Why Does the Animal Cruelty Industry Deserve Special Protection?

AETA is a redundant and unnecessary law. For one, there are already many federal and state laws that cover the Animal Liberation Front’s tactics. Trespassing, vandalism, burglary, menacing, harassment, graffiti, disorderly conduct, and arson are all crimes. The ALF knows that their actions are illegal, but they are willing to put their freedom at risk in order to “save as many animals as possible and directly disrupt the practice of animal abuse” in the short-term and “to end all animal suffering by forcing animal abuse companies out of business” in the long term. Existing laws that apply to all citizens are sufficient to penalize their actions. There is no need for an additional law that applies only to those acting in the name of animal rights.

Unfortunately, in 1992 the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) was passed to do just that. In the AEPA, animal enterprises were singled out for protection against profit loss caused by animal rights activists. The law applied directly to animal enterprises, and was used by the government in three federal prosecutions: Justin Samuel, Peter Young, and the SHAC 7. But animal exploitation industries were not satisfied with the AEPA, thus in order to expand the reach of the AEPA, the AETA was passed to additionally criminalize protests against the financial institutions that do business with animal enterprises.

Now, under AETA, recommended sentences for those acting on behalf of the rights of animals no longer fit the crime. For federal crimes, the median sentence for embezzlement or larceny (essentially, theft) is four months. But under the AETA, an animal rights activist with an offense that doesn’t involve threatened or actual bodily harm nor profit loss may receive a one—year prison term, more than the white—collar crime of embezzlement. If there was profit loss, an animal rights activist can be sentenced with up to 20 years imprisonment. In the federal system, the median sentence for manslaughter is three years, and for sexual abuse is four and one—half years. It is absurd and insulting that profit loss can receive a far higher punishment than manslaughter and sexual abuse.

It is obvious that punishments under AETA are unjust and excessive and the law itself is redundant and unnecessary.