Recently I’ve become acquainted with a variety of people that share an interest in exposing the intentions of animal rights activists. Twitter has provided connections, ideas and research from pet owner rights groups, biomedical researchers who rely on animals to help humans and those who are simply concerned about maintaining human rights over animal rights.
Erica Saunders has been one particularly outspoken voice. She’s the founder of http://www.ar-hr.com a site to discuss and investigate the efforts of the Animal Rights Industry and resulting effects on both businesses and individuals, health, legal rights and more.” I thought her perspective would bring value to agriculture, as well as start the wheels churning about collaborating with different partners.
1. Why should people in agriculture care about your work?
People in agriculture are under attack by the Animal Rights (AR) industry, an attack similarly repeated across practically every arena involving use of animals. It is key to understand that the goals of the Animal Rights Industry has much more to do with money, power and control of people than it does with affection for animals. With the website, Animal Rights or Human Responsibility (AR-HR), I look at use of these tactics in a number of fields including agriculture and the manipulations involved with these methods while advocating for responsible animal husbandry and management from pet to pasture.
2. How can we work together?
A predominant characteristic of an AR Industry attack is to divide their target groups into factions with divisive but undefined language: ‘factory farm’, ‘puppy mill’, ‘inhumane’, ‘animal hoarder’. While the target community argues amongst its membership over who is or is not included in the offensive label, the AR Industry unifies its supporters by having them believe they are exempt from the same label. We can work together through the realization that an attack on one sector is an attack on all. Pet breeders need to stand up with agriculture, agriculture needs to stand up for research & so on. We need to communicate and reach out to each other, the #agchat sessionson Twitter are a fantastic example. #Agchat is an example of bringing the private conversations and realities of agriculture to the public. (MPK note: AgChat is streaming conversation on Twitter every Tuesday, 8-10 p.m. Eastern for people in businesse of raising food, fuel, fiber and feed.) We need to unite against legislation written from the perspective of those who are informed primarily by philosophy but know little of the realities of appropriate animal care. Efforts against poor legislation need to come from more than the targeted sector but from all sectors, demonstrating a true perspective of opposition to such legislation while assisting in negating accusation of industry bias.
3. What can we learn from HSUS actions following the expose’ run by WSB-TV in Atlanta?
The HSUS actions following the expose by WSB-TV had some interesting lessons in it. Firstly, it revealed that the HSUSis an organization unused to intense public scrutiny. The reaction has been akin to panic with what appear to be behind-the-scenes attempts to get the WSB-TV expose out of the public light as quickly as possible. This raises questions in the mind of the public, “Why doesn’t the HSUS want seen and why?” Secondly, there has been an increase in HSUS throwing its weight around online, as suspected in the mysterious suspension of the Center for Consumer Freedom Twitter accounts and as I have been tracking on AR-HR. HSUS has dramatically increased its rate of activity on my site through such activities as: a) running test searches to see where AR-HR appears b) monitoring Social Media activity related to HSUS such as anti-HSUS Facebookpages and investigating where links on those pages go c) monitoring of comments made d) investigation of page biographies. I can suspect similar activity on sites that comment on the HSUS
Thirdly, HSUS will go for ‘character assassination’ in the face of negative fact-based information. This is its favorite tool in the face of opposition, followed closely by playing the martyr.
4. How do you suggest we mutually leverage this information to help people understand the true agenda of activist groups such as HSUS?
There are a number of ways this information may be leveraged to help people understand the goals of groups such as the HSUS. The first and most critical, follow the money. Not everyone cares about the details agriculture but everyone pays attention when it comes to use or mis-use of donated money. Second, recognition of the key role of language, it is the stick that the AR Industry and its legislation beats a population with. Third, continue to point out the response of AR Industry groups to ‘pulling back the curtain’ on their behavior and campaigns. What was the first response of the HSUS to the WSB-TV report? Rumored threat of legal team + character assassination. AR Industry groups rarely combat hard data with evidence to the contrary, we need to ask, why?
Monitoring the data from your own websites may give you valuable information, specifically where visitors come from. It is possible to determine if and when HSUS headquarters is checking your site, what locations they are accessing your site from and where they go on your site. This allows you to know if/when you strike a nerve and, in some cases, anticipate what the Animal Rights Industry may choose to use against you and look how they attack others. The HSUS often levels attacks equally applicable to itself.
Lastly, remember both your audience and the audience you seek. Speak to your audience with truth, passion & conviction but remember that too much anger and rhetoric can serve to drive away potential allies and alienate current ones. We are all in this together and I couldn’t be prouder of the side I have chosen or of the support I have received so far.