There's cruelty, and then there is sadism. I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself how best to characterize this, but to me it is downright sadistic:
Animal rights extremists have boasted of blowing up a car belonging to the widow of a pharmaceuticals firm director, even though he had died months before.
The Animal Liberation Front said on its website that it knew that Alexander Grant, the managing director of Roche, had died from a heart attack . . .
[ . . . ]
The website, Biteback, has been used to claim responsibility for attacks across the world. The statement said: "We have been keeping many senior personnel from HLS's customers and suppliers under intense surveillance.
"One was Alexander Grant, a senior director of Roche, who are a major customer of Huntingdon Life Sciences. We were planning an attack on Grant a few months ago but then realised that he had just died of a heart attack.
"In October we carried out the operation at Grant's address, planting two incendiary devices under an expensive four-wheel-drive, totally destroying it. People who sign contracts with or deal with Huntingdon need to realise that your decisions will come back to haunt you for ever - even when you have gone." "
How sick is this? How ruthless and sadistic?
Arson is bad enough — it sends a message that you have been targeted, and you have reason to fear for your life and the lives of your family. But when you target a family that is itself without the power to effect change . . . you terrorize them purely to send a message to others about how far you're prepared to go . . . wow . . .
And then, Jerry Vlasak, former PCRM spokesman, has upped the ante exponentially by justifying both the morality of assassination and advocating the practice of murder, a position he defended on Oct. 26, 2005 in testimony before a Senate committee and which he repeated most recently when interviewed by Ed Bradley for 60 Minutes.
Dr. Vlasak's advocacy of assassination means that ALF defenders can no longer argue that the threat of being deliberately killed, maimed or burned to a crisp won't happen because they're careful and such outcomes don't fit the ALF credo.
Such actions fit Dr. Vlasak's philosophy, and that's all that counts.
It is inevitable that some anonymous useful idiot will identify himself as an avenging angel, take courage and inspiration from Dr. Vlasak's words, and go about putting into practice what Dr. Vlasak advocates. (Actually, someone — allegedly fugitive Daniel Andreas San Diego — has already, though unsuccessfully, attempted as much.)
Those who find themselves targets of ALF actions can't be sure that they will be attacked by the kinder, gentler ALF operatives, those who draw a bright line between (prohibited) murder and such (permissible) "direct actions" as false accusations of paedophilia, bricks through windows, tire slashing, threats against one's family and children, "black faxes," paint stripper on cars, arson, and spray-paint graffiti. (All of these non-lethal "direct actions" and others were once explicitly included on a SHAC webpage under the heading Top 20 Terror Tactics.
Now, the target must live in fear that some anonymous ALF clunk will find his personal urge to commit murder legitimized in Dr. Vlasak's words, and put into practice the next logical step in the escalation of what is an ALF-permissible "direct action."
The chill doesn't stop here. No, not by any means.
The fact that the ALF heros of this story would continue to torment people who can in no earthly way correct what the odd ALF operative considers to be the transgression of someone who cannot redeem himself (he is, after all, dead . . .) makes it obvious that once having dealt with an ALF-proscribed target, even death won't bring relief to the family and friends of the hated "abuser."
And yet, that very tactic of perpetual, irredeemable personal guilt and guilt by association works against the goal ALF terrorists say they wish to achieve: if it is true that once having sinned you are beyond absolution ("your decisions will come back to haunt you for ever"), what is the incentive for abandoning the activity that has made you a target?
Is it just me, or is there a strongly religious flavor of "original sin" in this?
In any event, my sense is that these people are delighting in the raw, god-like power they can exercise over the lives of people who cannot fight back. And it is my fear . . . and my prediction . . . that it won't be too long before some annonymous thug will commit a murder that Dr. Vlasak would find "morally acceptable."
In an equally disturbing parallel story, we have this which announces the recent release of Keith Mann from 6 months in the slammer:
The early release from jail of an animal rights activist once described as a "ruthless fanatic" was today attacked by his victims and the science community.
Keith Mann was jailed for 18 months in April this year for breaking into an animal laboratory and threatening its head in court.
Wellllll . . . there's a little more to Mr. Mann's sentencing than that . . . As I wrote previously, the judge (Richard Price) passing sentence on him for this "conspiracy to burgle" charge had full knowledge of Mr. Mann's criminal background "which included a conviction in 1994 for 21 offenses, including arson, possessing explosives, and escaping from custody (for which he received a 14 year sentence, later reduced). If that weren't enough, Mr. Mann was convicted in 2003 for defrauding the government."
In spite of this, Mr. Mann was initially sentenced to 230 hours of community service on the "conspiracy to burgle" charge.
But that changed when: "On his way out of the court, his wrists already fully recovered from the slap, Mr. Mann proceeded to threaten Mr. Chris Bishop of Wickham Laboratories with the words: 'Your trouble is only just beginning. You need to look under your bed,' whereupon Judge Price reconvened court and sentenced Mr. Mann to 6 months in jail for contempt of court."
Judge Price's court had been insulted by Mr. Mann's threat . . . ("Judge Richard Price at Portsmouth Crown Court said: 'I will not have people leaving my court saying that sort of thing. This was a serious threat and a serious contempt of court'.")
Judge Price then gave Mr. Mann a slightly harder slap-on-the-wrist jail sentence for Mr Mann's contempt of Judge Price's court, which was to the judge a greater faux pas than the "conspiracy to burgle" conviction of the chronically criminal Mr. Mann.
The current article continues:
Mann, who was freed on October 31 after serving six months of his sentence, has been electronically tagged, and is now thought to be living with his girlfriend in Poole, Dorset.
The chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Phil Willis, said: "The scientific community will be worried by this.
"This is somebody who has got a very serious history of animal terrorism and terrorism against scientific laboratories and those carrying out that element of science and here we have somebody who has been let out for serious offences very early.
"Admittedly he is going to be tagged for a while, but we don't know the conditions of his tagging at all." He added: "That's my concern. It's the message that goes out that even hard core terrorists are treated relatively leniently."
The 39-year-old was originally given a 230-hour community punishment order, increased to 12 months in prison on appeal, for organising a raid on Wickham Laboratories in Hampshire and stealing 695 mice in December 2003.
As the activist walked free, he passed the public gallery and threatened the lab's technical director, Chris Bishop, saying: "Your trouble has only just started - you will need to look under your bed."
He was subsequently imprisoned for six months.
. . . of a twelve month sentence . . . which was precisely what he'd originally been sentenced to . . .
You have to wonder how much of the original 6 month sentence Mr. Mann would have served if it hadn't been increased to 12 months . . .
Mr Bishop said today security has been increased at the lab and added.
The early release of Mann, a ringleader of the Animal Liberation Front, comes in the wake of increased violence by animal rights militants.
"Early release . . . in the wake of increased violence."
Heh . . .
In July, an arson attack by the ALF caused major damage to Oxford University's Hertford College boathouse on the Thames. In a statement on its website, the ALF told the university it would "destroy every bit of property you own" to stop animal testing.
Animal rights extremists were also believed to have targeted the widow of a former senior executive of a pharmaceutical company by blowing up her car last month.
Mann was jailed in 1994 for 14 years for carrying out a terrorist-style sabotage campaign against the meat industry.
Mr Willis added: "When you look at how difficult it is to confront animal terrorists and how difficult it is to get them into court and to get them sentenced I think there will be many people in the scientific community saying that this is really not an effective way of dealing with a very, very serious terrorist threat." [My emphasis . . . ed]
As understatement go, Mr. Willis' is a beaut . . .
So I ask you . . . if the English legal system were deliberately trying to minimize the consequences to violent AR extremists, what would it do differently?
This does not bode well for British science.