The ability to protest peacefully and to voice unpopular opinions without being arrested and imprisoned arbitrarily are cornerstones of the U.S. Constitution, and are the reasons why, in spite of the many limitations imposed upon sectors of its society over the centuries, the dominant order has been forced to change to allow people of color, women, and others to take their place in society.
Animals raised for their flesh or body products, however, remain without even the most basic natural
rights: to move around, to associate with their conspecifics, to breathe clean air, and to nest or wallow or graze. They rely, as do all non-human animals, on human beings to speak up for them and articulate those basic rights, as well as to challenge those who are either indifferent to, or actively complicit in harming, their welfare.
Since the passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)
in 2006, however, the ability to document abuses, draw attention to the horrors, and raise public awareness about the suffering of animals in factory farms or scientific laboratories has been substantially curtailed. Further laws
have either been passed or proposed that would make it a crime to videotape animal abuse without the facility's permission!
We at Lantern not only believe that cruelty toward animals is wrong but that the freedom to disseminate information (no matter how upsetting) is the cornerstone (indeed, very definition) of a free society. And we've made a commitment to publishing in this very area. In Muzzling the Movement
an in-depth and tightly argued analysis of the case of the SHAC-7
, the organization whose supposed activities ultimately led to the passage of the AETA, lawyer Dara Lovitz reveals the history behind the AETA, examines the tendentious and speculative government case against the SHAC activists, and in so doing shows how the U.S. government has deeply compromised the freedom of speech and protest enshrined in the Constitution.
The AETA was passed as a means for industry and government to respond to some industrial sabotage and animal rescue undertaken by animal activists. The books listed below ask tough questions not only about how far is too far for animal activists to go in prosecuting their cause (note: no animal activist has killed or maimed anyone in the United States), and whether destroying machinery and targeting the homes of individuals either directly or tangentially involved in industries that harm animals is a good idea.
Doing undercover investigative work and being the subject of a criminal prosecution as a terrorist is no joke. (Ask Daniel McGowan
, the subject of the sad and moving documentary If a Tree Falls
.) pattrice jones's Aftershock
examines the traumatic effects on activists who have been arrested or abused by government agents, as part of a deeper analysis of trauma within the animal rights community. It's essential reading for anyone who exposes themselves to the full force of the law, and anyone who wants to understand the depth of embedded trauma within society as a whole.