Fellow travelers: The information in Joe Pappalardo's recent article, "Mean Green," (April 19) is the complete opposite of what occurred at a recent activist camp in Huntsville, Texas. His false information damages the reputation of the animal rights movement and has put activists' safety in jeopardy.
Pappalardo said the camp "serves as a morale/courage builder for those on the verge of planning criminal activities ranging from civil disobedience to arson...Here you'll find those who protest outside circuses and rodeos, heckle kids on the way into aquariums, break into research facilities to steal animals and chain themselves outside Neiman Marcus to keep fur customers away. They're the kind who are capable of burning down a building to cause maximum economic damage..."
Pappalardo clearly came to the camp with high hopes of writing a sensational feature story on the Animal Liberation Front. Unfortunately, we let him down.
Not one individual at the conference has been arrested for arson or breaking into labs. That's not what we do. We have made the choice to work above ground, organizing public animal rights organizations. We have demonstrations and sometimes peacefully break the law (arson and burglary are never involved). However, many of the activists at the conference support (in words not actions) people who work underground. We are not the Animal Liberation Front, but we support what they do. We work to educate people about direct actions that are ignored in the mainstream press and to encourage informed discussion of those tactics.
I am an organizer of the UT-Austin animal rights organization, and I was involved in the campaign to free Stampy the beagle, which Pappalardo used to introduce his piece. Pappalardo fails to mention that UT students have never blazed a building, vandalized a lab or stolen an animal. I have never even been arrested, and here is Pappalardo saying I am "capable of burning down a building." But, of course, Pappalardo never interviewed University of Texas students. Instead, the only interaction the three UT students had with Pappalardo is when he asked us to smoke marijuana with him in the woods. I explained that the conference was a drug-free environment.
This article has put the safety of some activists in jeopardy. Because he referred to us as arsonists and members of the Animal Liberation Front, activists have been visited by FBI agents.
This piece is libel. Because of the negligence of the editors (if this information had been checked, it would not have been published), it has defamed our reputations and threatened our security.
The Dallas Observer should retract the article, issue an apology and reconsider how your journalists are trained. Explaining the situation to the FBI wouldn't hurt, either.
I look forward to your response.
Students Against Cruelty to Animals,
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Our response: We'll take Mr. Potter's word that none of the UT students has ever committed arson or any other serious felony in the cause of liberating animals, and it certainly wasn't our intent to suggest otherwise. We'll let our readers decide for themselves, however, whether an "AL Now Camp" featuring presentations about the Animal Liberation Front and participants who support such tactics--"in words not actions"--was in fact a morale and courage builder for people who commit those acts. As for Pappalardo's offer in the woods: He meant it kindly. He's been sternly informed that it was a dumb thing to do. Sorry.
SWF seeks SIM: I found your story ("From Russia With Love," May 3) truly amusing. These American geeks are so desperate and hard up, there is no way they could ever get an American woman, let alone hold onto one long enough to get married and have a decent life together. As a single, strong and independent American woman, I find American men needy, clingy and intimidated by me--always wanting me to give up my lifestyle and things that I enjoy to cater to their every need. I don't have a high-powered job or a degree, but I am comfortable, and I don't expect a man to have a million bucks and two vacation homes, because I certainly don't! To make the story even more entertaining, Bob Buss (head geek in charge of "international relations") stated that on his Russian trip he brought pictures of his Jeep, big-screen TV and lake house thinking they would be a "big selling point"; all he did was spend a shitload of money going overseas to lure the exact kind of woman he is denouncing here in the States. Hey guys, look in the mirror; if you don't look like a supermodel yourself, what makes you think you deserve a supermodel? You gotta look the part to play the part! What a bunch of weak, narrow-minded wimps! Please withhold my name and sign me "SWF seeking SIM (Single Intelligent Male).