Morality and Ethics ~ The Ends Justify the Means
Animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Born Free USA, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), seek to claim the “moral high ground” on behalf of animals. However, that “high ground” stands on a shaky foundation of exaggerations of the truth, intimidation of the opposition, and risky games of legal hi-jinx with donor money. This approach to fundraising uses divisive tactics like PETA-porn to create a mob mentality around animal issues. Impassioned people are motivated to donate money, and manipulating facts and manufacturing evidence may help achieve fundraising goals if it can sufficiently outrage your donor base.
RICO Act Lawsuit and Witness Tampering
This Summer the sins of HSUS hit home with a real vengeance when HSUS, Born Free USA and other co-defendants agreed to pay $15.75 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed against them by Feld Entertainment under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. As a result, the charity watchdog group, Charity Navigator, revoked HSUS’ mediocre 3-star rating and issued a “Donor Advisory” warning. Charity Navigator issued the warning soon after news of the HSUS settlement made the news. The animal rights behemoth lost its insurance coverage in 2010 likely putting donors on the hook for HSUS’ legal misadventures. As a co-defendant in the RICO lawsuit, the ASPCA agreed to settle for $9.3 million in late 2012.
The RICO lawsuit was filed in response to a “frivolous” Endangered Species Act (ESA) suit filed against Feld 14 years ago by HSUS and company. Court documents revealed that, “In the original ESA lawsuit, Feld Entertainment discovered the animal rights groups and their lawyers had paid over $190,000 to a former circus employee, Tom Rider, to be a ‘paid plaintiff.’ The Court also found that the animal rights groups and their attorneys ‘sought to conceal the nature, extent and purpose of the payments’ during the litigation. Their abuse of the judicial system included the issuance of a false statement under oath by Rider, assisted by his counsel, who the Court found was ‘the same attorney who was paying him’ to participate in the litigation. The Court found in addition to Rider being a ‘paid plaintiff,’ that the lawsuit was ‘frivolous and vexatious.'”
Hate-Speak Attacks on Children
Teenager Kendall Jones suffered an unrestrained attack via social media earlier this year. Jones, a 19 year old, American pie college student became the poster child for anti-hunting by organizations in the animal rights industry that labeled her as a “killer and a murderer.” Several months ago she posted pictures from a legal African safari in which she participated. The vitriolic response that followed included threats against her life. For a period of time, Facebook hosted a Kill Kendall Jones Page, which has now been removed. (Initially, the site refused to remove the threatening page, saying it did not rise to the level of genuine risk or physical harm.)
“I hope she [Kendal Jones] is in the news when it is to report she has been murdered and the murderer is holding her up as a trophy. Good riddance to scum like her.” ~Fan Comment on Born Free USA Facebook Page
In an article published in the Huffington Post, Jeffery Flocken, North American Director of IFAW, castigated the teen in front of a national audience, and used the opportunity to call all hunters, “killers.” Hunting is increasing in popularity with women representing the fastest growing demographic.
Kendall is a “straight-laced” college cheerleader caught in the cross hairs of the animal rights industry to gin up moral outrage. The furor that HSUS, Born Free USA, IFAW and other anti-hunting advocates generated has resulted in threats of violence.
Last week an 11 year old boy and his family received death threats after the boy legally harvested an albino deer in Michigan. Death threats against a child.
“Kill that f__king brat!” ~Ashley Adams, Facebook
“The little boy is being pilloried with hurtful language and even getting death threats…” ~Ruben Navarrette, CNN
Dog Fighters for Donation Dollars
In 2007 NFL quarterback Michael Vick was arrested as the kingpin of a vast dog fighting operation based out of southeast Virginia. Within 24 hours of the news breaking, HSUS rolled out a fundraising campaign inferring that HSUS was providing “care for the dogs seized.” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS CEO, later admitted to The New York Times that HSUS was not actually caring for the dogs.
After Vick’s release from his two-year prison sentence for the dog fighting conviction, Pacelle joined forces with the NFL quarterback and embarked on a public relations campaign to rehabilitate Vick’s image. Perhaps not coincidentally, HSUS received a $50,000 donation from the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick’s new team. The ideological contradictions in pursuit of donations were not lost on Pacelle’s usually adoring fans. Followers of HSUS refused to forgive Vick for torturing dogs and Pacelle was roundly criticized for his hypocrisy.
Everything to Everyone… And Ebola Too
Wading into the high profile issue of the illegal ivory trade, last year Pacelle was quoted as saying, “China is the world’s largest consumer of illegal ivory, and the U.S. is second…” This statement is patently false. The US is the second largest legal market NOT illegal; a major distinction (Martin and Stiles, 2008). According to the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, Thailand is far and away the second largest market for illegal ivory behind China/Hong Kong. The fact is, all of the Asian countries have larger illegal markets for ivory than the U.S.
“The illegal proportion of it [U.S. ivory trade], however, is much smaller than any country in Asia and most countries in Africa. The USA ivory market poses a minimal threat to elephants…” ~Martin and Stiles, 2008
Last week both HSUS and IFAW launched fundraising campaigns playing on the Ebola scare, implying some involvement in the fight against the impacts of the deadly disease. In a classic “bait and switch” strategy, HSUS’ financial commitment to help animals in the midst of the Ebola crisis in West Africa is 0.007% of its annual budget, a whopping $12,000. The publicity HSUS will drum up with its dramatic blog posts of sad looking chimpanzees in Ebola-stricken Africa will quite likely generate many times that amount in donations from well-intentioned people who want to help. The vast majority of donation dollars to HSUS find their way to fat pensions and slick lobbyists, not suffering animals.
Are these really the types of activities in which groups calling themselves animal charities should involve themselves? Are HSUS and company really charities, or are they professional lobbyists? The reality of this sordid intrigue is that these animal rights organizations are actively misleading donors into charitable donations, then using the money, not to “protect” animals, but diverting funds to pension funds, legislation, litigation and propaganda campaigns to institutionalize their radical ideology. HSUS and their ilk want to shut down farmers, zoos, circuses and hunting. This is the controversial manner in which they raise the money to do it.
© Andrew Wyatt and The Last Word, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew Wyatt and The Last Word with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Wow, it reads like a Victorian melodrama, or the lowest of the cheapest tabloids, but without the entertainment, & how can you class a 19 year old under ‘children’; surely that’s just factually incorrect? Obviously everyone’s got their opinions, some are prepared to use varying degrees of desperation & truth-warping to validate them but it’s depressing to have the point about ‘not believing what you read on the internet’ proved so blatantly; it’s just something odd escaped from someone’s head, no matter how integral the typeset may look..
I know the truth hurts George. Clearly you support the sensationalized and manipulative tactics of these unscrupulous groups. Every point I make is factual; witness tampering, intimidation and deceptive fundraising tactics. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions George, but your blind allegiance doesn’t lend legitimacy to their reprehensible actions.
Please don’t expect civilized folks to approve of these tactics.
As a naturalist and video producer with a background in wildlife management I have engaged both sides in this debate and have seen the evidence over my career. Both sides raise good points but I must wonder what irks Andrew more. Is it the fact that the tactics used by HSUS and others seem effective in raising funds and getting the message out? The other side seems equally adept at raising funds and getting their friends elected as recent results show. If it is the enrichment of fundraisers, I say a pox on both their houses. If, however, the argument is about the message, I would wish that the argument was more clearly stated. Recent attempts at Ag gag legislation would legally restrict the groups in question for their outing of legitimate humane issues in farm practices and wildlife management. I have personally seen some of the callous behavior towards animals outed by the undercover work of PETA and other such groups and do acknowledge that they are providing a service. Yes, I have been involved in state conservation department work as well as producing hunting and fishing tv shows. I do not think that we will see the end of hunting or meat eating anytime soon, but I am glad that sombody is out there watching for some of the horrific behaviors they have exposed. Is it the tactics, the message, or the money?
Great points, Leland. Thank you for posting. No one could be upset by the money, and we have no problem with legitimate fundraising strategies. The tactics and the message are a different story.
First, the tactics – causing people to believe they are supporting an organization because they love animals when in fact, the institution believes that any animal ownership is exploitation, is misleading at best, and fraudulent at worst. I have a major objection to that.
The second issue is the “message,” I suppose. I think that showing very graphic images of animal abuse, torture and neglect habituates people to that reality. Graphic suffering should be shocking. Getting numb to those images serves no one, least of all the animals. In addition, I think it creates an zeitgeist of violence. Each image seeks to be more shocking than the next. I saw one recently with a live dog being boiled to death as it scrambled, with burn marks on its face, for the edge of its death cauldron. The other side of the coin is that those images inspire sociopaths to copycat.
I appreciate your comments.
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