View Full Version : A little notice about the PETA-discussion

Aug 11th, 2006, 11:21 PM

We've had heated debates around certain militant AR activities before. The ironic thing is that when we earlier have posted reminders that you should not post links to, or arguments supporting/defending illegal activism, people were posting both links and were supporting illegal AR actions in these threads.

That's why this subforum currently is 'moderated'*. Two members have posted since we switched on the Moderating, and both posted stuff that was against our rules. Please, please... just don't do it.

In other words: if you post something here and want it to not be removed, just stick to the rules. No links to organizations that use or defend/promote illegal methods. No talk about your own involvement in illegal stuff... (just by telling us that you are involved means that you support these things, otherwise you wouldn't have been involved, right)?


* This means that it will take some times for posts in this subforum to appear.

Aug 13th, 2006, 10:00 AM
I just removed a post supporting 'stealing' dogs to remove them from cruel situations.

You would not be banned, moderated or have your posts removed if you would suggest that it should be legal to remove animals from cruel situations.

It is not allowed to encourage people to break the law, because encouraging people to break the law is normally considered more serious than breaking it, because eg. while driving 100 miles pr hour above the speed limit may be dangerous, encouraging others to drive 100 mph above the limit is a lot more dangerous - if people actually follow your encouragement.

Maybe there is a law somewhere saying that in your personal situation, it wouldn't be illegal to rescue the dog. But: we can't have a lawyer evaluating each and every post about breaking the law in order to help animals, which is why we have a rule against posting anything that supports illegal activities.

To use the example from the removed post, maybe there are laws saying that in your case, stealing the dog wouldn't be illegal, due to the circumstances, just like if you would drive 100 mph hour above the speed limit to rescue someone's life maybe wouldn't have resulted in any kind of punishment. But again, we are not lawyers.

Aug 13th, 2006, 09:24 PM
I got a PM about the PETA-discussion from someone who seem to think that I have a problem with the fact that PETA are controversial. I don't. She also told me that they never would have considered becoming vegan if it wasn't for PETA. I know PETA is doing good stuff to, but I think they could have done this better without the bad stuff.

So my answer to people who say that PETA has helped them becoming vegan is only that PETA could have done that without spending energy on defending ALF-activism - or, if all the people who donate to PETA would have donated to another organization, that other organization would have helped people going vegan instead, without all the (wrong kind of) trouble PETA generates.

Let's say we would allow posts that would encourage illegal activities or illegal groups. Now, one day, an AR activist says that risking years in prison only to liberate a few documents or a small amount of animals isn't worth it, and write 'let's rob a bank instead, steal millions, and give the money to groups helping animals'. Maybe they would argue that they are against private property anyway, and that it's better that these money go to helping animals than anything else, and say that it would be unethical not to fight against capitalism and banks and do whatever you can to help animals. (Or they would suggest/defend thousands of other possible ways to help animals that they would find ethical but illegal.)

As a forum, we can't start to evaluate how ethical each possible way that people may suggest as a legitimate way to help animals would be, and compare it to how illegal it would be, and allow some posts and deny others. We only have one way of dealing with this: posting anything supporting anything illegal is not allowed here. No posts defending 'stealing' dogs, smoking cannabis or shoplifting or promoting illegal rescuing of animals.

The reason PETA is extra important, is that they have so much money, and it may be true that they get a lot of these money from people who just claim that 'PETA isn't ALF' or who don't know what PETA defends/supports.

A main reason PETA are influential is the large amounts of donations they get. They seem to get between 10-30 million dollars every year, which gives them a lot of power, including the power to influence people to go vegan. The fact that an organization have influenced some people to go vegan isn't in itself a reason to defend that organization.

There's a transcript from a senate testimony about PETA posted on the net containing not-very-flattering info, they have been spied on by FBI, and there will be more and more PETA-critical comments out there... until PETA will post their own viewpoints on these accusations on their site. My viewpoints aren't dependent on FBI or meat industry supported anti-PETA campaigns or anything but than the combination of facts and how they deal with rumors and possible false statements about them.

They are obviously being attacked a lot, and if they wait too long in either changing their policy or declare that supporting ALF, 'blowing up stuff' or burning labs never was anything they advocated or defended, they'll lose potential supporters. And I think they need to go further than just saying that they don't support so called terrorist activities or that a firebomber isn't a terrorist. Due to printouts of their budgets and copies of leaflets describing how they think ALF is not a terrorist group but 'act courageously', 'risk their freedom' etc, and about how important ALF are, it will be hard to convince anyone that they don't support them.

Why hand out pro-ALF leaflets if they don't support ALF?

Aug 16th, 2006, 04:28 AM
Why hand out pro-ALF leaflets if they don't support ALF?

Pro-ALF? or pro-people that give a damn enough to risk their own freedom for animals.

They are not the same thing.

Just on the budget - $30 million, in real world terms, is not a lot of money for what they are doing. Maybe it's a lot of money to you - but then you don't have a huge staff, outreach programs and representation in most countries of the world. The USA is the wealthiest nation in the world; $30 M does not seem enough for what they accomplish.

Aug 16th, 2006, 08:46 AM
Yes, Pro-ALF. And - like lots of newspapers and other media do - they could have received copies of documents showing animal cruelty, and written about it - without handing out leaflets that supported the groups that they received the papers from.
About risking their freedom, they are also risking the lives of a lot of animals, due to all the negative marketing they trigger around a good message, anti-PETA campaigning triggered by the way they try to help animals, strong links to ALF etc. I don't know if PETA ir risking their won freedom, they encourage others to do it for them - AND thereby risk their own and others' reputation, which is making it more difficult to reach people with a pro-animal rights messages. Look here (http://www.csis-scrs.gc.ca/en/publications/commentary/com21.asp): "A recent news magazine article reported an estimated 7,000 animal rights groups in the USA. Only a handful have demonstrated the ALF's tendency toward militant activism; however, among them is a group known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)."

Clearly, there are other ways to do something for animals or better ways to promote being vegan than to support PETA.

$30 million, in real world terms, is not a lot of money for what they are doing The budget was mentioned by me just to mention that with $30 million, you can influence a lot of people, and being influenced by PETA in itself isn't IMO a reason to support them. They would have had more money and influenced more people if they would eg. have handed out those pro-ALF leaflets, declared that they advocate blowing up things, written/sold books about ALFs 'amazing' story, spent a lot of money on ALF people in legal trouble, and had a leader who declared that "I will be the last person to condemn ALF [the Animal Liberation Front]." Can you get any closer to state that you support ALF than by saying this?

We have already discussed all the 'side effects' of rescuing a few animals, 'side effects' that may cause harm to thousands of other animals. If you have 5 kids, and risk your freedom to save one of them in a way that causes the others to be killed, are you actually saving lives? In short, when you quote PETAs ALF-propaganda by talking about risking their own freedom etc, I feel that we area about to start the whole discussion from scratch again. Going in circles won't get us anywhere - and we are already going in circles, aren't we?

Aug 19th, 2006, 12:33 AM
I feel that we area about to start the whole discussion from scratch again. Going in circles won't get us anywhere - and we are already going in circles, aren't we?

You don't need to get drawn into explaining the rules again, they are clear enough and users of the board are obliged to accept them.

Perhaps someone will create a thread on hypothetical discussion of when breaking the law is acceptable, such as civil disobedience or to save someone's life.

It is possible to discuss this issue without giving personal examples or supporting or opposing anything.

Aug 23rd, 2006, 08:46 AM
I know Korn is frustrated with people on this forum ' breaking the rules'.

Just a suggestion.

When you get a group of people who are passionate about the treatment of animals together in a discussion they are likely to forget about certain rules or not realise they are even breaking some as they get carried away in the heat of the discussion.

I posted something that was inappropriate but did not realise it would be considered as such as there was so much conversation around the issue which leads some to think it's ok to discuss it. I certainly did not intend to encourage anything illegal, but posted to show what a certain group claimed to stand for. It was from a reputable magazine and I felt it would be ok and now realise it wasn't.

Just the thread heading alone I think encourages certain debate.

It may be better, if it's not appropriate, to dis-allow such threads rather than continue discussions where people become disillusioned and reprimanded.

It may be more useful to nip it in the bud early than become frustrated around the issue.

I think you could expect that in a group of vegans some will not always agree with certain trains of thought, but will still be attracted to the forum for support from other vegans, so this is always going to be an issue to some extent and luckily it only seems to be a very small percent.

I think it's important not to assume because people have different ideas, that they belong to certain groups. Vegans tend to explore d/t levels of ethical thinking. I don't have any ties to the mentioned groups, but felt it was assumed I did.

Anyway, hopefully things will get back on track and we can continue more harmonious discussions.

Sep 7th, 2006, 12:51 PM
I'd like to be able to explain why we have the rules we have and discuss them with members, and not only say 'this is not allowed'. Any rule against discussing ALF or PETA would have triggered discussions and questions about why anyway. If we would remove a thread discussing ALF or PETA, we would need to - and want to - explain why, so I'm not sure if the difference would be that big - or a better solution. The problem only affects less than 1% of our members anyway, and I'm sure we'll get questions/posts about the ALF (etc) policy as long as this site exists...

Maybe the solution is to just refer to a FAQ or closed thread which explains why we have rules against against promoting illegal/militant activities, because I feel I have been writing the same explanations to the same few ALF and PETA supporters hundreds of times now. Or - since I'm planning to leave my role as an admin, maybe I should just worry less? :)

Maybe life would be easier if we would move towards rejecting the PETA-propaganda in a more aggressive way? I'll have to think about that.

Sep 7th, 2006, 01:01 PM
I think it must be very difficult and very exhausting to have to keep on interjecting and reminding people of the forums rules, only to then have your motives/ethics questioned over and over again :eek: .
Would there be any way of just automatically re-directing any such poster to the rules page and saving yourself the grief?. Some threads that I have looked at on these subjects seem totally futile :confused: .

Sep 10th, 2006, 06:58 PM
Would there be any way of just automatically re-directing any such poster to the rules page and saving yourself the grief?. Some threads that I have looked at on these subjects seem totally futile :confused: .

No, that's not possible - but I wish it was! :)

Sep 16th, 2006, 03:20 AM
Just wanted to take some time to post that due to this discussion, I looked into the relationship between PETA and ALF, and took some time to find out more about ALF itself, having never really paid much attention prior because I am more of a "humane education" kind of activist, as opposed to the "direct action" type.

Although my impressions basically remain the same about the issue, I got to thinking that regarding this forum, the fact that being able to discuss the topics led to my educating myself more -- and that was a positive thing.

It seems that if one is against illegal-type activities and feels it hurts the AR movement or the vegan agenda, taking advantage of the opportunity to address those leaning that way, and perhaps discouraging it, would be a more productive way of dealing with posters who bring it up. Since this is such a unique setting that attracts vegans of all walks of life, seems like a waste not to capitalize on such a captive audience.

Anyway, that is my suggestion. I certainly understand moderating to remove trolls and troublemakers, but I also see the potential for education and understanding regarding what is clearly a devisive issue in the AR movement. Trying to stifle any discussion about illegal actions won't affect change in that area, if that is one's desire. :)

Sep 16th, 2006, 04:01 PM
This rule won't change, because encouraging a discussion pro/con something would invite people who support ALF to join in and tell others why they think illegal activities, firebombing, burning down buildings etc, is a good idea. And, as I have explained a trillion times, allowing posts that support etc. illegal activities may mean problems for both the posters, the admin, the server host and therefore the forum itself, so it won't happen. Since this discussion is only going in circles, I can't see a need to continue it, really. treehugga's suggestion above makes more sense, but still, for now I'll keep the pro/con PETA threads open, so people can understand why posting posts that encourage illegal activities are not allowed.

Sep 18th, 2006, 10:37 AM
Trying to stifle any discussion about illegal actions won't affect change in that area, if that is one's desire.

I should probably add that I don't have any desire to stifle that discussion - on the contrary, I think it's an important discussion (for the few people who are involved in such activities). I also think that 'taking advantage of the opportunity to address those leaning that way, and perhaps discouraging it, would be a more productive way of dealing with posters who bring it up' makes sense.

An extremely small percentage of the Animal Rights movement, and an even smaller percentage of vegans are actually involved in illegal activities, but they are very vocal, and some of them have more or less have organized a verbal war against our moderating policy. Whenever we've had discussions about these topics in the past, the discussions hasn't only become very un-constructive, but the extremely small fraction I talk about seem to be as angry with other vegans who don't agree with them as they are with the animal cruelty issues they campaiging against.

If we can't have a discussion about these topic without having some members either going directly into fight-mode, or using such discussions as an excuse to post all kinds of links to Animal Liberation Front and other sites that encourage illegal activities (and also do the same in their posts), IMO it's a better solution to avoid these discussions. They have only been needed in order to explain why we have these rules.

If I would have met some of the people that has been banned for continueously having encouraged illegal activities on this site in real life, I'm sure we could have had an interesting talk about the topic, but some people get a lot more aggresive online than they (hopefully) do in real life.

Besides the negative tone we've had when such topics have been discussed in the past, it's also pretty much impossible to discuss eg. 'eco-terrorism' without allowing arguments on both sides. So in a way I agree with treehugga when she writes that it may be better to disallow such threads rather than continue discussions where people become disillusioned and reprimanded (we already disallow such threads), but I suspect that such threads will be started again eg. by newbies who haven't read the rules. If they start such a thread, and a mod will remove it, they'll probably get angry anyway and want to start a discussion about free speech and cenorship, and send me PMs about being a nazi and control freak etc... :)

They all seem to forget that a main reason to start this site was to have a site for vegans who would prefer a forum without discússions about firebombs etc., a forum where thses topics simply are disallowed.

I have personally never seen anything on the news about animal cruelty or seen real life places where animals are kept for fur without intuitively thinking that these animals should be released, legal or not. Nobody has IMO a right to own a a human or an animal. If nobody owns it, rescuing it wouldn't be 'stealing it' IMO; but it would be stealing from a legal point of view. There are no vegans that think that animnals should be held in captivity or suffer because some human wants to eat meat or wear leather, so of course we all think they should be released (except that most of us don't think that the solution is to physically go and release them).

I also think everybody will agree that in some situations, it's right to break laws. But to go any further than that seems to be impossible without allowing posts that support/justify etc illegal activities.

When I started this board, I figured that the easiest way out is to do what Joanne Stepaniak does at her own forum: she clearly defines what is allowed and what is not on (she says that it is strictly a support forum, and not for debating what a vegan is or isn't). We go a lot further than that, but don't allow posts/threads that contain support for anything illegal.

PETA is a bit different than ALF, because many people support PETA without knowing about their relationship to ALF. So here's what I'm gonna do: I'll reopen the PETA thread/make it non-moderated. The rule about not having discussions containg pro-illegal messages will never be changed, and we'll continue to remove such posts and ban members who don't respect the rules, if that seems to be the only way out.

I'll also use part of my (far too many! :) ) posts about our restrictions against pro-illegal posts/threads, and make a FAQ-item out of them, and just point members to this whenever needed. I think that's the best solution for everybody.

I've recently added a new FAQ-item called 'If you get banned' (http://veganforum.com/forums/faq.php), inspired by a member who recently broke our rules, got a warning (he wasn't banned), and sent a very angry PM back as a result of having gotten that warning.

Life is too intersting to waste more time on people who break rules or don't accept even a warning as a result of breaking them. I consider this my last post about this topic.