One part of me feels violated, another enticed. Those wiley polititians are up to their old tricks but now they've entered the Space Age of Nano iPods and Google.
Twice in just over a month this blog has attracted the attention of political campaigners apparently in search of mentions of their campaigns in the Blogosphere. Once they locate the attractor blog they pollinate it with, of all things, a form letter.
The first letter arrived last month in the comments section of a post I wrote about Arizona's (successful!) ballot initiative that increases the space required to house pregnant pigs and calves before killing them and chopping them into meal-sized pieces. The letter writer clearly didn't read the post, but neither would I if I was buzzing from blog to blog in search of a home for my spam.*
The second came via email just yesterday in response to my most recent post about not one, but three political campaigns (I'm just asking for it, aren't I?). This time I attracted the big boys, Congress. Namely, 2004 presidential contender Representative Dennis Kucinich. And, god bless'im, he's campaigning for animals and animal rights activists.
But before you read this email from Dennis "The Progressive Menace" Kucinich (and I mean that in the most positive way), give some thought to the implications of this new political tactic. Every blog post you publish, whether it expresses your opinions, your daily activities, your loves or your hates, enters the public sphere for all to scrutinize, record, tally, and respond to for whatever good or evil they may intend. I've gone to great lengths to keep my name from junk mailers of the credit card, mail-order catalog, and magazine subscription varieties. But this blogging business opens up a whole new and virulent can of worms that is starting to worry me.
Yeehaw! Vote for Dennis!
From: Veith, Catherine
Date: Dec 1, 2006 10:03 AM
Subject: Rep. Kucinich and the AETA
Congressman Kucinich has asked that I pass along to you his statement regarding the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Please post as you see fit. Let me know if you have any questions.
The Office of Congressman Dennis Kucinich
1730 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
I stand with every Member of the House in defense of the rights of individuals to be free of bodily harm or injury under all and any circumstances. But, the fact of the matter is, existing Federal law already includes any place which does Federal research.
So the question is, why create a new and specific classification here?
We, of course, need to protect peoples' right to conduct their work without fear of assault. But, a larger question remains yet unanswered by this Congress: How should animals be treated humanely?
There are some specific principles with respect to humane treatment of animals but, these do not go far enough. My concern about this bill is that it does nothing to address the real issue of animal protection but, instead targets those advocating animal rights. This legislation will have a real and chilling effect on people's Constitutionally protected First Amendment rights.
I am not talking about people who would threaten anyone with death because they don't agree with them, but there are individuals who love animals, who don't want to see animals hurt, who have a point and a right to speak out. I think for that reason, this bill has not yet reached its maturity.
I understand what the sponsors of this bill are trying to do, but I don't think that they will reach the end they are hoping to achieve unless this Congress makes a clear statement about ethical principles with respect to animals and how we treat animals in research and other enterprise.
These are very serious questions that millions of Americans care about. I understand the intent here, but I think that you must be very careful about painting everyone with the broad brush of terrorism who might have a legitimate objection to research with or treatment of animals that is inhumane.
Bringing up a bill like this under procedures that only allow limited debate, and no amendments, no matter how well intentioned, is problematic.
I am not and never have been in favor of anyone using a cloak of free speech to commit violence. The Supreme Court Justice said, your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. No one has the right to yell "fire"' in a crowded theater. We have heard those kinds of admonitions.
I am not for anyone abusing their rights by damaging another person's property or person, but I am for protecting the First Amendment and not creating a special class of violations for a specific type of protest.
Balancing Constitutional concerns against the protection of people and property is never easy. Unfortunately, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act goes too far in the wrong direction.
* A related and increasingly common tactic used more often for non-political purposes appears in this comment, also made to the pig stretching initiative post. It seems to be a desperate attempt by bloggers to increase traffic to their own blogs without having to actually strike up a real dialogue with their fellow bloggers. Does anyone else get this?