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STYLE & CULTURE | AL MARTINEZ

Blood and mayhem, all in the name of our furry friends

November 10, 2003|AL MARTINEZ

The militants in the animal activist movement are at it again. Like demented children running amok, they're bombing, burglarizing and vandalizing human habitats to protect the creatures they claim to represent in the celestial court of creature rights.

They're the radical offspring of the bewildering minority who want to turn dogs into vegetarians, and who insist that the tail-wagging thing around the house is not your pet but your animal companion. Your dog is your pal. Your cat, well, that's something else again. A cat, like a newspaper columnist, is no one's friend.

Many belong to an organization called the Animal Liberation Front, or ALF. I have a better name for those who destroy in the name of mammal mercy: Numskulls United to Save. Right. NUTS.

The organization appears to be an umbrella group of zealots barred from any legitimate animal-compassion outfit because they don't seem to understand that violence begets violence. Rather than working on behalf of the little creatures that inhabit the land, they're enraging the larger creatures that inhabit the land. That would be us.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday November 27, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
"Cows With Guns" -- Al Martinez's column in the Nov. 10 Calendar referred to a Tom Lehrer song about a bovine rebellion. In fact, the song, "Cows with Guns," is by Dana Lyons.

For instance, the NUTS "saved" 10,000 minks in Sultan, Wash., by releasing them from a fur farm. Those minks that didn't end up spattered all over the highway repaid the act of kindness by invading chicken coops, raiding fishponds, depleting streams and rivers of salmon and eating cats and dogs.

Elsewhere over the last few months, the NUTS were involved in two bombings in the San Francisco Bay Area, vandalism in Sonoma and various other acts of severity throughout the country, thereby managing to alienate those who might otherwise have been their allies.

Locally, NUTS splashed the house of Jerry Greenwalt with red paint and scrawled "murderer" on his car and the ALF monogram on his front gate. He's general manager of L.A.'s Department of Animal Services, and his home address was listed on an activist Web site. That in itself constitutes an act of emotional violence and undoubtedly contributed to the physical violence against his property.

What's next? One shudders to imagine. The methods employed by animal extremists to make their point are beginning to resemble the actions of fanatics in the anti-abortion movement, whose bloodletting has stained whatever righteousness their cause might have encompassed.

Activist Phyllis Daugherty, who doesn't bomb or spray paint but who quietly works hard on behalf of animals, says the vandalism at Greenwalt's house "signals an entirely new era in 'animal rights' -- the right to hurt those who are in charge of helping animals."

"Baywatch" babe/Playboy centerfold Pamela Anderson, suddenly up to her bosom in compassion, jumped into the fray by demanding a meeting with a KFC executive over its alleged cruelty to chickens.

Lending her considerable assets to a campaign for kinder deaths for those about to become buffalo wings, Anderson is quoted on a Web site as saying: "I can't understand why a company that claims to care about animal welfare would continue to allow chickens to be bred and drugged to be so top-heavy that they can barely walk, to be gathered in a manner that breaks their wings and beaks, and to be scalded to death or drowned in feather-removing tanks."

One wonders why this kind of glowing rhetoric, obviously composed by a boiler-room wannabe horror writer, is never applied to the greater violence in the human world. While we don't eat each other, we do utilize similarly terrible means to kill young men and women in the sweet prime of their lives. It's called war.

The passions exhibited by true believers like Anderson are fueled by the kind of nonsense that once appeared in an activist "news" sheet. It said chickens could recognize and remember about 100 other chickens and enjoy listening to classical music, both of which would put them in a higher mental category than most centerfold queens.

Suggesting to animal radicals that political action might gather more advocates than bombing or burning would be like trying to convince members of the Flat Earth Society that the planet we occupy is actually round.

Those out to demonstrate their compassion through violent means might explore other avenues, as offered by piano-plunking satirist Tom Lehrer. He sings about a bovine Che Guevara who leads a herd of cattle in an uprising against men about to turn them into quarter-pounders: "He was a scrawny calf who seemed rather woozy, no one suspected he was packing an Uzi."

One can't help but wonder amid the increasing rampages of animal activism if that isn't next. Maybe the cows can join the NUTS. They'd raise the IQ.

*

Al Martinez's column appears Mondays and Fridays. He's at al.martinez@latimes.com.

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