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War Against Terror, Animal Enterprise Protection Act, and SHAC Convictions
Dawnwatch: Canadian article on SHAC convictions and US Animal Enterprise Protection Act -- 3/13/06
The Monday, March 13, Toronto Star has an article on the SHAC trial, headed, "An Enemy of the States." (Pg A 06.)
"Kevin Kjonaas is an unlikely casualty of George W. Bush's war against terror.
"No one, including the U.S. government attorneys who just finished prosecuting him for so-called animal enterprise terrorism, says that the 28-year-old Minnesota native killed anyone - or even hurt anyone.
"He's never planted a bomb or sent anthrax through the mail.
"The government doesn't claim Kjonaas damaged property - or knowingly provided material assistance to anyone who did.
"'I've been an ass,' Kjonaas acknowledged days before a Trenton jury found him guilty of inciting terrorism. 'Some of the things I've done have been just rude, and I wouldn't do them again. But am I legally responsible (for the crimes the government accused him of)? No.'
"However, earlier this month, Kjonaas and five others ranging in age from 27 to 31 became the first people convicted under a 1992 U.S. law - significantly beefed up after 9/11 - that defines as terrorists those who damage firms involved in the animal business....
"Curiously, for a case with such serious implications, none of those convicted in Trenton is alleged to have carried out any of the substantive crimes laid out in the indictment - from property damage to intimidation.
"Prosecutors didn't provide evidence they knew the perpetrators or had ever communicated directly with them. Rather, the six were convicted of running an Internet site that allowed others access to information that could be used in crimes."
The article explains the background of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. Discussing the testing of pharmaceuticals and household products, it tells us:
"It's a big business. George Goodno, spokesman for the Washington-based Foundation for Medical Research - an organization set up to promote the virtues of animal testing - estimates the U.S. industry alone is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 'One (genetically modified) mouse can cost $10,000,' he says.
"And that's just on the testing side. The animal business also includes farmers, slaughterhouses, restaurants, furriers and ranchers.
"All of which helps to explain the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, an otherwise inexplicable U.S. law that singles out property crimes against businesses that use animals and treats them more seriously than similar offences against other organizations."
On the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign's attempt to shut down HLS, we read, "Not all of the militants' tactics were peaceful."
However Kevin Kjonaas, described as "slight, softspoken" and "unfailingly polite" is quoted:
"If I had to do it over again, I'd censor more of those Web postings and be less aggressive and confrontational, so that no one could perceive us as a threat, only as an embarrassment.
"We want to put pressure on those people (involved in animal testing) but we don't want them to think their children are going to be abducted. That's ridiculous... The tone and tenor need to change, not just from a PR perspective but because we represent a noble cause...
"The American public supports violence at times. But the animal rights movement is not at the stage now where violence or the rhetoric of violence is appropriate... It's not even close."
You can read the full article on line at: http://tinyurl.com/fdthe
It is worth reading as it is a balanced piece of the kind we wish would appear in papers in the US. It reports on the SHAC campaign without condemning or condoning it. And rather than just noting, as most American papers have, that Huntingdon tests on animals, it tells us, "A video aired on television that showed some Huntingdon employees deliberately abusing test animals gave the campaign particular piquancy." It also provides an honest assessment of the agenda behind the Animal Enterprise Protection Act.
No matter how one feels about militant activist campaigns, articles about them give us opportunities for letters about the plight of animals. We should take every opportunity we can to speak for the animals, or to write on their behalf.
You'll find loads of information on animal testing at http://www.pcrm.org/resch/anexp/.
The Toronto Star takes letters at lettertoed [at] thestar.ca and advises, "Letters must include full name, address and all phone numbers of sender (daytime, evening and cellphone). Street names and phone numbers will not be published. We reserve the right to edit letters, which typically run 50-300 words."
Note: papers want to hear your thoughts about an article or issue; make sure not to use any phrases from me or any other alerts you might receive in your letters to the editor.
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)