Mar 1, 2006

PETA & Ringling Take Battle to Court

In the news today - many of us have heard about the crazy infiltration of revolutionary, progressive, and even a few hate groups that the government has admitted to over the decades. Most of the work was to gather intelligence, to find weaknesses, to thwart power and consensus building (at least in groups like the American Indian Movement and the Black Panther Party). But COINTELPRO was an insane government strategy and program to survey and watch "domestic threats."

Meanwhile, in the post-9/11 world, network tv (news and dramatic programming is so interchangeable nowadays, so why distinguish?) would have us believe that in the hundreds of "sleeper cells" in the U.S., there are just as many, if not more, infiltrations, counter-intelligence efforts, and maneuvers to see and know what comes next.

Regardless of whether you're impressed by that or not, you have to check out this article about what's happening with Ringling Bros. and PETA (and of course, other groups that are anti-circus/anti-cruelty). Basically, allegations state that Ringling has been hiring people to infiltrate the anti-circus groups, destruct what they can from the inside, and arrange counter-protests. While I'm not a big fan of circuses either, and haven't gone to one since I read some of the terrible stories about what happens with the animals (and witnessed through the news the numerous times that animals have acted out (especially elephants) and killed someone with the circus, based on memories of prior abuse), sometimes PETA and its friends do go to extremes. Still, PETA is to extreme animal rights activism what Greenpeace is to environmental direct action: they aren't the radical fringe - those would have to be the animal and earth liberation fronts.

But I digress. It's just pretty funny that a circus is being accused of sneaky and downright unfriendly activity as is mentioned in the suit. If it's true, it's nuts, even if it's ultimately not found to be illegal. Watch out! The circus isn't just in town, it's in your board room. Choice quotes from the story:

"The Ringling Bros. circus infiltrated animal rights groups, stole sensitive internal documents and illegally wiretapped circus opponents as part of a national conspiracy to disrupt animal rights groups, a lawyer told a Fairfax County jury yesterday."


"During opening statements, PETA accused Feld of overseeing the espionage campaign against it and other animal rights organizations. The attorney for Kenneth Feld, [whose family has owned the circus for nearly 40 years], responded that infiltrating groups is not a crime, that PETA was not harmed by any alleged action by Feld or his employees and that Feld did not know of the operation or do anything illegal. Monitoring rights groups was necessary to protect the circus and its customers, Feld's attorney argued, and he noted that donations to PETA have risen, not fallen, since the start of the conspiracy."
So look out kids, it's not just the government that could infiltrate your chapter of G.R.O.S.S.. Suzie may have hired Hobbes out to mess up that water balloon drenching you were planning, and sell you down the river.

[afterthought: the internet could be considered the great equalizer. here's propaganda on the other side of PETA]


someone else said...

sounds like the pinkertons...or the police infilitration of a college anti-sweatshop group at a michigan college a few years ago.

when will these people learn? all they have to do is read a few e-mails and they'll know what not to take seriously.

Rage said...

yeah - the funny thing is the private action, to me. I'm thinking, like, you have a bunch of vegans in a room plotting a direct action, and there's a guy who shows up with big shoes and a bulbous nose...