Dan Murphy's Excellent Commentary on AR2002

Dan Murphy, the editor Meat Marketing & Technology magazine, wrote an excellent account of an appearance he made at Animal Rights 2002.

Murphy was invited to give a short speech to activists covering areas where industry and activists might have some common ground. As you might expect, Murphy was largely wasting his time. As he wrote,

Not surprisingly, my remarks had about as much of a lasting impact on the more than 800 diehard activists in attendance as the “lecture” I gave my cat Riley last week about not clawing the couch.

. . .

Unfortunately, the overwhelming attitude among speakers, disciples and exhibitors alike encompassed a migraine-inducing mix of virulent anti-meat propaganda, bizarre animal action campaigns and a few frightening glimpses into the mind and soul of crusaders who have truly lost the plot.

Murphy relayed a long litany of things that the assembled activists were against as well as some choice quotes from people like Ingrid Newkirk (“You just look at animals — just look into their eyes — and you can tell they’re people. It’s that simple.”) and Paul Watson (“There is no way to change our laws without using violence, and we cannot shy away from violence as a crucial arm of the movement. We can all put ourselves on the line. It doesn’t take a four-year degree to call in a bomb threat.”)

But Murphy was brilliant in tearing apart a bizarre claim by the Animal Defense League’s Jerry Vlasak who argued that violence was compatible with the nonviolent outlook of the civil rights movement.

“Dr. [Martin Luther] King said that destroying property doesn’t violate the principle of non-violence,” [Violence] is part of every successful social justice movement.” (Jerry Vlasak, of the Animal Defense League). That last quote angers me.

Narrow-mindedness in the service of one’s chosen mission is at least understandable. But some of the animal rights leadership obviously enjoys selling a not-so-subtly packaged message of violence in service to the cause.

When the pro-violence folks quoted above arrogantly tried to claim King as a spiritual ancestor to the extremists responsible for blowing up trucks, bombing buildings and destroying the property of legitimate business people, I glanced around at the SRO crowd packed into the room, and the mostly young, predominantly female and almost exclusively white audience members were all nodding their heads in earnest agreement.

Were the real Dr. King still alive I can only imagine that he would disagree with far greater conviction. I won’t digress too extensively here, but allow me to share just a couple relevant quotes for those losers who have a dream that King would somehow relish their sick sanctioning of property destruction:

. . .

To suggest that arson in the name of the “cause” would be approved by Dr. King — whose own home was fire-bombed by white bigots passionate about their “cause” — is an ignorant interpretation of history at best.

To invoke the name of Martin Luther King on behalf of violent ALF types who are past even the fringe of legitimacy is a venal, bankrupt attempt at credibility that puts an Orwellian spin on a chapter of American social history about which I doubt more than a handful of the activist types at that Animal Rights meeting have more than an MTV-like video clip awareness of its significance.

In fact, using Vlasak’s perverse version of nonviolence, the fire bombing of King’s house was morally acceptable because nobody was hurt — only property was destroyed. According to Vlasak philosophy, somebody who might burn down a black church or firebomb an abortion clinic is not engaged in violence so long as it is only property that is destroyed.

That these sorts of pedantic arguments actually seem to find widespread acceptance in the animal rights movement is indicative of just how marginal the movement is. Nobody outside the movement buys these sorts of arguments anymore than the buy the argument of extremist anti-abortion advocates that destroying an abortion clinic is simply a valid act of defense on behalf of unborn children.


Animal Rights conclave window to weird world of act-out activists Dan Murphy, MeatingPlace.Com, July 12, 2002.

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