Thursday, January 3, 2013

From the Skeptic Tank: An Animal Rights Primer

Dr. Alvin Grossman
Nov. 20, 2012

In 1993 I wrote the following as an introduction to Patti & Rod Strand’s book The Hijacking of the Humane Movement:

“There comes a time when one must draw a line in the sand and say NO MORE!
The time has come for all people who sincerely have the welfare of animals and society at large to declare to those misbegotten souls of the animal rights movement that we have had enough.
We laughed when they began their escapades and chortled when they dressed in those funny costumes. We coughed a bit when they began to throw blood on those wearing furs. We became downright angry when they burst into research laboratories, freeing animals to a somber fate and destroying valuable research records. Our anger knew no bounds as they spray painted and firebombed their way into the public consciousness.
Then came the legislative campaigns to malign, hinder and demean breeders of purebred dogs and cats. This coupled with their attempted takeovers of Humane Societies and the well-planned mail campaigns to gather funds for their so-called legitimate activities.
We as concerned breeders/exhibitors began to feel the gorge rising as we realize we, the public, have been cleverly duped by mass media campaigns and the support of a few misguided stars of the entertainment world.”
Today, all of us whose lives are intertwined with animals bear the brunt of the legislative drumbeat instigated by the fanatics of the animal rights movement. They are known by a number of names. They are People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and of course, their smoother-talking and better dressed counterparts, The Human Society of the United States (HSUS).
In order to understand the movement it’s helpful to understand who they are and where they come from and what their goals are and why they have had success in the legislative area.
PETA is anti-meat, anti-hunting, anti-animal research, and ultimately, anti-pet. They are regularly in the news and the FBI considers its special friends, the ALF, a terrorist organization. They are the lightning rod for many affiliated groups across the country and are the ones whose tactics smell of dishonesty and chicanery.
HSUS holds many of the same views as PETA, but has learned to deal with the public in a more palatable and reasoned manner. As a result, they have been spectacularly successful. Their name and the visuals that appear in their advertisements project the image of a hands-on, animal care organization, but they are an animal rights lobbying and legislative group at heart.
These groups polarize issues and create conflicts. Spay/neuter, anti-breeder, veganism, it’s them vs. us, black and white – we are right and anyone who does not buy in is out to destroy them.
On the legislative front they have made great inroads. Their well financed legislative campaigns appeal to politicians who see a bandwagon to ride. Unfortunately, politicians seek the limelight and often choose issues much in the news and the animal rights adherents see to it that it is much in the news. They are able to hire talented PR and marketing people whose drumbeat can be heard incessantly. Hollywood glamour people are easy converts. Publicity, publicity and even more publicity. Hitler and Goebbels proved that the great lie told over and over again begins to be believed.
OK, what do we need to do at our end? The National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) has been exposing the dark underbelly of the animal rights movement for more than twenty years, and recently, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has created its own PAC. However, counterpunching alone will not win the battle. The NAIA Trust has successfully pushed legislation at the local and state level, and NAIA has several model ordinances on its website, components of which have been used to build successful ordinances in many parts of the United States. It’s time we get in front of these issues, to be the force for change where it is needed, to be the voice of reason that puts a stop to harmful legislation before it becomes set in stone. It’s time to leave the counterpunching to the boxers.

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