A week or so ago, Professor Steven Best was issued a letter banning him from entering Great Britain for having made inflammatory comments, the decision to ban him having been made about a week before that. The most complete summary (subscription required) of the developing story is to be found in the Chronicle of Higher Education in an article written by Mr. Scott Smallwood.
A University of Texas at El Paso professor who supports the Animal Liberation Front has been banned from traveling to Britain because the government there says he is fomenting acts of terrorism in the country.
The professor, Steven Best, teaches philosophy and is one of the founders of the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which disseminates information about attacks on laboratories and farms by animal-rights activists. The Animal Liberation Front, which got its start in England in the 1970s, has been called one of the leading domestic terrorist threats by U.S. officials.
Mr. Best regularly travels to speak on animal rights. In July he spoke at the International Animal Rights Conference, in England. At that conference, he was quoted by a British newspaper as saying: "We are not terrorists, but we are a threat. We are a threat both economically and philosophically. Our power is not in the right to vote but the power to stop production. We will break the law and destroy property until we win."
According to the newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, he also said activists do not want to "reform" vivisectionists. Rather, he said, "we want to wipe them off the face of the earth." [My emphasis . . . ed]
In a letter informing him of the ban, an official with the Home Office -- a British agency that is similar to the U.S. Justice Department -- cited those statements and others made by Mr. Best in the past. "In expressing such views," the letter said, "it is considered that you are fomenting and justifying terrorist violence and seeking to provoke others to terrorist acts and fomenting other serious criminal activity and seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts."
I would say the Home Office hit the nail squarely on the head.
The letter to Mr. Best is dated August 24, the same day the Home Office published a new list of behaviors that would lead to people's being barred from visiting the country. Under the list, people who write, speak, run a Web site, or use their positions as teachers to express views that "foment, justify, or glorify violence in furtherance of particular beliefs" will be kept out or deported. The British government described the list, which was announced about six weeks after the July 7 terrorist attacks in London, as part of "its ongoing work to tackle terrorism and extremism."
Mr. Best had planned on traveling to England again in September to speak at an event where animal-rights activists will celebrate the closure of a farm that breeds guinea pigs for medical research.
Mr. Best said he was not surprised by the ban. "It was only a matter of time, especially after July 7," he said. "The climate in Britain is totally unbelievable. It's very fascist. It's becoming a police state."
It's hard to know what's percolating in Professor Best's mind. It's almost as if he thinks he, and every violent thug intent on overthrowing western democracies by violent means, is being cheated out of his just due by the very governments he seeks to bring down!
How dare a government deny him his god-given right to threaten any of the citizenry he feels like with acts of vandalism! How dare a government deny him his god-given right to wipe certain of them "off the face of the earth" if they don't comply with his demands!
He said that he had argued with British officials that his statements at the conference this summer had been taken out of context. "I argued that I didn't mean anything violent," he said, "that we'll wipe these guys off the face of the earth through legal means, through boycotts."
And here we see why Professor Best is a mere shadow of Dr. Vlasak. The former — Professor Best — retreats with an implausible but conspicuous tale between his legs when called to task for telling his audience that he wants to wipe folks off the face of the earth. "Oh no!" he reacts! "How could you possibly think I was speaking of violence?" he puzzles. "I meant we should boycott them off the face of the earth. That should be obvious to any dolt familiar with the ALF and its history of 'direct actions'."
Dr. Vlasak, of course, is different — a cut above Professor Best, if you will.
Just as he, Dr. Vlasak, was threatening to sue the Observer (UK) for them having tagged him as a person who advocated assassination, he was recorded professing assassination to be "morally acceptable." And to leave no doubt at all as to his true meaning, a few months later he was to appear on Australian TV and actually advocate the practice of assassination itself! Think what you will of Dr. Vlasak, he is not without juice, poisonous though it may be.
Alas! In this instance, Professor Best comes off a poor second best.
British officials considered banning Mr. Best from the country in 2004, but relented after he wrote a letter saying that while he supported the Animal Liberation Front, he did not consider the group to be violent. At that time, Jerry Vlasak, another activist who founded the press office with Mr. Best, was banned from traveling to Britain. [My emphasis . . . ed]
Heh . . . Let me see if I have this straight . . . The British thought to ban Professor Best because of his affiliation with a group tagged by the FBI as a terrorist group, a group he represents as one of its self-appointed "Press Officers." But he — Professor Best — told the British Government that he didn't consider the ALF to be violent, and the British government took Professor Best's characterization of the ALF over the FBI's!
Heh . . . again . . .
Thanks to Erin O for bringing Mr. Smallwood's article to my attention, and to Lisa A and Joe W for pointin me towards other articles.