You'd Lie Too If You Had Jeff Kerr's Job

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Jeff Kerr sent a letter to the Salt Lake Tribune this week complaining about an op-ed that pegged PETA as a supporter of violence. According to Kerr,

Contrary to Thad Box (“Only replacing Bush can restore honor to Americans,” Tribune, May 16), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) does not support violence and has never committed or funded any violent acts, even while countering the phenomenal violence committed against animals in food, leather and fur, entertainment and experimentation industries. Nor was PETA implicated in the bombing at the predator research station affiliated with Utah State University.

If Kerr had stopped at simply refuting Box’s suggestion that PETA was somehow connected to the Utah State University bombing he would have been on solid ground. But claiming that PETA “does not support violence…” is an obvious lie.

Ah yes, PETA doesn’t support violence which is why Bruce Freidrich in 2001 said of animal rights terrorism, “I do advocate it, and I think it’s a great way to bring about animal liberation” and why Ingrid Newkirk told the Chronicle of Higher Education in 1999 that “I find it small wonder that the laboratories aren’t all burning to the ground. If I had more guts, I’d light a match.”

PETA’s lack of support of violence certainly explains why they donated more than $40,000 to the Rodney Coronado Support Committee and later gave $1,500 to the Earth Liberation Front.

Of course what PETA opposes is not violence, but honesty. When all else fails just lie and lie some more and hope nobody notices.


PETA opposes violence. Letter to the Editor, Jeff Kerr, May 19, 2004.

Veterinarian Loses Lawsuit Against PETA, Activist

In January veterinarian Howard Baker lost his civil lawsuit against People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and undercover operative Michelle Rokke stemming from animal cruelty charges that PETA originally aired against Baker.

Baker was convicted of 14 counts of animal cruelty in July 1999. That verdict was later thrown out, however, after an appeals court judge found that Rokke was not a credible witness and that the judge who convicted Baker inappropriately took her testimony at face value.

After his conviction was thrown out, Baker turned around and filed a lawsuit against Rokke and PETA seeking $900,000 in compensatory damages for lost business at his veterinary practice, and $370,000 in legal fees and punitive damages.

But after a six-day trial in federal court in New Jersey, a jury spent less than two hours to reject the lawsuit.

PETA lawyer Jeff Kerr told the Home News Tribune,

It was an utterly baseless charge. The jury was out for all of an hour and a half. This is a victory for the animals.

Baker’s wife Jackie, meanwhile, complained that the judge in the case refused to allow much of the couple’s evidence against PETA and Rokke.

PETA, in turn, has a lawsuit seeking damages against Baker pending in Virginian. That lawsuit claims that Baker attempted to injure the animal rights group.


No win in civil lawsuit for vet. Sharon Waters, Home News Tribune, January 31, 2004.

Jury Rules For Peta Investigator In Case Of New Jersey VeterinarianÂ’S Behind-The-Scenes Beatings. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, January 30, 2004.

New York Judge Rejects Animal Rights Criminals' Request for Vegan Meals

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled in July that three animal rights activists were not entitled to be served vegan food while serving their sentences.

Jennifer Greenberg, Benjamin Persky, and Joshua Schwartz were arrested in connection with an animal rights protests in New York in July 2002 and are serving time at Rikers Island after having been convicted on charges including riot, criminal mischief and resisting arrest.

The trio had sued the New York City Corrections Department claming that veganism as part of their religious beliefs (all three are Jewish) and as such they should be served vegan meals. The three activists have apparently only been eating the portion of food they are served that is vegan.

The New York City Corrections Department has a written rule that it does not provide vegetarian or vegan meals, and Judge Scheindlin refused to order the department to provide vegan meals. Scheindlin noted that Persky had been in jail since July 2002 and Greenberg and Schwartz had been incarcerated since November 2002, so it was difficult to make a case that they would suffer “irreparable harm” if not given vegan meals immediately.

“I am not saying it’s been pleasant [for the activists],” Scheindlin said, “I’m not saying it’s been easy. I’m not saying it’s been without effect, but they’ve tolerated it.”

City attorney Jeffrey Dantowitz released a statement applauding the ruling,

The Department of Correction continue to maintain its view that its policy of not serving vegan meals to inmates is completely and legally justified and does not violate plaintiffs rights.

Meanwhile People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals lawyer Jeff Kerr said that the judge should have ordered the corrections department to give the three vegan food,

They should be providing these vegan meals for these people. Freedom of religion doesn’t mean you should have to worship at the altar of dead animals.

Hint to Kerr and the incarcerated idiots — all they had to do to keep eating vegan food was not engage in property destruction, rioting and resisting arrest. Really, staying out of jail isn’t rocket science.


Judge to Rikers Cons: No Vegan for You! Infinity Broadcasting, July 15, 2003.

Judge rules against vegan inmates. Associated Press, July 15, 2003.

When Is PETA Going to Sue the CDFE?

Okay, here’s something I genuinely don’t understand — why hasn’t People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued Ron Arnold and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise for libel yet? This is hard to understand for two reasons.

First, PETA is hardly afraid to file lawsuits. Just last February, for example, PETA said it would sue the state of New Jersey after PETA activists Dan Shannon and Jay Kelly hit a deer in that state while driving a PETA-owned vehicle. One news organization I wrote an op-ed about PETA for made me go over it with a fine-tooth comb because of PETA’s perceived litigiousness. This is not an organization known for holding their lawyers at bay.

Second, Ron Arnold has said a number of things which PETA and its attorneys say are patently untrue and would thereby be libelous. For example, here’s Arnold describing PETA in no uncertain terms for the New Jersey Herald earlier this month,

We believe the evidence shows that PETA’s leaders and personnel have been involved in criminal activities of such a magnitude for such a length of time that they have no legal right to a tax exemption.

Or how about its filing with the IRS last year where Arnold and CDFE asserted,

PETA openly and actively induces and encourages unlawful acts . . .

Maybe PETA agrees with Arnold that it actively encourages criminal acts. But no, PETA attorney Jeff Kerr tells the New Jersey Herald,

That is completely ludicrous and they’ve known about it for a long time. Everything it [PETA] does is directly related to trying to help end the suffering and exploitation of animals. Everything we do is consistent with the charitable mission of PETA.

Well, if Arnold’s assertions are really that ludicrous, it’s a bit odd that PETA doesn’t seek recourse in the courts through a libel action. Either they really know Arnold’s statement is, in fact, accurate, or they’re too busy suing states when their own activists hit deer to bother.


Animal rights group attacked; PETA integrity under question. Pat Mindos, New Jersey Herald, May 6, 2003.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear RICO Lawsuit Appeal

In a decision that will have implications for the animal rights movement and its opponents, the Supreme Court today agreed to consider the appeal of anti-abortion advocates who have been hit with multi-million dollar judgments in racketeering lawsuits brought by the National Organization for Women.

The issue at hand is at what point legitimate protests become racketeering. Under the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, NOW was able to win judgments against individuals such as Joseph Scheidler who did not personally engage in acts of violence but whom publicly approved of such violence and/or engaged in a long pattern of other harassment such as staging sit-ins outside of abortion clinics where they would prevent access to and from the clinic, often by chaining themselves in the doorways of clinics.

Juries hearing these cases have tended to agree with NOW’s claim that taken together, the persistent use of these tactics by an individual or group fits the description of racketeering and extortion under the RICO statute.

Of course, these are the same sorts of tactics commonly used by animal rights activists and groups against restaurants, fur stores and other animal enterprises. According to the Associated Press, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was one of the groups that asked the Supreme Court to accept the anti-abortionist appeal in order to clarify the rule.

PETA has been the target of at least one RICO lawsuit. After undercover activist Michelle Rokke infiltrated Huntingdon Life Sciences and came back with video tapes, pictures and other documents that PETA claimed showed abuse, HLS hit PETA up with a RICO lawsuit asking for $10 million in damages and legal fees.

PETA counsel Jeff Kerr testified before the House Subcommittee on Crime. According to Kerr,

The RICO counts in our case allege that PETA’s earlier animal cruelty investigations dating back as far as 1989 constituted a pattern of racketeering activity, including extortion through a climate of violence against Huntingdon and the other subjects of our investigation. All told, Huntingdon sought damages and legal fees exceeding $10 million. Early in the case we were slapped with a gag order which precluded us from further disseminating our findings to the public. The gag order prohibited us from cooperating with the USDA investigation of our own complaint, and this despite USDA requests for our cooperation.

PETA eventually released a settlement agreement with HLS.

One thing about PETA, by the way, is that they do not practice what they preach. According to Kerr,

PETA officers, directors and employees have repeatedly been the targets of death threats. We receive photographs of ourselves with our eyes poked out, explicit details of our own sexual torture and bloody packages of animal remains. These threats have often contained references to information disseminated by our opponents, including vivisection industry trade groups and animal abusers whom we have exposed. We do not sue our opponents under civil RICO claiming extortion or mail or wire fraud as a result of these activities. Rather, we fight those opponents in open public debates, in the media, in panel discussions, on radio and television talk shows, through letters to the editor, and by aggressively publicizing our views to rebut their positions. That is how it is meant to be in America.

Of course this is the same PETA that turned around and sued Rosie O’Donnell for $350,000 for saying that “the GAP uses only leather that is approved from PETA…” This despite the fact, that PETA had successfully lobbied for The Gap to switch its leather supplier from the Indian and Chinese suppliers it had been using.

PETA is notorious for threatening litigation over hair splitting stuff like this. PETA would have surely lost its case, but who has time to face off with these folks in court?

It will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court eventually decides. Using the standards that operated in the lawsuit against Scheidler and others, PETA itself would be wide open to RICO lawsuits given the numerous statements in support of violence and terrorism that Ingrid Newkirk, Bruce Friedrich and others have made over the years, especially in combination with their various acts of non-violent civil disobedience over the years.

If the Supreme Court upholds the Scheidler verdicts, look for serious repercussions against PETA and other animal rights groups. If the Court should overturn the verdicts, however, expect an even more emboldened crowd on the Internet and elsewhere in support of animal rights terrorism.


Supreme Court to review use of RICO laws against abortion protesters. Associated Press, April 22, 2002.

Statement of Jeff Kerr, Esq., General Counsel, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Hearing Before the Subcommittee On Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House Of Representatives, One Hundred Fifth Congress, Second Session, July 17, 1998.

Center for Consumer Freedom on PETA's Evolving Explanation for ELF Donation

A couple weeks ago I noted that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ staff members had been telling mutually contradictory stories about why exactly they donated $1,500 to the Earth Liberation Front (see Surprise — Someone at PETA Is Lying about That ELF Donation). The Center for Consumer Freedom not only beat me to the punch, but they also found several additional incidents which show a twisting, turning pattern of PETA apparently trying to figure out exactly how best to sell the donation in the media.

On March 22, 2002, the Center for Consumer Freedom sent a long letter to the House subcommittee investigating ecoterrorism. Here is an excerpt from that letter detailing PETA’s constantly evolving position about its ELF donation,

Understandably, PETA was (and still is) subjected to increased public scrutiny following my February 12, 2002, revelation of this donation. In the weeks that followed, however, PETAÂ’s various spokespersons have told at least seven different stories about that grant:

  • “[Ingrid Newkirk] said she did not remember the check to ELF, which was reported on the organization’s 2000 tax return.” (ABC News, February 26)
  • “She [Newkirk] also said the money PETA gave to the North American Earth Liberation Front was in response to a request for funds for educational materials.” (Associated Press, March 4)
  • “Newkirk also confirms that it donated money to the ELF for, ‘habitat protection.Â’” (KOMO television, Seattle, March 5)
  • “PETA [said they] contributed $1,500 during the 2000 fiscal year to ELF for education and habitat protection.” (The Denver Post, March 6)
  • “The only reason we did it is because it was a program that we supported. And it was about vegetarianism.” (PETA director of policy and communications Lisa Lange, on “The OÂ’Reilly Factor,” Fox News Channel, March 7)
  • “When we gave $1,500 to the Earth Liberation Front press office, it was for help with legal bills for one good animal protectionist who we felt was being harassed.” (“Open letter” e-mail to animal-rights activists, written by PETA correspondent Bridgett Cherry, March 13)
  • “In April 2001, PETA sent a check in the amount of $1,500.00 to the North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office to assist Craig Rosebraugh with legal expenses related to free speech issues regarding animal protection issues.” (PETA general counsel Jeff Kerr, letter of March 14)

While PETA may now claim to have earmarked the grant in question for any number of lawful purposes (depending on what day you ask them), I urge you to recognize that such grants are “fungible.” If PETA had used its tax-exempt donations from the public to make a sizable gift to Al Quaeda, Hamas, or the Irish Republican Army, we would not be having a discussion about whether or not it is technically possible to make a donation to terrorists without intending that the funds be used to conduct terrorism. The Earth Liberation Front should be treated no differently, especially considering its status with the FBI.

Of course PETA’s main reply to the Center for Consumer Freedom has been ad hominem attacks on the CCF.

One interesting thing that seems apparent reading between the lines of PETA’s evolving story as well as discussions I’ve had with reporters and others who have looked into this story is that it appears almost no one at PETA was aware of the ELF donation other than Newkirk. One person told me flat out that Lisa Lange seemed to be completely out of the loop on this. The clear implication of this is that donating to ELF was something deemed sufficiently controversial even within PETA that Newkirk didn’t bother to discuss it or inform other PETA staffers about the donation.

Well, what did they expect? That an organization that hides its activities from donors (I’ve never seen an donation pitch from PETA mentioning their donations to animal rights terrorists) would necessarily share them with staffers? Ha.


Letter to House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. Center for Consumer Freedom, March 22, 2002.