© Jeffrey Pannekoek 2014
Terrorism is a subject deeply connected to the issue of animal welfare. This has not always been the case. Whereas it is definitely true that some criminal activity has been justified in the name of animal welfare, misdemeanors and even felonies are of a very different order than terrorism. The charge of terrorism can strip a person off their most fundamental rights, even without trial. Animal terrorism has not witnessed quite such a situation, although a number of animal activists who have committed direct action have been convicted for a range of crimes, and some have had the terrorism enhancement applied to them. For these activists, this has resulted in a terrorist listing and the possibility of serving (part of) their sentence in a special prison called a Communication Management Unit. The extreme reality of the situation raises a lot of questions about what exactly terrorism entails, why this type of activity is labeled terrorism, and if the pursuit of animal activists as terrorist is morally justified. It also pushes us to ask whether, in light of the extreme suffering endured by animals for the sake of profit, there are forms of terrorism that are ethically permissible. This paper, first, looks at the meaning of particular types of action and their role in animal activism. These include direct action, civil disobedience, and violence. Secondly, it offers a discussion of terrorism by looking at its most recent iterations as well as an alternative definition. Thirdly, it reviews past and current legislation pertaining to animal activism and terrorism, including the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. This section will also take note of a number of prosecutions of animal activists under these laws, including the SHAC7 case. Finally, it offers a discussion of the ethics of animal terrorism, in which I argue for the ethical permissibility of animal terrorism, and the necessary conditions that need to obtain in order for this to hold.
Pannekoek, Jeffrey (2014) "Animal Activism and the Ethics of Terrorism," Res Cogitans: Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 23. http://dx.doi.org/10.7710/2155-4838.1115