Ungodly Spin: Friedrich’s Fake ‘Bruce Almighty’ Act

“Of course we’re going to be, as a movement, blowing stuff up and smashing windows,” preached People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) campaign director and in-house theologian Bruce Friedrich in 2001. “Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.” Three years after we exposed his arson-advocating sermon in television and print ads, Friedrich has revised his position — sort of. Friedrich has contributed an essay to a new book (edited by animal rights nut Steven Best, the chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Texas El Paso) in praise of the restaurant-firebombing Animal Liberation Front (ALF). But even with time and ample opportunity to shape, craft, and spin his way out of his violent rhetoric, PETA’s Friedrich still offered a fresh endorsement of arson in the quest for “total animal liberation.”

For public consumption, Friedrich tries to package himself as a near-holy activist. In 2002 PETA erected a “Christian Mercy” website promoting Friedrich as “dedicated to the vision of nonviolence.” The campaign rolls on this year with a “mercy and compassion” speaking tour in India. For a simulated run for the presidency on the Showtime cable network, Friedrich’s “campaign” materials emphasize warm and fuzzy animal-welfare issues rather than the animal “rights” movement’s violent underbelly, and he brags about “making the world kinder day-by-day.” His pro-gun-control position might appear more consistent were he not also pro-Molotov-cocktail when it suits his radical agenda.

Now along comes Friedrich’s latest essay, “Defending Agitation and the ALF.” In it, he declares that “ALF actions are helpful in the long-term struggle,” and calls them “a reasonable response” to a world in which people eat meat. Then, in a section titled “Blow It Up,” he reprints the quote CCF caught on tape, praising those who would commit arson. He then offers the following “reflection” on this statement — and still comes away supporting arson:

I was shaken by the events of September 11, and now, along with many other activists, I question the ability to ensure that burning down a building can be done without putting human beings, especially firefighters, at risk. Based on my time living with rats and mice in Washington, D.C., I have always assumed that animals will escape such fires, since their senses of smell, wariness of such dangers, and ability to move through almost invisible holes is so impressive, but I think that we should not dismiss the possibility that they, also, will be harmed. These reflections do not, of course, rule out burning meat trucks. And they don’t mean that when the next slaughterhouse or vivisection lab burns down, I will denounce those who carried out the burning, or that I will feel anything other than joy in my heart. [emphasis added]

It should be noted that at least one animal-rights militant appears to have carefully calculated the safety of firefighters responding to domestic terrorism. Federal fugitive Daniel Andreas San Diego is alleged to have planted a secondary explosive device, apparently intended to target emergency responders arriving at the scene of a first bomb he allegedly planted at a California company in August 2003. PETA-grantee and convicted arsonist Rodney Coronado has praised San Diego’s handiwork.

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