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News & Editorials

Editor's Note: We do not always agree with every word we publish. If we did, our site's content would reduce dramatically. The following article finds its way to our site as a result of a candid conversation I had with its author, Alison Green. Mrs. Green contacted me to request that false statements about PETA be removed from our site, explaining that PETA has never taken a stand against gun rights. She was very kind, very direct, and quite correct, and we removed that article, a reader's letter, from our site.

It is important to say the following, both to assure that it is clear that we do not endorse a good number of PETA's stances (some of them make perfect sense to me) and to assure that people who support animal rights but also support gun rights are a welcome addition to the pro gun community. That statement may irk some hunters to no end, but that is fine. The Second Amendment is not about hunting, it never has been, and you are welcome to submit your own article, about guns, gun rights or freedom, any time you please. Though I haven't hunted in far too long and will certainly be hunting again one day, and though I understand that culling overpopulated herds of white tail deer is in fact important for a host of reasons, and though I could write a lengthy novella on the subject...I also appreciate finding an intelligent animal rights activist who also wholeheartedly supports the second amendment, and here she is. 

Finally, should anyone choose to contact Mrs. Green, I request that it to be a message of respect and appreciation for her position regarding supporting and defending your fundamental rights, not a "wrong-making" disagreement about your sport. Having an ally within the animal rights community is a good thing, so please be polite if you make contact.  Thank you. ~~ Angel Shamaya, Director,

An Animal Rights Activist Speaks Out for Conservatism

By Alison Green, PETA Staff Writer


When people find out I'm a vegetarian who works for an animal rights organization, they often assume they know all sorts of other things about me: I must be pro-choice, and certainly I must favor gun control and probably welfare programs and socialized medicine as well. And, I can see them thinking, my closet must be no stranger to tie-dyes and Birkenstocks.

In fact, you're as unlikely to catch me in a tie-dye as in a fur coat. I'm an unabashed capitalist and registered Republican who abhors gun control and would like to do away with welfare altogether. I believe in individual rights rather than group rights and in limited government rather than big government. I believe in free market economics and a strong national defense. I think the blame for most of society's problems lies with the irresponsible behavior of individuals rather than "corporate greed." I like it when men hold doors for me. I believe in God. Put it all together and I'm the last person most people expect to find boycotting the circus or checking the label on my lipstick to make sure it wasn't tested on animals. According to conventional wisdom, animals are supposed to be outside the scope of my concern.

I want to know who decided that being conservative means you can't care about animals. More importantly, why would conservatives want it to?

Liberals are fond of painting conservatives as cold and uncaring, and, as a group, we've never been too good at fighting them on that one. But for us to actually help them do it by proclaiming that caring about animals contradicts what we're about--well, that's just plain stupid. It's bad enough when liberals try to claim compassion as their own exclusive turf, but I am far more incensed when my fellow conservatives drive the point home. If the 90s buzz phrase "compassionate conservatism" means anything at all, surely it's that we shouldn't dismiss issues of pain and death with a smirk and a jeer.

Yet we do it all the time. At the College Republican Convention this summer, amid tables staffed by the NRA, the Eagle Forum, and Citizens for a Sound Economy, vendors hawked stickers ridiculing environmentalists and animal protectionists, stickers with slogans like "Pave the Rainforests" and "People Eating Tasty Animals." When I asked them what made them think Republicans would be a receptive audience to such unkind sentiments, they looked at me like perhaps I was an escapee from the UFO conspiracists convention being held on another floor of the hotel. I left the event with a better understanding of why so many of my 20-something peers use "Republican" as a synonym for "jerk."

I'm used to encountering resistance-from people of all political persuasions-to my belief that animals deserve to be free from unnecessary suffering. After all, agreeing means giving up hamburgers, learning which detergents and shampoos are rubbed into rabbits' eyes, and seeking out shoes made of synthetics, not leather. But I can't get used to hearing other conservatives tell me animal rights is for communists, hippies, or liberals (often all three at once!).

When was it decided that scoffing at kindness is part of the conservative ideology package? After all, there are plenty of reasons to support the Second Amendment that have nothing to do with blasting helpless animals into shreds. And experimenting on animals is both cruel and bad science; as The New York Times recently reported, "So much evidence has accumulated that chemicals frequently have wholly different effects in animals and humans that officials throughout Government and industry often do not act on the studies' findings." So if you're interested in reliable, efficient research, those who waste tax dollars force-feeding cocaine to monkeys, sewing kittens' eyes shut, and poisoning beagles should draw your ire.

It's a mistake to argue that the conservative tent has no room for a belief that we don't have the right to eat, wear, or experiment on animals. The fact is, there are people who care about animals on both sides of the political spectrum and everywhere in between. We are young, old, religious, atheists, bankers, truck drivers, doctors, teachers, bricklayers, homemakers, liberals, and, yes, conservatives. Senator Bob Smith, who earlier this year left the Republican party because he thought it was moving too far left, has delivered an impassioned speech against elephants in circuses to his colleagues and challenged Al Gore's plans for what would have been the largest animal testing program in U.S. history.

Why should liberals have a stranglehold on the belief that there is a kind alternative to every cruel act? Like humans, animals have interests that shouldn't be sacrificed or traded away just because it might benefit others. It doesn't matter whether they're cute, or useful to humans, or an endangered species, or whether any human cares about them at all. (After all, if finding someone likable or attractive was a prerequisite for not hurting them, some of us would be in a lot of trouble.) In this day and age, with virtually unlimited choices of food, clothing, and entertainment, we don't have to choose between human rights and animal rights. We can take care of ourselves and treat animals compassionately; this isn't a competition.

Animal rights doesn't have be your issue. You don't have to carry picket signs outside McDonald's or go naked to protest fur if you don't want to. But neither should you automatically assume protecting animals is something that can't fit in your ideological package. Forget for a moment that you're more Rush Limbaugh than Jane Fonda and examine what we do to animals with an open mind. You just may find that you too object to treating animals like walking entrees, handbags, and lab tools.

When you think about it, there's nothing partisan about compassion. And conservatives, who have as much heart as anybody, shouldn't want there to be.


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