In a recent release the Humane
Society of the United States complained about some of the tactics taken
by cockfighting supporters in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Coalition Against
Cockfighting is trying to restore Oklahoma’s ban on cockfighting.
The HSUS release describes
a variety of illegal and unethical actions taken by pro-cockfighting forces
- death threats made against OAC leaders including calls placed to the
workplaces of OAC members in an effort to get them fired
- illegal phone “blockades” — HSUS alleges that at least one and perhaps
more pro-cockfighting individuals made 200 or 300 calls a day to the
OAC office in an obvious attempt to deny OAC the use of its phone lines
and/or run up its expenses
- disruption of OAC meetings
Along with these obviously
wrong actions, the HSUS release complained that pro-cockfighting forces
decided to make their views known at venues where the anti-cockfighting
groups were trying to collect signatures to get their measure on the ballot.
HSUS quotes from a pro-cockfighting newsletter that read in part:
… to execute the plan. . . HSUS will be at Arts & Crafts events,
etc. in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and we need to have our people there to
work against the gathering of signatures.
HSUS calls this a “plan to
interfere with our democratic rights” but it reads more like a group exercising
its free speech rights to counter HSUS’ plan. This seems to be the sort
of normal behavior everyone has to tolerate in a democracy. As long as
the cockfighting supporters didn’t physically interfere with HSUS’ collection
of signatures but only exercised their right to freely speak and assemble,
its hard to understand what HSUS finds so objectionable here (unless the
group is so inarticulate it can’t even make a decent argument against
HSUS goes on to complain that:
It became routine that we would be met by people demanding to
see our voter registration card, drivers license, and permit to be wherever
we were. Sometimes circulators would be surrounded and cut off from the
public. More frequently, circulators would face cockfighters who yelled
at potential signers and told them that the petition would ban hunting
and fishing and other animal-related activities.
Again, though, nothing here seems to violate anyone’s rights.
HSUS also maintains that pro-cockfighting
forces intentionally filed frivolous lawsuits to dissuade the anti-cockfighting
forces, though the courts will have to decide whether that is indeed the
Cockfighting is completely
incompatible with the animal welfare view as far as I’m concerned and
I won’t lose any sleep if and when Oklahoma restores its ban on cockfighting.
The fascinating thing about the harassment HSUS and others are facing,
however, is that the animal rights community itself provided the model
over the last decade for precisely what the pro-cockfighting forces are
Death threats? We’ve seen the
Justice Department and the Animal Rights Militia do that on numerous occasions
with nary a peep from most of the established animal rights organizations.
Illegal phone blockades? In
a typical month five or six e-mail messages go across the various animal
rights mailing lists setting up times and giving phone numbers for animal
rights activists to call and attempt to jam up the phone system of the
target of the month, whether that be Macy’s or Nieman Marcus or McDonald’s.
Demands to obtain personal
information for seemingly legitimate purposes only to use that information
for harassment? Animal rights activists have been trying for years to
get the government to release sensitive details about medical researchers.
Animal Liberation Front supporters have used publicly available documents
to create terrorist guides of fur farms in North America.
A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution
profile of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was eye opening
in the insight it gives on those who advocate violence. As this newsletter
has mentioned before, PETA’s Bruce Friedrich is a wholehearted supporter
of “direct action” and PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk recently responded to the
Justice Department’s mailing of razor blades to researchers by writing,
“Perhaps the mere idea of receiving a nasty missive will allow animal
researchers to empathize with their victims for the first time.”
So what has PETA reaped from
this record? Apparently a well-founded fear that others not so friendly
to the animal rights movement may choose to carry out a little “direct
action” of their own. According to the Journal-Constitution’s description,
PETA’s new headquarters is a veritable fortress:
The cameras weren’t put up to catch meat-sneakers, but to protect
PETAns, who must punch in a code to enter or exit the building, from their
That is, protect PETA from doing exactly what it openly admires and advocates
that animal rights activists do to research labs and farms.
One of the big differences
between the animal rights movement and the animal welfare movement is
that a reporter would have a lot of difficulty finding a spokesperson
in a mainstream animal welfare group who would defend those who might
vandalize PETA’s office. One only has to get Newkirk or Friedrich on the
phone to talk with people comfortable defending acts of violence.
Try a Campaign of Terror, Humane Society of the United States press
release, December 3, 1999
“Meet The Meat-Haters: Virginia-Based Peta Will Do Almost Anything To
Get Its Animal Rights Message Out” by Bill Hendrick, Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
December 12, 1999.