I believe that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is an animal rights group as committed to the agenda as PETA. But it is far more clever. Rather than engage in PETA-style antics, and rather than push the meme that animals are people too, intead, it implacably files lawsuits against animal industries, pushes voter initiatives like the one that put pregnant pigs in Florida’s Constitution and Proposition 2 this year in California, and otherwise spends a fortune trying to make animal husbandry more difficult.
As a tactic, it is brilliant: If you keep chewing at the edges long enough, the entire pie will be consumed.
Some animal rightists hate this approach because, to them, it reeks of animal welfare advocacy that validates animal husbandry and increases public support for it by eliminating the worst practices. And so, radical animal rights leader Stephen Best has exploded in rage against HSUS. And what seems to have really set him off is HSUS’s token reward offer of $2500 (from a non profit with more than $200 million in assets) for the capture and conviction of the terrorists who exploded an incendiary bomb on the porch of a Santa Cruz animal researcher. From Best’s wildly ranting blog:
[W]hen three years ago HSUS seemed content to merely “applaud” the state for breaking into activists’ homes – armed and angry men breaking down their doors, stealing and destroying their possessions, separating them from their human and nonhuman families, and locking them away in federal prisons for years–now it seems that HSUS has taken its treachery and complicity one step further, by actually offering a $2,500 reward, in cooperation with the FBI and state and local law enforcement officials, to capture the person(s) who set off firebombs at the homes of two vivisector in Santa Cruz, California in August 2008.
As one bomb exploded when the researchers and their families were here and someone could have been injured of killed, these actions were clearly not the work of the ALF, which adheres to a strict nonviolent policy that targets the property of animal exploiters but never the exploiters themselves.
Best, being a complete wacko, suggests that the terrorist bomb was actually planted by the state. But his real point seems to be to money:
I encourage people to send HSUS a polemic not a check, and to donate their hard-earned money not to robotic raconteurs but rather to ardent activists who fight on the front lines of the emerging war over nature with substantial results. I’m talking, for instance, about small groups such as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society; amazing activists like Anthony Marr or Gary Yourofsky, who foment revolutionary change on a shoestring budget; and stellar local animal rescue groups.
The head of the Sea Shepherd’s, Paul Watson, has called human beings an AIDS virus afflicting the earth and Yourofsky has wished rape upon any woman who wears fur, while yearning for researchers to die slowly of cancer–in the “compassionate” name of animal rights.
It is tempting to think of this as a fight within the family. I applaud HSUS’s opposition–albeit tepid, as I see it–to violence and terrorism. The animal rights movement as a whole would do itself a huge favor if it united in opposing terrorism and cooperated with law enforcement to purge the movement of these criminals. But with rare exceptions, mostly what we get is the sound of crickets chirping. Meanwhile, fanatics like Best reveal the depth of rage and misanthropic radicalism that is part–not the whole, but part–of the DNA of animal rights.