Why I Am An Animal Rights Extremist

Today I became an animal rights extremist. Let me explain.

It seems that the US Government goes to great lengths to twist the facts when they are trying to prosecute those they do not like. Those lengths include calling bloggers and journalists extremists. How long before they decide to call them terrorists? So if I mention an animal rights supporter in my blog, when the government tries to prosecute this person they will say they are linked to extremists by showing that they are mentioned in my blog. Logical? Right? Well Will Potter at GreenIsTheNewRed has a pretty good post on this where this exact same insane situation has happened to him.

Quite audaciously I’m going to quote a big chunk of his post:

Guilty By Association

It is not surprising to see a government sentencing memo try to connect a defendant to “extremists.” I’ve covered this in many, many prosecutions. The intention is to use guilt by association to secure additional prison time. For example, prosecutors will say that Joe Defendant is friends with drug dealers, or that Jane Defendant’s family are in a gang.

In this case, the government labels journalism as extremism.

Prosecutors say that since my article mentioned Halliday in a photo caption, it means he placed himself “above the law” and violated an order to have “No association with animal group[s] A.L.F., E.L.F., Vegan Straight Edge (VSE).” [The ALF and ELF are the underground Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. “Vegan Straight Edge” is a punk lifestyle, not a terrorist group, and I’m having a hard time even typing this explanation without being reminded by these lyrics.]

Packed into that short accusation are two dangerous unstated assumptions:

  1. Anyone who takes a photo of law enforcement is associated with those being targeted. Keep in mind that this raid led to no arrests. Yet the government says that merely possessing a photo of it implies criminal association, and is acting “above the law.”
  2. Anyone who writes about what the government is doing to animal rights activists is an “animal rights extremist” by extension. This is the most dangerous message being sent by the government. My writing and commentary on civil liberties issues has been featured by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, and many other of the top media outlets in the country. I have lectured at nearly 100 universities and associations, including Georgetown Law School, Yale Law School, and the House of Democracy and Human Rights in Berlin. My book was awarded a Kirkus Star for “remarkable merit,” and has been praised by Publishers Weekly, Utne, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and many others. I say all this hoping to make clear that if my journalism is being labeled “extremist,” if my entire body of professional work can be reduced to extremism because I ask questions about what the government and corporations are doing, then everyone is at risk.

Upon reading that, I decided that today I stand up and say “Yes, I’m an animal rights extremist too.”

Perhaps when there are 173,420,114 animal rights extremists in the US alone, the US government will stop trying to call bloggers extremists.

You too can be an animal rights extremist. All you have to do is follow GreenIsTheNewRed and repost some of the information from Will who blogs about how wrongly the government behaves when no one is watching them. Of course, other journalists will work too. The more antagonistic they are toward government wrong doing the better your chances of being labelled an extremist.

So join me. Become an extremist today. Don’t be the last person on your block to become an extremist. As Will says, if nothing is done about this, if his work can be called extremist then we are all at risk. Inoculate yourself now; become an extremist before it is too late.



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