|FBI: 'Environmentalism Is Terrorism'|
|Tuesday, 15 January 2013 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
It's not easy being green. Conservation groups and animal activists give generously of their time, money and life-force to protect endandered species, voiceless animals and natural habitat. To meet resistance from corporations bent on destruction-for-profit seems almost predictable, but the government has sided with the corporations, it seems, and passed laws to make "doing the right thing" an imprisonable crime. Who did the FBI cite as the "number-one domestic terrorism threat in the US"? You'd be forgiven if you answered assassins who target abortion doctors or militia groups planting bombs in government buildings. Nope, the answer is animal-rights groups who have harmed neither humans nor animals.
Fighting the Good Fight...
Fortunately, TIRN has had numerous victories in their quarter century of dedicated activism, including closing a legal sea-turtle slaughterhouse in southern Mexico in 1990 and leading a large public campaign that resulted in Mexico’s joining the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), making it illegal to harvest sea turtles in Mexico altogether. TIRN quickly followed up this victory with an action that resulted in Japan—the major importer of harvested sea-turtle skins and shells—becoming a CITES signatory as well. TIRN has also gotten 20 nations to adopt regulations requiring their commercial fisheries to use Turtle Excluder Devices on their shrimp nets, permanently closed a California long-line fishery and made 100 linear miles of the Texas Gulf Coast off limits to shrimp fishing during turtle-nesting season. All this from a small, grassroots organization tirelessly doing the good work.
...And Being Called a Terrorist For It
"Terrorist" is a charged word to use in the United States. Any outsider looking in knows that TIRN is by no means a terrorist organization. What most people don't know is that there exists, as you read this, an actual law in the United States of America that allows the prosecution of conservationists and animal activists who inflict "economic damage" to an animal enterprise (agriculture, fishing, animal research, zoos, pet stores, etc.) as terrorists, a charge gravely different in terms of criminal prosecution as far as rights, fines and prison time.
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
Even though the AETA explicitly states that it should not be used to curtail First Amendment activities, in practice it clearly has been used in that way. In 2004, seven young adults went to prison under the AEPA for running a website. They were not convicted of committing violence against humans or non-humans, nor did they destroy property. Rather, these young adults merely operated an Internet site that effectively coordinated a protest against an animal research company.
The case United States vs. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA put these nonviolent activists behind bars for up to six years (the last of the jailed Shac 7 will be released this fall) essentially for exercising rights guaranteed to them under the First Amendment. Running a website is not illegal. Nor is protesting. Speaking out against a status quo that makes powerful people rich apparently is.
Speaking Truth to Power
"It is totally absurd," says Todd Steiner, director of TIRN, about being it being labeled a terrorist organization, "because we use a legal process to accomplish our goals. In terms of terrorists, the real terrorists are the people out there fishing illegally, causing species to go extinct—in my humble opinion."
Animal activists and conservationists have been targeted as terrorists by the government for more than two decades and so also will soon be peace activists, women's-rights advocates and social-justice supporters—if we don't call out this absurdity now. We all should have the freedom to use our voices. And, if we harm no one, we should be unafraid to take action on our ideals no matter what corporations might disagree with us.
What YOU Can Do
To make sure your activist time, energy and money goes directly to your cause, make small donations to small organizations like Turtle Island Restoration Network, assuring your cash will not be used for administrative or marketing campaigns, but actual field work. If you can’t make a donation, volunteer your time, organize a protest, call your representatives and sign petitions.
To protect animal welfare and marine habitats most effectively and immediately, go vegan. Especially avoid swordfish, shark and tuna, products of the most destructive industrial fishing practices threatening the oceanic environment. Remember: Ranchers and fishermen are filing a niche. If we do not purchase their products, they won't make a business out of it. And please reconsider your use of plastics in the world today—instead of recycling it, precycle it. That is, if you don't buy it, then it won't have to be recycled.
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