29 April 2014

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances...



Contemplating the words of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, that imperfect yet powerful piece of parchment that ostensibly bestows all humans in the US with a set of basic rights enshrined and protected by the legal system, demands that we ask ourselves if we are going to continue apathetically allowing corporations and plutocrats to wrest those rights from us. Will we continue to stand idly by as C. Wright Mills’ “Power Elite” reduces us to over-consumptive, indentured automatons, with no voice and little choice but to devote our lives to the hollow, meaningless pursuits of materialism, the bread and circuses they provide, and narcissistic “fulfillment” via the wage and debt slavery that enables the perpetuation of their obscene gluttony and condemns our souls to pecuniary bondage?



Green IS the New Red



No group has seen its First Amendment rights erode more quickly and dramatically than those of us who are vegan and agitate for Animal Rights and the Earth. In 2005 John Lewis, deputy assistant director of the FBI, declared that, “The No. 1 domestic terrorism threat is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement.” It has been a down-hill slide for us ever since, with ever-increasing degrees of harassment, surveillance, persecution, arrest, and imprisonment for the “crime” of defending the Earth and other sentient beings and attempting to stop a holocaust that kills billions upon billions of nonhuman animals annually.



Here are the stories of but a handful of our movement’s political prisoners: Eric McDavid, Marie Mason, William Viehl, Walter Bond, Kevin Olliff, The SHAC 7, Scott Demuth, and Alex Hall.



Aside from the gross injustice of those who’ve lost their freedom fighting for nonhuman animals and the Earth, consider the fact that there is a strong component of spirituality to veganism which receives no recognition or protection. The atheists and agnostics who practice vegan ethics notwithstanding (and with no disrespect to them), many vegans revere and respect other animals and Mother Earth to an extent that there is a high degree of awe and even worship, indications that veganism is spiritual. Vegans also make significant sacrifices in striving to eliminate animal-derived products and sources of entertainment from their lives and face a high degree of marginalization and hostility for their extension of compassion and basic rights to nonhuman animals. Sacrifice is yet another component of spirituality. Alternatively, being a mainstream Christian in the US requires nearly no sacrifice and hollow lip service to the principles of their faith is the order of the day for many who “practice” Christianity. Yet there is nearly no end to the rights afforded “Christians” in the US.



As a relatively small group facing a great deal of hostility and numerous structural barriers to practicing our spiritual beliefs, vegans need (and are entitled to) the same Constitutional protections granted other spiritual and religious groups in the US. Yet vegans aren’t even guaranteed something as basic as a vegan diet if they become political prisoners of a penal system that is allegedly premised on the Constitution. Public schools are not required to provide vegan alternatives in their cafeterias or curricula. Vegans are not protected from discrimination or hate crimes. Why does one have to check one’s rights at the door when one chooses to hold a reverence for nonhuman animals?



With the advent of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, even those Animal Rights activists who engage in legal, above-ground activism face the chilling possibility of federal “terrorism” charges if they are found to have done $10,000.00 or more worth of damage to a business engaged in an “animal enterprise.” Vaguely written by the animal exploitation industry itself and rubber-stamped by a Congress that is complicit in the murder of billions of nonhuman animals for human pleasure and convenience, the AETA has yet to gain traction as law enforcement officials search for the opportunity to apply it in such a way that they attain a conviction, thus opening the flood-gates for widespread implementation of this grossly Unconstitutional abomination. Targeting one group (AR activists) and affording special protection to one industry (animal exploiters—who under the AETA could technically claim $10,000.00 worth of economic damage was caused by protesting, petitions, counter-propaganda campaigns, and other forms of Constitutionally- protected activity) are clearly an obscene violations of the Constitution and are further evidence of America’s downward spiral into corporate fascism.



The Green Scare Has Camped out on my Doorstep



While I’ve written about certain aspects of it before, sharing my own experience enables me to speak with some authority on the impending eradication of the First Amendment rights of Animal Rights activists, a circumstance that should alarm social justice activists of all stripes, whether they agree with our position on Animal Rights or not.



As I’ve waged two consecutive intense campaigns against nonhuman animal exploiters, one a county government (Johnson County, Kansas) hell-bent on slaughtering a herd of deer when economically viable nonlethal population management alternatives existed, and the other a public university (the University of Kansas Medical Center) bilking taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars to conduct barbaric, unnecessary experiments on primates, law enforcement and government officials have trampled my Constitutional rights in an effort to silence my allies and me, to intimidate us, and to prevent us from employing legal means to impede the torture and slaughter of innocents.



Our corporatist government has taken a keen interest in my activism, presumably because I write prolifically and am widely read; publish a well-known anti-capitalist, Animal Rights blog (Thomas Paine’s Corner); am a press officer for NAALPO (an entity which acts as an aboveground media outlet for the underground in the AR Movement but has no connection with, nor means of identifying members of, the underground); have written that I philosophically support the ALF’s destruction of the tools of exploitation and freeing of the oppressed; and because I have written that I philosophically support Jerry Vlasak’s position that counter-violence from the Animal Rights Movement is probably inevitable and could be an effective tactic–as no social justice movement has been successful without it.



Employing Cointelpro-like tactics, the J Edgar Hoover crowd has paid visits to numerous people in my life, including friends, co-workers, activist allies, an ex wife, ex girlfriends, my sixteen year old son, and my son’s girlfriend’s parents. They have branded me as a potential terrorist via an alert that comes up when law enforcement runs me in their system and, in that same alert, have informed law enforcement officers to USE CAUTION when dealing with me, a person with no history of violence or felony arrests.



While doing a home demonstration (which is a form of peaceful residential picketing that amounts to a public shaming of an animal exploiter by exposing their animal abuse to their neighbors) my allies and I were interrupted and shut down by three law enforcement officers, despite the fact that the city in which we were picketing had no ordinance against residential picketing and no requirement for a permit. Upon threat of arrest for challenging law enforcement’s claim that we had to “leave Westwood,” my ally and I elected to leave peaceably as the rest of our group had already left and the demonstration was clearly over. Litigation is on the horizon. More information



While distributing fliers on the University of Kansas Medical Center’s campus (they are the perpetrators of primate torture and the ones who were cited by the USDA for the violation of 160 animal welfare laws) one evening, I was stopped, searched and detained by four uniformed campus police officers for twenty minutes and issued a criminal trespass warning, meaning that if I set foot on KU Med’s campus again, I can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor carrying a potentially healthy fine and/or jail time. Admittedly, the fliers were provocative, but they were a form of expression protected by the First Amendment. More information



During the campaign to save the deer in Shawnee Mission Park (aka Death Park), the director of the parks department sought and attained a TRO (temporary restraining order) against me as a means of crippling my relentless activism. This tactic is commonly employed by exploiters around the country, as TRO’s (also known as orders of protection or stalking orders) are easy to obtain and carry criminal penalties if one violates them. I wound up on a year’s probation as a result of this TRO and an unintended violation of the TRO on my part. Probation may not sound like much, but it puts an activist with family and financial responsibilities in a bit of a precarious position, as additional arrests can result in revocation of the probation and twelve months in county.



A number of activists whom I know around the country have been hit with TRO’s in this disturbing abuse of a law that was intended to protect innocent individuals from potentially dangerous stalkers, not animal exploiters from Animal Rights activists merely exercising their First Amendment rights. As a result of these TRO’s, some of my activist allies have been arrested and some have been jailed. Nearly all of them were restricted from engaging in Constitutionally-protected forms of activism.



I’m currently fighting three TRO’s from vivisectors (animal researchers) at the University of Kansas Medical Center who attained the temporary orders of protection based on allegations that either don’t rise to the level of stalking or are false. Both sides have procured counsel and Judge Phelan of the Johnson County District Court has set aside an entire day on November 30th for the hearing during which he’ll determine whether or not to establish the orders as “permanent” (generally meaning for one year). Most cases of this nature involve domestic abuse and are over within about 5 minutes, but the complex and unusual nature of this situation has necessitated an extensive hearing.



Tim Keck, the vivisectors’ attorney will be presenting witnesses who will allegedly substantiate the claims of stalking that the three animal exploiting vivisectors have leveled against me.



My attorney, David Bell of Wyrsch, Hobbs, and Mirakian, has prepared a thorough and compelling legal brief, which asserts and substantiates our argument that shackling activists with TRO’s is clearly a violation of the First Amendment.
For more on this First Amendment battle and to read Bell’s brief in its entirety, click on this link.



In a recent discussion with my former mentor, Dr. Steve Best, he reminded me that while our Animal Rights philosophies are revolutionary in nature and our ultimate goal is to forge a vegan society, our nascent movement is in a pre-revolutionary stage. Therefore, our actions for the animals are a means of resistance to the system rather than an effort to shatter the prevailing paradigm and replace it. Given this reality, we need to fight tooth and nail to protect and utilize the rights we are guaranteed under the Constitution, the legal foundation of the extant system. As proxies for the animals, who have no recognized rights in our legal system, our rights are their rights. We need to fight for them!



As many of you know, I’ve put up a great deal resistance over the last 16 months in myriad above-ground, grass roots, and creative ways. However, this First Amendment challenge against the use of a TRO to silence a social justice activist is one of my most significant acts of resistance. I could easily consent to the TRO’s without admitting to the allegations of stalking (which is what often happens in domestic abuse cases). Or I could have put up a “plain vanilla” defense (either pro se or through my attorney), but I suggested to David Bell that we mount a defense on First Amendment grounds as a means of creating a blue-print (or setting a precedent) for other activists so that we could stop the misuse of TRO’s to cripple or halt our work on behalf of other sentients. David, a very fine attorney with one of the most reputable criminal defense firms in Kansas City, was both excited and intrigued and has readily accepted the challenge.



Going this route has been, and will continue to be, both emotionally and financially demanding. However, the potential gain for other activists and nonhuman animals is well worth it.



A question...



United States District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. issued a ruling yesterday that declared Missouri’s 2006 law against protesting at funerals to be unconstitutional because it violates constitutional rights to free speech. (excerpted from the Pitch online 8/17/10)



How long are we progressives and radicals going to watch our Constitutional rights vanish whilst federal, state, and local courts shield the hateful, inflammatory, threatening, and sometimes violent activism of Fred Phelps and his fellow far right anti-abortionists, KKK, Aryan Nation, and Tea Partiers?



Note: I am accepting monetary donations to my First Amendment legal challenge against TRO’s, as it is a very expensive proposition. Please consider making one via my PayPal account or by mail:



PayPal Donations



1. Log into PayPal; it defaults to “My Account”

2. At the top select: Send Money

3. In the box where it indicates “To (Email or mobile phone)” enter: animaliberationist@gmail.com

4. Enter amount

5. Under “Purchase/Personal” select what you feel is appropriate (such as Personal/Other, but this is primarily for your financial records so you can just leave as-is if you want)

6. Select “Send Money”; you may also enter a personal note for Jason at the bottom “Email to recipient (optional)”



To contribute via mail, please send to the following address:



Jason Miller

PO Box 19569

Lenexa, Kansas 66285




You can also join our Facebook group, FIRST AMENDMENT DEFENSE AGAINST TRO’S FUND at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=160915580589690



To receive periodic updates from Thomas Paine’s Corner (TPC) and Bite Club of KC (TPC’s “on the street” sister blog), send a request to willpowerful@hotmail.com