New Jersey Enacts Ban Against Wild/Exotic Animals In Circuses

Illnois and New York have previously enacted bans on the use of elephants in circuses or other traveling entertainment acts, but New Jersey has become the first state to ban the use of any wild or exotic animals in traveling entertainment acts.

Assembly Bill No. 1923, approved by the New Jersey legislature and signed into law by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, says,

Notwithstanding any other law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, no person shall use an elephant or other wild or exotic animal in a traveling animal act. 

In a press release, Murphy described his reasons for signing what is referred to as Nosey’s Law, after a 36-year old African elephant that performed in traveling animal acts,

“I am proud to sign ‘Nosey’s Law’ and ensure that New Jersey will not allow wild and exotic animals to be exploited and cruelly treated within our state,” said Governor Murphy. “This law would not have been possible without the years of hard work and advocacy by Senator Ray Lesniak, whose legacy on issues of animal rights is second to none. These animals belong in their natural habitats or in wildlife sanctuaries, not in performances where their safety and the safety of others is at risk.” 

Chrissie Hynde Bemoans “Tyrannical” Animal Rights/Welfare Campaigns

This Belfast Telegraph profile of Chrissie Hynde is a bit odd. In it, the Belfast Telegraph quotes are as being critical of “tyrannical” and “very judgemental” folks in the animal welfare community.

“As much as I support anyone who is concerned with animal welfare, I think it has become almost a little tyrannical, where people are very judgmental about what you wear, what you eat.

“It’s almost on the verge of polarising people rather than mobilising them, because people have this almost messiah or jihad complex: if you don’t do it the way we want you to, we’ll kill you.

“It has to be inclusive. As soon as you make people feel they can’t be part of it because they have a leather belt, then you’ve lost a lot of people.”

Let me be clear that this is certainly a welcome (and accurate) critique of some of the more sanctimonious animal rights/welfare campaigns.

On the other hand, Hynde herself was often a frequent purveyor of such rhetoric, suggesting herself at one point that animal/environmental rights activists might have to resort to murder to make any lasting changes.

The last resort is for someone to go in and actually take these guys out. Maybe it will have to be an out-and-out assassination. When no one will listen anymore, then individuals have to take the law into their own hands and it can get very ugly.

It is interesting she’s now willing to accommodate people with leather belts, when she was arrested in 2000 for using a knife to destroy leather and suede clothing at a Gap store. I’m sure those sort of antics helped drive people away from animal rights/welfare campaigns in the same way she seems somewhat alienated by such antics today.

If she’s changed her mind about those actions, that’s great. But she seems to imply that it’s other people who are judgmental and tyrannical rather than re-evaluating her own past actions.

Vegan Woman Gets Harassed Over Comments on Facebook about Las Vegas Shooting Victims

Delinda Jensen owns a vegan food truck in Pennsylvania, and is apparently motivated by animal rights concerns to eat a vegan diet. After a man opened fire on an outdoor crowd in Las Vegas, killing 59, Jensen took to Facebook to share her feelings about the horrific killings.

Yes I am jaded. Fifty nine meat eaters dead. How many animals will live because of this?

In a follow-up comment to her post, Jensen added,

I don’t give a (expletive) about carnists anymore.

Jensen has received exactly the sort of response you can imagine–everything from harassment to death threats.

In a Times Leader story about the subsequent harassment and death threats she’s received, Carnist attempts to walk back her comments.

“I (expletive) up,” Jensen said while sitting at her kitchen table with son and business partner, Kyle, 28. “Was it poorly written? Absolutely. Do I regret it? Yes. I am so sorry I wrote that.”

Many Facebook users shared Jensen’s post, which generated hundreds of hate-filled comments and threats and little defense of her stance.

Jensen emphatically insisted she was not happy about the death of 59 people.

“Meat eaters or not, no one deserves to die like that,” Jensen said. “I wasn’t celebrating the death of those people. That’s not how vegans think — we are non-violent.”

In trying to explain her motivation for writing the post, Jensen wanted to make the point that too many animals are tortured and killed every year — she estimated 2o billion-plus — and consumed by humans. Jensen, who became a vegan two years ago, said people can eat good food without the inhumanity of abusing and killing innocent animals. She said one vegan translates to saving 155 animals per year.

First, it is bizarre that she went from meat eater in 2014 to callously describing a mass shooting as “Fifty-nine meat eaters dead” in 2017.

Second, her attempts to explain away the comments rings hollow to me. She seems to have discovered that voicing these sorts of opinions is socially unacceptable rather than rethinking her dehumanization of the victims of the Las Vegas shootings as “meat eaters.”

In some ways, this is similar to claims that extremists on the far right make about natural disasters or other phenomenon being a punishment for US acceptance of premarital sex or homosexuality.

Finally, what is the appropriate reaction to someone like Jensen? On the one hand, she is not a public figure and not someone who–barring these comments–any of us would likely have heard. And, obviously, death threats and abusive comments are not acceptable regardless of the original comment.

On the other hand, I’m not sure we want to live in a world where people casually dehumanize others with no pushback at all (or, maybe, the world we live in now is a good example of precisely what happens if that is the case).

As some of the commenters to the Times Leader point out, the newspaper itself refers to her comments as “insenstive” while describing the comments of the people angry at her as “hate-filled.” Jensen herself is willing to chalk up her own comments to “a moment of stupidity”, but explains the comments directed at her by saying “there’s just so much visceral hate out there.”

Part of the problem is that her comments will live on through the Internet, sparking successive rounds of rage and harassment. A few years from now there will inevitably be a TIL reddit post about this, for example, which will spark new rounds of outrage.

The Dumbest Animal Rights Take Ever

I have read a lot of bizarre and outrageous claims from animal rights activists over the years, but Chas Newkey-Burden has published what may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read by an activist. Writing in The Guardian, Newkey-Burden’s piece is headlined,

If you wear fake fur, you are dressing up as an animal killer

The article largely rehashes various animal rights claims and then ponders whether or not activists should push for a ban on fake fur,

But what about the fake stuff? Banning fake fur would seem an over-reaction (though it would certainly avoid any future confusion for well-meaning shoppers). More sensible than a ban might be a boycott. Wearing fake fur endorses a place for fur of any kind in the fashion industry, and given that we now know some “fake” fur is in fact real, and the product of great suffering, the vain hope that it could be separated from that cruelty in our minds has probably been extinguished.

So leave fur, real or imagined, on the shelf and build your look on something other than animal cruelty. There’s nothing beautiful about pretending to be wearing an abused animal.

Newkey-Burden is a British author who specializes in cranking out pseudonymous celebrity biographies, including scintillating entries such as Simon Cowell: The Unauthorized Biography and Paris Hilton: Life on the Edge, so perhaps asking him to actually think carefully through an argument may be a bit much to ask at this point.

Virginia’s 2016 Report on PETA’s Animal Shelter Operations

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently puslibhsed its 2016 report on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ activities as a private animal shelter.

In 2016, PETA took in 2,007 animals total, including 892 dogs and 1,071 cats, along with a handful of other animals. During the same period, they euthanized 557 dogs and 854 cats.

PETA takes a lot of heat over all of the euthanizations they do, but the raw statistics might not tell the whole story. As PETA notes in its intake policy (emphasis added),

PETA’s Animal Shelter and Community Animal Project practice an open admission policy, meaning that we do not turn away animals regardless of their age, history, breed, physical condition, or temperament. The shelter does not use a waiting list or charge a surrender fee, and our staff is available 24/7, including to respond to after-hours emergencies and pick up and transport surrendered animals. PETA often takes in the aggressive or feral animals rejected by other shelters as unadoptable. It also offers a free compassionate euthanasia service to community members who wish to end the suffering of their ill, aged, or injured animal companions but who cannot afford to pay the fees required by most veterinary practices.

It would be interesting to find out what percentage of animals the group euthanizes belong to this last category.

PETA Displeased With Name of Australian 80s Band

I’d never heard of them before, but apparently there was a popular band in Australia in the 1980s called Hunters & Collectors. According to their Wikipedia page, they formed in 1981 and then broke up in 1998, with some sort of reformation in 2013.

So, of course, this band is a hot button item for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In a March 2, 2017 press release, PETA asked the group to change its name to something more animal friendly.

Dear Mark, John, Doug, Jack, Rob, Barry, Jeremy, and Michael,

I hope this letter finds you well. On the eve of the duck-hunting season, we at PETA Australia have a request that may help save lives: Would you consider changing the name of your band to discourage people from hunting animals?

We feel sure that it was never your intention to promote the killing of intelligent, sensitive, and defenceless animals, but your name may nevertheless make hunting seem appealing to your fans.

. . .

As your Adelaide reunion show is coming up, now is the perfect time to for a band namelift. Might you consider “Hunters & Collectors of Antiques”, “Hunters & Collectors of Vinyl Records”, or even “Hunters & Collectors of Beer Cans” as possible replacements? You could even enlist the help of your fans to crowdsource the holy grail of names on social media.

Do you see what we see? By agreeing to change your name, you would help raise awareness of the cruelty inherent in hunting waterbirds and give ducks a fighting chance.

Warm regards,

Ashley Fruno
Associate Director of Campaigns
PETA Australia