In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, animal rights activists and Animal Liberation Front defenders argue that their brand of terrorism isn’t comparable to what happened at the World Trade Center the Pentagon. Certainly the two are not comparable in terms of scale and loss of life, but they are united by the simple fact that the goal is to terrorize people in an effort to change their behavior. When activists set a researcher’s home on fire or fire bomb a laboratory, they are not attempting to make a reasoned argument about the role of animals in medical research, but rather are sending a pretty clear message — stop this or else.
Gillian Reynolds, writing in the London’s Daily Telegraph, did an excellent job of puncturing the notion that there is any real difference in aims among terrorists. Reynolds wrote about a broadcast in Great Britain about the terrorism faced by Colin Blakemore, who has been targeted by animal rights activists largely because he is willing to publicly defend himself and debunk many of the activist claims. Reynolds wrote,
How can people who profess to care for animals be so vile to fellow human beings? …
A bomb was sent [to Blakemore] through the post, packed into the kind of cardboard tube that usually carries posters. His children had picked it up, looked at it. Had they opened it, at least one of them might have died, the others showered with HIV infected needles with which the explosive was also said to be packed. A letter arrived, razor blades attached to the top, lacerating the hand of the secretary who opened it. Gangs of screaming people invaded the Blakemore garden, tried to break down the front door. On police advice, they put in security gates and cameras, had panic buttons installed. The protesters came on Christmas Day, on Easter Sunday.
This is, in its most literal form, terrorist behavior. Blakemore and his family have suffered through it.
I couldn’t have said it better.
Conscience and the call to arms. Gillian Reynolds, The Daily Telegraph (London), October 23, 2001.
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