Animal Rights Protests

Essay by YaanHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2006

download word file, 7 pages 5.0

Over the past fifteen years a powerfully charged drama has

unfolded in New York's Broadway venues and spread to the opera houses

and ballet productions of major cities across the country. Its

characters include angry college students, aging rock stars,

flamboyant B-movie queens, society matrons, and sophisticated fashion

designers. You can't buy tickets for this production, but you might

catch a glimpse of it while driving in Bethesda on particular Saturday

afternoons. If you're lucky, Compassion Over Killing (COK), an animal

rights civil disobedience group, will be picketing Miller's Furs,

their enemy in the fight against fur. These impassioned activists see

the fur trade as nothing less than wholesale, commercialized murder,

and will go to great lengths to get their point across. Such

enthusiasm may do them in, as COK's often divisive rhetoric and tacit

endorsement of vandalism threaten to alienate the very people it needs

to reach in order to be successful.

The animal rights idealogy crystallized with the publication

of philosophy professor's exploration of the way humans use and abuse

other animals. Animal Liberation argued that animals have an intrinsic

worth in themselves and deserve to exist on their own terms, not just

as means to human ends. By 1985, ten years after Peter Singer's

watershed treatise was first published, dozens of animal rights groups

had sprung up and were starting to savor their first successes. In

1994 Paul Shapiro, then a student at Georgetown Day School, didn't

feel these non-profits were agitating aggressively enough for the

cause. He founded Compassion Over Killing to mobilize animal rights

activists in the Washington metropolitan area and "throw animal

exploiters out of business." Since then, COK has expanded to over 300

members with chapters across the country, including one at American

University, which formed in the fall of 1996. COK organizes...