Sometimes Willing to Kill: Animal Rights Activists

The Animal Liberation Brigade placed a bomb under the car of an U.C.L.A opthamologist involved in animal research.  Fortunately, it did not detonate.

There’s not much to say about people who threaten or justify violence for their ideas.   They have failed whatever truth they seek to protect. 

Dealing with them seems to be a legal matter.  If they break the law, then they must face the consequences of law enforcement, and punishment; where at the very least the threat of violence against them is tempered by the procedures and ethical obligations and oaths those who serve the law make to the rest of us.   

Those who put the bomb under the car make no such oath, to anyone.   It seems like if you’re the one threatened, you should go on with your life as calmly as possible.

Anyone else see a connection, though? 

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2 thoughts on “Sometimes Willing to Kill: Animal Rights Activists

  1. Anti-abortion violence and animal rights violence seems to be different at least in that that one usually emanates from hard right (Christian conservative) beliefs and the other from hard left (extreme egalitarianism) beliefs. This is fascinating and worth exploring.

    I find myself less surprised when a fundamentalist (that is, a person who strongly identifies with a literalist religious doctrine) sees people who violate their belief system as ‘infidels’ who deserve to be treated with much less care than those who are conforming to the ultimate ‘rules of life’ laid down by their group’s doctrine. I find it even more deplorable (perhaps because it seems less intellectually honest?) when people justify violence as the logical endgame of an egalitarian / pluralist sensibility. Animal rights and eco terrorists even manage to gain the sympathy, if not the direct support, of many people who nod their heads in approval at progressive causes; a holistic approach to protecting both the planet and increasing economic opportunity for the world’s poorest people, or the campaign to protect the teaching of evolution in our public schools.

    I think that most people who have genuine concern for all those people and creatures outside the circle of current mainstream social power (might does not necessarily make right) come by that view honestly – they actually realize that their own way of being in the world is not necessarily the ‘correct’ or ‘best’ way, and that the universe does not revolve exclusively around me or ‘my tribe.’

    So how can these people have sympathies with the lab bombing, tree spiking cousins of abortion clinic snipers? To me, genuinely holding pluralistic egalitarian beliefs means being able (and willing) to take an objective view of our own beliefs and say: “Hey, other people’s belief systems may be just as coherent and justifiable as my own. I will make an effort to understand why others do things that seem to me to be inexplicable, weird or wrong.” The liberal progressive should be as willing to try and understand the logger and the cosmetics scientist as the woman at the abortion clinic.

    No one who commits anonymous violence against other human beings can justify it on the basis of their uncontrollable compassion (whether for fetuses or monkeys). My guess is that underneath the patina of different belief systems, these two breeds of violence share a common root, whatever the varying content of their beliefs might be. Deep inside is the thrill of being special, important and better than….

    “My beliefs are THE way to understand how to be a truly moral actor in the world. Your false beliefs cause you to act in ways that violate THE principals of righteous living. I will take it upon myself to correct this wrong. (Ain’t I grand?)”

  2. Paul, I really appreciate the comments.

    It’s a complex question… why people end up like this. I think, on some level, any of us have the potential to reduce ourselves to what these people have: childish, maniacal zealots. However I see it in all of us, as well as religious extremism, and perhaps even in myself.

    However, many in our society do not extend compassion nor understanding to them, and I think this will always be so.

    As for the left and right thing, I heard the belt metaphor that the left and right form a loop and connect somewhere.

    I”m happy to have a good legal system.

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