BOOK REVIEW: Muzzling a Movement: The Effects of Anti-Terrorism Law, Money, and Politics on Animal Activism

Muzzling a Movement: The Effects of Anti-Terrorism Law, Money, and Politics on Animal Activism

Animal advocates of all stripes won’t want to miss this slim, but eye-opening, volume. At first, I surmised Muzzling a Movement would not contain information particularly applicable to my life as a quiet, law-abiding, letter-writing activist. The author clearly makes the case that some industries and government agencies are painting all activists with the same broad brush, and they may not be pleased until all are silenced–from the militant to the mainstream.

Early on, the author gives a brief roundup of the many ways animals are used and abused in modern society. This will be nothing new to animal advocates, but to newcomers it will give an idea as to why some people dedicate their lives to helping other beings. I was pleased to see the author seems to be a part of the movement itself; I felt I was speaking with a knowledgeable peer instead of an “outsider looking in,” as in some other animal rights law books.

The rest of the book is mostly dedicated to the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) and its predecessors, and the law’s effects on animal activists and organizations. Of most interest to me was the author’s meticulous reporting on the various Congressional hearings on the animal rights and environmental movements. (I had no idea they cared about us so much!) Perhaps not surprisingly, the government’s main targets are those activists who act outside the law. However, it soon becomes clear that legislators are out to attack even the most mainstream humane organizations. And why not? Lovitz outlines the huge campaign contributions animal-use industries bestow upon the lawmakers who spew the most vitriol against animal protection. Unimaginable profits are at stake.

I’m still not fully convinced of Lovitz’s contention that the animal rights movement has been effectively “muzzled.” American animal protection groups are the most supported, most effective, and most high-profile in the world. Animal abuse industries of course want to see that changed, so that’s why it’s so important to keep a close watch on their political and PR maneuverings.

As I closed this book, an old phrase came to mind: “If you’re not afraid, you’re not paying attention.”

(review originally appeared at goodreads.com and amazon.com)

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