In another “Smooth move, Exlax” kind of way, President Bush signed into law the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act this past Monday. The AETPA, formerly known as the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act, basically gives federal authorities the power to prosecute animal rights activists that protest as terrorists. That’s right, you read it, if you protest a lab, a puppy farm, a puppy store, etc, in the name of animal rights, and the business loses any profit as a result of the protest, you’re a terrorist.
I have two huge problems with this. Number one, and these are in no particular order, isn’t this a country founded on our rights to free speech and protest? Didn’t some super old guys once write that “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government“? As an American, if I believe I see an injustice, don’t I have the right to publicly protest in a peaceful, demonstrative manner as a right afforded to me by the First Amendment to the Constitution? Apparently not.
My second problem with this is something I’m not sure who’s to blame for. It may be my own fault. How did this ever get passed into law without more media coverage? This is a big deal. More and more of our rights are being chipped away at with every new “Homeland Security” act. I get Google alerts, I watch the local news station out of Memphis and I get the CNN RSS feed. How did I miss this? Where was all the uproar? Was I the only one who didn’t get the memo? It just appears to me that more and more often these days this administration is slipping laws like this by us without anyone noticing. When I said before that it may be my own fault, I meant it. As an American, it’s my duty to pay attention to what our government is doing. Obviously I haven’t been watching closely enough. Like the parent who knows that their child stole a cookie from the cookie jar, but didn’t catch them in the act, I’m left to complain after the fact, but the sad truth is, it’s my own fault for not watching the child closely enough.
I guess what worries me most about this new development is wondering what’s next. Telling me I can’t protest a puppy mill in the name of animal rights is very, VERY disturbing, but what won’t I be allowed to protest next? Next month will it be a terrorist act to protest outside a business treating employees unfairly? How much longer until I can no longer stand on my soapbox and hold a sign outside the White House or congress to voice my displeasure over laws such as this one?
In case you’re as clueless about this development as I was, you can read more about this insanity at Citizen Press’s blog, UPI, and FreeMarketNews. And be sure to check out how some activists in Massachusetts responded to the news.