Animal Rights extremists have launched another arson attack in the UK, the target this time being a boathouse at Oxford University. The goal of the arsonists is to stop construction of a primate research center.
University targeted in arson campaign to halt construction of primate research centre
Animal rights extremists are claiming responsibility for an arson attack on an Oxford University boathouse which caused an estimated £500,000 worth of damage.
The attack comes after the Guardian revealed last month that activists have unleashed a campaign of arson in a return to tactics of the 80s in response to the government's attempts to clamp down on their activities.
In the latest assault 24 rowing boats were destroyed and much of the interior of the Hertford College boathouse at Oxford University was damaged after arsonists broke into the riverside building and poured about 11 litres (2.42 gallons) of petrol over the property inside.
A source close to the inquiry said an estimated £500,000 worth of damage had been caused. Boats belonging to Hertford and four other colleges, St Catherine's, Mansfield, St Hilda's and Templeton were destroyed.
In a posting yesterday on the Bite Back magazine website, the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the raid.
It's awfully difficult to claim the moral high ground when you apply your standard so selectively.
Animal Rights isn't an ethic, it's an attitude, and it is the attitude of tyrants. There is but one rule that you are required to obey if you hope not to be on the list of AR targets: support us, recognize us as your masters.
That's a much different demand than "do not exploit, torture or kill animals for convenience." If that really were the gold standard, PeTA would be at the top of the ALF list, given PeTA's cold-blooded policy to kill animals simply because they are unadoptable.
If the life of a human and that of an animal are of equal value, as PeTA and ALF spokesmen claim (link, link), why is being unadoptable of moral relevance? How can it be that an animal loses its "rights" simply on the basis that some wretched human has abused the animal to the point where it is unadoptable? Why is the victim of such abuse not more worthy of PeTA's concern than adoptable animals, and why does ALF turn a blind eye to such hypocrisy?
Oxford University is being targeted in a campaign to stop the building of a new primate laboratory on the university site. Work was halted last year when the main contractors Montpellier pulled out after receiving threats from animal extremists.
It is understood a new contractor has been found but work has yet to restart on the site in South Parks Road.
Oxford University, working with the government, has drawn up plans to reduce the chances that the new builders will be identified and targeted when they start work again.
In its claim on the website the ALF said: "On July 4 an Animal Liberation Front cell travelled to Oxford armed with incendiary devices containing approximately 11 litres of petrol. At approximately 11pm they broke into Oxford University's Hertford College boathouse and deployed the devices among the boats. Before leaving they re-padlocked the door and glued all the locks to avoid the possibility of people entering before the devices ignited.
"The reason for the attack was as follows: Oxford University's holdings now own the contract to build the South Parks lab. As far as the ALF are concerned this means that Oxford University as a whole must accept the consequences. From here on nothing you own, rent or have dealings with is off limits until the project is scrapped. To warn builders and suppliers that they are going to get some, even if their involvement comes to light years later, we will not let you off the hook!"
But they will let PeTA off the hook . . . The AR "ideology" isn't one. It is instead a shifting attitude that is applied selectively by thugs who harbor a strong desire to be violent, but who have consciences that they have to live with.
The loopy AR "ideology" provides them with a rationale and a target that satisfies their desire to vandalize, intimidate, harass and terrorize, and a means to convince their conscience that they are noble, and they are doing Gods work.
After all, their conscience is infallible . . .
(The selection of targets, publicized on websites and by other means [demonstrations, flyers, posters, etc.] seems to be all important, and PeTA is conspicuously absent from the demonizing PR.)
The posting went on to say that the arson attack was dedicated to a number of animal rights activists who are in prison, including Dave Blenkinsop, who is serving 10 years for attacking the managing director of Huntingdon Life Sciences, the Cambridgeshire-based animal laboratory; Sarah Gisbourne, who was sentenced to six and a half years for conspiracy to cause criminal damage after attacking vehicles linked to HLS; and Keith Mann, a leading member of the ALF who was given a one year jail sentence earlier this month for breaking into a Hampshire laboratory and freeing 600 mice, after the attorney general appealed against the community service order he had been given on the grounds that it was too lenient. Mann recently praised arson as a direct action tactic in the Bite Back magazine in an issue which highlighted the success of firebomb attacks over the last 30 years.
Thames Valley police said they were aware that a claim of responsibility had been made by the ALF and were including that in their inquiry.
"This information will form part of our investigation but we will be keeping an open mind as to who may be responsible," it said.
It is always a possibility that someone else did the deed and wanted to throw suspicion onto ALF, but I doubt the facts will bear that out, given the BiteBack post.
Speak, the campaign to stop the building of the laboratory, ran an article on its website yesterday celebrating the first anniversary of the moment Montpellier pulled out of the contract.
"Twelve months down the line, the skeleton of the laboratory stands abandoned - a monument to greed and academic curiosity, rather than a monument to real science. But like every monument, slowly and surely, it will disintegrate," it said.
"The question is not whether science is a necessary evil, but whether a science based on the suffering of countless sentient beings can ever be justified. The price for all of us is simply too high."
And yet, PeTA and its killing ways go unnoticed by the violent AR community, with not even a whisper of their wrong-doing surfacing.
I stand by my analyses.
1) Those who acted did not do so exclusively to further the cause of Animal Rights, but mainly to satisfy their own need for violence. The AR "ideology" provided them with the salve their conscience needs, and has been carefully written and promoted by AR worthys to do just that — to convince some anonymous useful idiots that acting violently is fine if done "for the animals," and to provide the useful idiots with targets and techniques to . . . express themselves . . .
The foot soldiers get the thrill of acting out, the people who recruit them and provide the rationale for them to act gain power and influence, not to mention money.
2) PeTA is above attack by those justifying and supporting overt AR violence because PeTA's propaganda is extremely useful for recruiting and indoctrinating people to be violent in behalf of the AR cause (I've argued this here and here.
For people like Professor Steven Best and Dr. Jerry Vlasak, both self-appointed "press officers" for the terrorist ALF, and/or other luminaries like them, the publicity, the excitement of being "special," the need to commit themselves to a spiritual anchor, perhaps the allure of vicarious violence, the notoriety, the bad-boy image, are oxygen itself, and are far more important than ideological or tactical consistency or coherence. Or so I would argue.
They will not criticize PeTA because they need what PeTA provides: a steady stream of anonymous useful idiots whose violent actions they, the luminaries, can apologize for, explain and defend in front of a wide-eyed world.
In short, it's an ego trip, one embarked on by people whose conscience is infallible and clear.
Mel Broughton, spokesman for the Speak campaign, said the arson was not carried out by anyone within the group.
"It certainly wasn't done on behalf of Speak," he said.
"We are a legal campaign. We don't involve ourselves in illegal actions."
Right — all you and your fellow travelers do, Mr. Broughton, is to provide the conscience-salving rationale, the targets, the encouragement and helpful suggestions for techniques that could be employed, if someone wanted to do so . . .
Finally, it's going to be interesting to watch things in the UK over the next few months. I suspect that in light of the recent bombings in the London underground, our friends the Brits will be much more agreeable to police crackdowns on violent AR groups than they have heretofore been. But we'll see.
Thanks to David S. for the tip.