In this file:
· Canada: Cyberbullying by animal rights activists is harming farmers' mental health. Should it be criminalized?
· US: Animal rights activist faces felonies after Bezos protest
Cyberbullying by animal rights activists is harming farmers' mental health. Should it be criminalized?
Farmers are dialling back their online presence to avoid the barrage of criticism over their work that sometimes veers into threatening territory
Tyler Dawson, National Post (Canada)
June 7, 2019
EDMONTON — Farmers hoping to share their work on social media have to make a decision: are they willing to take the risk that, by posting a photo of their barn or their animals, a furious animal-rights activist might track them down?
“It’s a growing problem,” says Andrew Campbell a dairy and grain farmer outside of London, Ont. “We started getting into people threatening to come to the farm.” Indeed, the flood of online criticism and outright cyberbullying directed towards farmers is taking a toll on their mental health.
Campbell was among the farmers whose testimony before a parliamentary committee informed a recent report that made suggestions to improve mental health among farmers in Canada. While the report addresses several issues, such as the distance many farmers have to travel to access treatment, historical stressors such as inclement weather and the burden of paperwork, it also finds that zealous activists are contributing to the health problems facing the country’s farmers. Among the solutions the committee has proposed: for the government to “consider including any form of intimidation or cyberbullying targeted at any group of Canadians based on their occupation or place of residence” as an offence under the Criminal Code.
Liz White, the head of the Animal Alliance of Canada, said while she would “totally oppose” online bullying, making this a criminal offence seems like a “significant overreaction.”
“People just seem to think that they can say whatever they feel on social media, that there are no barriers. I think we all need to treat each other with respect,” she said.
But, while she said she “understand(s) that farmers have a lot to deal with,” animal rights and the treatment of farm animals is a subject of increasing discussion and farmers need to accept that they’re going to have to engage with it.
Campbell is among the farmers who’ve begun dialling back their online presence to avoid the barrage of criticism over their work that sometimes veers into more threatening territory.
“I’ve been told online that I’m a murderer. My wife has been asked why she would ever be with someone who rapes animals,” Campbell told the committee last year.
Stewart Skinner, a pig farmer for Imani Farms in Ontario, also spoke about the difficulty of facing harassment from activists. “Our ancestors only had to worry about weather and prices. Today, we farmers have the added worry of being a target of an extreme activist, something that takes a serious toll on me mentally,” Skinner told MPs.
Pierrette Desrosiers, an occupational psychologist, argued in front of the committee in October 2018 that animal rights activists are a “growing threat.”
“Producers, artificial inseminators, those who ship animals, veterinarians too, packing plant staff, butchers, everyone in the agri-food business, that is, are affected by the animal rights people,” Desrosiers said. “The consequence is that our producers are increasingly subject to psychological violence, harassment and online bullying.”
Pat Finnigan, a Liberal member of Parliament from New Brunswick and chair of the standing committee on agriculture and agri-food, told the National Post the change to the Criminal Code...
Animal rights activist faces felonies after Bezos protest
By Ken Ritter, Associated Press
via The Columbian (WA) - June 8, 2019
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A California animal rights activist can be freed from jail without bail pending her next court date on felony charges for approaching Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos on a conference stage, a judge said Friday.
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Harmony Letizia ordered Priya Sawhney, 30, to stay away from the Las Vegas Strip following her arrest Thursday at Amazon’s re:Mars event in the Aria resort.
Sawhney told the judge she intended to go home to California. Her next court date is July 15 on false identification and burglary charges.
In Nevada, burglary relates to entering a building with intent to commit a felony.
Direct Action Everywhere spokesman Matt Johnson said Sawhney is an associate of the group from Berkeley who also faces felony charges in California for actions involving poultry farms.
The group claims responsibility for public protests including one last week in which a man grabbed a microphone from Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris at a presidential candidate forum in San Francisco.
The man involved in that event at a MoveOn forum also took part with about a dozen other group members in rushing the stage at a San Francisco presidential event involving Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016.
Johnson says he expects Sawhney will...