Well! It looks like CBS is interested in doing a piece on Animal Rights extremists, and it will appear on this week's edition of 60 minutes.
(CBS) Despite racking up over $100 million in damages using arson and sabotage, environmental and animal rights extremists still haven’t stopped Americans from driving gas-guzzling SUVs, developing pristine land or conducting animal research.
Now, some of the extremists say it’s time to start killing people to make their point. 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley reports on extremist groups collectively known as eco-terrorists, which the FBI says are now the biggest domestic terror threat, this Sunday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
A spokesman for extreme animal rights groups believes killing humans is justified. “I think people who torture innocent beings should be stopped,” says Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a California trauma surgeon. “If they won’t stop when you ask them nicely, they don’t stop when you demonstrate to them what they’re doing is wrong, then they should be stopped using whatever means are necessary.” [My emphasis . . . ed]
The author of this publicity piece missed the bulls-eye: he doesn't understand that all AR groups are, by definition, extreme.
Every Animal Rights True-Believer operates from the same premise — that the life of an animal and that of a human are of equal value, and that it is as immoral to discriminate on the basis of species ("speciesism") as it is to discriminate on the basis of race ("racism").
Animal Rights activists believe that a single moral standard should govern how we humans interact with other humans and animals — that a dog is entitled to the same moral standing as a human, and that it is immoral to withold that standing simply because the dog is . . . well . . . a dog and not a human.
So just as you wouldn't eat a "human person", hunt him, experiment on him without his consent, etc., you shouldn't do any of those things to "non-human persons."
There is nothing "not extreme" about an ideology based on the premise of human/animal moral equivalence.
Having said that, different AR personalities and groups pursue their egalitarian utopia using different methods: Dr. Vlasak and his ALF compatriots are perfectly happy to use intimidation, coercion, thuggery, vandalism and apparently assassination to achieve their goals.
The HSUS is more interested in using the courts. (Point of information: a selection of prestigious law schools — Stanford, Duke, Columbia and UCLA for starters — are now studying animal-rights law, courtesy $1 million grants by celebrity Bob Barker to each for that purpose. If that's not enough the "oppression of animals" has been granted pride-of-place next to the oppression of human groups (racial minorities, women, gays and lesbians, etc.) in at least one college campus's "Tunnel of Oppression" indoctrination program.
One approach is overtly violent, the other is not, one dips easily into illegal tactics, the other uses the tools of the lawyer legally — but both approaches are directed towards the same extreme goal.
Though Vlasak wouldn’t kill any researchers himself, he hopes others will use "whatever means necessary" to stop the use of animals in experiments.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has used a tax-exempt affiliate called the Foundation to Support Animal Protection to funnel at least $592,000 to PCRM. This foundation, whose letterhead now shows that it is doing business as “The PETA Foundation,” has the same mailing address as PETA, and PETA owns its website address. Neal Barnard and PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk are two of the Foundation’s three officers. Barnard is its President.
And PETA itself directly gave PCRM over $265,000 between 1988 and 1999.
The real story isn't the underground groups like ALF or ELF, or the above ground groups like PeTA or PCRM. It is the interface between the two.
Will Mr. Bradley and 60 Minutes be savvy enough to discern this? I hope so, but I'm betting they are not.
Still, I hope Mr. Bradley pursues this killing business, although I don't know what more one needs to know other than on October 26, 2005, Dr. Vlasak testified before the Senate and freaked senators out when he said that humans and animals are "morally equal," and that it was his (Dr. Vlasak's) belief that assassinating scientists to save animals was, therefore, "morally acceptable." (Prior to that, he had openly advocated the practice.)
By advocating murder, Dr. Vlasak has made the unthinkable thinkable.
If Mr. Bradley and his 60 Minutes team are taking requests, I'd like to make one: I'd love to hear how Dr. Vlasak, who claims that humans and animals are morally equal, would justify the spaying and neutering of animals, a practice his ADL-LA (Animal Defense League — Los Angeles) advocates as a "No Kill Solution" (left sidebar) on its www.stopthekilling.net page.
As I see it, this is an ideological train wreck. If humans and animals are "morally equal," how can Dr. Vlasak and his minions justify forcibly sterilizing animals but not humans?
Or — more chilling by far — would Dr. Vlasak et al forcibly sterilize humans for the same reasons they do animals?
That's a fair question. Animal Rights activists and AR opponents alike deserve an answer.
The FBI thinks that scenario is possible. “There have been multiple statements made regarding assassinations and or killing of individuals involved in…biomedical research and that kind of thing,” says John E. Lewis, deputy assistant director for counter terrorism at the FBI.
The bureau is actively investigating more than 150 crimes claimed by groups like the Animal Liberation Front or its spin-off, the Earth Liberation Front.
Individuals claiming to represent these groups have incinerated SUVS, fire-bombed buildings and released lab animals, destroying decades of invaluable research over the last 15 years. In its largest act, the ELF burned down a nearly-completed $23 million apartment complex near San Diego to protest urban sprawl.
The question of violence is causing a rift in the movement. ALF and ELF members who use arson claim to be non-violent, saying they are simply destroying property. Rod Coronado, a former ALF cell leader who served jail time for arson, says, “For every arson that I’ve carried out, there’s probably three or four not carried out for that fear of injuring someone.” Dr. Valsak disagrees, saying the use of arson while espousing a no-harm-to-humans rule is “disingenuous.” “We have to look at what works,” he tells Bradley.
Rodney Coronado, of course, has quite a history, which includes a more-than-nodding acquaintance with PeTA and, especially, PeTA President Ingrid Newkirk.
Mr. Coronado served 4 plus years in the slammer for having torched labs at Michigan State University. PeTA was kind enough to pay $45,200 to the Rodney Coronado Support Committee, and to provide Mr. Coronado's father with a "loan" of $25,000 while son Rodney was on the lam that as far as anyone can tell has yet to be repaid.
It must be disappointing for people who donated their hard-earned money to PeTA in the mistaken impression that they'd be helping alleviate animal suffering to learn that their contributions went to support an arsonist.
But irrespective of that, we must ask ourselves: Why might PeTA do such a thing? I wonder, and I bet you do too! Could it have been "hush money?" Keep reading and you make your own call . . .
Here's some of what you can find on pages 8 and 9 in the government's Sentencing Memorandum (pdf) prepared for the Coronado case:
[ . . . ] Forensic evidence discovered during the investigation confirmed that Coronado played an important role in planning and executing the ALF's campaign of terrorism. Investigators learned that immediately before and after the MSU arson, a Federal Express package had been sent to a Bethesda, Maryland address from an individual identifying himself as "Leonard Robideau". The first package went to Ingrid Newkirk, PETA's founder. (Footnote 1) The second package was intercepted by employees of Federal Express after they discovered that a phony account number had been used to send the package. This second package contained documents that had been stolen from Dr. Aulerich during the MSU raid. Also in this package was a videotape of a perpetrator of the MSU crime, disguised in a ski mask. It had been sent from a drop box adjacent to the Ann Arbor hotel where Coronado had rented a room. Analysis of the handwriting on the freight bill for the Federal Express package showed it to be Coronado's. Search warrants also disclosed evidence that the defendant was an active participant in illegal activity on behalf of animals.
The first warrant was executed at the home of Maria Blanton, a longtime PETA member who had agreed to accept the first Federal Express package from Coronado after being asked to do so by Ingrid Newkirk. Records found during the search of Blanton's home demonstrated that Coronado and others had planned a raid at Tulane University. These records showed that Coronado, Alex Pacheco (another PETA founder) and others had planned a burglary at Tulane University's Primate Research Center in 1990. (In 1990, Tulane housed the "Silver Springs Monkeys", a group of lab monkeys that had been the focus of furious criticism by PETA.)
(Footnote 1) Significantly, Newkirk had arranged to have the package delivered to her days before the MSU arson occurred.
As I see it, the real story here isn't Dr. Vlasak's call for assassination, or Mr. Coronado's infatuation with flames: it's the interface between covertly extreme but seemingly benign above ground groups like PCRM and PeTA, and the violent underground, encouraged and justified by Vlasak, and exemplified by Coronado.
The FBI is afraid that a “lone wolf” member of these loosely-organized groups will do something to up the ante.
That's exactly what will happen — some anonymous useful idiot with a penchant for a murder or two will find justification for doing just that in Dr. Vlasak's words of encouragement. He'll then select himself from the large pool of potentially violent misfits and miscreants who are attracted to Animal Rights, and pounce upon a target fingered by SHAC, PeTA, the ADL-LA, or some other group. (If you want to be chilled, check out the ADL-LA page http://www.stopthekilling.net/ and click on the heading "Players and Targets" (left sidebar) — then scroll down through them. And don't miss the disingenuous disclaimer at the bottom of the page . . .)
Keep in mind that Dr. Vlasak is now (or recently was) the Director of the ADL-LA.
They have identified one suspect who may be just such a threat. Daniel Andreas San Diego, a 27-year-old fugitive from San Rafael, Calif., is suspected of planting three bombs late at night near two companies targeted by animal rights groups. In the first case, a second bomb was deliberately set to go off an hour after the first – a method used to kill or injure first responders like police, firemen and medics. The third bomb, detonated a few weeks later, was strapped with nails.
Asks the FBI’s Lewis, “Why does someone build an improvised explosive device with shrapnel if they are not intending to cause someone grievous harm, if not worse?”
If Mr. Bradley and 60 Minutes are serious about exploring the Animal Rights/Radical Eco movements, there's lots for them to look at.
But their focus should be on the interface between the above ground and the underground organizations — there's plenty for them to see there, too, and it makes for a far more compelling, far more important story than a mere rehash of a few loonies and their accomplishments.