Tuesday, August 09, 2005

SHAC Gets What’s Coming To Them

The radical animal liberation group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) has been waging a campaign of harassment against the Huntingdon Life Science Laboratory and its business partners for years in both they U.K. and the U.S. SHAC claims that animal are routinely mistreated in Huntingdon’s labs, and that the company has done little to correct the problem. In an effort to force Huntingdon into compliance, SHAC has posted the names, addresses, and phone numbers of Huntingdon’s employees and the employees of companies that do business with the lab. In some cases, the names of the target’s children have been posted as well. SHAC has also gleefully reported each case of illegal harassment, encouraging further attacks. All of this has resulted in some real damage against the targeted persons: Homes and properties have been vandalized, threats have been received, and in one case SHAC supporters walked onto a target’s driveway and overturned their car. Thankfully, federal authorities recently responded to the severity of the attacks and filed criminal charges against seven persons, who have come to be known as the “SHAC Seven”. Predictably, SHAC has claimed a first amendment right to post the targeted person’s information on their website. They may find little sympathy for that argument in courts, as recent decisions have held that if an individual’s personal information is posted on the internet with the knowledge that such postings may bring harm to the subject, the post is a threat, and not protected by the Constitution. The outcome of this case will be of great interest to extremist groups like One People’s Project, who routinely publish the names and addresses of white supremacists, as well as their racist counterparts who occasionally do the same to their opponents. Some animal right groups have claimed that the stopping the abuse of animals will excuse any tactic, no matter how reprehensible. The courts, however, are unlikely to agree.


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