Animal Writes
From 23 March 2003 Issue

Terrorists Don't Feed the Homeless
By Greg Lawson - [email protected] 

It is offensive that people who exploit animals would use post 9-11 fears to try to muzzle animal advocates by labeling them as terrorists. Texas HB433, the Animal Rights and Ecological Terrorist Bill, was so vague that it would have criminalized activities of not only vandals, but also vegetarian clubs.

HB433 defined an animal rights or ecological terrorist organization as two or more persons who support any politically motivated activity intended to obstruct or deter any person from participating in an activity involving animals or natural resources.

The model bill was drafted by the national lobbyist group, The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, which is promoting this bill nationwide. Similar bills have appeared within the past few weeks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maine, and may soon appear in Wisconsin, Mississippi, Washington and other states.

Fortunately, this bill appears to be dead in Texas due to overwhelming opposition. This hasn't stopped the author of the bill though. Texas Rep. Ray Allen, has introduced another bill, HB1516, which is modeled on the Texas hate-crimes law. HB1516 attempts to make animal and environmental protection into hate crimes.

To celebrate the Great American Meatout on Thursday, March 20th, ten volunteers from the Vegetarian Society of El Paso and the local group Stop Animal Neglect and Exploitation got together for an event which I guess would be viewed as terrorism by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance. At the plaza downtown we cooked, manned a literature table and handed out flyers. We gave out over a hundred Gardenburgers with all the fixings, 30 tortillas filled with vegan barbecue, and lots of mock chicken salad and tofurkey deli slice sandwiches.

Dr. Steve Best and I took turns at the microphone giving short messages about vegetarianism, but it was easy to tell that the poor people who lined up for our food were mainly interested in a free meal. I had no idea that so many impoverished people hung out at the plaza downtown. However, we did reach a few people with our messaging, I could see them listening and reacting as we spoke about the reasons for a plant based diet.

At one point during our two hour event, a man showed up at the plaza with a bullhorn and began preaching about Jesus in Spanish. After a few minutes I began to wonder whether he was making any more converts than we were. Steve and I refrained from using our sound system until he had finished after about fifteen minutes. Then Steve got on the mic and said, "Hey, brother, give it a rest. Come on over and fill your mouth with a veggie burger. By the way, Jesus was a vegetarian." Steve's ability to be provocative always amuses me.

I am glad to have friends who participate in events such as the Meatout and it was satisfying to know we had provided food to people who looked like they needed it. It motivated me to want to plan vegetarian food giveaways several times a year, as long as it remains legal.

Go on to The Active Activist by Michelle Rivera
Return to 23 March 2003 Issue
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