Animal Rights Protesters in Arkansas Show True Heart of the Movement

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Animal rights activists associated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty have long been extolling and promising violence, and in their big protest (if you consider 180 or so activists a major protest) against Stephens Incorporated, they tried to follow through on those promises.

Police had set up a 3 foot barrier to separate the protesters from the Stephens, Inc. building. Late in the afternoon, while one activist shouted “The Battle of Little Rock has begun” over a bullhorn, several demonstrators — pushed at the barrier and attempted to climb it, at which point police apparently used force, reportedly including stun grenades, rubber bullets, and pepper spray, to control the crowd.

Estimates of the number arrested ranged from 10 reported by an Arkansas television station two a couple dozen reported by the Associated Press.

Earlier in the day the activist, many of whom refused to give the press their last names, showed up at the homes of at least two executives of Stephens Inc. to protest. Police were well-prepared, however, with plenty of police at several points along the march and a police helicopter circling overhead (hint — maybe police in Great Britain should take a look at how police can prevent violent hooliganism while still allowing people to peacefully protest).

Animal rights activist Ryan Courtade (who still can’t make up his mind which side he’s on), quickly sent out an e-mail describing the events and, in my opinion, accurately assessing the state of the animal rights movement,

Our movement needs to take a step back and reanalyze itself. What happened today is not acceptable. If we have to force Stephen’s to drop it’s financial back [sic] of HLS from Terrorism, and Fear, then we are no better than the lowest form of life. We need Stephen’s to drop financial back because of what they are doing to animals. We need to speak in a unified voice, and not with terror.

Sure, but lets be honest — there is no animal rights movement today that is separate from this sort of violence. The handful of animal rights organizations willing to condemn these sorts of actions can be counted on one hand, while even a group like the Humane Society of the United States stoops to hiring advocates of terrorism and violence.

The problem that folks like Courtade face is that the animal rights movement already waged its nonviolent campaign and it lost big time. People do care about animal welfare, and they are certainly more aware of animal issues than they were 20 years ago, but the animal rights movement has been heard and soundly rejected by the overwhelming majority of Americans. People may disagree about the most humane way to kill a cow, but few Americans consider killing a cow for food to be inherently immoral. People may be concerned about the fate of animals used in medical research, but nobody except Ingrid Newkirk is going to go along with letting a premature infant die just to preserve the life of a calf whose lung tissue is used to make the infant’s lungs work more efficiently.

The rhetoric is stale and played out — all the animal rights movement has left are its arsonists and agitators. It’s ironic that even as SHAC should be riding high with its claimed successes at driving HLS out of business, its leaders (as well as the rest of the animal rights movement) seems to have an air of increasing desperation. Even PETA’s nutty campaigns are becoming less and less imaginative and, more importantly, the shock value is simply no longer news.

Look at the protest against Stephens. After hyping this protested practically every week on animal rights mailing lists, and garnering extensive publicity for itself, the best SHAC can do is convince a little under 200 activists to travel to Arkansas? No wonder they have to resort to intimidation and fear — without it, they’d be irrelevant.


In response to the Stephen’s demonstrations. Ryan Courtade, E-mail communication, October, 29, 2001.

Animal rights activists picket. Tim Taylor, Times Record (Fort Smith, Arkansas), October 29, 2001.

Demonstrations turn violent. KARK News 4, October 29, 2001.

Activists clash with police in Ark. Melissa Nelson, The Associated Press, October 29, 2001.

Ryan Courtade Takes Issue With My Comments About Him

A few months ago I wrote a short piece on animal rights/welfare activist Ryan Courtade (see Young Animal Rights Activist Has Second Thoughts). At the end of July, Courtade posted a letter to an e-mail list expressing concerns over animal rights violence.

Given that Courtade is only 15 years old, I thought his letter was a pretty eloquent appeal to nonviolence, especially given that so many of the adults in the animal rights movement openly advocate and/or approve of violence. I added that since Bruce Friedrich went ballistic when Elliott Katz dared criticize the more violent elements of the animal rights movement, I wondered if Friedrich would not turn his brilliant intellect to slamming Courtade’s argument that harassing Huntingdon Life Sciences employees at their homes “does not promote compassion and it changes the focus from animals to violence.”

Courtade apparently did not appreciate my article and on September 25, 2001 posted a letter on an e-mail list claiming I had “twisted my meanings,” even though I was very careful to quote him verbatim at length specifically so no one would accuse me of twisting his words.

The real problem is not any twisted words or meanings, but rather the twisted world view shared by Friedrich, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty and others who openly claim that terrorism is a legitimate act of political dissent.

Anyway, here’s the full text of Courtade’s latest letter,

Dear Compassionate Person,

During the past couple of weeks the United States has been hit with some hardcore attacks. Innocent people were killed, the United States was shocked and brought to its knees, not from being destroyed, but we were brought to our knees in prayer and praise. We prayed to our creator as to how something like this could happen, and what the purpose of these attacks were.

Today I read a disturbing article about myself. I’m sure most of you are familiar with Brian Carnell, and/or On July 27, 2001 Brian wrote about my criticisms to the animal rights movements. He took my words and quoted me, and twisted my meanings, he also made a attempt to get Bruce Friedrich and myself in an arguement, by asking if “Friedrich will be up to the intellectual challenge of taking on a teenager’s rather eloquent arguement against violence.”

Many of you don’t know me, and most of you do not know how I operate. Some of you question my leadership abilities, and maturity for being a 15 year old boy, but no matter what what you think about me, I hope that you have the maturity to talk to me about my issues, and not to post things on the interenet that I will not read for 2 months.

I may disagree with many things that the animal rights movement does, and how they do it, but I have no problem with its message, and I have no problem with its goals.

With that being said, I hope that in this time of prayer for the community and United States, I also hope that you pray for people. That somehow they can be shown compassion they deserve, and that some how with the grace of God, they will show that compassion towards others. It has gotten to that point where Compassion needs to be todays motive, and not violence.

For we shall get further with compassion and understanding, than we have
any come in any war.

Pray for America,

Your Brother in Freedom,

Ryan Courtade

Young Animal Rights Activist Has Second Thoughts

Over the past few years, animal rights activist Ryan Courtade has received a lot of media coverage largely due to the novelty of his age — Courtade was only 10 when he became an animal rights activist and started his group, Love All Animals. But Courtade is not likely to get much support from this animal rights friends for the e-mail he posted to an animal rights list on July 27 describing the second thoughts he’s having about the movement.

After describing criticism directed at him from within the animal rights community, Courtade writes,

From now on I will not classify myself as an animal “rights” activist. I will be an animal welfare activist. I’m tired of the infighting, and splitting, and I’m extremely tired of this violence.

Courtade has worked closely with In Defense of Animals and Courtade goes on to offer a criticism of animal rights violence very similar to that offered by IDA’s Elliott Katz:

We are supposed to be promoting compassion towards animals, but one needs to promote compassion toward all living things. You can go around talking to employees at HLS or Procter and Gamble, but when you go to their home or call them at home, that’s harassment, and we have no right to do that. That does not promote compassion and it changes the focus from animals to violence.

I’m very sorry that I have to do this, and I am prepared to suffer the consequences. I accept that I may lose your support, although I would still like to have your support. Because I will not be physophically [sic] changing due to this change in title, I just will not feel out of place calling myself something I’m not.

I think that the animal rights movement has gotten out of hand, violence to humans is not helping anything, it is giving a bad image to the public. I will do everything that I can to help the animals, but I will not harm another human being. I guess I’m just to compassionate to do that. Civil disobedience and violence is not acceptable, and it should not be used as a tool to attempt to force a change that may never come.

When Katz offered his critique of animal rights violence, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Bruce Friedrich wrote an article savaging Katz for this view. One wonders if Friedrich will be up to the intellectual challenge of taking on a teenager’s rather eloquent argument against violence.


Change in Views (Last E-mail unless you make the move). Ryan Courtade, E-Mail Communication, July 27, 2001.