The SHAC 7 are 6 activists and a corporation, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA Inc., found guilty of multiple federal felonies for their alleged role in campaigning to close down the notorious animal testing lab, Huntingdon Life Sciences. They were not accused of actually smashing windows, liberating animals or even attending demonstrations, rather reporting on and encouraging others to engage in legal demonstrations and supporting the ideology of direct action.
What? The land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy!—Rage Against the Machine
[I’m dedicating this essay to the victims of state repression in the US who languish in the increasingly for-profit, privatized prison-industrial complex. These oppressed souls include political prisoners who stood up for social justice and nonviolent “offenders” whose “crime” was that the color of their skin and/or their socioeconomic standing represented threats to the stratified, classist social order of American Capitalism.]
As I’ve written on numerous occasions, it’s indisputable that we US Americans enjoy access to a plethora of social freedoms and that our human rights are enshrined in our Constitution, which ostensibly acts as the framework of a constitutional republic.
Yet repression and social control mechanisms can manifest themselves in many forms. And there’s little shortage of either in the United States, a nation founded by privileged white males who barred women, the poor, and Native Americans from participation in the political process. Also, lest we forget, those who grabbed the power away from England’s monarchy in their bourgeois revolution also sanctioned and legalized human slavery.
‘Bread and circuses’ such as the NFL, American Idol, NASCAR, Christmas, the 4th of July, hundreds of cable or satellite channels, iPods, and various and sundry other extravaganzas, seductions, allures, and addictive palliatives serve to pacify and preoccupy most people to the extent that they are too apathetic to notice social injustices, let alone care enough to exercise their rights to oppose them. Yes, the moneyed interests excel at keeping the masses fat, lazy, ignorant, and complacent.
A seemingly endless “War on Drugs” has afforded the confluence of people and entities who comprise the ruling elite in the US (for a penetrating and comprehensive analysis of our ruling class, read C Wright Mill’s seminal, scholarly work, The Power Elite http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_Elite), what is perhaps the ultimate mechanism of social control and state repression. In a stroke of genius, they’ve criminalized self-medication and self-destruction, virtually ensuring that they can imprison much of the army of unemployed minorities (many of whom are doomed to under- or unemployment due to structural barriers to escaping perpetual poverty) for attempting to escape their misery by “getting high.”
In Latin America, the War on Drugs also grants the ruling class a justification for supporting ruthless Right Wing leaders like Uribe of Colombia (a Harvard-trained perpetuator of the US American model of “profit over humans, nonhuman animals and the Earth” capitalism) and for dictating policies to Central and South American countries that guarantees that US corporations can rape, pillage, and plunder these resource-rich nations unimpeded and unhindered.
Once the drugs cultivated by our southern neighbors reach our shores and hit our streets (despite the “best efforts” of the CIA, DEA, US military, and their compliant proxies in Colombia and Mexico), those who are there “to protect and serve” go after substance abusers (and their black market suppliers that the ridiculously Puritanical and cynically crafted anti-drug laws create) with a vengeance. This despite the fact that alcohol is as debilitating (short and long-term) as, and causes more belligerence and violence than, most of the “street drugs” that land people in prison in the “land of the free.”
(2005) “The United States leads the world in the number of people incarcerated in federal and state correctional facilities. There are currently more than 2 million people in American prisons or jails. Approximately one-quarter of those people held in U.S. prisons or jails have been convicted of a drug offense. The United States incarcerates more people for drug offenses than any other country. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses.”
Source: Justice Policy Institute, “Substance Abuse Treatment and Public Safety,” (Washington, DC: January 2008), p. 1.
With liquor moguls like Pete Coors having a seat at the table of the power elite (his seed money founded the far Right Heritage Foundation in 1973), it’s little surprise that the ‘powers that be’ gave up on Prohibition after 13 years and practically pour alcoholic beverages down our throats in nearly any social setting one can envision. Yet the “War on Drugs” rages on, punishing millions for seeking a chemically-induced escape from the abject shame and misery of poverty in a stratified society where the poor are mired in an ocean of quicksand as they struggle desperately to reach the rapidly vanishing higher ground of “middle classdom.”
I find it incredibly ironic that we as a nation trumpet our “freedom and democracy” and have annihilated millions of people (but don’t forget, when we slaughter civilians, it’s merely “collateral damage”) around the world (i.e. many nations throughout Central and South American, Korea, Haiti, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and more) to spread said “freedom and democracy” whilst incarcerating more of our own people than any other nation, including the “totalitarian” state of China—which has triple our population! Amerikkka reeks of hypocrisy…..
According to the Pew Center, via
[The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prison inmates, the center said.
“Black adults are four times as likely as whites and nearly 2.5 times as likely as Hispanics to be under correctional control. One in 11 black adults — 9.2 percent — was under correctional supervision at year-end 2007,” the report said. “And although the number of female offenders continues to grow, men of all races are under correctional control at a rate five times that of women.”]
Besides nonviolent drug offenders and the violent black marketeers the drug laws create, the favorite targets of our legal system (what we have is a mechanism to enforce laws that protect property, ensure the perpetuation of profit, and maintain the status quo social order of patriarchy, exploitation, oppression, homophobia, classism, imperialism, speciesism, racism, ageism, and ableism; thus it is a LEGAL system and NOT a justice system) are social justice activists and advocates.
Examples of state repression of those who have challenged the corrupt and exploitative status quo abound throughout the “illustrious” history of our nation, including (but not limited to) the Haymarket Executions, the Homestead Strike, the Palmer Raids, The Red Scare, COINTELPRO, and most recently, the Green Scare, in which Animal Rights and environmental justice activists are the preferred targets of the corporate-state complex.
Rather than expending increasingly scarce financial resources on pursuing and punishing people who truly threaten those of us who comprise the majority of people in this country (the middle class, the working class, and the poor), innocent and essentially defenseless nonhuman animals, and the environment, our “criminal justice” system zealously protects the degenerates atop the depraved social order with draconian laws like the Patriot Act and the AETA.
Virtually anyone who threatens multi-billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch’s “right” to horde vast wealth while raping and pillaging Mother Earth or our nation’s “right” to invade and occupy oil-rich nations or Charles River’s Laboratories’ “right” to enslave and torture sentient beings or fundamentalist Christians’ “right” to deny basic civil rights on the basis of sexual orientation or McDonalds’ “right” to murder the planet for profit or the myriad other “rights” exercised by heinous entities or people finds themselves in the cross-hairs of the FBI and “law enforcement” in general.
And when I write “threatens,” I don’t mean through the use of force or violence. While social justice activists and groups have been violent at times, we have historically been surprisingly nonviolent in our efforts to evoke social change. We pose a threat to the status quo simply because we exist and because we promote and advance just causes. The corrupt and malevolent defenders of the dominant culture know that their illusions, delusions, crimes, and abortions of justice will not withstand those who assail them with the power of righteousness. The morally bankrupt power elites and their sycophantic supporters are the ones who have to arm themselves heavily, maintain vast armies and caches of weaponry, employ brute force, fill prisons, and mind-fuck the populace into false consciousness in order to maintain their tenuous grasp on power.
To accelerate the end of this planet-murdering, soul-devouring prevailing paradigm, those of us who consciously or unconsciously pose a threat to this abomination MUST strive for solidarity. RAGE (Radicals against Greed and Exploitation) is determined to begin unifying the oppressed and exploited. While many of us in RAGE are Vegan Animal Rights activists, a sociopolitical stance that causes many to make the sign of the cross and run, as such we are attacking the root of exploitation AND we have each shattered the shackles of false consciousness. We support nearly all social justice causes and some of us are actively engaged in movements besides Animal Rights.
While the illusions and delusions assaulting our minds since birth make it nearly impossible to imagine that there’s a better way for humanity to exist on the Earth than by torturing and murdering nonhuman animals for our pleasure and convenience, bombing innocent humans so we can attain their country’s resources, allowing a tiny fraction of the population to possess nearly all the wealth while 35,000 children starve to death each day, consuming the Earth’s “resources” like a swarm of locusts of Biblical proportions, causing the Sixth Extinction, blowing the tops off of mountains to “harvest resources,” filling our air and water with foul, carcinogenic toxins, denuding the Earth’s surface of nearly all vegetation in favor of buildings and pavement, and rendering much of the world’s water supply non-potable, we are not doomed to self-destruct and eradicate the rest the Earth’s inhabitants as we commit mass suicide.
RAGE and other grass roots groups with whom we ally are fighting to end to the dominant Culture of Death and to catalyze a resurgence of a Culture of Life.
You can start by going vegan (http://www.meat.org/) and by writing a letter of support and solidarity to William “BJ” Viehl. Viehl was convicted of an Animal Liberation Front “crime of compassion” that involved freeing 650 enslaved and tortured minks who would have had their necks broken, been gassed, or been anally electrocuted so that vain, empathy deficient fur hags could wear their skins.
Please write him at:
FCI Terminal Island
PO Box 3007
San Pedro, CA 90731
Jason Miller, the Senior Editor and Founder of TPC, is a tenacious vegan abolitionist and animal rights activist who lives in Kansas. He has a boundless passion for animal liberation and anti-capitalism. Addicted to reading and learning, he is mostly an autodidact, but he studied liberal arts and philosophy at the University of Missouri Kansas City. In early 2005, he founded the widely read radical blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner. Jason is an accomplished, prolific essayist and his writings on social and political issues have appeared on hundreds of alternative media websites over the last few years. He is a press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, an editor for The Right to Have and Arm Bears and Canine Crusaders, and the founder of Bite Club of KC, a grassroots animal rights activist group which he started in Kansas City in 2009 and through which he and his allies give animal exploiters some serious hell. He is married to Kiantha Shadduck. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.