Thursday, April 06, 2006

Animal rights, I

All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.
[The introduction includes a quote from Alice Walker that says animals] were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites. ... can only be compared with that which resulted from the centuries of tyranny by white humans over black humans.
An animal experiment cannot be justifiable unless the experiment is so important that the use of a brain-damaged human would be justifiable.
- Dr. Peter Singer


Blogger Keith Heller said...

Animal Welfare Group Tied to Center for Consumer Freedom

Local Animal Welfare Group Tied to Center for Consumer Freedom
By KeithHeller

DARIEN. The strange and often troubling world of animal rights, non-profits and the politics of food became even more tangled this week when ties were revealed between the Darien, Connecticut-based Friends of Animals (FOA) and the Washington, DC-based Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). A former employee of one of the organizations revealed the close connections in an email apparently sent to several media outlets.

What makes this alliance so strange is that the two groups would seem to be on opposite sides of both the political and food spectrums. The Center for Consumer Freedom is a lobbying group financed and set up to fight for big tobacco that has branched out to fight animal rights, vegetarianism, blood alcohol limits for drivers, increasing the minimum wage and against labor unions. Steak eaters. Friends of Animals claims to be an abolitionist vegan animal rights group which has fought killing wolves in Alaska and recently sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and a contempt of court citation, to support a Texas wildlife sanctuary which abused and neglected its animals.

A factor which lends credence to the email was its insistence that the Center for Consumer Freedom has never mentioned Friends of Animals on any of its numerous websites, which a search confirmed., a CCF website, lists organizations and individuals who are allegedly a threat to free thinking consumers. Even the Center's daily email subscriber alert, which criticizes groups from the Centers for Disease Control to Harvard Medical School has never mentioned FOA.

Could it be true that Friends of Animals and its quirky and often cantankerous leader Priscilla Feral are supporters of the lobbying group or are they just not worth mentioning? If it is the latter, apparently they are less of a threat than the late environmentalist David Brower, the retired ex-CEO of the Humane Society of the United States or deceased author Cleveland Amory, all of whom are mentioned on CCF's website. Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Dakota Rural Action and the Chef's Collaborative are profiled on, while FOA and Feral are not.

David Martosko, the senior research analyst for the Center for Consumer Freedom, would neither confirm nor deny financial backing from Friends of Animals, instead insisting that, in addition to funding by food and beverage companies, CCF is funded by supporters who don't want their names revealed for fear of retaliation by the "radical animal rights fringe."

The only thing that the Center for Consumer Freedom and Friends of Animals seem to have in common is a long record of prolonged failures. Campaigns taken on by CCF and FOA both seem to be designed to slow down progress rather than create change. Despite millions of dollars of tobacco money, CCF's efforts to stem the tide of anti-smoking ordinances ultimately flopped, as did its efforts to keep the minimum wage from being increased or blood alcohol levels for drivers being lowered. Similarly, FOA declares any improvement for animals a failure if improvement still allows any use of animals, a stance guaranteed to produce failures and very little actual change. Both groups attack perceived enemies with equal zeal relying more on rhetoric than facts.

In the end, the close ties between these two non-profits serve more as an example of the twisted logic of our times, from WMD's to Mission Accomplished, than anything else. The Center is no more about consumer freedom than Friends is about animals - they're all part of a new world where up is down, right is left, and consumers and animals are all left in the lurch.

11:37 pm  

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