Animal rights extremists — like the terrorist groups SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty), ALF (Animal Liberation Front) and ELF (Earth Liberation Front) — have developed terror tactics that are diabolically effective: they target individuals, rather than companies, and those individuals are employees not only of the primary target (in this case, Huntingdon Life Sciences), but also individuals who work for companies that are clients and suppliers of HLS (like Canaccord Capital).
The idea is simple: if you can separate the primary target (HLS) from its suppliers and clients (Canaccord Capital), the primary target will be unable to survive. And if you can terrorize one or two employees of each supplier and client, you can drive clients and suppliers from the primary target, to do business elsewhere. After all, it's a lot more appealing to Canaccord's management teams to abandon HLS and find another corporation to do business with than to stick with HLS out of principle and watch their own people terrorized.
Here's another example of just how effective that tactic is in practice.
LONDON brokers for botanics firm Phytopharm have thrown in the towel after a bomb was left under a senior director's car by animal rights activists.
Canaccord Capital announced it was resigning "with immediate effect" as joint sponsor and broker for the Godmanchester company, which specialises in remedies based on plant extracts.
Phytopharm is developing treatments for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and motor neurone disease, but is also at the forefront of new medicines for animals.
The Animal Liberation Front has targeted Canaccord because Phytopharm has links with Huntingdon Life Sciences, the animal testing labs which have been subject to a sustained campaign by activists for many years.
Canaccord is Phytopharm's biggest shareholder and has raised £10m for the company. The other major sponsor, Rothschild, is staying on board.
Dr Wang Chong, Phytopharm's chief financial officer, and who used to be an analyst with Canaccord, said this morning: "I am very sad. We will have to find another broker."
The bomb, which set fire to the Canaccord director's car, although he was not in it at the time and no one was hurt, was only identified as coming from animal rights activists on Wednesday - yet the incident took place last month.
Dr Wang said the main reason for his company being targeted via its broker was its association with Japanese drug company Yamanouchi, which uses HLS services. But Yamanouchi terminated its partnership deal with Phytopharm in February after a merger created duplication.
Even more ironic is that Phytopharm already has two products on the market to treat eczma in dogs, and these were tested on humans before entering the veterinary market.
Dr Wang said: "There is no reasoning with these people. It's like dealing with religious fanatics."
Dr Wang is incorrect — dealing with Animal Rights activists isn't like dealing with religious fanatics. It is dealing with actual religious fanatics, people who believe that animals and humans are of equal moral value.
And if you haven't exactly reached any conclusions about what that "equal worth" perspective might mean — or how it can tie together seemingly unrelated acts of idiocy into one neat theological package — you should read this.
The fact that Animal Rights activists accept as an unquestioned article of faith that animals have "rights" carries with it certain implications: first, True Believers are impervious to rational argument and evidence — after all, you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.
Secondly, if they're doing god's work to cleanse Mother Earth and her oppressed creatures of man's depredations (Animal Rights activist and convicted arsonist Rodney Coronado captures the "spirit" of AR/Eco spirituality particularly well . . .), there will be precious few man-made obstacles — philosophical, logical or legal — that you will regard as legitimate, or that will deflect you from pursuing your agenda. The only deterrence is the practical fear of being caught and punished.
After all, the True Believer answers to a higher calling: he invariably identifies with true freedom fighters and noble causes of the past who used violence to achieve their ends, and he willingly accepts his burden as a champion of "the oppressed" — or, more accurately, he champions those his imagination tells him are oppressed. He knows his cause is righteous because his conscience tells him so.
And unlike the conscience of his opponents — not to mention the conscience of history's dictators, cut-throats, thugs and tyrants — his own conscience is an infallible moral compass . . .
So it becomes easy for some of the faithful to call for the targeting of individual people and their families, and others to use violent techniques (like bombs) to force acceptance of an extreme agenda that cannot be achieved through peaceful persuasion.
They're motives are pure, their conscience is infallible — and they are doing their god's work . . .
On a practical level, the violence actually serves two purposes: first, it coerces compliance, as the bomb did in this story announcing Canaccord Capital's retreat.
And second, it "moves the middle" of acceptable behavior and rhetoric, making less overtly violent groups, but ones that are no less radical in their ideology, appear more mainstream than they really are.