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New Book: Capers in the Churchyard

New Book Explores Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Terror

DARIEN, CT -- July 6 -- Two trends have recently come to dominate animal rights advocacy: a focus on reforming animal agriculture and the endorsement of campaigns of threats and intimidation. In a new book, Capers in the Churchyard: Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Terror, Friends of Animals' legal director Lee Hall steps back and asks where these paths are taking the animal rights movement. Drawing on a concrete analysis of recent campaigns, Hall lays the foundations for the next generation of animal rights activism. As author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson put it, "There is no greater excitement … than to move forward. Lee Hall moves us forward."

The book's title, referring to a six-year campaign in the UK that culminated in a grave robbery, calls attention to the current direction of the animal rights movement. Four activists were recently jailed for using the stolen remains of a relative to blackmail a family-run farm that raised guinea pigs for product testing. The campaign crossed the Atlantic, and six US activists await sentencing on conspiracy charges. They ran a website publicizing a campaign of intimidation directed at anyone linked to one animal testing firm. Animal industries and law enforcement agencies have successfully parlayed acts like these into new laws, increasing surveillance, and more draconian punishments.

Hall questions the popular idea that organized intimidation and bullying are radical acts, suggesting instead that they perpetuate tired patterns of violence and hierarchy that animal rights advocates seek to transcend.

Additionally, Hall draws a parallel between militant activists and wealthy animal advocacy groups. Both rely on the premise that education won't work in our lifetime, and so focus on improving present conditions. The result is that animal advocacy groups now find themselves promoting improved animal husbandry standards -- standards that corporations then employ as marketing tools for "guilt-free meat."

Putting forth a vision that returns to animal rights’ vegan roots, Hall recognizes the power of animal rights activists to challenge the status quo rather than to perpetuate it. As Donald Watson, who co-founded the original Vegan Society in 1944, said, veganism is about abolishing whole industries and striving to replace them entirely with new, life-affirming ones.

Capers in the Churchyard: Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Terror
by Lee Hall (foreword by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson)
July 2006; ISBN 0-9769159-1-X; $14.95 paperback; 168 pages
Nectar Bat Press; Available from www.friendsofanimals.org

Advance praise for Capers in the Churchyard:

"Capers in the Churchyard is a beautifully written book that lays out an ethical animal rights activist’s vision of a world without violence and offers a comprehensive critique of the 'eco-terrorism' of recent years."--Morris Dees, co-founder, Southern Poverty Law Center

"Capers in the Churchyard is an informative, eloquent presentation of an abolitionist animal rights philosophy. Lee Hall clearly distinguishes her idea of animal rights from both animal welfare and militant animal liberation campaigns and criticizes those campaigns for diverting energy from what is fundamental in that idea: a society that renounces domination. Her critique of using violence to save animals is especially thought-provoking today, in America, when the fear card of 'Terrorism!' is constantly played to obstruct all sorts of social progress. Anyone who cares about animals or who is even just curious about ‘all this talk of rights for animals' will profit from reading Capers in the Churchyard." --Steve F. Sapontzis, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, California State University, Hayward; author of Morals, Reason, and Animals

"Lee Hall is calling forth the best in both animal and environmental activists; to recognize that the same winds blow all boats and that the use of violence rips holes in the ethical fabric of both movements. Capers in the Churchyard discusses the curious logic of those environmental and animal rights activists who seek a peaceful future, respectful of both animals and nature, through violence, and explains how these tactics often backfire. More important, Hall asks the deeper question, not that of tactics, but that of integrity. If actions speak louder than words, what does the brief flash of a firebomb say in comparison with veganism as direct action? The patience of non-violence may not just be the more effective tactic, but also the one that maintains the integrity of the activist, her message, and her movement."--Jay Tutchton, Director, Environmental Law Clinic, University of Denver College of Law



October 2006

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