Animal Rights Glossary

ALF — The Animal Liberation Front, an FBI-certified domestic terrorist organization started in Great Britain by “hunt saboteurs” looking to interrupt or otherwise ruin organized fox hunts. Today’s ALF is active in more than 20 countries, engaging in violent “direct actions” against restaurants, meat & dairy producers, animal entertainment companies, fur retailers, biomedical research labs, and others. Attacks have included massive arsons, bombings, physical assaults, and death threats. The FBI considers the ALF America’s most serious domestic terror problem, ranking it above the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation, and Operation Rescue (known for bombing family-planning clinics). In the United States, groups that have financially supported or publicly endorsed the ALF include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and Farm Sanctuary.

Animal Abuser — Anyone who eats meat, wears leather or fur, enjoys circus elephants, or feeds milk to small children. In short, potentially everyone.

Animal Guardian — The animal-rights-correct term for what we used to call an animal’s “owner.” The slippery slope of animal-rights law now favors the term “guardian” in order to reinforce the myth that animals are entitled to the same rights as small children. Chief among these rights, of course, is the right to not be eaten.

Animal Liberation – The theft of animals form their owners by activists, often in black ski masks and creeping under cover of darkness. In many cases, “liberation” is a euphemism for “elimination,” as domesticated animals are often trampled, eaten, starved, or otherwise assume room-temperature as a result of releasing them into the wild.

Balaclava — The preferred term among animal-liberation activists for a ski mask, or any other hood that covers someone’s face while he or she commits a crime.

Bite Back — A magazine dedicated to chronicling Animal Liberation Front crimes and encouraging activists to take the law into their own hands. The magazine’s online component is registered to a Nicolas Atwood, a former Communications Director of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida who now holds the same post with the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. The mailing address listed on the Bite Back website is in West Palm Beach.

Black Fax — A threatening fax sent by animal rights activists to a targeted company, consisting of a solid black page with a short message inserted, usually in the center. Black faxes are sent for two reasons: to intimidate and terrorize employees and officers of a targeted company, and to economically hurt the company by wasting as much fax toner as possible.

Communiqué — A mysterious-sounding name for a press release from a group of terrorists, publicly announcing their guilt in a crime. The term “communiqué” was famously used by underground radicals in the 1960s, including the Weather Underground, the Manson “family,” and the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Companion Animal — A replacement for the word “pet” in the animal-rights lexicon, designed to be more palatable to legislators and judges looking for easy ways to grant animals additional rights. Where “pet” is considered patronizing, “companion” suggests a relationship of equality.

Direct Action — Any crime that causes economic or physical damage to a business or individual targeted by violent animal rights activists or eco-terrorists. Examples include spray-paint vandalism, breaking-and-entering, theft of animals, and arson.

Grrr! Kids Bite Back — A children’s magazine published by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Its title and content appear calculated to introduce impressionable kids (of unsuspecting parents) to the rhetoric and goals of the radical animal-liberation movement.

Home Demo — An organized protest that takes place at a target’s home instead of his place of business, usually after midnight. First popularized by SHAC, the tactic has now been adopted by other groups, including PETA. It’s not unusual for activists on a “home demo” to carry bullhorns, emergency sirens, and other noise makers in order to wake an entire neighborhood. In one well-documented case, SHAC activists protesting at the home of an insurance executive loudly shouted their plan to “burn his house to the ground” — well within earshot of his wife and their infant son.

Humane — Activists know that few people will oppose something that’s labeled “humane,” so the word has become the ultimate moving target in the animal rights world. In general the word refers to restrictions on the use of animals that are one step beyond what society already considers mainstream. And anyone who opposes activists’ proposed incremental changes, of course, is “inhumane.”

Humane Education — An activist movement originally intended to emphasize the suggestion that children who abuse family pets are more likely to develop violent tendencies toward other people. More recently, the movement has become a catch-all term for the propagandizing of animal-rights philosophy to children. PETA, for instance, operates its own “TeachKind” program, which provides free curriculum materials to teachers who are willing (or eager) to expose impressionable kids to anti-meat, anti-dairy, anti-fishing, or anti-fur lessons.

Hunt Sab – Slang for “Hunt Saboteur” or “Hunt Sabotage” — any activity aimed at disrupting the lawful activity of sport hunters. Several prominent animal rights leaders (including PETA Vice President Mary Beth Sweetland) have been involved in illegal hunt-sabbing operations.

Monkeywrench – To sabotage a vehicle or other machine in a way that interferes with its operation. Real-life examples include cutting the brake lines of seafood delivery trucks, disabling equipment in biomedical laboratories, and smashing computers inside university research facilities.

Nonviolent — A word conveniently used by activists to describe themselves when they participate in destructive property crimes. According to movement leaders like Paul Watson, Jerry Vlasak, and Kevin Jonas, arson is “nonviolent” if the arsonist makes a reasonable effort to light his match when a targeted building is empty.

Operation Bite Back — A crime spree conducted during 1991 and 1992 by Rodney Adam Coronado and a group of his (still anonymous friends). It focused on fur farms, breeder’s co-ops, and university research facilities in five U.S. states. The crimes included at least six massive arsons as well as break-ins, extensive vandalism, and animal thefts. Coronado was convicted in 1995 of one of these arsons (a February 1992 firebombing at Michigan State University) and spent 57 months in federal prison. More recently, Coronado has publicly acknowledged his role in all six known arsons from this period. While he was incarcerated, a second crime wave, dubbed “Operation Bite Back II,” resulted in the thefts of animals (over 23,000, according to some estimates) from fur breeders and farmers.

Political Prisoner – An animal rights activist who commits a crime and then is caught, prosecuted, and sentenced to jail. It’s an article of faith within the movement that no imprisoned activists — not even arsonists — are guilty of anything more than holding unpopular beliefs.

Sentient Being — A phrase used by animal rights activists to suggest that cows, chickens, pigs, and ducks have a human-like capacity for thinking, feeling, and understanding the world around them. The radical group Farm Sanctuary has used this wording to win passage of symbolic proclamations in over 60 U.S. cities and towns, each one claiming that since farm animals are “sentient,” humans have “an ethical obligation” to refrain from causing them any “pain and suffering.” Since slaughtering animals for food inevitably entails bloodshed, the implication is that “Babe” the pig shouldn’t be eaten. Period.

Tabling – The act of setting up a table at a public event in order to hand out flyers, bumper stickers, newsletters, and other animal rights propaganda materials. Activists “table” indoors and outdoors, at rock concerts, flea markets, sporting events, county fairs, and anywhere else they can count on a receptive or uncritical crowd.

Total Animal Liberation — The stated aim of People for the Ethical treatment of Animals (PETA), as articulated by PETA co-founder and president Ingrid Newkirk in 2002. Practically speaking, Total Animal Liberation means that animals are not available to humans for food, clothing, entertainment, or medical advancement. Ordinary things forbidden by advocates of this philosophy include beef, chicken, seafood, pork, turkey, mutton, milk, cheese, gelatin, and yogurt; rodeos, circuses, zoos, aquariums, aquatic theme parks, live mascots for sports teams, Las Vegas animal acts, horse racing, and greyhound racing; wool, silk, leather, fur, cashmere, and alpaca; and perhaps most disturbing, medical research using animals to find cures for cancer, AIDS, and other diseases.

Vegan — The most extreme category of vegetarian. One who not only shuns beef, pork, poultry, mutton, eggs, dairy, honey, and gelatin — but also refuses to buy or use leather, wool, silk, fur, or any other animal-derived product.

Vegetarian — Someone who eats no meat. Recent years have seen subcategories, including lacto-ovo-vegetarians, who eat eggs and dairy foods, flexitarians, who eat meat sparingly, and vegans, who eat and wear nothing but plant materials.

Vivisection — Literally, the dissection of a living animal, done in centuries past in order to observe its organs functioning. The term has since been co-opted by animal rights radicals, who use it to describe any use of animals (however benign) in biomedical research. Activists count on the shock value of the word itself, presuming that few people in the path of their propaganda will understand its true meaning.

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