10/25/2011 04:23 EDT | Updated 12/25/2011 05:12 EST

Animal Rights Activists Might Be Criminals, But Not Terrorists

Today's "terrorists" are mostly Muslim extremists, capable of terrorizing whole populations -- something animal and/or environmental extremists can't do. By all means, prosecute law-breakers, but don't brand them "terrorists."


Do most people think of animal rights activists as terrorists?

Apparently the Canadian government does, if such people commit illegal acts.

The Financial Transactions Analysis Centre (FINTRAC), set up in 2000 to be Canada's financial intelligence unit to alert CSIS and others of finances to terrorists who pose a threat to the security of Canada, feel animal rights extremists fit this category.

Animal rights and environmental extremists fall under the category of "single issue terrorists" which I, for one, think is a mistake.

For starters, I think everyone who is concerned about animal rights and the ethical treatment of animals is a bit of a nutbar, and I include myself in this category.

Those who do illegal things or commit criminal acts in the name of helping animals should be prosecuted, but they are not "terrorists." To brand them as such serves no purpose other than give respectability to real terrorists, or to muddy the definition.

While all terrorists may be criminals, all criminals are not terrorists.

Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization, Islamic jihadists are terrorists -- even the old FLQ in Quebec was a terrorist group. People like the Fort Hood assassin, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychiatrist, is a terrorist -- as were the infamous shoe and underwear bombers, and those 9/11 plane hijackers who terrorized a continent.

But animal rights activists who set fire to a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, or spray fake blood on people wearing fur coats, are not in the same category as those who hijack planes, blow up mosques, kill school children, shoot up airports, make themselves into explosives to blow up market places.

Today's "terrorists" are mostly Muslim extremists, capable of terrorizing whole populations -- something animal and/or environmental extremists can't do.

Although one can deplore the means used by animal activists to draw attention to their cause, one cannot so easily dismiss the effect of their illegal acts.

For instance, by breaking into research labs and stealing video footage, animal activists exposed the obscenity of experiments on orangutans, where the poor creatures had their brains scrambled by violent shaking, supposedly for research on the effects of brain injuries from car crashes.

Videos show researchers mocking the animals by putting cigarettes in their mouths and posing with them, as the bewildered and terrified orangutans hug their oppressors for comfort.

It was adverse publicity from illegal acts of stealing research videos of rabbits screaming as lethal drops were put in their eyes to test cosmetic products, that persuaded cosmetic firms to find ways of testing products other than by torturing animals.

When I was on the board of the Toronto Humane Society I urged that the THS consider endorsing cosmetic firms that prohibited testing products on animals. Such approval might be an incentive to stop the practice.

Today we have the horror of chicken farms so crowded that the birds can't move -- made public because animal activists exposed the shame.

Greenpeace has broken laws while protesting 30 miles of "drift nets" in the Pacific Ocean that kill everything that gets trapped. In doing so, it has made the world aware of the wasteful outrage. The same with the indiscriminate killing of sharks for their fins, which make tasty soup.

By all means, prosecute law-breakers, but don't brand them "terrorists." Calling them that only helps are those who are real terrorists, out to destroy Western civilization. Are you listening, Ottawa?