Hi 81 / Lo 73
|Volume 72, Issue 62,
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
If only they could protect the animals
For retail businesses, thereís only one thing peskier than better sale deals: protestors. And if a new measures continue on the fast track through Congress, animal protestors will be charged with the appropriate crime: terrorism.
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which was already passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate, expands on a previous law designated toward activists who protest the treatment of animals. The law would reclassify common protests as terroristic tactics based only on the cause.
The billís sponsors, Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said the legislation would protect scientists, medical researchers, ranchers, farmers and other industries using animals from the "violent tactics" of the "extremists" in the animal rights community.
While the bill has already built-in protections on First Amendment-protected activities such as peaceful protests and civil boycotts, animal rights- and civil rights-activists say the billís vague language could be easily abused and brand activists as terrorists for such un-lawful--yet peaceful--acts including blockades and the release of captive animals.
And of course, anything that could hinder the profits for businesses is a no-go.
Besides having animal rights activists being charged with a crime, using a loaded word such as "terrorist" to associate animal activists could influence how the public perceives animal rights activists. Sure, these activists might already have the stereotype of being the animal equivalent of "tree huggers," but being earthy is the complete opposite of being a terrorist.
The worst part of this bill: Both of its sponsors acknowledge the financial motives behind AETA. In a press conference Feinstein and Inhofe said, "Prohibiting the animal-rights extremistsí violent tactics will ensure that important animal enterprises, like biomedical industries, stay in California, for example, rather than go to India or China."
Who needs to protect a groupís rights when certain industries gain financial benefits?
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