Tuesday, November 14, 2006

killing flies with hand grenades

just in case the nsa, dubya, or karl rove are reading my blog for signs of rebellion let me preface this by saying that i am not a member of alf or elf (nor have i ever watched alf for that matter). i happen to have a strong aversion to peta for their love of self-aggrandizing publicity stunts. however, i've been known to be a fan of animal rights, especially my right to be treated as good as and usually better than the naked apes around me (though i would like to advocate that if i have to be on a leash so too do the little rug rats). so i was a little worried when i read about h.r. 4239, the animal enterprise terrorism act. here it is in a nutshell (emphasis on the nut):

Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act - Rewrites federal criminal code provisions regarding animal enterprise terrorism to prohibit anyone from traveling in, or using the mail or any facility of, interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of damaging or disrupting an animal enterprise and, in connection with such purpose: (1) intentionally damaging, disrupting, or causing the loss of property used by or owned in connection with such enterprise; (2) intentionally placing a person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury to that person or a family member through threats, vandalism, property damage, trespass, harassment, or intimidation; or (3) conspiring or attempting to do so. Prescribes escalating penalties.
Authorizes restitution for: (1) the reasonable cost of repeating any experimentation that was interrupted or invalidated as a result of such offense; (2) the loss of food production or farm income reasonably attributable to such offense; and (3) any other economic damage, including any losses or costs caused by economic disruption, resulting from such offense.

some of the response has been a little hysterical but does raise some valid concerns. here's the thing. 1) it is already a crime to destroy someone else's property and/or intimidate or threaten people. folks who cross this line have been successfully prosecuted and punished for these acts. 2) the language of terrorism is incredibly loaded here and applied to a wide range of activities 3) the scope and ambiguity of the law is potentially problematic. "disruption" and "damage" are defined as anything causing "losses or increased costs." it does not specify the actual destruction of property but any action that leads to a financial loss for a business 4) for example, the law makes little distinction between trespassers who are on property in a peaceful protest and those who are there to steal animals or destroy property--the line between lawful speech and unlawful action is blurred 5) why extend such extensive protection to certain industries, insulating them from fiduciary harm caused by political action? protecting medical research, important. insulting the meat industrial complex from any critique? maybe not. 6) laws targeting conspiracy are notoriously dangerous because the term is vague and ill-defined and often blurs the line between thinking and doing.

by the way, this was passed in the senate with absolutely no debate.


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