Readers of recent AC posts will know that the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, is under siege by local Animal Rights activists for his failure to fire Mr. Guerdon Stuckey, head of Animal Services. Leading the campaign is the ADL-LA (Animal Defense League — Los Angeles), an Animal Rights group which is led by Jerry Vlasak, MD and his wife Pamelyn Ferdin, the former child actress.
Ms Ferdin is the current President of SHAC-USA. SHAC a group that has perfected the fine art of "tertiary targeting." Tertiary targeting is a coercive tactic that seeks to bring down a principle target by intimidating people who the target depends on (suppliers or clients, for example) by posting their names on websites, demonizing them, and providing personal information about them and their families and friends which anonymous thugs can use to vandalize their property and threaten them and their loved ones. (SHAC recently scored a major victory when they intimidated Catherine Kinney, President of the New York Stock Exchange, into a precipitous last minute change of heart. Ms Kinney, on the morning that Huntingdon Life Sciences was to be listed on the NYSE, abruptly and without explanation, and to the surprise of the NYSE's Board of Directors, HLS executives and Kinney's own Press Secretary, reversed course and announced to the stunned HLS executives that the listing the NYSE had previously approved would be "postponed.")
Dr. Vlasak is a self-appointed "Press Officer" for the terrorist ALF (Animal Liberation Front). He is a former spokesman for the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), which is itself closely tied to PeTA (PCRM President Neal Barnard and PeTA President Ingrid Newkirk are two of the three Directors of the PeTA Foundation, a foundation that funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars from PeTA to PCRM).
What makes Dr. Vlasak especially noteworthy are his views on assassination. On Oct. 26, 2005 Dr. Vlasak testified before a Senate committee that animals and humans are "morally equal," and during that testimony reaffirmed his belief that assassinating humans is morally acceptable to bring about animal liberation. (Prior to the Senate hearings, Dr. Vlasak had openly advocated assassinating scientists on Australian TV.)
(When Dr. Vlasak says that animals and humans are "morally equal," he means that a single moral standard should be applied to the treatment of humans and animals — that it is just as great a sin to discriminate on the basis of species differences ["speciesism"] as it is to discriminate on the basis of racial differences [racism]. The notion that there should be a single moral standard for humans and animals alike is the defining characteristic of Animal Rights activists, and Dr. Vlasak differs from the garden variety AR activist only in his willingness to follow AR ideological logic to its inevitable conclusion — and talk openly about it.)
Knowing this background makes the point that for the Mayor of LA and other city officials and workers to be targeted by Dr. Vlasak, Ms Ferdin and the ADL-LA is no small matter: being so targeted carries with it a credible threat of violence and vandalism, and given Dr. Vlasak's interest in and advocacy of murder, those targeted by the AR/AL crowd have sound reason to fear for their lives, their property, their reputation and the safety of their family and friends.
Enter Charlotte Laws, Ph.D. Animal Rights/Liberationist activist, and an advisory board member for the radical CALA (Center for Animal Liberation Affairs — which was co-founded by Professor Steven Best, he of the Me First! ethic, and is a group benefitting from the efforts of volunteer Jerry Vlasak, MD). Dr. Laws has written an article in support of the campaign by ADL-LA against His Honor Mayor Villaraigosa.
The earth is starting to tremble in the Los Angeles animal community because Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has refused to honor his January 2005 campaign promise to fire the General Manager of Los Angeles Animal Services Guerdon Stuckey, and this broken promise has drawn attention to a potential scandal involving a loss of $1.1 million to the city over the next three years. Even fiscally responsible Angelenos who don't care about cats and dogs can be officially outraged.
His Honor the mayor did agree to fire Mr. Stuckey while he (the Mayor) was campaigning for office. He made a bad mistake in committing himself to such a position without knowing all the facts, and a worse mistake by making that commitment to an Animal Rights group, one that is about as extreme as it's possible to get. He should have investigated the devil he was negotiating with before striking a bargain.
I don't know anything at all about the "potential scandal" Dr. Laws refers to, but I take it with a grain of salt. Having said that, if there really is something to her accusation, then those responsible should be held fully accountable.
Animal advocates might have let the mayor out of the doghouse on his pledge if Stuckey had reformed the department, fostered relationships with the community and saved animal lives. But according to an October 27, 2005 L.A. CityBeat article, a poorly negotiated contract by Stuckey for a spay-neuter van "may have robbed the city of half its needed spay-neuter services" and will endanger animal lives.
First, "animal advocates" is code for "Animal Rights Activists/Liberationists." AR/AL people believe that the life of an animal and that of a human are of equal value, which is why Dr. Vlasak feels free to advocate assassination: if you can save "n + 1" animals by killing "n" scientists, your moral scorecard shows you to have a "plus one" in the virtue column.
Dr. Laws is very active in the AR/AL community — not the Animal Welfare community — and is deliberately obscuring the nature of the group she's defending. (If you don't know the difference between Animal Rights/Liberation on the one hand and Animal Welfare on the other, read this first and then this.)
Additionally, by referring to "animal advocates" as she does, Dr. Laws creates a subtle but false us/them distinction: if you agree with her and the ADL-LA crowd, you are an animal advocate and want to help animals. By implication, if you do not agree with her and her fellow travelers, you aren't an animal advocate and aren't interested in helping animals.
That's a pretty clever use of language, isn't it?
Finally "may have robbed . . ." is pretty thin stuff. One could say exactly the same thing by inserting a negative, as in "may not have robbed . . ." "May" and "may not" are different phrasing to same the same, identical thing.
Dr. Laws' use of "may" rather than "may not" is a classic propaganda technique, designed to trap the unwary into agreeing with the position of the author.
Due to a shortage of van operating hours combined with the high spay-neuter quota, anesthetized animals will have to be whipped on and off the operating table at great risk to their health. The District Attorney has been asked to investigate.
Any time you — or an animal — undergoes surgery, there is a risk. We don't know if Dr. Laws' concerns will be realized or not, because, apparently (and in spite of her loaded rhetoric — "whipped on and off" . . . "at great risk" . . .) there are no figures.
I suspect that only perfection — a 100% success rate for 100% of the animals — would stand a chance of passing muster in Dr. Laws' mind, though I suspect that even that wouldn't be good enough . . . after all, given all the whipping on and off tables and the great health risks, dozens of animals might start dying next week, or next month, or next year . . .
And I wonder who might have asked the District Attorney to investigate?
Many animal community moderates--such as the dignified and caring former L.A. Animal Commissioner Erika Brunson--who were originally unwilling to jump on the clamorous "we want Stuckey fired" bandwagon, are now steering their own wagons through the streets picking up angry passers-by, such as the fiscally responsible crowd.
I would not describe Ms Brunson as being an "animal community moderate." She contributes to several environmental and Animal Rights groups, including PeTA, The Jane Goodall Society, the "Humane Society" (HSUS?) and Greenpeace.
An "animal community moderate?" Heh . . . I don't think so . . .
The "Reasons to fire Stuckey Email Series" has been circulating for months. Reason number 61 warns the Democratic mayor--who may hope to land in the Governor's office someday—that animal advocates will begin cc'ing the California Republican Party with their complaints. Villaraigosa could be one misstep away from tarnishing his dapper suit with controversies much like those that haunted the Hahn administration.
I suspect the "animal advocates" will be recognized for what they are by the Republicans, who might be tempted to try and take advantage of the situation. They (the Republicans) should be very, very careful about any such thoughts.
The mayor says he has decided not to fire Stuckey at this time because the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)—a "direct action" animal rights group that has not injured a human or animal since its inception in 1972–recently planted a smoke bomb at Stuckey's apartment building, making him look like a victim. He says he will not fire an employee who is being threatened or vandalized.
First, we don't know that the ALF hasn't injured any animal . . . we know that they've taken them from labs and fur farms, but we generally don't know what they've done with them — we just have to take their word that the animals are in a better place. And, of course, we have an ALF communication in which the liberators of some foxes released them into the countryside with, literally, the hope with all their hearts "that some make it." A hope for survival isn't exactly my idea of the best way to insure that freed animals aren't hurt, but I guess that's good enough for Dr. Laws.
Second, any time ALF lights a fire, it endangers first responders who must fight the conflagration, and everyone on the streets along which the first responders travel to get to the fire. (Is there any driver who hasn't felt that sick knot in their stomach when they hear a siren, don't know where it is, and watch cars ahead of them careen unpredictably about?)
Third, if it is true that the ALF hasn't hurt any person, it isn't for lack of encouragement by ALF "Press Officer" Jerry Vlasak, a colleague of Dr. Laws at the CALA, who advocates murder.
His Honor the Mayor is to be commended for his backbone for not caving to AR threats and intimidation. His courage is to be contrasted to the cowardice of Catherine Kinney, President of the NYSE, who did (op cit).
Not only is his courage admirable, it is sound policy as well: if His Honor gives the impression that he can be intimidated into compliance by any two-bit extremist organization, it encourges every two bit extremist organization to take their shot at him, and no end to his grief.
Appeasement gets you nothing with people who cannot be appeased.
It is understandable that the mayor would want to protect city workers. But in an attempt to be tough on crime, Villaraigosa is being weak on his convictions. If he truly believes Stuckey should be fired, why is he allowing himself to be controlled by the Los Angeles ALF?
Having made their demands of the Mayor, he can either buckle to them and fire Mr. Stuckey, or not. If he buckles, he has been controlled by the ALF. He's not buckling, so he's being controlled by the ALF!
See why you can't deal with these people?
His Honor did get himself into a mess by promising to fire Mr. Stuckey during his campaign. But the fact that he made one bad mistake doesn't mean that he should compound it and cave to the ADL-LA. A sober person would do just what he's evidently doing: giving Mr. Stuckey an opportunity to implement the Mayor's animal policy before he decides whether or not to fire him.
That's fair, though not to the liking of the AR/AL community.
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Despite media hype that makes it seem scary, the ALF's credo prohibits injury to humans and animals. The ALF recently took credit for sending cabs, pizzas and prostitutes to the home of an unsuspecting animal services veterinarian. Although one may disapprove of these tactics, they resemble high school pranks more than crimes.
Dr. Vlasak is a "Press Officer" for the ALF. Dr. Vlasak openly advocates murder. That doesn't square too well with Dr. Laws assertion that the ALF credo prohibits injury to humans . . .
I'd like to hear what she has to say about that . . . does she support murder? Does she condemn those who do, or just "not condone" murder?
Anybody want to guess?
Villaraigosa's new "ALF policy" is good news for those city employees who fear job termination. Anyone whose porch falls victim to a puff of smoke cannot be fired. At-risk employees who fail to command the attention of the ALF might be tempted to place a suspicious package on their own doorstep.
This is unconscionable . . . to ignore the fear these folks must feel knowing that Dr. Vlasak has openly advocated murder for his cause, and then to besmirch their integrity by suggesting that they might stage attacks against themselves for personal advantage is beneath contempt.
Dr. Laws, have you no shame at all?
The City Council has become so concerned about the ALF and the L.A. protest group called the Animal Defense League that it has approved a plan which provides taxpayer dollars for surveillance equipment at the private homes of animal services employees. With high tech cameras, these workers can weed out door-to-door salesmen and pesky in-laws—again on the taxpayer's dime--under the pretense that the big bad wolf, also known as the animal activist, might show up with a feral cat flyer, order them a fake cab or protest on the sidewalk with a sign. Although city workers have a right to feel safe, this measure amounts to another questionable use of limited resources for a city that had 31,000 violent crimes last year.
And here again, we see the trivialization of the fear these people must feel . . .
Let's not lose sight of the fact that Pamelyn Ferdin is President of SHAC-USA, and that SHAC is the group that, in addition to identifying individuals as targets, demonizing them, and posting personal information about them on their (SHAC's) website, likewise posted the "Top 20 Terror Tactics" . . .
According to the Department of Justice, those tactics included (op cit):
invading offices, vandalizing property and stealing documents; physical assault, including spraying cleaning fluid into someone's eyes; smashing windows of a target's home or flooding the home while the individual was away; vandalizing or firebombing cars and bomb hoaxes; and threatening telephone calls or letters, including threats to kill or injure someone's partner or children.
When you add that to Dr. Vlasak advocating murder, it is unconscionable for Dr. Laws to portray the frightened people targeted by ADL-LA and ALF as manipulative, petty and self-serving, whose only use for the security equipment installed for their peace of mind would be frivolous — to weed out door to door salesmen and pesky relatives . . .
What an outrageous suggestion . . . especially from someone who would have us believe she is draped with the moral superiority of a kinder, more compassionate ideology . . .
The mayor continues to react to the "ALF threat." He recently removed Erika Brunson from the Los Angeles Animal Commission and replaced her with surveillance expert Glenn S. Brown. The Commission, which is endorsed by the humane community, provides a compassionate and intelligent voice for the powerless victims of our public shelters: the animals The current commissioners—except for Mr. Brown--may not be experts on installing cameras to detect fake pizza deliveries, but they are experts on how to combat the violence perpetrated against the dogs, cats and other animals that we have a responsibility to protect.
"The humane community" includes Dr. Vlasak, he who advocates assassination, and his wife, Pamelyn Ferdin, she who is president of SHAC, they of the "Top 20 Terrorist Tactics."
Do you get the sense that there might be just a little bit more going on here than what Dr. Laws has included in her essay?
If Mayor Villaraigosa fails to honor his promise to fire Mr. Stuckey and to hire a compassionate and experienced General Manager who can implement a no-kill plan and reform the department, he may find that the animal community is politically-speaking, more bite than bark. A decision to retain Stuckey is likely to become a permanent smudge on Villaraigosa's finely tailored lapel.
The animal community expects the mayor to do the right thing. But in case he doesn't, they have forwarded this article to the Republican Party.
"The animal community . . ." How grandiose, especially when it refers exclusively to the most extreme of the extreme, a tiny fraction of those of us who love animals.
For my part, I think His Honor is doing the right thing, at least for the time being, after having made a horrible mistake during his campaign when he made a promise he shouldn't have made to a group he shouldn't have been negotiating with in the first place.
Oh — in my opinion, His Honor has made one other mistake: he is continuing to negotiate with these people. In my opinion, he should tell them right up front: "The ALF is a terrorist organization, and Dr. Jerry Vlasak is an ALF Press Officer. Dr.Vlasak is an ADL-LA director, and has publicly advocated the assassination of people to fulfill his ideological fantasy of animal liberation. Pamelyn Ferdin is President of SHAC-USA, and all that implies. I refuse to negotiate with terrorist organizations, their representatives or people who advocate murder. Period."
Thanks to Tom P. for the tip.