This weekend the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and assorted other radical animal rights groups hosted a “Taking Action for Animals” conference in Washington, DC. The Center for Consumer Freedom was there to keep an eye on the proceedings, which gave us a royal headache. (“Rights” for farm animals? So much for our morning bacon.)
A campaign director from Farm Sanctuary hinted at her group’s desire to bring the “pregnant pigs” ballot-initiative roadshow to California. (Farm Sanctuary, you’ll recall, paid a $50,000 fine for election-finance fraud following a Florida campaign that gave Constitutional rights to hogs.) And with the help of the anti-meat HSUS, the group plans to follow the California campaign with efforts in Colorado and Washington. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
PCRM president Neal Barnard showed his true colors, advocating strict veganism to anyone who would listen. And in this crowd, that meant everyone. The next time PCRM denies being an animal rights group, we’ll remember how comfortable Barnard seemed in the company of animal-rights true believers. More comfy, we’d bet, than he would be at a convention of mainstream medical professionals.
Barnard said activists should “sue the bastards” behind last year’s spinach-farm e. coli outbreak, blaming the contamination on food workers who also handle meat. He neglected to mention that the California Food Emergency Response Team’s report on the outbreak places the blame on animals grazing near the spinach fields. Isn’t suing cows and pigs a no-no in the animal rights world? The applauding activists at the conference apparently didn’t think that one through.
Two things in this conference surprised us. One was a feature speech by Michael Jacobson, the food-nanny-in-chief at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). CSPI’s “eating green” project does promote vegetarianism, but who knew Jacobson would be willing to give lobbying advice to the save-the-chickens crowd? “If you can persuade legislators to make a change,” Jacobson advised, “you don’t have to persuade every single individual.” Considering CSPI’s success at demonizing trans fat, we’re left to wonder what animal activists will be using next year to butter their bread. (Actual butter is certainly out of the question.) Someone should tell Farm Sanctuary leader Gene Baur that eating margarine is the newest Cardinal sin.
The other surprise came when a lawyer with the Animal Legal Defense Fund provided a rare moment of candor. Discussing the ever-present threat of arrest and prosecution for anti-meat activists who illegally break into farms, he conceded that it “never bothered any of our friends.”