|CEI||Competitive Enterprise Institute|
The FBI recently declared environmental and animal rights extremism its top domestic terrorism priority. The bureau is currently investigating over 150 cases of arson, bombings, and other violent crimes related to these movements. Law enforcement authorities are rightly concerned about the fanaticism over animal “rights” used to justify violent criminal behavior.
The philosophy of animal “rights” espoused by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is very different from a philosophy of humane treatment of animals. An organized movement for animal welfare dates back to 1824, when William Wilberforce—a leader in the campaigns to abolish slavery in the British empire and to improve conditions in factories—helped establish the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in London. Wilberforce’s revulsion over cruelty to animals was consistent with the Christian principles on which he based his life’s work.
But kindness to animals is a far cry from the extremism of animal “rights” advocates. Where once animal welfare organizations promoted Wilberforce’s understanding of man’s duty toward animals, PETA activists demand a recognition of animal “rights.” The difference between those two concepts is great. A decent concern for animal welfare has mutated into a tangle of ideas that have major social consequences. Industry and agriculture are disrupted, medical and scientific research are delayed, and the lives of those whose work involves animals are threatened by violence as a result of the passion for animal “rights.”
In 1983, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk wrote these amazing words in a Washington Post article: “Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses.” This disturbing statement well illustrates PETA’s twisted worldview. According to PETA, animal “rights” derive from the moral equivalence between man and animal. Advocates are perfectly serious when they argue that just as we do not experiment on or eat babies, neither should we experiment on or eat animals. Taken to its logical conclusion, their view is that humans should not use animals for any purpose whatsoever.
Bear this in mind when you consider
PETA’s recent allegations
of animal abuse at a Fairfax County, Va., facility run by Covance, a
Covance develops new medicines to
treat Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, and
leukemia. Lisa Leitten, a PETA employee, worked
undercover at the firm for nine months in 2004-2005 collecting data on its
animal care practices. PETA posted on its website
several videos Leitten acquired, claiming they were evidence of animal cruelty.
The group spent tens of thousands of dollars to buy a full-page ad in the New
York Times in June 2005 publicizing the videos. Covance disputed the charges and
filed a lawsuit against PETA protesting Leitten’s
covert and deceptive actions. After a lengthy court battle, Covance and
PETA reached a settlement
last October. According to Covance, its terms bar PETA from “conducting any
infiltration of Covance” for five years. In addition, Leitten agreed to a
three-year ban “on infiltrating any commercial animal research facility
worldwide.” According to the Associated Press, Leitten had in the course of
three years “moved from
Frederick Goodwin, a former director
of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Adrian Morrison, a
PETA’s extremist views are
accompanied by extremist associations. PETA activists have a long
history of association with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and a related
underground organization, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Former FBI Director
Louis Freeh called ALF “one of the most active extremist elements in the
Killing Animals to Save Them
On June 15, 2005, two
PETA employees were arrested
Police said that the animals were
picked up—alive—from animal shelters in Bertie and
Proctor of the Ahoskie
Animal Hospital (AAH) said Cook and Hinkle promised to give the animals to a
good home. He said he occasionally would call PETA to find homes for
animals. He guessed that over the previous two years he turned over 50 animals
for adoption to PETA.
“They came to the office last Wednesday and picked up the cat and two kittens,”
he told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald shortly after their arrest. “So imagine
my surprise when I learned they allegedly dumped dead animals in a trash bin
later that same day.” Barry Anderson, an animal control officer from neighboring
Police staked out the dumpster after animal carcasses were found dumped during the previous three weeks. David Harrell, the property manager at the Piggly Wiggly, said he and his co-workers frequently found dead animals at company properties: “Most of the time we would come here on Thursday morning and we’d find anywhere between 19 and 25 dogs per trip.” Harrell said the carcasses usually were in black commercial- strength garbage bags.
Cook and Hinkle were initially
charged with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty and eight misdemeanor counts of
illegal disposing of dead animals. A
Neither Cook nor Hinkle is a veterinarian licensed to put an animal to sleep. Yet police also found in their van a tackle box filled with syringes and vials of Ketamine and Pentobarbitol. According to Ahoskie police detective Jeremy Roberts, the lead investigator in the case, these are Schedule III drugs, regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency and only available for purchase by a licensed veterinarian. Dr. Cheryl Powell of the Powellsville Pet Clinic told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that Ketamine is mainly used to sedate animals, while Pentobarbitol is used to euthanize them.
Northampton Sheriff’s Office animal cruelty investigator Karen Cole said that some of the animals were very sick or injured and would have been euthanized anyway, but even in those cases Hinkle and Cook acted improperly. “Some animals have to be euthanized,” she told the Virginian-Pilot. “But the way this crowd did it is sick.”
“We are appalled if this actually happened,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk told the Virginian-Pilot. “We would absolutely never condone this behavior.” PETA said it has suspended Hinkle, but not Cook, who worked as Hinkle’s assistant. Newkirk called Hinkle “the Mother Teresa of animals. She’s a very kind, decent person.”
Can we believe Newkirk? In fact,
documents filed with the state of
PETA’s Real Modus Operandi
That PETA kills animals may shock some, but it is hardly news. In 1991, according to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders, PETA killed 18 rabbits and 14 roosters it had “rescued” from a research facility because it “didn’t have the money” to care for them and the PETA animal shelter was out of room.
How can PETA be so cavalier about killing animals? The answer is that PETA’s mission is not to advance animal welfare through humane treatment. Its mission is to promote the radical agenda of animal liberation, which holds that animals are better off dead than to be put to an immoral human use, whether for research or food, or even as pets and objects of appreciation.
For instance, in 2003
PETA and other animal
liberation groups filed suit to prevent zoos in
PETA compounds the horror of its genuinely inhumane philosophy by employing treacherous methods. It is prepared to use stealth tactics to kill animals to prevent them from being used to enhance human welfare or increase human enjoyment. PETA says it kills animals to prevent animal suffering and humiliation. But if animals and humans have the same rights, then what stops PETA from harming humans too? This question may seem far-fetched, but there is a slippery slope between the ravings of the organization and the activism of its constituent members. PETA’s documented ties to violent activists, its deceitful tactics and its considerable financial resources create a frightening picture we dare not ignore.