Browsing "Animal Rights"
Mar 9, 2015 - Animal Rights    12 Comments

What People Think of You Matters More Than the Facts

It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true…. You are what the media define you to be

~Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd

Quick question. Say you work with animals and you:

  • have facts and expert opinion on your side demonstrating your commitment to animal welfare, and a high level of animal care.
  • have trainers who tirelessly advocate for and clearly love animals
  • put your money where your mouth is, creating an amazing animal care, conservation and health, and education center
  • manage to sustain the Western Hemisphere’s largest population of an endangered species

 

And say you go up against a movement that:

  • relentlessly attacks and smears your reputation morning noon and night while playing fast and loose with the facts and manufacturing scandal.
  • is not above using an “essentially paid plaintiff” against you in court
  • has its lead organizations pay millions of dollars (not toward animal care or conservation) to settle a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case brought against them

 

In a world that made any sort of rational sense, you’d think victory would be a slam dunk. You’d think the public, the politicians, and the courts would join in a chorus and tell your opponents to take a hike — to actually do something useful with their time and donor money.

But that is not the world we live in; and the fact of the matter is that even when facts are on your side, if people are convinced you are cruel and greedy, you are going to lose. When politicians think supporting you is going to make them less popular — even though it is the right thing to do — you are going to lose.

Elephants in entertainment and Ringling Brothers in particular have been relentlessly attacked in the media by animal activists for decades. And as a result, if you were to take a poll of 100 people today, most would be aware of accusations against Ringling Bros., with a smaller percentage convinced they are the devil incarnate. Through constant repetition, it has saturated the public consciousness and simply become a part of how people think.

But of course precious few poll-takers would be aware of Ringling’s conservation efforts, or the groundless and unreasonable lawsuit against Feld Entertainment that led to the ASPCA, HSUS, and others to paying Feld tens of millions of dollars to settle a RICO case.

So should it be any surprise at all that after years of fighting, they finally just said “enough”?

This is a tragedy for everybody whose interest and passion for elephants — perhaps all animals — was sparked by the opportunity of seeing one of these magnificent creatures in real life, it is a tragedy for the Asian elephants themselves whose plight in the wild will now surely receive less effort and exposure, and it is a tragedy for the triumph of countless lies and smears from the animal rights lobby.

Let this be a warning to all of you who care about these issues, but tell yourself that facts, science, reason, and truth will prevail at the end of the day: because when it comes to your existence, if people don’t know or believe the facts, they do not matter. What matters is what the public thinks of you, how you are perceived, and what you are associated with. You are up against a relentless foe who does not care about reason or facts, one whose ultimate goal is your extinction. Science will not win against this onslaught, the only hope is to make sure people know who you are and taking charge of your own narrative. Whether you love purebred dogs or horse carriages, whether you are a farmer or a researcher or a hunter: when their campaign to destroy your animals, your hobbies, your livelihood comes to your doorstep, if everybody is already convinced you are beneath contempt because others were allowed to define you… it may be too late.

Support the groups who support you; if you don’t write your narrative, somebody else will!

Greatest Show on Earth

Feb 11, 2015 - Animal Rights    No Comments

Just ‘Cause It’s Legal Doesn’t Mean It’s Ethical

Thank you to everybody who has signed our petition asking Outfront Media to pull PETA’s billboard! And if you haven’t done so already, please sign it today and share it with everybody you know who loves dogs and hates smear tactics (hint: that should mean a lot of people)!

Freedom of speech has few limitations in the United States — even the sensationalist, hateful speech practiced by PETA is protected by the first amendment. That’s why it is so important for companies to draw distinctions between business practices that are legally allowable and ones that are ethically sound.

PETA’s misleading advertisement is intended to hurt dog breeders (specifically, AKC breeders) right before a major dog show takes place.

Help us turn this around. Exercise your freedom of speech now by signing our petition. Doing so will help us save our dogs from destructive groups like PETA with agendas that serve no one but themselves.

Petition Link

Jan 9, 2015 - Animal Rights    5 Comments

Chock full of compassion… unless it’s for your own species

If you’ve ever read an article covering a contentious animal issue, you’ve seen them in the comments section: hateful slurs, accusations, even wishes for ruination or death. There are a whole lot of really nasty comments, the vast majority coming from self-proclaimed animal lovers — you know, the “compassionate ones” who are against hunting, animal research, breeding animals, eating meat, etc.

For example, it is probably normal to feel that a man injured by an animal he was hunting has received a bit of poetic justice. However you feel about hunting, it’s not an unusual reaction (you can bet the man’s friends are going to give him a hard time about this later). But when you take it further, and start celebrating the hunter’s misfortune, wishing the injuries to the man will prove painful and eventually fatal… well, that’s not exactly kind, is it?

Wisconsin columnist Heather Stanek, accustomed to seeing comments like this, used to think it was just coming from the Internet’s chorus of trolls, but…

But the more I read, though, led me to a terrible realization: None of these people were trolls. They were saying what they meant, what they felt. And clearly, they believed that it’s OK for a person to suffer and die.

Yes. And it is not uncommon. You really have to wonder how anybody claiming to feel so much compassion and sympathy for animals can go ice cold (or even feel disdain) when it comes to their own species.

Sika Deer, Cervus nippon

Jun 27, 2014 - Animal Rights    No Comments

It Was Never About the Quality of Care

A recent story about a natural foods market’s run in with a local activist neatly illustrates the point that when it comes to the animal rights mentality: that it’s never really about the level of care, but ending animal use by humans altogether (and yes, this includes owning pets).

Of course many people don’t realize this, so when Local Grocer owner Heather Chase put together a class on how to ethically raise and process chickens (naturally, including information on how to slaughter them), and became the target of an animal rights campaign, it probably seemed odd to some onlookers. After all, aren’t the animal rights folks always campaigning against people who don’t ethically raise animals? Why on Earth target a “sustainable,”  “beyond organic” operation? Well, for the answer to that, simply refer back to paragraph one: because it’s not about the level of care; in there eyes there is no such thing as “ethical meat.”

Since becoming a target, animal rights activists have harassed the Local Grocer owner, given her store negative online ratings, and their ringleader has received a no-trespass order. All small potatoes in the scheme of things, but a clear and timely example that no matter how high your standards are, no matter how well you treat your animals, it is not enough.

“Why not do it the best way we possibly can?” said Chase.
But Slitt says she wants to challenge the idea that there can be “humane meat” and “sustainable animal agriculture.”

This is an important point to remember for everybody who lives with and works with animals: whether you farm, breed dogs, run a lab, or simply enjoy owning pets, the end goal for the animal rightist is not to improve you, but to stop you.

So keep treating your animals as well as you possibly can, take pride in the knowledge that you are ethical and caring and have given your all, and make sure you are operating on standards you agree with, standards set by people who actually work with animals, not those opposed to animal use altogether.

You just know that somehow, some way, somewhere, somebody is utterly convinced that this puppy is "suffering."

No matter how you frame it, somehow, some way, somewhere, somebody out there is utterly convinced that this puppy is “suffering.”

May 30, 2014 - Animal Rights    3 Comments

Not an Isolated Incident

From a blog by Paul Munshine, “SPCA agents caught acting like animals again“:

They searched the house for five hours, snooping through her checkbook and wallet. Eventually they charged her with 66 counts of animal abuse, mainly because several of the dogs’ water bowls were dry. In fact, Decker said, she was so concerned for the dogs’ health that she used a water filter so her pets wouldn’t have to drink the water that mere humans drink.

At first the SPCA demanded she pay $68,000 in fines, she said. Then they lowered that demand to $15,000, but “they wanted to take all my pets kill all of them but two of them,” she said.

“You touch that phone and I’ll slap these handcuffs on you.” – SPCA agent to 69-year-old Kate Decker
“This was straightforward extortion by racketeering,” she said.

SPCA officials declined to comment on the case.

Paying them off would have been cheaper than fighting them, but Decker fought anyway. She hired attorney Justin Loughry to build a case with a long list of witnesses who would attest to how Decker babied her dogs.

Earlier this month, the Moorestown municipal prosecutor dismissed all of the charges. It was quite a victory, but “I’m $120,000 in debt,” Decker said. She’d like to sue the SPCA but doesn’t have the money, she said.

What a horrible situation for Decker. It would be hard to believe that people against cruelty could behave so thuggishly, but this case is but one out of a larger pattern of human mistreatment and deception from so-called “animal lovers.”

She is certainly not the first person to have charges dropped but still suffer under the crush of enormous legal fees. And it’s not just against individuals. We’ve got large animal right organizations forking over tens of millions of dollars in a settlement with Feld Entertainment after a huge, frivolous lawsuit and an “essentially paid witness,” we’ve got animal rights activists posing as farm workers, going so far as to abuse animals in order to “maintain their cover.” We’ve got animal rightists making us wonder if there is any point at which the ends don’t justify their means.

RazorDeathThreatHighlighted

Unfortunately, Decker’s case is not surprising or hard to believe at all.

May 15, 2014 - Animal Law, Animal Rights    2 Comments

HSUS Coughs Up $15.75 Million, Settles Racketeering Suit

Great news today: HSUS and several co-defendants have paid Feld Entertainment $15.75 million for their involvement in a “frivolous,” “vexatious,” “groundless and unreasonable” case brought against Feld Entertainment and to settle the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case brought against them. (Couldn’t have happened to a nicer group of conflict fundraising organizations!)

This is the second settlement Feld Entertainment has received from the same case; in 2012, Feld received $9.3 million from the ASPCA.

The case in question claimed that Feld was abusing elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act, and was accompanied by numerous fundraising campaigns viciously maligning the circus. “Claimed” being the all-important word here; while the case created great publicity for the animal rights organizations involved, it all fell apart when the star witness turned out to be an “essentially paid plaintiff” who had received $190,000 from animal rights organizations. Oops!

This is what happens when conflict fundraisers play their unethical, ends-justify-the-means games against somebody who can and will fight back, rather than roll over, pay them off, and pray they go away. Let’s hope this becomes a larger trend. Congratulations to Feld Entertainment for having the guts to see this through to the end, and winning a battle for everybody who works with animals!

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.

 

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