Virtual Sit-Ins Doom Online Animal Rights Activists
By David Kravets
October 16, 2009
Setting aside claims of vagueness, a divided federal appeals court is upholding the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, a statute that makes it a crime to encourage “physical disruption” or “economic damage” against animal-research centers.
Thursday’s decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (.pdf) was the first time an appellate court has grappled with the free speech issues raised by the law, reviewing the case of radical animal-rights activists who were convicted in 2006 of using e-mail and websites to encourage violence — including bombings — against a New Jersey animal-research center, its shareholders, office holders, bankers and others affiliated with it.
The six ranking members of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty group, some of whom were sentenced to up to six years in prison, argued that the 2002 statute, amended in 2006, has a chilling effect on speech because of its ambiguity.
The defendants maintained that, among other things, they simply espoused protests and released names and addresses of people who should be subject to protests, in a bid to pressure change at New Jersey’s Huntingdon Life Sciences. The company tests mice, rats, dogs, monkeys and guinea pigs for big pharma, agribusiness, veterinarians and medical-implant companies.
The court noted that “political hyperbole” or advocating violence that is not imminent and unlikely to occur is protected. But speech that constitutes a “true threat” is not. Read More
The vegan animal rights terrorists that continue to believe violence is going to help their cause are finding out that might not be the case. It seems the courts agree that it’s illegal to list names, addresses, and the time of day, along with the suggested physical violence to perform against individuals. And thankfully, law enforcement officials realize the threat these people pose. The message has been sent loud and clear that animal rights terrorism isn’t going to be tolerated in this country.