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From 15 June 2003 Issue

Freedom of Advocacy
By Dantonio482@aol.com & Demnymets@aol.com 

Terrorism is a subject I don't take lightly. As a resident of New York City, I had a close look at the horror of September 11th, and I continue to live in the outcome of this attack, including the fear that terrorism still looms over the safety of my family. I welcome measures that minimize risk, but when lawmakers use this fear to promote their own agenda, the results don't deter terrorism, they interfere with democracy.

One such measure is the legislative initiative in New York which seeks to re-classify animal advocacy as a terrorist activity. Originally created by the U.S. Sportmans Alliance, S2996 discriminates against activists who photograph or in other ways document the condition of animals in any animal enterprise. It also labels as terrorists, advocates who support organizations which rely on this investigation on behalf of animals. For an online summary, check S02996
http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S02996 

Supporters of this bill point to a handful of incidents against research labs to claim it is warranted to label all animal activists as domestic terrorists. They also claim it will not effect conscientious whistle blowers, nor the citizen's right of dissent. However the language of the bill is so loosely worded, it leaves room to squelch conscientious awareness and in turn, dissent. Meanwhile, supporters conveniently ignore that undercover disclosure is essential to protect vulnerable populations.

Some of us may remember Willoughbrook, an institution which neglected and abused mentally challenged children. These young victims were unable to speak for themselves and yet the supervisory oversight was completely inept in monitoring and correcting the facility. Unlike animals, however, the children had relatives who quietly disclosed the conditions. Eventually, their plight reached the media, which was a turning point in the quality of care. It's up to us to be the "relatives" and to bring the plight of animals to concerned advocates, for unless we do, they will remain victims of animal enterprise.

A similar initiative was presented in Texas (HB433) but it died on May 29th in the House Committee on Defense Affairs and State-Federal Relations with no action taken prior to adjournment. I would have expected the same in New York but I'm concerned the fear of terrorism here will prompt further consideration. Unfortunately, the bill has passed the Consumer Protection Committee and its sponsors have "Starred" it on the legislative calendar while they may be readying for debate.

No action can be taken until the sponsors remove the "Star". This allows us the chance to contact Senator Joseph L. Bruno, Senate Majority Leader, to voice opposition (see email address below).

I very strongly object to labeling my concern for animals as terrorism; to any limitation of my civil rights; and to discrimination against the group I support in conscience. Equating us with terrorism also trivializes the real horror of September 11th.

For the sake of animals and our own right to advocate for them, I urge you to send your opposition to S2996 in an email to the Honorable Senator Joseph L. Bruno. bruno@senate.state.ny.us 

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For more information, please refer to these other websites who are actively opposing the above measure, which seems to be "planned" for other states as well:

http://www.sort.org/action_alerts.php?alert_id=217
Welcome to SORT.org - Saving Our Resources Today!

This bill that was introduced in the New York State Assembly that could penalize animal rights advocates by labeling us as terrorists has now been introduced in the State Senate. Please take a moment to contact your Senator as well as the Senate leadership to urge them not to support S2996.

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http://www.friendsofanimals.org/alerts/NY.htm
Friends of Animals Press Releases

Although such construing of this legislation would be clearly unconstitutional, Friends of Animals opposes the proposed law because of its potential chilling effect on perfectly legal contributions to national politics. Friends of Animals notes that criminal and civil laws already exist which address the acts of concern to the sponsors of this bill.

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From: The Humane Society of the United States

http://www.hsus.org/ace/18533
NY A. 4884 & S. 2996 Equating Animal Protection with Terrorism

Criminalizes legitimate political and social protests, demonstrations, and debate by animal or environmental advocates.

Prohibits anyone from donating money to an animal or environmental organization engaging in these activities.

Criminalizes the investigative practice of photographing and videotaping an animal or environmental facility.

Creates a state-run website on which people advocating against animal and environmental exploitation would be identified, photographed, and stigmatized as terrorists, much as states do with sex offenders and child molesters.

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Then we have these thought provoking essays:

"Have you ever signed a petition in support of an environmental or animal-rights issue? Do you belong to the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, or Greenpeace? Have you publicly protested some environmental or animal rights outrage? If legislation crafted and promoted by the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) becomes law, these fundamental rights of American citizenship could become illegal."

From the article titled: Environmentalists=Terrorists, The New Math
at: http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/7748
TOMPAINE.com - Environmentalists = Terrorists

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"If you've ever given money to an environmental organization, if you support the movement's agenda, then you're probably part of a grand conspiracy that's degrading life in America. Worse yet, you might even be a terrorist, or at least an accomplice. At least that's what Nick Nichols seems to think."

From the article titled: The Fringe: You Too Might Be A Terrorist

at:
http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/5246
TOMPAINE.com - The Fringe: You Too Might Be A Terrorist!

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"In the eyes of the government and some conservative watchdog groups--Mommy is potential terrorist material. Please don’t tell my family. They’ll be very upset. Yet even under oath, I’m sure they would profess: “Yes, she can mouth-off. No, she is not a threat to homeland security.”

From the article titled: "Mommy's a What?"

at: http://www.kinshipcircle.org/columns_articles/0037.html
Kinship Circle | Columns & Articles

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New York is the second state to introduce a bill that will help prosecute animal rights terrorists. The proposal is based on a model bill created by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.

You can find out more about this organization and their "alert" at: http://www.ussportsmen.org/interactive/features/Read.cfm?ID=1018
U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance - (Formerly WLFA)

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