Browsing "Animal Rights"
Apr 2, 2013 - Animal Rights    2 Comments

Feld to Receive Attorney Fees from Animal Rights Groups

Great news for Feld Entertainment: they will be recovering at least some of the $20 million they had to spend fighting a frivolous lawsuit from HSUS and company!

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington, D.C., did not yet decide how much is owed, the National Law Journal reports. The circus producer, Feld Entertainment Inc., says it has spent more than $20 million defending itself in the suit claiming that the circus was abusing its elephants.

Feld won the case in 2009 after a six-week trial. On Friday, Judge Sullivan noted that “the plaintiffs were unable to produce any credible evidence that any of them had standing to pursue their claims.” The judge also reminded the litigants that the testimony of the plaintiffs’ star witness had been “wholly incredible, and in certain instances, he testified falsely.”

This case has been a long ordeal for Feld, and we salute them for standing up for the truth in the face of years of distortion and smear-attacks by animal rights activists. It would have been so much easier to lay down and try and settle out of the public eye. Instead, they fought back, brought the truth to light, and taught us all an important lesson.

The Wall Street Journal explains why this is so important:

Mr. Pacelle is upset that plaintiffs have been nailed for abusing the courts to harass a law-abiding company.

Judge Sullivan’s latest order is a reminder that the real bullies here are the activist groups who have gone to extreme measures to shut down a staple of American family entertainment.

Congratulations, Feld Entertainment!

Science explains why we can’t have a serious discussion about animal welfare…

How many topics of discussion can you think of where disagreements are as likely to become personal and vicious as animal welfare? One? Two? None? And have you ever wondered why, despite our ever-growing knowledge of animals and animal care, somebody changing their mind on an animal welfare issue — even when presented with concrete facts to the contrary — is such a rare occurrence? Well, wait no further — science may have just uncovered the answer…

It’s the insults, stupid:

In other words, it appeared that pushing people’s emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their pre-existing beliefs.

[...]

The emotions come faster than the “rational” thoughts—and also shape the retrieval of those thoughts from memory. Therefore, if reading insults activates one’s emotions, the “thinking” process may be more likely to be defensive in nature, and focused on preserving one’s identity and pre-existing beliefs.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Why we can’t have nice things.

Don’t believe the findings? Then how about next time you’re having a discussion online about animal welfare issues, you take a step back when the trolls arrive (this usually occurs within 2-3 minutes) and observe for yourself what happens once the fur and the slurs start flying. Do these attacks actually convince anybody of anything (“While I initially disagreed with your position on, I find your ad hominems oddly compelling…”), or do they only serve to “rally the troops,” put opponents on the defensive, and ultimately prevent any real discussion from occurring?

Ah, if only the well-reasoned and researched discussion of complicated issues were as simple and instantly gratifying as trench warfare with the trolls. Unfortunately, pummeling isn’t nearly so effective as persuasion. Science says so.

Nov 30, 2012 - Animal Rights    No Comments

Defamation Is Not Freedom of Speech

Jessie L. Smith has a history of looking out for animals. Having served three years as president of the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area, Inc., and later as state special deputy secretary for dog law enforcement in Pennsylvania, she’s got the pedigree of an animal advocate. And not just in words, but action: during her time as deputy secretary, she worked to enforce her state’s dog law, shutting down many horrendous kennels that did not — or would not — comply with animal care regulations. By her estimation, her agency shut down about three-quarters of Pennsylvania’s substandard kennels.

To most people, these credentials and accomplishments would be impressive, but in the eyes of some of the more zealous animal advocates in her community, she did not move with enough speed or aggression. It didn’t matter that Smith was often on the same side as them: her adherence to the process of law and the fact that she seemed more intent on shutting down bad kennels, rather than all kennels made her “the enemy.”

As we have documented many times, if you are on the wrong side of an animal radical, insults, slurs, and even threats are to be expected. It’s just what they do. So it should come as no surprise that instead of simply criticizing the way she did her job, it became personal. And vicious. Without evidence, Smith was regularly accused of engaging in unethical and illegal behavior, most notably bribery and sexual misconduct. And according to Smith, these weren’t simply the rude, hateful comments you often get from zealots, but a deliberate, dishonest smear campaign designed to destroy her reputation and ability to do her job.

Because of this, she filed a defamation suit against her chief attackers for deliberately and maliciously spreading lies about her. As her lawyer has attested, public officials have to accept a certain level of hostility. It’s part of the job. And disagreements, especially on passionately-held beliefs can become vicious at times — but wantonly destroying someone’s reputation with lies crosses some very clear lines.

The attorney who is attempting to get the lawsuit dismissed characterizes this as a freedom of speech issue, saying it will make people afraid to criticize public officials if it is allowed to go forward. But this is a rather self-serving, alarmist misinterpretation. Reasonable people understand that accusing somebody of taking bribes and sexual misconduct in writing goes a lot farther than second-guessing policy decisions or saying you think an official is doing a terrible job. But of course, we’re not dealing with reasonable people here…

Stay tuned. A judge is now deciding whether or not the case can go forward.

Humane Society Legislative Fund Attack Ad Rejected by Television Stations

So the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) launches an absolutely nuclear political attack ad that stops just short of claiming U.S. Rep. Steve King’s favorite hobby is dragging children to dog fights (before you ask, he is on record opposing all forms of animal fighting and he supports state laws that criminalize it), and now they are shocked — just shocked — that television stations in Iowa are refusing to air it.

Dane Waters, political director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said in an interview on Monday he disagreed with the station managers. “If they have a problem at all I believe it is more political than anything else,” Waters said.

Ah, hiding behind the old “it’s just politics” excuse. Of course the networks’ refusals have nothing to do with the ad’s graphic sensationalism or because its message has been judged to be “patently false.” Just as the HSLF ad has nothing to do with the fact that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) considers King to be a major thorn in their side, right (because it’s just a coincidence that Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of HSUS spent much of last July and August attacking the representative…)?

Sure, if you say so.

Reasonable people can have disagreements over policies and their implementation; it can be messy, but it is better than the alternative, and a vital component of living in a free society. Unreasonable people view those with dissenting opinions as fools or devils to be dismissed, defamed, even destroyed if necessary — ideological totalitarians, to put it kindly. Judging by the HSLF’s methods of attack and reaction to being called out  – unfettered by facts, reason, or decency — it is fair to say they have cast their lot with the unreasonables.

The only good things about this latest campaign is that it serves as a stark example of the vicious, discourse-killing dishonesty the humane industry employs upon those who stand up to them, and of why so many people are afraid to speak out, even when it is clear the facts are not adding up.

According to King’s website, all eight networks have now pulled the ad. Good for them.

 

Aug 6, 2012 - Animal Rights    1 Comment

The world is petless! If you want it.

Gary Francione is something of an elder statesman for the modern animal rights movement. A legal scholar and one of the first abolitionists, he has taught animal rights theory since 1985 and written several books on the subject.

His abolitionist views place him at odds with the more incremental (and more successful) protectionist wing of the animal rights movement, but they also afford him the rare privilege of honesty when it comes to expressing his beliefs. You see, Francione doesn’t view animal rights as a series of goalposts where activists continuously pull on emotionally-charged, low-hanging fruit in order to gradually lull the public into adopting their code of behavior — a foie gras ban here, a ban of circus animals or guardian language there — and as such, there is no need for manipulation and obfuscation on his part. He’s not trying to trick anybody; he’ll let you know exactly where he is coming from, and what his goals are:

If, as a hypothetical matter, we changed the legal status of dogs and cats so that they were no longer property and they had a legal status closer to that of human children, would our continued production of dogs and cats (or other nonhumans) and our keeping of ‘pets’ be morally justified?”

My answer to this purely hypothetical question is “no.” We cannot justify the perpetuation of domestication for the purpose of keeping “pets.”

There it is in a nutshell. Of course, many animal rightists who are against the concept of pet ownership will assuage concerns by supporting the rescue of homeless animals, allowing adherents and uninformed supporters to fund and fuel the agenda while still keeping pets in all but name… but they almost inevitably leave out the part about what happens when all domestic animals are spayed and neutered, when all those homeless, needy pets finally find homes. Fortunately, Gary’s here to fill us in on the end game:

But if there were two dogs left in the universe and it were up to us as to whether they were allowed to breed so that we could continue to live with dogs, and even if we could guarantee that all dogs would have homes as loving as the one that we provide, we would not hesitate for a second to bring the whole institution of “pet” ownership to an end.

Nine out of ten humans agree: I make the world a better place.

Well, it’s definitely quoteworthy — and at least he’s honest! But it’s also not the most effective form of advertising, and case in point as to why the abolitionists have gained so little traction while the incrementalists have succeeded far beyond their earliest goals. After all, it is unusual to find somebody who doesn’t at least love the idea of sharing their home with a pet, even if the responsibilities are another story. To most people, a petless world would simply be inhuman.

Aug 1, 2012 - Animal Rights    8 Comments

The Wait and the Expectations: Feld Entertainment vs. ASPCA, HSUS, et al.

rack·et·eer

n. A person who commits crimes such as extortion, loansharking, bribery, and obstruction of justice in furtherance of illegal business activities.
 
intr.v. rack·et·eeredrack·et·eer·ingrack·et·eers
To carry on illegal business activities that involve crimes.

While it is not unheard of for bogus charges of animal abuse to be thrown out of court, last month’s ruling that Feld Entertainment can sue the ASPCA, HSUS, and other animal rights groups for racketeering was an overdue, and hopefully precedent-setting change.

Yes — apparently, it’s not OK to go to court with “essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness” utterly lacking in credibility, and to raise funds with those misleading or false statements. A crazy notion, I know — who woulda thunk it? It’s kind of depressing that we need a reminder of these guidelines. Though considering the number of wild accusations and acts of character assassination we see from animal rights activists, it’s obvious this is a lesson that needs to be relearned.

The irony here, one that is often missed, is that Feld Entertainment spends more time and money on the protection and conservation of elephants than any animal rights group. If they win their suit, there’s a much better chance that the winnings will actually go toward helping animals.

 
Now, all there is left to do is wait. What are your thoughts and expectations for this trial?

May 18, 2012 - Animal Policy, Animal Rights    5 Comments

Indiana Supreme Court Says State Overreached in Dog Seizure

Earlier today, the Indiana Supreme Court said in a 5-0 ruling that the state (with the assistance of HSUS) overreached in seizing and placing 240 dogs over unpaid taxes.

For some background:

On June 2, 2009, Virginia and Kristin Garwood each were ordered to pay $142,367.94 in allegedly unpaid taxes from the sale of puppies at their Mauckport, Ind., farm.

When the Garwoods were unable to pay, Indiana State Police and Humane Society volunteers seized 240 dogs from the farm, including the Garwoods’ pets. All the dogs were sold to the Humane Society the next day for $300.

That last sentence, the little thing about them selling the dogs for only $300 is revealing; the raid obviously wasn’t just about collecting taxes…

Stay tuned — this is an incredibly important ruling, and we’ll be able to release a lot more information on this story next week.

Analyst Claims HSUS Gets Nothing From Egg Agreement. Say What?

In an analysis of the United Egg Producers (UEP)/Humane Society of the United State (HSUS) egg agreement, animal rights activist Bradley Miller claims UEP now has the upper hand:

“HSUS and UEP talk about a win-win. But UEP wins whether the federal bill passes or not,” Miller said. “UEP is far ahead of the game compared to where they started.”

Co-opting HSUS to “violate its own principles” and endorse larger cages that UEP has long sought was a shrewd move, in Miller’s view.

UEP has moved HSUS off its prior position opposing cages and if the bill fails, HSUS will look contradictory at best going back to attacking the larger cages it had supported, Miller said.

[...]

HSUS will be left with nothing, Miller said, other than a massive branding or publicity bonanza that put them in the limelight, made them look reasonable and helped HSUS President Wayne Pacelle market his book.

Sorry good sir, but we question your analysis.

Aside from the head-scratcher about HSUS having principles, there are several interesting points in this analysis. Whether or not you agree with UEP working with HSUS or vice-versa, it is undeniable that UEP is, at least for the time being, ahead of where they were a few years ago, when their constant companion was the threat of death by ballot measure.

They also have bought enough time to implement their new enriched cage facilities, which allow for many of the best features of traditional barren cages and cage-free living: clean, effective facilities that raise animal welfare standards and are very hard for activists to stir outrage and raise funds off of.

But will HSUS really be left with nothing in the end? It’s not like their position has changed; they still campaign daily for cage-free (and eventually animal free) agriculture — they’re just putting a stronger focus on other forms of animal production now. And when HSUS is criticized as an “animal rights organization in animal welfare clothing,” their supporters can now use the UEP/HSUS ceasefire as cover, as proof of HSUS’ “moderate” positions.

And what of the work that went into developing the new enriched colony housing? Should it matter that years of toil and millions of dollars went into developing and implementing these facilities while HSUS did nothing but attack them?  HSUS contributed nothing,  but now they get get to raise their credibility in the eyes of the public by playing policy-maker, and take credit for industry changes they actively fought against for years!* Despicable, but you have to admit there is a certain genius to it.

No Bradley, I’m afraid this agreement leaves HSUS with quite a lot. UEP may have found a way to survive, but HSUS found a way to make themselves stronger.


* By the way, HSUS still hasn’t entirely scrubbed its website of pages that disparage enriched cages.

Feb 2, 2012 - Animal Rights    2 Comments

Up for an Animal Rights Studies Minor?

Students: would you be interested in taking a minor like this if you were in college?

“The Animal Studies minor is for students interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of the diverse ways in which the lives of animals and humans intersect,” says McEachern. “The interdisciplinary nature of the minor allows students to consider historical and contemporary interactions between humans and animals from a range of perspectives.” Read more »