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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 7 August 2001 Issue

ARs IN BRITIAN

Editors note: This is an email I received from a subscriber that lives in Britain. I thought I would share this delightful letter describing activism in the UK.

Linda,

In Britain it is we who work for animals (specifically against hunting shooting and fishing) who are known as Antis.

My husband fishes (I know - but he has virtually stopped eating meat since I went vegan and got into AR, so I have to be grateful for what I can get and live with the rest) and serves on various conservation committees.  At one of them recently one of the other members, an ex-policeman, was ranting about Antis and finished by saying that we are all a bunch of f*ing wankers. ( ARS ARE CALLED ANTIS IN BRITIAN)

At this, Steve turned to him and said "Do you mind, my wife is an Anti".   The guy went so red Steve thought he was going to blow up (would have been nice) and starting to stammer about how not all Antis are the same etc. Craven idiot - he should at least have stood his ground if that's what he believed.

Although it seems at times that our fight is never-ending and unwinnable, it is possible on this side of the Atlantic at least to see a real change in attitudes, even in the short time that I have been involved. In some ways the awful things happening in Genoa that we see repeated from time to time might even help us - although some will bundle us all together in their minds as thugs, most people are cute enough to recognize the difference and realize that we in AR are mild-mannered in comparison. I have a great fellow-feeling for the anti-capitalist protesters (the genuine ones), despite having been inadvertently caught up in the Mayday riots in London in 2000. Bricks and bottles flying, the police charged past us (2 women) backwards and left us between them and the rioters. I shoved my friend into a doorway and hugged her until the barrage stopped, which was quite exciting. All we wanted to do was get to the Royal Abert Hall to see the Moody Blues in concert, but the police had shut all the underground stations. Anyway, I digress monstrously. The foot and mouth outbreak recently was very hard to live through, though maybe not for the reasons you would immediately assume. Many people brought the subject up with me, knowing that I am AR and thinking they knew how I would be feeling about the huge heaps of dead cows and sheep. They were wrong and many were shocked at my attitude. I knew that those animals were born only to die. I also knew the fate that awaited them if they followed the usual path of transportation to brutal markets, cattle prods, kickings, more transportation to evil abattoirs and a terrifying, agonizing death. I rejoiced for those gentle beasts who were now not going to endure those dreadful experiences. They did not know that they were going to die, so there was no distress. They were killed on the farm they knew as home and their suffering was far less than would usually have been the case. My comments to this effect were met with incredulity by people, my boss even going so far as to say "but you're an intelligent person..." His sentence remained unfinished, but his meaning was clear. I hope that my comments and attitude will have made a few people think. I know that there were cases of brutality during the killing, but the important thing is that these made headlines and gave us the opportunity to say "but these things happen all the time in abattoirs, so that you can eat meat and drink milk -- nothing's different, it's just that now you can see what is done in your name rather than having it hidden behind closed doors."

What made it so difficult for me was the constant emphasis put on the "human cost" of f&m -- the farmers crying on television for their lost profits, whilst pretending that their tears were for the animals. The papers were also full of it.

Our media here is very biased, even the BBC which is a shame. To give an example, Steve Christmas is a hunt saboteur. Whilst out sabbing the Old Burstow Hunt, he was deliberately knocked down and run over by a 4x4 driven by hunt supporters. They then drove away. Steve had to be airlifted to hospital, screaming in agony with internal injuries and a shattered pelvis. There was nothing in the papers. The next day, 50 hunt sabs and friends visited the hunt headquarters. Windows were broken and a lot of noise was made, butno-one was injured. The next day there was a 2 page spread in one of the national newspapers about the violence of the sabs. In the last paragraph there was a 2 line mention that the hunt had been targeted because a sab had been injured - that was all. So we cannot rely on the majority of the media for anything like impartial reporting.

But we go out on the streets and that is a very good way to gauge the attitudes of ordinary people. Yes, we get an occasional idiot ("let's all become Wombles") was one man's response when I told him that we were asking people to boycott P& G's products until they stop testing on animals. I had to have that explained to me because I rarely watch television news and never read the papers so I didn't know that the anti-capitalists have adopted the Wombles as some sort of symbol).

There is also one mad old man in Bognor Regis (where I live) who lives in a world of his own and hates everybody and thinks we are making all the cruelty up (I wish) and has a go at us every time we set up. In fact last time he was so spiteful that an old lady came over to us and told him off for speaking to me like that. He told her we were spreading lies but she was having none of it. After he was gone I gave her a hug! Then she signed our petition. If he had not had a go at me she might have walked straight past, so he did us a favour in the end.

Over 2 Saturdays we collected nearly 400 signatures, distributed approx 500 leaflets and collected nearly 100 for Uncaged Campaigns who spearheaded the effort in this country. That might not sound like much on the face of it, but that's approximately 400 people who will now be thinking about animal cruelty, who may never have given it a thought before. Our next stall will be about the illegal Korean dog and cat meat trade - we think this should be very successful because people react more compassionately towards animals they think of as pets.

When we did our Greyhounds in Need stall we collected nearly 200 in about 6 hours - the most that GiN have ever had from one single stall. When we did a Go Veggie one we only collected 40 for Viva! I guess people don't like to have their consciences pricked. If only I were a better cook, I'd like to do a Vegan Food Rocks stall, with free samples of vegan food and drink. Sadly I am such a bad cook that I'd do more harm than good! Most of your readers are in the States, so it would be viable for them to become involved in the issues we have here ,Huntingdon Life Sciences - an open sore that we sadly have in common).! All good wishes Cathy

p.s. I had to laugh when I read the part in the latest AP where it is stated that "Labour is very sympathetic". They got into power in part because of a leaflet of 67 stated AR aims. After four years only 2 of these aims have been put into practice and most have been dropped altogether. In fact there was a campaign here last year called Send a Letter - Save a Life in which we had stalls where we asked the general public to write a 1 or 2 line letter to Tony Bliar about one of the 67 points, asking why it hadn't happened. We followed that up with a rally and march to the Labour Party conference in Brighton (the vegan capital of Britain, possibly Europe), with the slogan "Labour lie - animals die".  The only reason I voted for them this time is because if the Tories had got in then the hunting with dogs bill would most definitely have been thrown out, whereas with Labout it *might* not be. Never trust a politician!

cjbr@stoneham.plc.uk

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