Berman: Does an HSUS tiger change its stripes?

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I really hit a nerve in a recent column. I pointed out that HSUS Food Policy Director Matt Prescott devised a PETA campaign a few years back comparing American farms to Nazi concentration camps. Given that Prescott is often personally contacting retailers and restaurants and asking them to make anti-pork farmer comments, it’s important that these companies understand just who they’re dealing with. In this case, it’s a guy who has stated radical and ridiculous beliefs about farming.

HSUS must hate being compared to PETA, because Prescott seemed to trip all over himself to tell Pork Network that his “views have since evolved” (before attacking me for most of the rest of his rambling reply). But what may have changed could simply be this: Prescott still believes farms are concentration camps, though his new view is that he won’t be open about it while at HSUS, as he was at PETA.

Let’s cut through the nonsense: This wasn’t just a one-off. This extreme vegan rhetoric is something that Prescott has spouted over time. For example, he said in 2007 that “there’s never an excuse to kill and eat an animal.” That’s pretty clear. (The Holocaust Museum also stated that Prescott was “not honest” in obtaining permission to use its pictures in PETA’s Holocaust on Your Plate campaign, so it’s more than fair to be skeptical of his assertion that he’s had a change of heart.)

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the convenient “my views have changed” defense at HSUS.  John “J.P.” Goodwin is now a director of animal cruelty policy at HSUS, where he was hired in 1997. In the 90s Goodwin was also a spokesperson for the Animal Liberation Front, which has been designated by the FBI as a domestic terror threat. Goodwin referred to a fire that caused almost $1 million in damage by telling the Deseret News, “We’re ecstatic.” Goodwin has also said, “My goal is the abolition of animal agriculture.”

But again, we have a supposed change of heart, with HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle saying Goodwin has reformed. (Pacelle also said that convicted dogfighting kingpin Michael Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner”—after HSUS had received $50,000 from Vick’s employer—so you can decide for yourself how credible Pacelle is.)

There’s even more. A number of HSUS staffers were contributors to the now-defunct magazine No Compromise, which was a sort of terrorist-cheerleading publication that disseminated information on building incendiary devices. A number of current HSUS employees were listed at various points as “contributors” to No Compromise, including Michael Markarian, Chief Program & Policy Officer at HSUS; Heidi Prescott, a senior VP; and Paul Shapiro, HSUS’s farm-animal VP.

Shapiro was even listed on the “Steering Committee” of the magazine at one point alongside a press officer for a terrorist group and a convicted arsonist. No Compromise, meanwhile, described Shapiro’s group Compassion Over Killing as one of the “grassroots animal liberation organizations that support militant direct action.”

We shouldn’t write off the influence of No Compromise as a gathering place for the militant underbelly of the animal rights movement. Writing recently on the website “The Talon Conspiracy,” Josh Harper, who was convicted of animal enterprise terrorism in 2006, stated that “No Compromise shaped who I am today. Each new issue contained articles that helped me and thousands of others to evolve our own style of resistance.”

HSUS’s Mike Markarian even seemed to justify illegal activity in a 1997 essay in the now-defunct publication The Abolitionist. Markarian wrote, “A perfect example of effective rebellion is an Animal Liberation Front raid on a laboratory… Sure, the activists broke the law, but all of their activities focused directly on saving animals and exposing cruelty.”

The Abolitionist was the magazine of Paul Shapiro’s group Compassion Over Killing. And that publication featured on one occasion an article announcing that “members [are] needed” for “MF-ALF,” which stood for “Miller’s Furs–Animal Liberation Front” (Miller’s was a fur store in D.C.). The article included suggestions to “smash a window… throw a paint bomb… burn Miller’s Furs down.” (COK did publish a disclaimer that the group “does not endorse (nor condemn) any illegal acts.”)

So what do Shapiro, Markarian, H. Prescott, and others have to say about their involvement with No Compromise? Probably nothing. Or possibly another convenient assertion that their “views have evolved.”

Maybe they have. But doesn’t it seem strange that HSUS is a congregating ground for these people?

They’re not stupid. While “direct action” may have been the rage back in the 90s, the writing was on the wall as law enforcement cracked down. And they have enough P.R. savvy now to understand that running around with “Meat is Murder”-type signs isn’t going to win people over.

But they haven’t changed their goals. There’s not a single animal product that HSUS endorses, no matter how the animal is raised. Folks like Paul Shapiro and Matt Prescott may have grown older but they haven’t grown up. They may sometimes wear suits and make more moderate demands, but it’s important to keep in mind where they have been and where they want to go.

And it’s important for the pork industry to make sure its customers understand this, too.



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Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  November, 20, 2013 at 08:19 AM

Oy. More bovine performance art . terrorists radicals Michael Vick incendiary devices Nazis domestic terror arson concentration camps Holocaust Museums paint bombs! I'm guessing Milošević was too hard to spell. Where do we sign in to Knucklehead Watch?

Jonathan Gilbert    
November, 20, 2013 at 08:29 AM

LOL! It never ceases to amaze me how the pork producers are being played by Berman. They pay him millions to be ineffectual.

doug williams    
usa  |  November, 20, 2013 at 11:22 AM

well I see the troll count is up to a whopping two... Great article. pork producers.. ask Pacelle or Shapiro over for a plate of bbq ribs..with deviled eggs, ice cream and .. all from humanely raised animals of course.. after all that is all they are asking for right?

Jonathan Gilbert    
November, 20, 2013 at 03:21 PM

Well I see the abuse apologist count is up to a whopping one...How does it feel being squeezed by the will of the American consumer AND being robbed blind by Berman?

kansas  |  November, 21, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Two! Two Trolls, hahahahaha! The eternally trapped-in-Jr.High-girls'-snark Terry & Jonathan, and their ilk, provide us with the best possible examples of why Mr. Berman's organization is necessary. Putrid and hateful little twits infecting social media and anyone within reach of their propaganda disease vector. Being Intellectually Challenged "Religious" Zealots, they're completely unable to make any coherent, fact-based reply and are therefore limited to the spit and drool laced rantings of juveniles who've been denied a new x- box. Unfortunately there are more than a few of them and in today's permissive culture of "accommodation". And many spineless "adults" in business & politics will give them at least some of what they want just to make them shut-up and go away. As always, this simply makes the problem worse and they end-up doing Useful Idiot work for sophisticated, devious, deceitful & RICH organizations like HSUS, PETA and ALF. Pacelle and his army of highly-paid lawyers, lobbyists and publicists LOVE these morons in the same way Iranian commanders loved the children they sent into the mine fields in the Iran/Iraq war. Every evil army needs its cannon fodder. TW & JG, in their fevered devotion, march forward singing the praises of their divine leaders and crying out, "death to the infidel!".

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  November, 22, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Someone was sleeping through hyperbole class.

Lilly Tangers    
Memphis/Beyond  |  November, 23, 2013 at 02:36 PM

The problem isn't the pork being eaten, although I am a vegetarian, it's how it's raised. These farmers can offer some common sense back to farming tactics and make a living. Instead they choose to maximize profits at the expense of animal suffering.

NJ  |  November, 24, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Matthew Prescott refused to apologize for tricking the Holocaust Museum into handing over sensitive documents. He has never apologized to Elie Wiesel, whose name was used in the "Holocaust On Your Plate" campaign, without permission. PETA President Ingrid Newkirk did apologize a couple of years later, which is more than I can say for Prescott. J.P. Goodwin was at the center of the Wilkes County massacre in 2009, a record year in terms of HSUS scandals. If he had really reformed, he never would have pushed for the deaths of those "rescued" animals. Same with the Vick dogs. Goodwin finished off 2009 by signing the notorious Fay/"Faye" letter, the fundraising scam that outraged the legitimate animal welfare community. HSUS raised over $1 million by pretending to have rescued a pitbull named Fay (they spelled her name wrong) and implying that HSUS had a major role in the dogfighting bust where 400+ animals, including Fay, were seized. The Humane Society of Missouri and law enforcement did the heavy lifting, and the ASPCA, Best Friends, and numerous independent rescuers, local shelters, and volunteers of all skill levels accomplished what HSUS stole credit for. When they were busted, HSUS rushed $5000 to the person actually caring for Fay. Whenever they get caught lying, cheating, and stealing from real animal caretakers, they rush $5000 to those they ripped off. Hey Wayne, did you ever hear of inflation? $10,000 is the new $5,000. I don't vote for politicians with warped ideas, arrest records, and incoherent views. I only support animal groups who are honest about their philosophies - and can back up their list of accomplishments. HSUS pretends to be THE experts on animal welfare. The opposite is true.

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  November, 25, 2013 at 04:05 PM

There are people in this world whose only reason for living is to teach the rest of us how not to. Rick Berman is one of them.

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