(We're going to be entertaining house guests for the next week, so blogging may be a little slower than normal.)
Here's another one of those stories I failed to jump quickly on, but one that certainly merits attention. It's about a "Direct Action" targeting the general manager of the Los Angeles City's Animal Services (his predecessor had been targeted as well).
Ratcheting up their campaign of harassment against city workers, animal rights advocates claimed to have detonated smoke grenades in the home of the general manager of the city's Animal Services Department.
The Animal Liberation Front carried out the attack, according to a news release issued Tuesday by a second group. ALF is on the U.S. Department of Justice's list of domestic terror organizations.
"The Animal Liberation Front has taken advice from our commander in chief to 'smoke terrorists out of their holes.' The target was Los Angeles' No. 1 terrorist" Guerdon Stuckey, said the release from a group calling itself Animal Liberation.
Animal Liberation said ALF sent it the information about the attack.
"Military strength smoke grenades were detonated on the floor of this animal killer's abode. Sleep light … ALF," the news release said.
Of course, such goings on serve a dual purpose. First, for the target, it's just a real hassle to confront such an event. There is the sheer inconvenience of having your day disrupted, and the immediate, acute, momentary fear that slowly dissipates.
But then, there is an implied, but not so subtle, message behind the ALF's announcement of its acts — the messasge behind the message, if you will: "We know where you live. Next time, we may do worse. We can come at any time, and there's no guarantee we'll stop with a mere smoke grenade, or vandalism. We may target your family. So comply, or risk the consequences."
The gloating words of the obligatory ALF after-action report are stereotypically chilling, a carefully calculated and important component of the terrorist's script.
This kind of subliminal message is intended to create a chronic fear, a fear that is crushing and inescapable. (Whether it works or not depends on the individual — in the case of Catherine Kinney, the cowardly president of the NYSE who slammed the door on Life Sciences' bid to list on the NYSE at the very last moment, words alone were apparently enough to intimidate her into compliance. The courageous Hall family, they of the Darley Oaks guinea pig farm, proved a far tougher nut than Kinney.)
What is interesting about the fear created by the ALF recipe of harassment-followed-by-threatening-communiqué is how unique the human capacity to suffer is, relative to other animals.
Humans can be threatened by symbols of violence, be they spoken words, written words, video-clips, drawings or any combination thereof, and can be made to fear some hypothetical future event, an event constructed psychologically by the target — who fears not only for his own future, but also for the future of other people — family, friends, etc. — in addition to mere property.
The human mind, unlike the mind of any other animal, translates such symbols as ALF presents into real fear, and the fear causes suffering that can manifest itself in the form of varying degrees of worry, sleepless nights, loss of appetite, distraction, ulcers, and conceivably, mental breakdown.
Which, of course, is the entire point.
But there's irony here — and it is profound. Animal Rights activists justify their entire enterprise on the basis that "suffering is suffering" and that humans and animals deserve the same moral consideration and legal protections because they suffer alike.
"Likeness of suffering" is the conceptual underpinning of the Animal Rights ideology, the one that that leads Animal Rights activists to regard the life of an animal and that of a human to be of equal value: they suffer alike, animals and humans, so they must be treated alike both morally and legally.
But AR "likeness of suffering" is palpably not true, a figment of the AR imagination, a fantasy.
Humans and animals may share some kinds of suffering — like pain when burned — but humans have in addition a unique capacity to suffer not present in any animal that lacks the ability to communicate abstract thoughts using symbolic communication.
The irony deepens and thickens to a quagmire when you appreciate that the ALF, ELF, SHAC and other terrorist groups prey on the single kind of suffering that separates humans from animals, even as justify their actions on the grounds that all animals suffer in the same ways!
Stuckey would not provide details about the attack, . . . Police also would not provide details Wednesday other than to confirm that an incident had occurred.
"There is an ongoing investigation," said Sgt. John Romero of the Los Angeles Police Department.
According to the release, ALF also said it took action against another animal services employee: "Prostitutes, pizza deliverymen, taxis and gang members were directed to her residence at late hours on two recent nights."
Cute . . .
Stuckey confirmed that those incidents took place.
Animal activists have for several years been pushing Los Angeles to stop putting to death dogs at its six shelters and place them into homes.
Stuckey and other officials have said that they are trying to reduce the number of dogs put to death, but that some dogs are too sick or vicious to be put up for adoption. In fiscal 2004-05, the city euthanized 34,932 dogs, down from 39,086 in 2001-02, according to animal services statistics. Activists have disputed those numbers.
Activists have held regular protests at the Larchmont Village home of David Diliberto, who oversees field operations for animal services. A bomb threat in August caused police to evacuate the area outside Diliberto's home.
A group that calls itself the Animal Defense League Los Angeles organized those protests, but the group says it doesn't engage in illegal activity.
Pamelyn Ferdin, one of its leaders, told The Times earlier this month that the group had long wanted to hold protests at Stuckey's home but couldn't find his address. Her husband, Jerry Vlasak, said Wednesday that he didn't know who was responsible for the incident last week. [My emphasis . . . ed]
Ferdin and Vlasak face a criminal trespass charge for refusing to leave Diliberto's property during a protest.
Some City Council members questioned whether police were doing enough to protect city employees.
Dr. Vlasak believes that the life of an animal and that of a human are of equal worth. The logic of his position is this: If you can save "N + 1" animals by killing "N" humans, you are performing a moral duty.
With his call for assassination, Dr. Vlasak has lowered the bar for murder. It's just a matter of time before murder happens, and the members of the City Council have good reason to be worried.
"No one should be harmed because of a belief they have or a service that they provide," said Councilman Tom LaBonge. "This keeps escalating a little bit more each time and all of a sudden we're going to have a tragedy, and I don't want to see that."
Stuckey said the LAPD was helping. "There is a great deal of focus on this issue by the police," he said.
[ . . . ]
For much of 2003, the activists' primary target was then-director of animal services Jerry Greenwalt.
Activists held protests at his Santa Monica home, leafleted his neighborhood and spray-painted "murderer" on his car before he resigned in March 2004.
Activists dressed as skeletons and carrying photos of dead dogs also protested several times at the San Pedro home of then-Mayor James K. Hahn.
[ . . . ]
Stuckey said he does not plan to leave his job.
"I'm absolutely staying and sticking with the job at hand," he said. "I came here to save these animals' lives and I am committed to that."
I wish the courageous Mr. Stuckey luck.
And if he decides he wants to move to New York, I'd be happy to write him a letter of recommendation to replace Catherine Kinney as President of the NYSE.