Greenies Got it Bass-ackward

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In
London
last Friday, animal rights activists used baseball bats to attack
an executive of a company that does animal research. At the time
of this writing, other activists in Newchurch,
also in England, were protesting outside a guinea pig farm. This
group was defeating its own purpose – there happens to be an outbreak
among local livestock of foot-in-mouth disease that is so contagious
local experts fear the activists will spread it to uninfected animals.
Here in the United States, PETA members are proud to frighten children:
"We
were outside a school in Peoria, Ill., yesterday, and it was great.
At one point, I was speaking to half a dozen 11-year-old girls,
telling them how the dairy industry rips the baby calves away from
their dairy cow mothers a few days after birth. They were just horrified."
Other animal-rights activist tactics emulate terrorism,
adding arson and sabotage to the sort of assault mentioned above.

Nor
are the animal-rights activists the only attackers. Anti-biotechnologyniks
in Seattle
in December of 1999, by protesting orange-colored genetically engineered
rice with carotene, were in essence attacking the hopes of millions
of children who go blind each year from Vitamin A deficiency in
poorer cultures that use rice as a staple. Monsanto, a developer
of such rice, still has to keep it in Switzerland andunder guard
because of the threat of sabotage. And we've all heard many times
of the trees' rights activists in the northwestern United States
spiking trees
to injure loggers.

The
list of victim groups fingered by the greenies you can find in 15
minutes' worth of searching the web via Google and Junkscience.com
thus includes a lone executive; small farmers; children face-to-face;
faceless children in other countries; corporations who have a real
chance to end world hunger; faceless semiskilled and skilled laborers;
and of course we remember the stories of these nuts painting fur-wearing
women in the streets. The final victim group is sometimes the animals
themselves, as when activists released minks from a farm in England
last summer. Minks can be aggressive little devils – they attacked
animals on neighboring farms and fought each other. Some were attacked
by dogs or run over by cars, and those that avoided trouble starved:
They were farm-raised, and didn't have any survival skills. Per
the second link at the top of this article, activists were willing
to spread disease among animals in order to call attention to the
animals' lack of freedom.

The
activists have cause and effect bass-ackward. The industries they
oppose, as with every industry, are demand-driven. If today you
remove every lumberjack from the planet, they'll be replaced tomorrow.
If, however, everyone stops buying lumber today, the lumberjacks
will stop lumbering. So here is how the ecofreaks should proceed
from now on:

Instead
of beating up executives who administrate animal research, knock
on the doors of known adult women and confront them regarding their
use of skin care products. Of course, it might take more courage
to face a beer-bellied homeowner whose wife you've just insulted
than to attack someone from behind. How about this: To reduce demand
for bioengineered food, go to Beijing and tell Deng how you oppose
it. Alas, the Chinese Premier might not take kindly to your advice,
but that's the only way to solve the problem – burning warehouses
full of corn hasn't worked. Spiking trees and injuring lumberjacks,
sometimes critically, fails to stop the tree cutting. It would not
be possible to locate everyone who might buy a new house someday,
so perhaps you could work at least a little farther up the demand
chain by attacking homebuilders. This plan might hit a snag, however,
in the form of annoyed carpenters wielding hammers and crowbars,
but at least the greengeeks would be working closer to the source
of the problem.

Here's
a solution I'd like to see: Instead of spray painting fur-wearing
rich women, who will only replace their furs using insurance money
(increasing demand rather than curbing it), go after animal-skin
wearers who likely don't have insurance and can't afford to replace
expensive clothing very often. I'm talking about Hell's Angels and
other Harley-riding types, who wear leather jackets, boots, gloves,
and sometimes pants. Can anybody imagine why PETA hasn't thought
of this already?

More
seriously, the animal-rights and anti-biotech loonies are fighting
a war we know has already been decided. People worldwide want to
be safe, healthy, comfortable, even entertained. Free markets are
constantly making new products that tread less on the earth than
before, for less money and with greater quality. No number of violent
wackos is going to stop 6.2 billion people from getting what they
want, nor should they. They are the Luddites of today, but in the
meantime they are responsible for unnecessary damage and injury
on a daily basis. We need to find a way to get them interested in
something else.

March
1, 2001

Brad
Edmonds, Doctor of Musical Arts, is a banker in Alabama.

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