries beyond which he will not transgress, before we renew hope in the perfectibility of humans, we need to look at why he disapproved of the desecration of Gladys Hammond's grave.
It's really very simple!
The desecration of Gladys Hammond's grave, the removal of her remains, was bad because it doesn't further the AR cause!