A Bill To Cage Animal Rights Terrorists

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Earlier this summer animal rights terrorists targeted University of California at Los Angeles researcher Lynn Fairbanks. "On the night of June 30, we paid a visit to Lynn Fairbanks' home," read a communique posted on the North American Animal Liberation website. The "visit" was a bomb. It turns out that the activists planted the explosive device at the wrong house (at the home of 70-year old woman) and fortunately it fizzled.

Another UCLA primate researcher Dario Ringach, whose family had been threatened by would-be animal liberators, sent them an email in August reading, in part: "You win. Effective immediately, I am no longer doing animal research."

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) is proposing legislation in response to these and other instances "to crack down on animal rights activists who make threats or commit violence against people engaged in research using animals."

The Chronicle continues:

The bill, which the Democrat introduced with Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, would toughen federal criminal penalties for causing physical harm to people or making threats to researchers or their families. It would also boost penalties for causing economic harm to companies or universities engaged in research using animals that are frequently destroyed in the course of lab work.

Proposed penalties in the bill, which is a modification of legislation Inhofe had previously offered, include life in prison for incidents in which someone is killed.

A lot of laboratory animals are used to test possible therapies before they are tested on people. Such tests are far from perfect, but they are the best we can do until newer assays are developed. Also animal research can tell us a lot about ourselves.

"The deplorable actions of these eco-terrorists threaten to impede important medical progress in California and across the country," Feinstein said in a statement Friday. She's right and when they are caught they should be caged.

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  1. She’s right and when they are caught they should be caged.

    Or experimented on themselves.
    That would be fitting and just, if not ironic.

  2. because existing laws aren’t sufficient to imprison people who make threats and commit violence?

  3. I was thin the same thing. If you kill someone, shouldn’t a murder charge be adequate?

  4. I remember a story about this a while back.

    Any updates on when those skinny, vegan white boys are going to be on my cell block?

  5. I’m with anybody else wondering why new laws need to be passed to prosecute people who commit violence and threaten and/or intimidate others.

  6. Because it’s easier to pass a “tougher” law than to enforce an existing one. Duh.

  7. trainwreck, david, lowdog & rhywun: Good point about toughening laws, but I think part of the rationale for upping penalties is to try to enhance deterrence. In other words, the hope (which may be forlorn) is that higher penalties will cause some would-be animal liberation terrorists to think twice about threatening or attacking researchers. They may not be subject to such “rational” calculations, but that’s what I suspect Feinstein and Inhofe have in mind.

  8. “”because existing laws aren’t sufficient to imprison people who make threats and commit violence?””

    “”I’m with anybody else wondering why new laws need to be passed to prosecute people who commit violence and threaten and/or intimidate others””

    What she is proposing would move it from the State to the Feds. For some, it’s not about enforcing existing laws but moving enforcement to the feds.

    “”Because it’s easier to pass a “tougher” law than to enforce an existing one. Duh.””

    That seems to be the deal, but you still have to enforce the one you pass! But hey, you can say you did something.

  9. The utility of passing a law specifically targeted at anti-research activities has more to do with encouraging the researchers (we are on your side) than it does finding laws with which to prosecute violent behavior.

  10. So true rhywun, years ago my state (VA) passed “tougher” laws regarding possesion of a loaded firearm w/in 1000 yards of a school in response to the shooting of a high schooler by other high schoolers for his jacket or shoes or something… The crime was murder (already illegal in VA and pretty much everywhere else), plain and simple.. The new law made instant felons of law abiding gun owners who happened to make the mistake of living w/in 1000 yards of a school. So yeah, DUH!

  11. You know what shuts these kids up real quick? Conversations like the following:

    Hippie: Animal research is evil!
    Me: Why is that?
    Hippie: [Usual clap-trap]
    Me: Okay, you make a fair point, give me your kids.
    Hippie: WHAT?!?!
    Me: Give me your kids.
    Hippie: Why?!?!
    Me: That’s the other option. Now give them to me.
    Hippie: You mean…to experiment on?
    Me: Yes.
    Hippie: [Looks around, gets angrier]

  12. Instead of wasting money and time writing yet another bill, why don’t we just start duplicating threatened data gathered from animal testing to undisclosed servers?

  13. Instead of wasting money and time writing yet another bill, why don’t we just start duplicating threatened data gathered from animal testing to undisclosed servers?

  14. Ok, I understand why some politician would want to enact “tougher laws” for just about any crime (see all the suggestions above), but what I am asking is why it is necessary from a non-BS POV.

    Which is to say that I see no reason to pass these kinds of laws. I thought libertarians were generally in favour of fewer laws, not creating new laws that overlap ones already on the books.

  15. Ronald Bailey,

    Certainly the possibility exists that current laws are not tough enough to adequately deter and/or justly punish particular crimes.

    I would still take exeption to the new laws if they create tougher penalties only for people doing bad things to animal researchers. I see no reason why people should be punished more for hurting animal reserachers than anyone else, they’re not royalty, after all. Now, if police want to devote more resources to their protection due to their greater likelihood of being victims, that’s fair enough.

  16. I look forward to the day Ron Bailey is tortured by a stronger species for the information they can glean. Watch his tune change then.

  17. While if they DO commit a violent crime, they are already subject to reasonably harsh punishment, my understanding is that threatening violence is still widely considered “not a real crime”. Could an increase in eco-nutter take-downs have been made with less legislation via alternative enforcement priorities? Possibly. But without knowing the details, if they’re just threatening, my guess is that they’re currently going to be processed and turned back out. I’m also happy to see increased financial penalty for destruction of research. I went to school in Davis, CA (go Ags!) and this kind of crap (not physical violence against people, but destruction of experiments) was not at all uncommon. At least the trust-fund hippies should be stripped of their trust funds…

    So while I’m not thrilled that yet one more law is on the books, this is one of the few areas where they could have put it that I’m not exactly outraged about.

  18. Why does Feinstein thinks these acts should be the subject of federal, rather than state, prosecution? Bailey says that the higher penalties may have a deterrent effect, but it’s not clear to me that the penalties proposed are any stricter than those available under current state law. Take the example given in the article: “life in prison for incidents in which someone is killed.” If you plant a bomb that kills somone, I think its likely to be felony murder in almost every jurisdiction, for which life imprisonment (or the death penalty) is already possible. This strikes me as just another type of “hate crime” legislation.

  19. Aren’t these new laws analogous to hate crime legislation? Aren’t we creating a special class of victim here?

  20. In other words, the hope (which may be forlorn) is that higher penalties will cause some would-be animal liberation terrorists to think twice about threatening or attacking researchers.

    Because we’re so easy on people who plant bombs and attempt murder these days, right? I think Mr. Bailey might be blinded by the anti-science dimension of this situation.

  21. And will I be accused of hating science for pointing that out?

  22. Hippie: Animal research is evil!
    Me: Why is that?
    Hippie: [Usual clap-trap]
    Me: Okay, you make a fair point, give me your kids.
    Hippie: WHAT?!?!
    Me: Give me your kids.
    Hippie: Why?!?!
    Me: That’s the other option. Now give them to me.
    Hippie: You mean…to experiment on?
    Me: Yes.
    Hippie: [Looks around, gets angrier]

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for the pro-animal research crowd to be experimented upon? They’re the ones who don’t mind inflicting pain upon others for their own benefit.

  23. Parse, Mike & Zoidberg,

    You’ve made the same point I did with more succinct wording.

  24. I find it patheticly sad that the bill only targets one type of terrorism, that is, this is a content-specific ban on terrorism. The reason being, of course, is that a bill that would punish all such forms of extortion with threats of violence would never be agreed upon by the Republicans, as it would cover those who threaten abortion providers. So we’ve entered the realm of banning terrorism based on the goal of the terorrists. My only question is why are the Democrats caving in so quicly to outlaw only liberal whackjob terrorists (i.e. animal rights terrorists). What sorts of terrorism are the Republicans giving up?

  25. Not that Feinstein would ever agree to this, but in AZ we simply allow concealed carry, and also allow use of deadly force against anyone committing arson on an occupied structure.

  26. two points.

    one: threatening violence is or isn’t considered a crime (and/or a serious crime) based upon some factors. 1) does the recipient feel threatened? 2) is the fear reasonable. for example, two brothers get into an argument. one brother says “i am gonna kill you”. needless to say , this happens frequently when they get drunk. even IF the other brother FELT threatened, it would not be a crime (in my jurisdiction) cause the fear was not reasonable. drunken threats of brother on brother were dinner table fare, and not carried out. contrarily, if charles manson was freed from jail and threatened to do something to john smith involving a bunch of freaky hippy women, that WOULD be a reasonable fear, especially since john smith had read Helter Skelter and knew of manson’s propensity for sicc’ing mad women on people. since these researchers HAVE to know of the horrific violence committed by these eco-terrorists, the threat would be taken more seriously from a a criminal standpoint and would meet a felony statute in my state.

    2) there is obvious political opportunism. recall when that guy in jasper texas was dragged behind a car, and a big deal was made by many congressional (and other) dems who supported hate crime statutes that bush, who opposed hate crime statutes, was somehow culpable. considering that the crime was MURDER, and the penalty DEATH, this argument was absurd. a “hate crime” enhancement would have made no difference (and of course many of the same prohate crime law people were also ANTI-death penatly.) i could cut the irony with a ladle. it’s also absurd (imo) that som body who drags a person behind a car should get a stiffer penalty cause he did it on account of race vs. doing it because he’s a sadistic piece of garbage.

    but that’s me

  27. Well, UT, I have no doubt you want to see Ronald Bailey tortured to death. That’s the real motivation for the radical animal ‘rights’ extremists: hatred for humans, not love of animals.

  28. Wouldn’t this legislation increase the penalty if deaths were caused accidentally while destroying a lab? Under current law, the penalty may only be manslaughter if the activists assumed that no one would be around when they set off a bomb.

  29. “…these researchers HAVE to know of the horrific violence committed by these eco-terrorists….”

    Like, say, flaying? Burning at the stake?

  30. it could, but the penalties for using IED’s, especially to destroy buildings is pretty hyooge anyways. like i said, i see these types of legislation as just opportunism.

  31. Certainly the possibility exists that current laws are not tough enough to adequately deter and/or justly punish particular crimes.

    Forgive my oversimplistic view, but placing an explosive device powerful enough to kill the occupants is…attempted murder. Do we need another law called “Attempted murder with knobs on”?

  32. Yeah, I feel no love for the extreme animal rights activists, and see them in the same light as your Operation Rescue types, but the first thing that popped into my head when reading Ron’s post was “Oh, more Hate Crimes legislation.”

    Dan T. I agree that it is ridiculous to insist that we experiment on PETA members just because they object to animal testing. However, I certainly think that any PETA member who boycotts animal-tested cosmetics and who opposes all animal research should also boycott the current medical establishment, which uses techniques and drugs that were all tested first on animals.

    Dave B. In most jurisdictions I believe that setting a bomb which kills somebody and then saying “But I didn’t think anyone would be there” would be bumped from manslaughter to murder under the ‘depraved indifference to human life’ argument. If you set a bomb, you don’t care about the chance that someone might unexpectedly be caught in the blast. You might take steps to prevent it, but you have determined that the possibility of a human dying is less important than setting your bomb. YMMV

  33. Yeah, I feel no love for the extreme animal rights activists, and see them in the same light as your Operation Rescue types, but the first thing that popped into my head when reading Ron’s post was “Oh, more Hate Crimes legislation.”

    Dan T. I agree that it is ridiculous to insist that we experiment on PETA members just because they object to animal testing. However, I certainly think that any PETA member who boycotts animal-tested cosmetics and who opposes all animal research should also boycott the current medical establishment, which uses techniques and drugs that were all tested first on animals.

    Dave B. In most jurisdictions I believe that setting a bomb which kills somebody and then saying “But I didn’t think anyone would be there” would be bumped from manslaughter to murder under the ‘depraved indifference to human life’ argument. If you set a bomb, you don’t care about the chance that someone might unexpectedly be caught in the blast. You might take steps to prevent it, but you have determined that the possibility of a human dying is less important than setting your bomb. YMMV

  34. However, I certainly think that any PETA member who boycotts animal-tested cosmetics and who opposes all animal research should also boycott the current medical establishment, which uses techniques and drugs that were all tested first on animals.

    You many like PeTA vice-president Mary Beth “I don’t see myself as a hypocrite…” Sweetland, a diabetic who uses insulin derived largely from animals?

  35. Last I checked, planting bombs at people’s homes was illegal, wasn’t it?

    Last I checked, threatening people’s families with torture or murder was illegal, wasn’t it?

    Why do we need special laws if they happen to have the label eco-activist in their title somewhere?

    I thought libertarians were *against* creating unnecessary legislation?

  36. I thought libertarians were *against* creating unnecessary legislation?

    Yes, but legislators are always going to make legislation. Laws like these are very slightly marginally useful, and occupy time they could spend making stupider laws.

    But I think the real problem is finding these pimply ex-college students looking for validation from other crackpots, and then giving them a week in the violent offenders section of the county lockup.

  37. If there is one thing Peter Singer has convinced me of, it is that the animal kooks are on the same level as the animal. Perhaps all we need is legislation recognizing them as less than human?

  38. semantic complaint: they’re not eco-terrorists. they’re extremist animal rights activists. most of you got it right, but several of you and Diane Feinstein got it wrong. eco-terrorists are something different.

    thanks

  39. If there is one thing Peter Singer has convinced me of, it is that the animal kooks are on the same level as the animal.

    I’ve always had my suspicions that the animal rights movement’s true motivations had to do with their deep-seated love of animals…

    …and I do mean “LOVE.” (Cue porn music.)

    That said, you don’t want to know what I think about the true motivations of their right-wing equivalent, the anti-abortion movement.

  40. It would also boost penalties for causing economic harm to companies or universities engaged in research using animals that are frequently destroyed in the course of lab work.

    That doesn’t sound right.

  41. I suppose we could have a “hate crime enhancer” for those who perpetrate fatal gay-bashings. Have you heard the punchline Death by Bongo-bongo!?

    I do think some of this is jurisdiction-shopping. The Federal pols want to be seen as “doing something”, and that can only happen if they make terrorizing researchers a federal crime. The nexus for constitutional purposes will be the almost inevitable federal cash the labs receive.

    Oh, well, it might make for a good episode or two of Bones.

    Kevin

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