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America-We Can Do Better

Story ID:10878
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:All All usa
Person:All of us
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I remember one time singing enthusiastically along with Kate Smith – God Bless
America. Yes, we need God’s blessings even more today. In this supposed land of
the free, it seems to me that we have used this freedom in too many selfish and
even cruel ways which promote our interests –no matter the cost to others and
especially to our animals.

Today I read “A Journalist is Exposing How the FBI Targets Animal Activists as
Terrorists.” At one time I would have gasped reading this title, but today I was
not at all surprised because of all the cruelty to animals which exists in our
country. The subtitle read – Will Potter’s reporting reveals what he believes is
an assault on free speech in defense of big profits for Big Ag.

I remember when the then House Representative Dennis Kucinich was the ONLY
one in Congress who voted against AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) which
sought to criminalize peaceful demonstrations of animal activists at places where
animals were being cruelly mistreated. He defended the people who sought to assuage
the suffering of animals while all the other voting members of the House (400+)
supported this thoughtless and even cruel Act which sought to punish people of
compassion for demonstrating against animal cruelty. I assure you that hereafter
I looked at the House of Representatives with a jaundiced eye.

Maybe it was then and since then that I have lost a great deal of respect for our
congress, our presidents, and people in general who do nothing to help suffering
animals. I,like Gandhi, measure the greatness of a people by their compassion – a
compassion which not only extends to humans but animals as well.

In his post -writer David McNair tells how reporter Will Potter of the Chicago Tribune
decided that in the months after 9/11 he wanted to report on something other then
cops, crime, and shootings in Chicago.

Hoping to make a difference in the world as a reporter, one day he joined a group of
activists handing out leaflets opposing animal testing. Imagine his surprise when shortly
there after - two FBI agents showed up at his door. They told him he could be put on a
terrorism watch list if he didn’t help them gather information about the animal activists
he had helped. If you are not shocked by this, I am. I would have loved to have been
one of those caring people passing out leaflets as well. This move on the part of the
FBI sounded more like the workings of a Gestapo state to me.

And Potter was also very much shocked when the agents mentioned to him that the
application for student aid to graduate school he had submitted could be pulled if he
didn’t cooperate. To this Potter said “I couldn’t believe they were using that rhetoric of
terrorism against someone handing out leaflets.”

Though the charges against him were dropped and nothing came of the veiled threats from
the FBI agents – Potter would spend the next 13 years in the politics and policing of dissent.
in 2011 he wrote the book “Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement
Under Siege.” In his book- he would expose the way the “terrorist” label has been used by
the FBI to go after animal rights and environmental activists. America the Beautiful? I don’t
think so.

And if the AETA Act as written was not bad enough, it has since been amended giving
government greater authority to prosecute radical animal rights activists.

If interested in reading more about this compassionate reporter and his concern for freedom
to protest and demonstrate, please go to the internet to find out more from the forthright
and illuminating account of him by McNair.

Potter has also covered the passage of the fight against the “ag-gag” laws which are heavily
subsidized by the US government and which escape regulation of all farm animals.

There may be some light in this cruel tunnel of ag-gag laws darkness when recently an Idaho
judge struck down its ag-gag law saying that it was an unconstitutional criminalization of
free speech rights. A judge with a conscience. God bless him. We need many, many more like him.