Issue 18 - Steven Best - No

Issue 18 - Steven Best - No - The Animal Enterprise...

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The “Animal Enterprise Protection Act”: New, Improved, and ACLU Approved Welcome to the post-constitutional America, where defense of animal rights and the Earth is a terrorist crime. In 1992, a decade before the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, animal exploitation groups such as the National Association for Biomedical Research successfully lobbied Congress to pass a federal law called the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA). This legislation created the new crime of “animal enterprise terrorism,” and laid out hefty sentences and fines for any infringement. The law applies to anyone who “intentionally damages or causes the loss of any property” of an “animal enterprise” (research facilities, pet stores, breeders, zoos, rodeos, circuses, furriers, animal shelters, and the like), or anyone who causes an economic loss or damage of any kind to such establishments. The AEPA defines an “animal rights or ecological terrorist organization” as “two or more persons organized for the purpose of supporting any politically motivated activity intended to obstruct or deter any person from participating in any activity involving animals or an activity involving natural resources.” The act criminalizes actions that obstruct “any lawful activity involving the use of natural resources with an economic value.” Like the amorphous category of “domestic terrorism,” a keystone in the USA PATRIOT Act attack on civil liberties, the frightening thing about the AEPA is its strategic vagueness that subsumes any and every form of protest and demonstration against exploitative industries to a criminal act – specifically, a terrorist act. Thus, the actions of two or more people can be labeled terrorists if they leaflet a circus, protest an experimental lab, block a road to protect a forest, do a tree-sit, or block the doors of a fur store. On the sweeping interpretations of “terrorism” in such legislation, Martin Luther King, Mahatmas Gandhi, and Cesar Chavez would today be vilified and imprisoned as terrorists, since the intent of their principled boycott campaigns was precisely to cause “economic damage” to unethical businesses. And since the AEPA, like the legal system in general, classifies animals as “property,” their “theft” (read: liberation) is unequivocally defined as a terrorist offense. There already are laws against sabotage and property destruction, so isn’t the AEPA just a redundant piece of legislation? No – not when one understands its hidden agenda, which strikes at the heart of the Bill of Rights. The real purpose of the AEPA is to protect animal and earth exploitation industries from protest and criticism, not property destruction and “terrorism.” The AEPA redefines vandalism as ecoterrorism, petty lawbreakers as societal menaces, protestors and demonstrators as domestic terrorists, and threats to their blood money as threats to national security. Powerful economic and lobbying forces, animal exploitation industries seek immunity from criticism, to
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Issue 18 - Steven Best - No - The Animal Enterprise...

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