Animal rights activist predicate their efforts to the protection of animals against cruelty. Their initiatives are aimed at raising awareness among the public, as well as taking action to stop such cruelty whenever they may exist. While most of their efforts are nonviolent, there is a small group of animal rights activists who have grown frustrated with this approach. Harwood (2009) notes these activists have resorted to the use violence and threats to violence as a way of intimidating their targets into submission. This paper is based on a thesis that the use of violence by animals’ rights activists has not been effective. The failure is attributed to the fact that the activists have failed to sell their views to win over the public efficiently.
One of the reasons why animal rights activities have failed in their campaign of violence is because the acts themselves are illegal. As a result, the activist groups have been targets of law enforcement officers who seek to enforce law and order. More often a majority of them are arrested as part of bringing about control (Harwood, 2009). Besides, the destruction of property that has accompanied such acts has not been viewed positively by the public. As a result, there has been minimal public sympathy for these acts of violence. As a result, the use of violence has relegated groups such as The Animal Rights Militia and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) to the periphery of animal rights protection debate (Regan, 2009). Therefore, their influence in the community has fundamentally been eroded, turning them into fugitives of the law.
Another important aspect of the use of violence to protect animal rights relates to the nature of violence itself. Most of the violence used; border on terrorist acts. The use of petrol bombs and other violent acts have awakened debate as to whether their acts of violence met the threshold of terrorist acts. Russel (2012) notes this debate in public essentially mark a huge propaganda loss for this groupings. The debates have awakened fears about the real intentions of the groups. There has been increased fear that these groups, which act illegally, pose a serious threat to security, and have to be stopped. These feelings essentially mean that the public has lost confidence in these groups, as their fears grew.
Lastly, these groups concentrated a lot of their communication efforts in warning against the use of animals for research and other forms of experimentation. They never dealt with the issue of the value of those experiments to human life. Much of the conversation was focused on the harm and abuses directed to animals. Hardly was any significant focus directed on the value of the researches carried using animals. It has to be noted that the violence was mainly directed at research institutions and Universities carrying various research projects by use of animals. Most of these research projects aimed at improving quality of life through testing of medicines and products before actual usage on human beings. Hence, these activists lost a perfect opportunity of presenting their case and winning the support of the public. The success of the rights groups could only be measured with their influence on the public on the matter. In any case, Regan (2009) argues there were more animals being subjected to cruel treatment in homes and other non-research institutions. Hence, the narrative of the activist did not make much sense.
In conclusion, the use of violence by sections of animal rights activists did not achieve much towards expanding the protection of animals against cruelty. This was mainly because the rights activists ignored the role of the public in their campaign. The public could have been instrumental in giving weight to their arguments. For instance, the public could have been critical in putting pressure on legislators to ensure additional laws were put in place to streamline experimentation that used animals. The failure to win the hearts of the public meant that they operated mainly as outlaws, and not as individuals who had public support to push through a given agenda.
- Harwood, M. (2009). When animal rights activists attack. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/mar/13/california-animal-research-violence
- Regan, T. (2009). How to Justify Violence. In A. Best, & A. J. Nocella, Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? (pp. 32-74). New York: Lantern Books.
- Russel, S. (2012). When Extreme Animal Rights Activists Attach. Retrieved from https://psmag.com/news/when-extreme-animal-rights-activists-attack-40430