You know all those horrible but eye-opening videos you’ve seen about animal treatment in factory farms? Well it appears that those videos actually lead to “economic hardship” for the enterprises they expose. Hmm, go figure. When Mercy For Animals shows the way Sparboro Farms abuses chicks and chickens, guess what happens? Major purchasers pull their support, regular people hear all about it on Facebook, celebrities begin to speak out, and pretty soon you’ve got a lot less people eating Sparboro eggs.
But instead of hailing Mercy For Animals for doing their regulatory duty for them, the government has suggested that MFA’s undercover videotaping may actually qualify the animal rights organization as terrorists. At least an FBI document acquired through the FOIA sure suggests that. It was written by an FBI agent and states that actions such as undercover videotaping violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act which was supposed to defend against property damage like burning down buildings or freeing entire groups of laboratory animals. One of the accused said, ““It is…sobering to realize the supposedly terroristic activities in question are merely exposing the horrific cruelty of factory farms, educating the public about what goes on behind those closed doors, and openly rescuing a few animals from one of those farms as an act of civil disobedience.”
Indeed, this threat of terrorism charges for undercover videotaping is disturbing to me for two reasons. First, because when an injustice is being done, I feel it is sometimes the duty of the people to speak up against it…namely, when the powers that be will not. If I were to ever see injustice at my workplace, you bet I would try to capture that on tape for evidence. These animals live in disgusting, debilitating conditions; they are injured, neglected and denied any semblance of natural animal behaviors. Then they are often slaughtered in ways that defy regulations not to mention moral decency. When someone delivers evidence of this so that legal and social intervention can happen, while at the same time doing no harm to people or property, I can’t fathom calling them a terrorism. It is standing up for what is right. If we trusted politicians and regulatory agencies to raise their voice for what is good and decent (and thank goodness for those that do!) then we wouldn’t have to be peering through the crack in the wall to see what is really happening behind closed doors.
Secondly, these charges are nothing to take lightly considering the recent, mind-blowing passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 under which the President can indefinitely detain American citizens without trial. I see the privacy rights of American citizens decreased, while the threat of arrest for demanding more transparency from government and corporations increased, and this is frightening. This is not my area of expertise, but a pattern of chipping away at privacy sure seems obvious when you look at the facts. More and more it seems like the message is: We can watch you, but don’t you dare watch us.
I personally have had my life drastically changed by the kinds of videos put out by Mercy For Animals and PETA. I want to know what I’m eating, supporting, buying into, falling for. In fact, I believe this is my right. My abilities for compassion and for standing up against what I think is wrong have been greatly bolstered by watching atrocities shown in these clips. It’s hard and heartbreaking to find out what is really inside our grocery or shopping bags sometimes but we all have the opportunity to educate ourselves and then change our selections. I wouldn’t want to live in a place where that transformation couldn’t take place.
What do you think about these videos? What do you think about the National Defense Authorization Act and the war on terror? These are interesting times. Let’s talk.