Dairy Industry Magazine Compares Undercover Investigations to Cross Burning

by Will Potter on January 5, 2012

in Terrorism Legislation

Dairy farm investigation by Mercy for Animals.The recent article about how the FBI recommended prosecuting video investigators as terrorists went viral, thanks to you all! It’s pretty amazing — more than 16,000 people shared the story on Facebook, and more than 100,000 unique visitors have viewed it on this website. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (and the Center for Constitutional Rights lawsuit against it is being talked about on many, many websites and forums. So thank you all for sharing this!

One of the best articles I’ve seen is by Dean Kuipers of the Los Angeles Times. Here’s an excerpt:

The documents, which were first published on Will Potter’s website, Green Is the New Red, were issued by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2003 in response to an article in an animal rights publication in which Shapiro and two other activists (whose names were redacted from the document), openly claimed responsibility for shooting video and taking animals from a farm…

Potter, who has looked into these state laws in more detail, points out, “There’s no shortage of laws that could be used to prosecute someone who is trespassing or someone who is vandalizing property in the process of an investigation. But these new laws are specifically aimed at mainstream animal rights and environmental groups who investigate abuse, such as the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals and PETA.”

The GreenIsTheNewRed.com article has gotten picked up by conservative websites like Little Green Footballs, liberal sites like Alternet, and everything in between. Readers have overwhelmingly been outraged by this misuse of “terrorism” legislation.

Big Ag, however, feels differently.

Dan Murphy is a public relations consultant for the meat and dairy industries, and a long-time supporter of “eco-terror” legislation like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. In a column for Dairy Herd, he says the FBI is completely justified in targeted non-violent undercover investigators as terrorists. He goes so far as to compare the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act to hate crimes legislation targeting the KKK:

It’s no different from passing laws authorizing special punishment for so-called “hate crimes.” It’s always been possible to punish those who burn crosses, deface houses or otherwise harass people on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation. But often, the small fines and minimal jail terms prescribed by trespassing and property damage statutes don’t fit the egregious nature of the offenses. Thus, it’s necessary to identify special circumstances that change what would normally be mere misdemeanors into the more serious crimes that they are.

Murphy has this backwards, of course. The “egregious nature of the offenses” in this situation are not being committed by the activists. They are being committed by corporations. Activists have repeatedly exposed systemic animal welfare violations, and are non-violently documenting these practices to force businesses to change these practices.

It speaks volumes that the meat and dairy industries consider things like this to be less egregious than having their own institutionalized cruelty exposed.

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