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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 2/24/16

America-We Can Do Better

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Suzana Megles
Message Suzana Megles

I remember one time singing enthusiastically along with Kate Smith -- God Bless America. Yes, we need God's blessing even more today. In this supposed land of the free, it seems to me that we have used this freedom in too many selfish and even cruel ways which promote our interests --no matter the cost to others and especially to our animals.

Today I read "A Journalist is Exposing How the FBI Targets Animal Activists as Terrorists." At one time I would have gasped reading this title, but today I was not at all surprised because of all the cruelty to animals which exists in our country. The subtitle read -- "Will Potter's reporting reveals what he believes is an assault on free speech in defense of big profits for big Ag."

I remember when the then House Representative Dennis Kucinich was the ONLY one in Congress who voted against AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act) which sought to criminalize peaceful demonstrations of animal activists at places where animals were being cruelly treated. He defended the people who sought to assuage the suffering of animals while all the other voting members of the House (400+) supported this thoughtless and even cruel act which sought to punish people of compassion for demonstrating against animal cruelty. I assure you that hereafter I looked at the House of Representatives with a jaundiced eye.

Maybe it was then and since then that I have lost a great deal of respect for our congress, our presidents, and people in general who do nothing to help suffering animals. I, like Gandhi, measure the greatness of a people by their compassion -- a compassion which not only extends to humans but animals as well.

In his post -writer David McNair tells how reporter Will Potter of the Chicago Tribune decided that in the months after 9/11 he wanted to report on something other than cops, crime, and shootings in Chicago.

Hoping to make a difference in the world as a reporter, one day he joined a group of activists handing out leaflets opposing animal testing. Imagine his surprise when shortly thereafter - two FBI agents showed up at his door. They told him he could be put on a terrorism watch list if he didn't help them gather information about the animal activists he had helped. If you are not shocked by this, I am. I would have loved to have been one of those caring people passing out leaflets as well. This move on the part of the FBI sounded more like the workings of a Gestapo state to me.

And Potter was also very much shocked when the agents mentioned to him that the application for student aid to graduate school he had submitted could be pulled if he didn't cooperate. To this Potter said "I couldn't believe they were using that rhetoric of terrorism against someone handing out leaflets."

Though the charges against him were dropped and nothing came of the veiled threats from the FBI agents -- Potter would spend the next 13 years in the politics and policing of dissent. In 2011 he wrote the book Green is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege. In his book- he would expose the way the "terrorist" label has been used by the FBI to go after animal rights and environmental activists. America the Beautiful? I don't think so.

And if the AETA Act as written was not bad enough, it has since been amended giving government greater authority to prosecute radical animal rights activists.

If interested in reading more about this compassionate reporter and his concern for freedom to protest and demonstrate, please go to the internet to find out more about the forthright and illuminating account of him by McNair.

Potter has also covered the passage of the fight against the "ag-gag" laws which are heavily subsidized by the US government and which escape regulation of all farm animals.

There may be some light in this cruel tunnel of ag-gag darkness when recently an Idaho judge struck down its ag-gag law saying that it was an unconstitutional criminalization of free speech rights. A judge with a conscience. God bless him. We need many, many more like him.

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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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