One of the things that really angers me about animal rights groups is how they frequently twist the facts to serve their agenda. But sometimes their more outspoken opponents also cross that line, and such is the case with Utah State Rep. Paul Ray.
In letters to the U.S. Olympic Committee and in television appearance, Ray has repeatedly characterized Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) as a group that supports terrorism. In a letter to Olympic officials, for example, Ray wrote,
The rodeo is a very important piece of our culture here in Utah. We cannot allow terrorist groups such as SHARK and PETA to frighten us with violence.
Ray offers a defense of his statements saying, “I called them terrorists. I grouped them all together because it’s really pretty hard to distinguish one from the other.”
Is he serious? It is easy to distinguish animal rights groups from each other, for the most part, and whatever else SHARK is, it is not a terrorist group.
In fact, SHARK’s Steve Hindi has been one of the few people in the animal rights movement willing to speak out publicly against animal rights terrorism. Hindi sent a letter to Animal People shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that read,
In light of what has happened in New York and Washington D.C., I hope animal advocates will take a renewed stance against such tactics. Clearly, the terrorists have not helped their cause; they have damaged it. Our cause will also be damaged by terrorism, and animals will pay the price.
Anyone who knows SHARK knows we like to hit our opposition hard and often.
But terrorism is not the way to go. In our cause, the animals are the victims, and this is the message that must be carried to the public. The SHARK Tiger truck, for example, exposes animal abuse in a very hard-hitting but thoroughly peaceful manner.
As a movement, let us drop any consideration of terrorism, and build a global Tiger fleet!
Hindi was arrested in 1996 for using a paraglider to try to scare away geese that were being hunted. I’m not a big fan of hunt saboteur’s, but that hardly constitutes terrorism.
SHARK has filed a libel lawsuit against Ray. I doubt it will prevail, if only because libel lawsuits are extremely difficult to win in the United States. But Ray is being extremely irresponsible in twisting and distorting the facts to fit his agenda.
We get enough of that from the animal rights movement — we hardly need Ray jumping in to contribute to the confusion.
Group sues lawmaker for libel. Greg Burton, The Salt Lake Tribune, February 5, 2002.
Utah lawmaker sued for defamation after calling animal advocates ‘terrorist groups’. Associated Press, February 5, 2002.