Activists’ arson crosses line into terror

Friday, January 20, 2012
Capital Press (The West’s Ag Website)
The Associated Press and several other media outlets last week reported that 14 big-rig tractors and several trailers at California’s Harris Farms Fresno County cattle operation were destroyed by fire.

Firefighters responding to the early-morning blaze at a feedlot storage area found the 14 trucks fully engulfed.

The North American Animal Liberation Press Office, an entity that passes along press communications it receives anonymously from the Animal Liberation Front and other groups and individuals in the so-called animal liberation movement, released a detailed communiqué from individuals taking responsibility for the fires.

That message claimed that containers of accelerant were placed under four trucks and ignited by digital timers. The fire was spread to 10 other trucks by kerosene-soaked ropes, it stated. A sophisticated bit of arson.

No big deal, according to the press office. “Violence against property …. is viewed by many as justifiable in light of the atrocities being committed against innocent animals,” it stated. Inflicting economic damage on businesses or individuals in an attempt to stop what members of the movement consider abuse is not morally wrong, it stated.

The animal liberation movement is a loose-knit collection of individuals and groups that break the law to “free animals from captivity and the horrors of exploitation.” Despite law and tradition to the contrary, the liberationists deny that domesticated animals are property that can be used for economic or research purposes. Humans holding dominion over animals, they say, is “speciesism, a prejudicial and discriminatory belief system.”

The Animal Liberation Front is the most active of these groups, and has been linked to actions of varying degrees of illegality against farms, research facilities and manufacturers. The press office says that ALF traditionally has been opposed to violence against humans. It casually notes that “other groups and activists do not observe this limitation.”

Harris and its employees are lucky that those involved in the attack have, so far, exercised such moral restraint.

Those in the movement describe gangs that burn or otherwise damage private property for the cause as “direct action groups.” News accounts, bound by journalistic standards that require they be free of judgment, charitably call the perpetrators “animal activists.”

On this page we are at liberty to use less objective adjectives — vandals, saboteurs, criminals. But there’s really only one word for those who employ calculated violence to achieve a political goal: Terrorist.