Conference and Benefit for Liberation Prisoners
Today I attended a benefit for animal and earth liberation prisoners, which was sort of a mini conference. That makes it my second conference ever, after the Animal Rights Conference. Since I have never looked much into the issues surrounding the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) and the like, I saw this and thought it would be great to try something new. I got a bit better of an idea of what the AETA is about and had a more fruitful time networking than at the previous conference.
The AETA is obviously an absurd law, although I already kind of knew that. I am not so sure I agree with all of ELF and ALF tactics, but I definitely disagree with the AETA. I am not going to say much about it here because I would not have anything original to add. All of the speakers were helpful, from my perspective. Some interesting talks were by a former prisoner, the founder of Food Not Bombs (Keith: a brief prisoner), and journalist Will Potter. Keith is a funny, charismatic guy who tells the story of how Food Not Bombs, an organization that distributes vegan food to the homeless, has been targeted as a terrorist organization. Why would an anti-war group that merely distributes fliers and vegan food be targeted as a terrorist organization? He said that one time he got on a plane and was then pulled off and interrogated about his role in this violent organization (remind anyone of racial profiling?). Clearly, a group with “bombs” in its name must be about bombing people. That’s some thorough logic right there. Only terrorists would think to use the word “bombs” in public, right?
Admission was only $10, and the food was very inexpensive (in stark contrast to the AR Conference). Some of it was so-so (I don’t like white bread or LightLife Smart Dogs), and some was good. Thumbs up on the spicy samosas and mashed potatoes!
Networking was different from the AR Conference, I found, because most of the people in attendance were fairly local. Will Potter lives in D.C. (according to his Twitter), there’s a local Food Not Bombs to get involved with (Keith just put it out there that he would like to speak at my university), the hosting organization was from Baltimore, and various people I met were from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. I made a new activist friend who lives in the area. Also, because it was much smaller and all set in one room, everyone seemingly had a much easier time introducing ourselves to strangers. The number of people was less overwhelming and more intimate. I felt like each of us had more of a presence there than at the AR Conference (some of the people I met there had attended that, but I hadn’t seen them or learned their names if I did).
I expected there to be a balance between earth and animal liberation going on, but it was very animal-focused. I suspect that is because the problem stems from the A(nimal)ETA.
Anyway, my first two conferences have both been very worthwhile and energizing, and I continue to look forward to attending more conferences of this nature. They make me feel a little bit like I am getting out of my book/blog cocoon. I hope I will do an even better job of meeting people at the next one. And I heard there is going to be a Critical Animals Studies Conference next year!!! (In the past, they have skipped years.)