WHY WE OPPOSE AETA
AETA - ANIMAL ENTERPRISE TERRORISM ACT - S3880
The Anti-Fur Society opposes A.E.T.A. (S 3880), a bill that amends the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA), now 18 U.S.C. § 43, because it has the power to intimidate citizens into retreating from animal activities for fear of being labeled as a terrorist. The name attached to this bill is fatally harmful as it will be attractive for large enterprises to label the groups as "ANIMAL TERRORISTS." The negative pejorative "terrorist" is now commonly used to inflame public passions.
If special interest groups that oppose animal welfare organizations obtain the right to label us "terrorists", this will cast a dark pallor over our work for the voiceless animals. Our efforts will become seriously compromised and we will be faced with the impossible task of a very unfair competition between animal groups which operate on a limited budget and multibillion dollar enterprises.
In that this bill is overly broad, and vague, one would be wise to consult with lawyers before attempting to participate in picketing, or any other animal welfare gathering. This would further discourage people from becoming activists. Since its first appearance, this bill has been revised but still impinges on our rights to picket, leaflet and boycott. This is so because of its ambiguity as it fails to clarify whether "financial damages" will be attached to picketing and other expressions of the First Amendment Rights.
Finally, this bill is superfluous and unnecessary because federal criminal laws already provide a wide range of penalties for all unlawful activities targeted by this bill. There is already the "Animal Enterprise Protection Act" under which SHAC7 were convicted and received harsh penalties for what they had published on their website.
Nevertheless, on a voice vote with only a handful of Members aware of it and even fewer voting, the bill was pushed through, and President Bush was happy to sign it on behalf of his industry supporters.